Story by Capt. Gus LaFontaine, 133rd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment
FORT KNOX, Ky. — Thirty-six competitors from the Kentucky Army and Air National Guard competed at Ft. Knox last weekend in the annual Adjutant General’s Kentucky National Guard Rifle and Pistol State Training Event.
Participants were competing for a chance to represent Kentucky at regional and national shooting matches as well as the distinction of becoming one of the state’s Governor’s Twenty.
Spc. Brian Levine of Alpha Company 149th BSB is in his third year of competition in the event.
“The Governors Twenty is open to every company in the state. Soldiers and Airmen can come out and compete as a four-man team. Based on how well you shoot in that competition, the top 20 members will make the Governor’s Twenty.”
Levine spoke about the benefits of competing.
“You get to shoot with some good people that have been doing it for a long time. You’ve got some guys that have been doing it for over 20 years so they’ve got tons of tricks and tips. There are a lot of things that you can learn and take back to your unit and teach people.”
The weekend-long event is broken into team and individual matches. Competitors fire the pistol and rifle from a variety of shooting positions and ranges. At the completion of shooting, each competitor’s score is added and the Governor’s Twenty is identified.
Spc. Katherine Hix of the 103rd Chemical Battalion competed for the first time this year.
“You get a lot out of this event. A lot of experience, a lot of training, and it’s a lot of fun.”
Sgt. 1st Class Cory Goatley is the Assistant State Marksmanship Coordinator in the Small Arms Readiness Training Section (SARTS). He is also part of the Governor’s Twenty. This was his fourth year competing in the event. He explained that Soldiers interested in competing should express interest to their commanders. The competition is regularly held in July. In April a Letter of Instruction is sent to commanders outlining the procedures for entry into the event.
“In April Soldiers that are interested should start inquiring from their commanders,” Goatley said.
Goatley expressed a desire to see the event grow each year.
“We would love to see 100 shooters a year.”
Goatley has a message for Soldiers that are interested in competing against the best shooters in the state.
“Come out and test your skills, gain some advanced skills, come to the state match and show us what you’ve got. We will help you master those skills as you move forward.”
Story by H. T. Wiley, Kentucky Committee for Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve
FRANKFORT, Ky. – Maj. Gen. (retired) D. Allen Youngman has been selected to head the Kentucky Committee for Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR), according to outgoing chair Robert Silverthorn, Jr. The appointment is effective Oct. 1, 2014.
Youngman, a former Adjutant General for the Commonwealth of Kentucky, retired in 2003 and resides near Bowling Green. His 34 years of military service included duty in the active Army, the Army National Guard, and the United States Army Reserve.
“Following Bob Silverthorn will be no easy task,” said Youngman. “His leadership over the past six years has been extraordinary and he has taken Kentucky’s ESGR committee from average to being a national leader. A good example of that is that two Kentucky firms last year were named recipients of the Freedom Award, the highest Department of Defense award presented through the auspices of the national ESGR organization.”
Silverthorn, himself a retired Army major general, is an attorney in Louisville. He praised the selection of Youngman. “Allen Youngman will provide the leadership continuity that Kentucky employers and military personnel deserve,” said Silverthorn. “He knows the importance of a good employer – Guard/Reserve relationship.”
The position carries a three-year term and is the equivalent to a military two-star flag officer under DoD protocol.
Youngman serves as a senior consultant with American Business Development Group (ABDG), a Vienna, Virginia – based firm specializing in National Defense and Homeland Security matters. He graduated from the University of Kentucky College of Law and practiced law in Owensboro prior to returning to fulltime active duty. Youngman’s military awards include the Army Distinguished Service Medal, Silver Star, Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit (with Oak Leaf Cluster), Bronze Star, Purple Heart, Combat Infantryman Badge, Master Parachutist Badge, Air Assault Badge, and the Special Forces Tab.
“The viability of our all-volunteer military force, and thus our national security, relies on the support of America’s employers and the employees they share with the nation,” said Youngman. “ESGR applauds companies that implement personnel policies supporting employee participation in the Guard and Reserve.”
