Gov. Pete Ricketts has recognized the Nebraska Air National Guard 155th Air Refueling Wing for winning national honors.
The 155th has won its 13th Air Force Outstanding Unit Award and has been honored as the best tanker unit in the country.
“You have demonstrated all the great values that we want to see not only in our military, but as Nebraskans; that hard work, that team work, dedication, helping your neighbors, and that sacrificing to be able to make sure we continue to enjoy the freedoms that we have here in our country,” Ricketts told members of the 155th gathered for the news conference held at the Nebraska National Guard Base, Joint Force Headquarters.
The men and women of the 155th are home of the holidays, a rarity for the group which has served six of the last seven Christmases away from home.
Assistant Adjutant General Bob Stevenson says the men and women of the unit continue to answer the call, even when the stakes are high.
“Over 75% of the people in the wing right now joined after 9/11. They know what they were signing up for and they did it anyway, because they believe in what we’re doing,” according to Stevenson.
Stevenson says the role of Guard members has changed dramatically.
“Your ‘weekend warrior’ is a joke. Two weekends a month, two weeks a year; that’s laughable,” Stevenson says. “But, we are strategic partners with the active duty. It is a total force effort. We cannot do it without each other.”
This is the 13th time Nebraska Air National Guard’s Lincoln-based 155th Air Refueling Wing has won the Air Force Outstanding Unit Award following a two-year period of intense deployments. More than 860 Airmen are assigned to 155th Air Refueling Wing in a variety of positions. The award period began the first of September of 2014 and concluded at the end of August last year. The unit has also been awarded the Rusty Metcalf Airlift and Tanker Award, recognizing the best tanker unit in the country.
The governor’s office released the 155th Air Refueling Wing statistics:
· Flew 2,276 sorties for a record 10,946 hours while offloading 2,999,204 gallons of fuel in support of U.S. and Coalition aircraft conducting both operational and training missions.
· Continued its legacy of Class A/B mishap-free flying – 142,000-plus hours since 1977.
· Served as the lead/host U.S. Air Force KC-135 Stratotanker unit during the nation-wide modernization and upgrade of the KC-135s’ avionics systems.
· Conducted 10 separate deployment rotations involving 512 Airmen to locations around the globe, including the U.S. Central Command area of operations.
· Partnered with local and state entities to successfully conduct a major open house and air show in 2016 that attracted more than 250,000 spectators.
· Supported numerous other community outreach events to include the annual Lincoln Marathon, Cornhusker State Games, Skills USA competitions, Lincoln Public School Science Fair and more than 30 events in local schools and colleges.
· Maintained an overall personnel strength of more than 100 percent through concentrated recruiting and retention efforts.
· Underwent frequent major inspections that resulted in numerous laudatory results.