Wing wins extraordinarily rare 14th Air Force Outstanding Unit Award

Story by Maj. Dale Greer | Photos by Maj. Dale Greer and Senior Airman Max Rechel

KENTUCKY AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, LOUISVILLE, Ky. (April 28th, 2010) —┬áThe Kentucky Air National Guard’s 123rd Airlift Wing has been awarded its 14th Air Force Outstanding Unit Award — an extraordinary achievement that confirms the wing’s standing as one of the most decorated organizations in the United States military, said Maj. Gen. Edward Tonini, Kentucky’s adjutant general.

The award was formally presented by Dennis M. McCarthy, assistant secretary of defense for Reserve Affairs, during a ceremony held April 17 at Louisville Male High School.

Wing officials believe that no other Air Guard unit has won as many Air Force Outstanding Unit Awards. The North Dakota Air National Guard’s 119th Wing has 13 such honors, and the 116th Air Control Wing, a joint active-duty/Air National Guard unit based in Georgia, has 14.

The Kentucky unit’s previous honors were bestowed in 1970, 1979, 1982, 1983, 1985, 1987, 1989, 1994, 1998, 1999, 2002, 2005 and 2008.

“This latest award is only the most recent in a long series of honors — stretching back decades — that recognizes the 123rd Airlift Wing as one the finest units in the Air National Guard or the U.S. Air Force,” General Tonini said.

“Whether they’re deploying to Afghanistan to provide crucial airlift for Operation Enduring Freedom or delivering life-saving assistance during last year’s devastating ice storm in Kentucky, the men and women of the 123rd Airlift Wing have shown repeatedly that they are ready to answer the call to duty, any time, anywhere, and perform their mission with a level of excellence that is unsurpassed in the U.S. military.”

The Air Force Outstanding Unit Award recognizes exceptionally meritorious service or outstanding achievement. It is bestowed on the top 10 percent of all Air Force organizations each year.

The new award recognizes the 123rd Airlift Wing’s accomplishments from Oct. 1, 2007 to Sept. 30, 2009. During those two years, the wing stepped up to perform numerous critical missions at home and abroad, deploying 759 personnel to 62 locations in 20 countries — many of them in harm’s way.

For example, about 300 Kentucky Airmen and multiple C-130 aircraft were deployed to Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan, from March through May 2009 to provide key airlift support for U.S. forces engaged with the enemy in Operation Enduring Freedom.

The unit maintained an unprecedented 100 percent mission-capable rate during the deployment, never missing a single scheduled flight due to aircraft maintenance issues while completing more than 1,500 combat sorties that delivered 3,900 tons of cargo and transported 20,000 troops throughout the theater of operations.

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