ESGR seeks to foster a culture in which all employers support and value the employment and military service of members of the National Guard and Reserve. ESGR facilitates and promotes a cooperative culture of employer support for National Guard and Reserve forces members.
Story by Sgt. 1st Class Harold Broughton, 1st Battalion, 149th Infantry
CAMP ATTERBURY, Ind. — On June 20, 20 warriors from the 1st Battalion, 149th Infantry Battalion arrived at Camp Atterbury Joint Maneuver Training Center to begin training for testing of the coveted Expert Infantryman Badge (EIB). The EIB is a distinction that displays a skill set the infantryman must possess in order to earn the difficult sought after award. Those that earn the EIB wear it with a sense of pride and accomplishment for good reason.
After a rough five days of training, Spc. Christopher Jones, Staff Sgt. Nicholas Combs, Capt. Jason Partin and Capt. Ryan Hubbs from were the newest Kentucky Guardsmen to wear the EIB.
“Having a regional EIB testing hosted by the 205th Infantry Brigade from Camp Atterbury is a great benefit for us, surrounding Army Reserve units and Active components the same,” said Sgt. Maj. Chris Jackson, operations sergeant major for the 1/149th. “Kentucky, Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin and the 101st Airborne Division from Ft. Campbell, KY sent candidates to participate in this event that had a starting number of 115 soldiers to enter testing.”
In 1944 Army Chief of Staff, George C. Marshall began the development of an award to honor the U.S. Army Infantryman. The intentions were to create something that represented the Infantry’s tough role in hard-hitting combat and display the proficiency in the Infantry arts. Once the course was completed, 100 NCO’s from the 100th Infantry Division set out for the first EIB to be awarded. Once the three days of testing was completed only ten Soldiers were left standing in which they attended the last part of the testing of being interviewed. In the end, Technical Sgt. Walter Bull was the last man standing and earning his prestigious title of expert infantryman.
Although things have changed since 1944 and the testing has been revamped, the numbers have not shown the testing to become any easier as an Army success rate of only eight percent of the starting class earn the badge.
The 20 Soldiers from 1/149th began their road to the EIB in March by being pre-tested to meet all prerequisites, three months before arriving at Camp Atterbury. Beginning with more than 40 Soldiers, they began assessing the individuals to ensure they were capable of qualifying expert with their assigned M4, achieve the minimum requirements for the Army Physical Fitness Test and prepared to endure the 12 mile road march in less than the required three hours. Upon completion, more than 50% were not going to have their shot at earning their EIB, leaving the remaining 20 Soldiers to test their skills and knowledge to become an expert infantryman.
The course consisted of five days of training with a variety of phases for the candidates. Each of the training lanes consisted of three Master Skills Testing and an Individual Tactical Test lane that included 10 tasks that must be completed in 20 minutes or less. If a candidate received back-to-back No-Go’s or a total of three in the entirety of the testing they would be terminated. The three main lanes are designated as Patrol, Traffic Control Point, and Urban lanes. The master skill tests were designed to display the skill needed to properly function, clear, and fire each weapon system an infantryman may encounter from a 9MM to a M2 .50-caliber machine gun. The culminating task involved with the individual tactical tests (ITT) included events that a Infantryman may encounter in a combat situation to include basic movement tactics, call for fire, request a MEDEVAC and employ hand grenades to name a few of the tasks.
Entering day one, the 115 candidates performed the APFT where they are required to achieve 75% in each event before moving on. Next up was the day and night land navigation which proved that day one would send many candidates back home without their EIB. More than half of the candidates were not able to successfully achieve the standards these events, terminating them from the course. Over the next three days the candidates would perform one lane testing per day and hope to move on for the fifth and final day that included the 12-mile ruck march that must be completed in less than three hours.
Only 23 Soldiers of the original 115 remained on the final day to begin the ruck march on the final day of testing. The four Kentuckians separated themselves by proving they had what it took passing the first four days of testing. The only thing standing between them and earning the EIB was the long physical demand of rucking 12 miles with 35lbs of gear. All four candidates began the day with the same goal and accomplished it within the required three-hour time limit earning their coveted Expert Infantryman Badge.
