123rd Airlift Wing named top unit by Airlift/Tanker Association

By Maj. Dale Greer, 123rd Airlift Wing Pubic Affairs

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The director of the Air National Guard, Lt. Gen. Stanley Clarke (third from left) presents Maj. Gen. Edward Tonini (fourth from left), adjutant general of the Commonwealth of Kentucky, with the 2105 Airlift/Tanker Association’s Major General Stanley F.H. Newman Outstanding Unit Award during the annual A/TA Convention in Orlando, Fla., Oct. 30, 2015. The award was bestowed this year on the Kentucky Air National Guard’s 123rd Airlift Wing, based in Louisville, for exceptional performance from July 1, 2014 to June 30, 2015. Also pictured (left to eight) are Gen. Arthur Lichte (retired), chairman of the A/TA; Gen. Carlton Everhart II, commander of Air Mobility Command; Brig. Gen. Warren Hurst, Kentucky’s assistant adjutant general for Air; Col. Barry Gorter, commander of the 123rd Airlift Wing; Col. Robert Hamm, commander of the 123rd Operations Group; Chief Master Sgt. Ray Dawson, command chief of the 123rd Airlift Wing; Gen. Mark Welsh III, chief of staff of the U.S. Air Force; Chief Master Sgt. Victoria Gamble, command chief of Air Mobility Command; and Lt. Gen. Christopher Kelly (retired), former vice commander of Air Mobility Command. (U.S. Air Force photo).

ORLANDO, Fla. — The Kentucky Air National Guard’s 123rd Airlift Wing has been named the top airlift or tanker unit in the Air National Guard by the Airlift/Tanker Association, a group of aviation professionals dedicated to the support of military airlift.

Lt. Gen. Stanley Clarke III, director of the Air National Guard, presented the 2015 Major General Stanley F.H. Newman Award to Kentucky’s adjutant general, Maj. Gen. Edward Tonini, during the A/TA’s annual convention in Orlando, Fla., on Oct. 30.

“Once again, the Airmen of the Kentucky Air National Guard have demonstrated that the 123rd Airlift Wing is truly a world-class organization,” Tonini said. “From providing combat airlift in support of wartime taskings in Southwest Asia to helping stop the spread of Ebola in West Africa, the 123rd always answers the call to duty with unsurpassed excellence.”

The 123rd Airlift Wing won the award for exceptional service from July 1, 2014 to June 30, 2015. During that time, the unit mobilized more than 250 Airmen for wartime and humanitarian deployments to the U.S. Central Command and U.S. Africa Command areas of responsibility, supporting Operations Enduring Freedom, Freedom’s Sentinel and United Assistance.

In Southwest Asia, the wing’s 123rd Operations Group flew 403 combat and 625 combat-support sorties, airlifting 4,000 troops, more than 3,500 tons cargo and hundreds of wounded service members.

In Africa, the wing’s 123rd Contingency Response Group established an airlift hub to process and forward troops, cargo and medical supplies into Liberia as part of Operation United Assistance, the multi-agency effort to stop the largest Ebola outbreak in history.

Additionally, Airmen from the wing’s 123rd Special Tactics Squadron were deployed overseas for more than 2,000 days, supporting 270 combat missions and 50 Combat Search and Rescue sorties in U.S. Central Command.

The wing also deployed aircraft and crews to the Netherlands, Norway and Germany, interoperating with multiple NATO partners; and supported information exchange programs with Burkina Faso, Chile, Columbia, Djibouti, Jordan and Thailand.

The 123rd Airlift Wing, based in Louisville, Ky., is one of the most decorated units in Air Force history with 16 Air Force Outstanding Unit Awards. Last year, the wing won its sixth Distinguished Flying Unit Plaque and its fourth Curtis N. “Rusty” Metcalf Trophy from the National Guard Bureau as the top airlift wing in the Air National Guard.

The wing’s primary mission is tactical military airlift. It is equipped with eight C-130 Hercules aircraft and has been heavily engaged in airlift missions in dozens of countries around the world for more than 25 years, including multiple deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan.

The wing is unique in that also supports two other major operational missions. It is home to the only contingency response group in the Air National Guard, and the ANG’s only special tactics unit with both combat controllers and pararesecuemen.

The wing also provides explosive ordnance disposal, fatality search and recovery, two Critical Care Air Transport Teams, a CBRNE Enhanced Response Force Package, civil engineering, and security and support forces to combatant commanders in support of national security objectives, and to civilian leaders during homeland crises.

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