Ramstein units receive AF-level awards

by Senior Airman Amanda Dick
86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

The Air Force recently validated the work members of the 86th Airlift Wing, 435th Air Ground Operations Wing (formerly the 435th Air Base Wing) and Headquarters 3rd Air Force accomplished within the past few years.

Headquarters 3rd AF Commander Lt. Gen. Frank Gorenc presented both wings with the Air Force Outstanding Unit Award in a ceremony Nov. 25 in the 86th AW Headquarters building on Ramstein.

“In the end, our Air Force operates with three common values: integrity, service and excellence in all we do. This outstanding unit award is really about all three of those values, with a focus on excellence,” General Gorenc said. “We have to continue our mission in an excellent manner because air power right now is helping to support all of our other partners in the joint fight.”

The 86th AW was awarded the AFOUA with Valor for their exceptional service from Jan. 1, 2008, through Dec. 31, 2008.

“It’s a tremendous honor for the men and women of the 86th Airlift Wing,” said Brig. Gen. Mark Dillon, 86th AW commander. “It’s a true testament to their ‘legacy of valor’ since this award marks the fourth consecutive year the 86th has been awarded the AFOUA.”

According to the citation awarded to the 86th AW, some of the major accomplishments included: deploying personnel and equipment across three combatant commands to execute more than 18,000 sorties in support of Overseas Contingency Operations, providing airlift for 6,000 distinguished visitors and aeromedical evacuation for more than 2,600 personnel. And just how did the 86th AW contribute to all of this hard work?

“The 86th Airlift Wing provides air, space and cyber capability across the spectrum of conflict from combat to humanitarian operations … and everything in between,” General Dillon said. “Our support to three different combatant commanders – U.S. European Command, U.S. Africa Command and U.S. Central Command – really contributed to making this award possible.”

But the 86th AW was not alone in this award and could not have prospered without the hard work of the then-435th ABW, who also received the honors.

“The strong teamwork between the 86th AW and 435th ABW, at that time, translated into better coordination. Combined with the great effort from our Airmen, we were able to garner the award. It’s that same teamwork going forward that will enable our wings to continue to excel,” said Chief Master Sgt. Mitch Stippel, 435th AGOW command chief.

Members assigned to the 435th ABW from Dec. 1, 2007, through July 1, 2009, also received an outstanding unit award for their mission efforts.

As listed on the 435th ABW citation, some of the major accomplishments that led to the award included: several major quality of life efforts – the movement of 94 million pounds of mail to more than 2,000 postal facilities in 91 countries; enabling the $352 million program to build 560 new town houses; programming for the new $5 million CDC, reducing the child wait list by more than 200 children; safely transporting more than 19,000 wounded warriors; operating EUCOM’s only Joint Mobility Processing Center and the movement of more than 5,600 personnel and 3,600 tons of short cargo; and earning five Air Force “Best Practices” and five “Outstanding” ratings during the recent combined UCI. Col. Thomas Gould, 435th AGOW commander, attributed receipt of the award not only to the “synergy” of the two wings, but also to the hard work, dedication and teamwork of its Airmen.

“We’re extremely excited about the award and couldn’t be happier for our Airmen who truly earned this,” he said. “From our youngest Airmen to our squadron and group commanders, they’re the ones who made it happen.”

In addition to the two wings, 3rd AF personnel also received an outstanding unit award for their contributions to the fight from Jan. 1, 2008, through June 30, 2009.
“I’m proud to be a member of such a professional team whose service and sacrifice over the last year is recognized with the Air Force Outstanding Unit Award,” said Chief Master Sgt. Dennis Vannorsdall, 3rd AF command chief. “Their commitment to providing combat capability and support to U.S. Air Forces in Europe and EUCOM deserves this recognition.”

The achievements highlighted in the headquarters nomination package included: the executed drawdown of Air Force support in NATO Headquarters Sarajevo, freeing funds, personnel and equipment for Air Force needs; and the thoroughbred safety program that targeted 27,000 Airmen, bringing command mishaps down 40 percent and achieving the lowest fatality rate in 20 years.

Chief Vannorsdall said the achievement of this award could not have been possible without the “collective efforts of the entire 3rd Air Force team.”

This is the fourth year in a row both the 86th AW and former 435th ABW have earned an AFOUA. For Headquarters 3rd AF, this is the seventh AFOUA award they have earned, and the second time since its reactivation in December 2006.

For Ramstein Airmen who served in 3rd AF or the wings during the timeframe of their awards, they are authorized to wear the AFOUA ribbon. Subsequent receipt of this award will allow Airmen to attach a bronze oak leaf cluster to their existing AFOUA ribbon. Personnel officials have already updated records, but recommend that Airmen individually verify to ensure it is reflected accurately.