The New Jersey Devils kicked off their season on October 9 against the Winnipeg Jets at Prudential Center. About midway through the game, the Devils paused to honor the 2015-16 season’s first Hero of the Game, Jennifer Noll, a Technical Sergeant in the United States Air Force.
Tech Sgt. Noll, a 37-year-old originally from Boston, Mass., came from a strong military connection in her family. Her father served in the Navy and before him, her grandfather served in the Army Air Corps, the precursor to the modern air force. With a strong desire to serve, she found the air force an ideal fit.
“I just really want to be around airplanes, I wanted to work on airplanes,” Tech Sgt. Noll said. “I love flying, I grew up liking fighter jets, my father was actually a mechanic as well, so I kind of put the two together and the air force gave me the opportunity.”
Tech Sgt. Noll first joined in 1996, receiving basic training and technical training in San Antonio, Texas, before spending four years based in South Dakota. Currently based at McGuire Air Force Base, in Burlington County, NJ., she serves as a flight engineer. In that role, she assists the captain as an expert on various systems while the plane is in flight.
Over an eight year span from 2000-2007, Noll was deployed 11 times. Frequent deployments sent Noll to Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, both on the Arabian Peninsula, where she would fly missions over Iraq and Afghanistan.
Over the course of her service, she’s earned two Air Force Commendation Medals and four Air Medals. Tech Sgt. Noll earned her commendation medals for excellence in service. She described the award as a recognition of excellence and leadership. “Air medals are specific to only people who fly. You have to perform a combat sortie to get an air medal.” In the Air Force, 20 combat sorties are required to earn one air medal. Tech Sgt. Noll has 114.
“It’s overwhelming to me,” she said of the recognition for her service. “I look at it as something that I just enjoy doing. I wanted to do it and I’ve continued to do it for my whole career.”
“I’ve been in the Air Force for almost 20 years and…it’s not any more exceptional than anyone else performing at a high level in their job or their career.”