In all, 22 candidates received their EIB and only six were able to complete as “True Blue” candidates including Hubbs. By being considered True Blue the candidate must complete all task without a single no go, a daunting task on top of the already demanding course.
“When they get back to their units, these four individuals will be looked upon as a part of the most knowledgeable Infantryman the U.S. Army has to offer,” said Jackson. “And our Infantry Battalion is full of pride in their accomplishment.”
FRANKFORT, Ky. – The term “quiet professional” is used a lot in the military, and for good reason. Most military service members are just that, professionals who get the job done and move on to the next mission. Chief Warrant Officer Travis Wright is one of those quiet professionals. After 23 years of service in both the active duty Army and the Kentucky National Guard, he’s preparing for retirement and ready to move into the next chapter of his life. And since July is Warrant Officer Month we asked him to share some of his insights regarding his career as a “quiet professional.”
How did you begin your career?
I joined active duty at 18 as part of the Warrant Officer Flight Training (WOFT) program. I went straight from basic training to WOCS and then flight school where I graduated at 19. I was fortunate to accomplish all my professional goals in 10 years on active duty. I flew OH-58A/C, OH-58D Kiowa Warriors and AH-6J Little Birds in assault, attack and special operations units.
How did you come to join the Kentucky National Guard?
I left active duty and pursued a career as an airline pilot with Comair in Cincinnati where I was a first officer on the Canadair Regional Jet (CRJ). During my ground school training I ran into a colleague from my Army days and he told me about the Reconnaissance and Interdiction Detachment in Kentucky. I made a few calls and began my career with the Kentucky National Guard as an M-day pilot. Flying single pilot with a trooper looking for dope was probably one of the best jobs I had in the Army.
What other missions did you take on as a Kentucky Guard aviator?
While with the RAID I supported the G-8 Summit in Sea Isle (Savannah), Georgia and flew along the nation’s northern border in Burlington, Vermont to support the Department of Homeland Security. I had an opportunity for a short tour of duty to in Washington, D.C. to help out at the National Guard Bureau. I really enjoyed the mission there. After discussions with my wife we decided to make the move to DC so I could spend more time at home.
Tell us about your tour of duty at our nation’s capital.
The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy is responsible for producing the President’s annual National Drug Control Strategy. Additionally they produce the Southwest Border, Northern Border and Caribbean Drug Strategies. ONDCP is organized with three main departments, Office of Supply Reduction – mostly OCONUS and border operations, Office of Demand Reduction – preventing use before it starts and where I work, Office of State, Local and Tribal Affairs.
While I interact with those other offices, I chiefly work as a liaison from NGB to the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area program. There are over 30 HIDTA programs throughout the country including the Appalachia HIDTA with its office in London, Kentucky. I provide a voice for the Natioanl Guard and our counterdrug program in support of HIDTA operations and interact with my fellow liaison officers from DEA, FBI, IRS and DHS.
What’s it like being a warrant officer?
Many others have said this, but a warrant officer is the best rank in the Army. My first experience that this was going to be “different” was just after I pinned on my bar at 19 years old. I was waiting for my airborne school date and working at the headquarters at Ft. Rucker. The command sergeant major came through the front door and said ‘Good morning, sir.’ I looked around to see who he was talking to. I’m sure he had kids my age, maybe older but I quickly figured out he meant me.
I’ve been given responsibilities and experiences that I never thought possible. My last four assignments I have replaced a lieutenant colonel and my current position is coded for a colonel. It’s a testament to the trust leadership places in warrant officer professionalism and expertise, regardless of what the pay grade is.
As part of the Joint Staff, I’ve had several opportunities to explain to my Air National Guard brothers and sisters what the heck a warrant officer is.
By Master Sgt. Diane Stinnett, 123rd Airlift Wing Public Affairs
KENTUCKY AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Kentucky’s assistant adjutant general for Air, Warren H. Hurst, was promoted to the rank of brigadier general during a ceremony here July 12.
