Following a two-year period of intense deployments, record-setting flying, a massively successful air show and numerous other support missions, Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts announced Dec. 15 that the Nebraska Air National Guard’s Lincoln-based 155th Air Refueling Wing has been awarded the U.S. Air Force’s prestigious Outstanding Unit Award.
This marks the 13th time receiving this award for the Nebraska Air National Guard’s largest unit in its 71-year history. More than 860 Airmen are assigned to the refueling unit in a variety of different occupational positions, all of whom contributed to the award.
“This unit has always performed at an outstanding level,” Ricketts said. “You have been able to support our allies, our coalition forces and fellow members of service around the world and in U.S Central Command operations.”
“You have demonstrated all the great values that we want to see, not only in our military, but as Nebraskans,” he added. “Hard work, team work, dedication, helping your neighbors and sacrificing so that we can continue to enjoy the freedoms we have in this country.”
The U.S. Air Force Outstanding unit is awarded by the Secretary of the Air Force to numbered units that have distinguished themselves by exceptionally meritorious service or outstanding achievement that clearly sets the unit above and apart from similar units.
The current award covers the period of Sept. 1, 2014 to Aug. 31, 2016.
“As a former member of the 155th, I am incredibly proud of your accomplishment and continue to take great pride in what you do,” said Maj. Gen. Daryl Bohac, Nebraska adjutant general.
“The first award the wing received was in 1980.” Bohac said. “Twenty-six of 36 years, your excellence has been acknowledged by the Secretary of the Air Force. I think it is a testament to who we are as Nebraskans. We bring a certain kind of work ethic, attitude and value system to what we do each and every day.”
Former commander of the 155th ARW, Brig. Gen James “Bob” Stevenson said the people of the unit are what sets the unit apart from others.
“The people of this unit are what distinguishes this unit,” Stevenson said. “It is a championship team. They understand the obligation that comes along with it and they believe in what we are doing.”
Col. Robert Hargens, commander of the 155th ARW, agreed. “Often times the sacrifice and the efforts of the wing members is easy for it to go unnoticed and this is a time to celebrate and let people know all the fantastic things our airmen and soldiers are doing across the world,” Hargens said.
The statistics accumulated by the Airmen of the 155th ARW definitely reinforce those thoughts. For example, during the award time period, the organization:
• Flew 2,276 sorties for a record 10,964 hours while offloading almost 3 million 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 of the 155th ARW’s Airmen to locations around the globe, including multiple rotations to the U.S. Central Command area of operations, where they conducted a wide variety of functions in support of ongoing U.S. 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;
• Members of the unit also earned numerous national-level awards to include the 2015 Air Reserve Component Air Transportation Activity of the year; the 2015 Daedalian Logistics Effectiveness Awards; the USAFCENT’s May 2016 Aircrew Safety Award of Distinction; the 2015 Region II Recruiting Office Supervisor of the Year; and the 2016 Armed Forces Insurance National Guard Spouse of the Year.
The members of the 155th Air Refueling Wing will be officially presented with its 13th U.S. Air Force Outstanding Unit Award at a future date.