Ohio National Guard News

Air Force recognizes all four Ohio Air National Guard
wings for outstanding achievement

Story by Capt. Ed Brown, Ohio National Guard Public Affairs

Boom operator looking out to a F-16.
Airman 1st Class Ashley Williams, ONG

Staff Sgt. Jamie Matheney, a boom operator with the 121st Air Refueling Wing, stays focused while refueling an A-10C Thunderbolt II during a training mission, July 27, 2017, in the skies over Pennsylvania.

Airmen on ground around the MQ-9 Reaper.
Senior Master Sgt. Robert Shepherd, (U.S. Air National Guard

Members of the 178th Wing joined with Airmen from Air National Guard units in multiple states to support and fly the MQ-9 Reaper aircraft during Operation Combat Hammer, an air-to-ground weapons evaluation conducted in 2017.

Sunrise pic of Airman working on C-130H.
Tech. Sgt. Joe Harwood, ONG

The sun rises over the flight line Dec. 21, 2017, at the 179th Airlift Wing in Mansfield, Ohio, as aircraft maintainers perform engine runs on a C-130H Hercules.

Senior Master Sgt. Elizabeth Holliker, ONG

Current group photo — Airmen assigned to the 180th Fighter Wing stand for a group photo Oct. 21, 2017, after a ceremony marking the 100th anniversary of the 112th Fighter Squadron.

COLUMBUS, Ohio (03/16/18) — Although its oldest units can trace their history back nearly 100 years, the Ohio Air National Guard marked a significant first recently, with the announcement that all four of its wings and all six of its geographically separated units, or GSUs, had earned one of Air Force’s highest unit-level awards for the same time period.

“This is a phenomenal achievement on the part of our nearly 5,000 Citizen-Airmen, and I’m immensely proud of their accomplishments,” said Maj. Gen. Mark E. Bartman, Ohio adjutant general. “The award recognizes the outstanding service provided by each wing and GSU to our communities, state and nation, and is a testament to the quality of the men and women who serve in the Ohio Air National Guard.”

The 121st Air Refueling Wing, 178th Wing, 179th Airlift Wing, 180th Fighter Wing, 123rd Air Control Squadron, 164th Weather Flight, 200th Red Horse Squadron, 220th Engineering Installation Squadron, 251st Cyber Engineering Installation Group and 269th Combat Communications Squadron have each been awarded the Air Force Outstanding Unit Award (AFOUA) for their significant achievements between 2014 and 2016.

“More than an honor, receiving this award is an acknowledgement of the hard work and dedication the Citizen-Airmen of the 179th Airlift Wing have demonstrated in their numerous accomplishments,” said Col. Allison Miller, 179th AW commander. “It clearly demonstrates the quality of our people, and it’s just one more reason that I’m humbled and honored to serve with these men and women.”

While this is the first time all of the Ohio Air National Guard’s units have received the AFOUA at the same time, each has won the award at least once previously. Units must demonstrate exceptional meritorious service, accomplish specific acts of outstanding achievement and/or excel in combat operations in order to be considered for the award.

“Multiple inspections from outside agencies validated the unit’s ability to perform its mission demonstrating a persistent culture of excellence,” said Lt. Col. Dominic Fago, commander of the 123rd Air Control Squadron. “The distinctive accomplishments of the members of the 123rd Air Control Squadron reflect great credit upon themselves, the Ohio Air National Guard and the United States Air Force.”

Throughout the award period, the Ohio Air National Guard conducted more than 24,000 hours of flight time in support of numerous missions for both the state of Ohio and the U.S., including Operations Spartan Shield and Inherent Resolve.

“It is great to see the Air Force recognize the hard work and dedication of the Airmen at the 180th Fighter Wing by awarding them the Air Force Outstanding Unit Award,” said Col. Kevin V. Doyle, 180th Fighter Wing commander. “Our Airmen consistently make the 180th Fighter Wing a model to emulate and a long-term solution in the Total Force.”

121st patch121st Air Refueling Wing

Located in Columbus, flies the KC-135R Stratotanker to provide worldwide air refueling and airlift support to U.S. military and allied forces.

178th patch178th Wing

Located in Springfield, provides real-time intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance. Base personnel remotely operate unmanned aerial systems performing missions all over the world.

179th patch179th Airlift Wing

Located in Mansfield, provides tactical airlift capabilities to both domestic and expeditionary missions, utilizing the C-130 Hercules airframe.

180th patch180th Fighter Wing

Located in Toledo, provides air combat capability, air superiority and performs the continuous Aerospace Control Alert mission to intercept aircraft violating security guidelines in U.S. airspace. The 180th FW operates the F-16 Flying Falcon.

123rd patch123rd Air Control Squadron

Located in in Cincinnati, directs air assets and provides surveillance of airspace, while managing full-spectrum air defense activities.

164th patch164th Weather Flight

Located in Columbus, provides global, mission-tailored weather information to Army and Air Force ground and air operations.

200th RH patch200th RED HORSE Squadron

Located in Port Clinton, provides Rapid Engineer Deployable Heavy Operational Repair Squadron Engineers (RED HORSE) for rapid runway repair and general construction missions.

123rd patch220th Engineering Installation Squadron (EIS)

Located in Zanesville, installs long-term communications in the form of voice/data networks, ground-to-air communication and navigational systems.

123rd patch251st Cyberspace Engineering Installation Group (CEIG)

Located in Springfield, provides communications and engineering installation services in support of state emergencies, emergency U.S. Air Force requirements and in joint environments.

123rd patch269th Combat Communications Squadron (CBCS)

Located in Springfield, establishes initial and build-up command and control, communications and information operations capabilities.

“The award is really just a public recognition of the tremendous work the daughters and sons of Ohio have been doing quietly here for years,” said Col. Mark Auer, commander of the 121st Air Refueling Wing. “No other ANG flying mission has the operational tempo of the KC-135. There's a reason why we say, ‘The sun never sets on the 121st,’ because it doesn’t, and this award is a testament to that fact.”

The AFOUA was first created in 1954 to recognize Air Force units that distinguished themselves with their performance and devotion to their duties. It was the first independently established Air Force decoration, with previous awards routinely being given through the U.S. Army, which the Air Force originated from and became its own branch of service with the implementation of the National Security Act of 1947. The AFOUA was the highest decoration the Air Force awarded at the unit level until it was superseded by the Meritorious Unit Award in 2004.

“To be selected is no small deal at all. It shows that during that time period the 178th performed at a superior level,” said Col. Gregg Hesterman, the 178th Wing commander. “Our wing stood out because of our focus on accomplishing the mission, taking care of our Airmen, and utilizing our resources in a way that isn’t wasteful.”

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