Hurst’s new rank insignia were pinned on by his wife and daughter before an audience of family, friends and coworkers in the Base Annex.
“Unbridled Service is the standard by which we define the National Guard, and I believe Warren’s career fits that definition to perfection,” said Kentucky’s adjutant general, Maj. Gen. Edward W. Tonini, who officiated the ceremony.
“I know that our organization, and most importantly the men and women of the Kentucky National Guard, are in good hands with your sage wisdom and guidance.
Calling him an “outstanding officer in every way,” Tonini went on to recognize Hurst’s many accomplishments during more than 25 years of service.
Commissioned through Officer Training School in 1986, Hurst has an extensive background in planning and executing expeditionary air operations worldwide. He has served in various operational and headquarters staff assignments, including duty as an instructor and evaluator pilot for 12th Air Force and Air Forces Southern.
He also served as the 1st Air Force (Air Forces Northern) director of mobility forces for eight National Level Exercises for homeland security/homeland defense, coordinated civil-military air relief efforts during the 2010 Haiti earthquake and was deputy director of mobility forces to the Pacific Air Forces commander in response to the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear crisis in Japan in 2011.
Before moving to his current role at Joint Forces Headquarters-Kentucky, Hurst stood up and commanded the Kentucky Air Guard’s 123rd Contingency Response Group — the only CRG in the Air National Guard — and most recently served as commander of the Louisville-based 123rd Airlift Wing.
As assistant adjutant general for Air, Hurst is the commander of the Kentucky Air National Guard and represents the governor and the adjutant general of Kentucky on matters pertaining to the Kentucky Air Guard.
“One doesn’t get to this point in their career without a lot of support from many different aspects — from senior leadership, family, friends and from the Airmen you work with and for,” Hurst told the audience.
He recognized his family for their “support and encouragement” over the years and praised the Airmen of the 123rd Airlift Wing for their to dedication to duty.
“Your willingness to answer the call is simply impressive, and when you go, you excel in the performance of your job,” Hurst said. “Thank you for inspiring me every day with your commitment to excellence and thank you for the opportunity to continue my service to you and to the Commonwealth of Kentucky.”
Story by Maj. David Page, Kentucky National Guard Public Affairs
FRANKFORT, Ky. — In July 2013, 2/75th Recruiting and Retention Battalion Marketing section was researching ways to host Military Appreciation Nights during football and basketball games at various high schools throughout the commonwealth.
Borrowing an idea from the Indiana Guard, the team purchased traveling ‘National Guard’ jerseys for both football and basketball teams.
“Indiana was only using the jerseys in basketball, but we felt it would work well for football, too,” said Master Sgt. Bradley R. Harlan, marketing NCO for 2/75th.
That fall, the first football team donned the jersey and won. The next week, the next team had the same result. After ten regular games and one playoff game, every team that wore the jerseys won.
“It was an honor to wear them.” said John Petett, head football coach Monroe County High School. “I felt like we were representing more than our school on that Friday night, and it was extra motivation for the team.”
Besides the great results for teams, the jersey was seen by approximately 11,000 people by the end of the football season. Plus, images of the jerseys were seen in numerous photos in the media, helping the Guard build awareness throughout the commonwealth.
The basketball uniforms didn’t yield the same winning results for all of the teams, but they were worn in 25 games during the 2013-14 season, with more than 20,000 fans seeing these uniforms. The jerseys also achieved similar media coverage as the football jerseys, further helping the Guard show its involvement in the community.
“Without the Kentucky High School Athletic Association and Julian Tackett, the KHSAA president, allowing the schools to use these for Military Appreciation nights, this would have not been possible,” said Harlan.
With the success of the Guard jersey program, R&R Battalion is in the process of purchasing two more sets of the football jerseys for the 2014 season.
“The football jerseys are already reserved for every Friday night game for the upcoming season,” said Harlan.
Story by Maj. David Page, Kentucky National Guard Public Affairs
FRANKFORT, Ky. — In mid January, Kentucky Army Aviators will open a new 126,000 square foot, $25 million Army Aviation Support Facility on the Boone National Guard Center in Frankfort.
The facility will have 18 aircraft bays that will feature the latest in aviation support to include in-ground vaults in the hangars to house data hubs as well as lubricants, air and water ports to assist in maintenance of the rotary-wing aircraft.
“The new facility will be four times the size of the current AASF,” said Chief Warrant Officer Ryan S. Thompson, Aircraft Maintenance Supervisor, Joint Forces Headquarters. “Plus, it will have bays to house our aircraft, which will keep them out of the elements, therefore helping us reduce corrosion by as much as 80 percent and reduce the risk of lightning strikes on the flight line.”
Besides the increased size, the new AASF is registered as a LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) Silver certified facility by the US Green Building Council. Silver is the second of four levels in LEED, and it is based on points for positive environmental aspects of a project. This certification recognizes the Kentucky National Guard for its environmental stewardship in the selection of building materials, methods, and energy savings initiatives.
“Our approach to savings on this facility is multi-faceted,” said Col Steven T. King, Construction and Facilities Management Officer. “Firstly, we are constructing a building that is tightly sealed, well insulated, and durable to minimize energy demand.
“Secondly, through sustainable design building principles, we are using the site orientation to take advantage of natural day-lighting, high-efficiency artificial lighting, active and passive solar strategies, geothermal heating and cooling, occupancy sensors and programmed thermostats to schedule HVAC shut down during periods of non-occupancy, such as nighttime and non-IDT (inactive duty training) weekends. This effort enables us to focus on minimizing our energy operating costs. ”
Another contributing factor to helping with the LEED certification is the solar panels that will be installed on the facility. These panels will help provide up to 80 kilowatts of energy, which will provide approximately 20% of the energy requirements for the building.
“Although we have 80kW of photovoltaic energy that we will produce, our goal is to add additional panels in the future to make this facility a truly Net-Zero energy building,” said King. “This means that we will generate an amount equal to or greater than the amount of energy we consume.”
Beyond the positive environmental impact, the facility was designed with the “user” in mind.
To that end, Col. King and his staff reached out to Col. Abney and his aviation team to talk about what they needed in a facility. The group then toured three other Aviation Facilities around the U.S. to gather lessons learned from those projects.
“During the tours, we looked at how each facility flowed and how we could make ours more efficient,” said Thompson. “We then worked with Chief Warrant Officer Four Larry Goode (a member of Col. King’s team) on the elements we wanted and he helped us get everything under one footprint.”
What resulted from the tours and the collaboration was a design that was not only functional for all units to be housed there, but some small touches to help the Soldiers be more efficient. For example, the component support shops that provide maintenance functions are located immediately adjacent to the hangar floor, which enhances the overall logistical flow of the entire operation.
Another critical feature of the new building will be the fire suppression system in the hangars. In case of a fire, the system will fill the hangar up to 8’ of foam within 10 minutes to dowse a fire.
“We are looking forward to moving into the new facility,” said Thompson. “This has been a long-time in the making so it will be a great day when we cut the ribbon.”
As for the existing AASF, it will be receiving a new tenant as well. The Combined Support Maintenance Shop, also located on Boone Center, will move to help provide more space on the post.
Story by Staff Sgt. Scott Raymond, Kentucky National Guard Public Affairs
CAMP ATTERBURY, Ind. — Kentucky Guardsmen went about their usual routines during annual training periods this spring and summer in a variety of places. Soldiers and units use this time to ensure they are up to the task of doing their specific job.
For State Command Sgt. Maj. Thomas Chumley, it is also an opportunity to ensure those Soldiers are doing the right thing and are being taken care of by the Kentucky National Guard.
“Visiting Soldiers during annual training and any other training event gives me the opportunity to talk to and observe Soldiers at their best and address any issue they may have,” he said. “It is also to let them know the senior leadership is proud of what they are doing, and appreciate the sacrifices they and their families make.”
Chumley said there were times in the past that Soldiers never saw their command sergeant major or even knew who he or she was. He refuse to go back to that time, because put simply, it’s his job. As the Kentucky Army Guard’s top enlisted advisor to the adjutant general, that job is an important one for the nearly 6,000 enlisted Soldiers serving in the commonwealth.
“I am their eyes and ears in Frankfort, I represent them to the leadership of this organization, and I cannot do it without getting out here and talking to them.”
Annual training periods provide the ideal chance for command visits and Chumley visits as many as the schedule allows. From Kentucky’s Wendell H. Ford Regional Training Center to Camp Atterbury, the 42-year military Veteran is out asking what the Soldiers think of the food, if they are up to date on their training requirements and if they take advantage of the benefits available to them. He said it is his chance to find ways to improve the Kentucky Army National Guard.
The visits are well received as Soldiers gather to visit with Chumley, meet a member of the command staff and share their feelings about training and the Kentucky Guard..
“I think its great that the sergeant major comes out to see us, check on us and show that he cares,” said Pfc. Lawless with the 1st Battalion, 149th Infantry. “It tells us leadership just doesn’t sit at a desk somewhere, they come out here and learn from us like we’re supposed to learn from them. It shows good leadership and I appreciate that.”
Chumley often asks how many of the Soldiers would consider giving more than 40 years to their country. Not that he expects very many to raise their hands, he knows he’s talking to a future command sergeant major and the future of the Kentucky Guard.
“One of the things I like most about coming out here is that I get to tell them how proud I am of them and thank them for what they do. Every time I get around these young Soldiers it reenergizes me and reminds me that I am here for them, and because of them.”
Story by Staff Sgt. Scott Raymond, Kentucky National Guard Public Affairs
FRANKFORT, Ky. — The Kentucky National Guard introduced its newest top enlisted Airman in a change of responsibility ceremony at the Capitol Rotunda in Frankfort, July 11.
Chief Master Sgt. Jeffrey Moore became the state’s sixth state command chief master sergeant, succeeding State Command Chief Master Sgt. James Smith.
“It is important to maintain continuity, but it is just as important to welcome change,” said Moore. “I look forward to serving with Sgt. Maj. Chumley in making the Kentucky Guard truly a purple organization.”
Moore, previously the 124rd Logistics Readiness Squadron Enlisted Manager has served the Kentucky Air Guard since 2000 after 17 years in the active duty Air Force.
With 32 years of total service, Moore now becomes the highest ranking enlisted Airman in Kentucky, a role Kentucky’s Adjutant General, Maj. Gen. Edward W. Tonini called, “One of the most important roles in the Kentucky Air National Guard.”
“He serves as my eyes and ears among the troops,” said Tonini. “I have been unbelievably fortunate and blessed these past four years having Chief Smith at my side.”
“Chief Moore’s qualifications for this job are unquestionable. he’s excelled at every level and his leadership and wisdom have brought distinction upon himself, the enlisted troops and his unit.”
The state command chief master sergeant is an integral day-to-day member of the adjutant general’s senior staff, overseeing the needs and concerns of the state’s enlisted corps and is a vocal advocate on their behalf.
Moore said the Kentucky Army and Air National Guard has a history of great leadership and he plans to continue that in his new role.
“I will be a 360 degree leader. I will lead south to individuals under my care. I will lead north to work with those that have authority over me. I will lead east and west impacting my peers, but most importantly, remain vigilant in maintaining my own compass, needle center.”
Smith has served in the role since 2010 and will retire after nearly 40 years of service to the Kentucky Air National Guard.
In an emotional farewell, Smith said he was humbled to be included in the short list of the state’s command chiefs.
“I wish Jeff all the best. It has truly been an honor to have served and a privilege to have been a member of the Kentucky Joint Forces Headquarters staff.”
Honor recognizes achievements from 2011 to 2013
Unit now the most decorated airlift wing in the Air National Guard
By Maj. Dale Greer, 123rd Airlift Wing Public Affairs
LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The 123rd Airlift received its 16th Air Force Outstanding Unit Award during a ceremony here yesterday, continuing a long tradition of excellence that has made it the most decorated airlift wing in the Air National Guard.
The achievement is nearly unprecedented in the history of the entire U.S. Air Force, noted Maj. Gen. Edward W. Tonini, Kentucky’s adjutant general, who observed that only a handful of Air Force units of any kind have earned 16 AFOUAs.
“This is indeed a very historic day,” Tonini told a crowd of more than 1,000 Kentucky Air National Guardsmen who attended the ceremony at Louisville Male High School. “It’s a great day to say to other folks wherever you live that you’re a member of the very best airlift unit in the United States Air Force.
“As adjutant general, I’ve had the honor of visiting you in war zones in Iraq and Afghanistan. I’ve witnessed how tough and efficient you are at doing your jobs. I’ve seen for myself the professionalism and pride of the men and women of this unit, both here at home and overseas. From Bagram to Kyrgyrzstan, Quito to Haiti and even in places like Antarctica, you are absolutely outstanding in every way.
“You absolutely deserve this recognition, and I couldn’t be more proud.”
Tonini then presented Col. Barry Gorter, commander of the 123rd Airlift Wing, with a streamer representing the latest honor. Gorter pinned the red-white-and-blue ribbon to the wing’s guidon as audience members clapped loudly.
The 123rd Airlift Wing received its 16th Air Force Outstanding Unit Award for exceptionally meritorious service from Oct. 1, 2011 to Sept. 30, 2013, according to the award citation. During this time, the wing engaged in a full spectrum of missions at home and abroad, deploying 611 Airmen to 29 locations in 13 countries for an aggregate total of 46,150 days.
Among these deployments, the wing’s Airmen set records for C-130 mission-capable and departure-reliability rates while airlifting 4,900 tons of cargo and 12,300 troops across U.S. Central Command as the lead unit at an expeditionary airlift squadron based in the Persian Gulf.
The wing also facilitated the short-notice movement of a Patriot Missile Battery and 300 soldiers to Turkey in response to the Syrian Civil War, and supported numerous special operations missions to kill or capture the most wanted enemies of the United States.
Thirty of the wing’s special operations Airmen received high-level commendations during the award period for coordinating more than 3,800 combat missions and hundreds of air-to-ground attacks that resulted in more than 1,750 enemy killed in action.
The wing also deployed 25 Airmen to Afghanistan in support of Agriculture Development Teams 3, 4 and 5, fostering the creation of a sustainable agriculture economy and promoting business opportunities through a women’s-empowerment initiative. One project boosted income for 1,400 Afghan raisin vineyards by 50 percent in less than 6 months.
The 123rd Airlift Wing has one of the most diverse mission sets in the Air Force, Tonini said. In addition to its primary mission of providing C-130 intra-theater airlift, the unit also has one of only two full-spectrum special tactics squadrons in the Air National Guard and the Air Guard’s only Contingency Response Group.
The special tactics unit includes parachute-jump qualified emergency medical technicians who specialize in personnel recovery, and combat controllers who deploy undetected into hostile environments to establish assault zones or airfields while simultaneously conducting air traffic control, fire support, command and control, direct action, counter-terrorism, foreign internal defense, humanitarian assistance and special reconnaissance.
The Contingency Response Group was created as a self-sufficient unit that deploys to inoperative airfields to establish air cargo operations during times of crisis or military contingency, enabling the rapid influx of troops, cargo and disaster-relief supplies.
The wing’s other unique mission sets include an Explosive Ordnance Disposal flight; a Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and High-Yield Explosive Enhanced Response Force Package; and two Critical Care Air Transport Teams that specialize in providing medial care for critically injured servicemembers who must be transported aboard military aircraft en route to more capable medical treatment facilities.
“We are the single most diverse airlift wing in the Air Force,” Tonini noted. “Some airlift wings can boast that they have one of those additional missions. A couple might even be able to say they have two. But nobody can come close to saying that they have all five.”
The 123rd Airlift Wing received its first Air Force Outstanding Unit Award in 1970.