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The 123rd Airlift Wing was awarded its eighth National Guard Bureau Distinguished Flying Unit Plaque during a ceremony here Sept. 16.
The plaque, bestowed annually to the five-highest rated Air National Guard units in the nation, highlights the wing’s performance in operations, human resources, accident prevention and community engagement during the period from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31, 2017.
During the ceremony, Brig. Gen. Warren Hurst, Kentucky’s assistant adjutant general for Air, praised the crowd of more than 1,000 wing Airmen for “a job exceedingly well done.”
“You made it look easy,” Hurst said. “I appreciate you stepping up to the plate, going out there, and setting the bar high. You’re living up to that culture of excellence that we’ve established over the past several decades.”
During the award period, the 123rd Airlift Wing directly supported the war effort with the deployment of 137 personnel to five countries and four geographic commands, for a total of 24,535 Title 10 days.
The 2018 award also recognizes the wing’s unprecedented support to hurricane relief operations in Texas, Florida and the Caribbean — including the delivery of thousands of tons of supplies and the evacuation of more than 1,500 stranded citizens.
The 123rd Contingency Response Group deployed 100 tons of gear to Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria, establishing an intermediate staging base, cargo logistics and passenger terminal operations after arriving at a non-functional airfield and gaining full operational capability within hours while working with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the U.S. Army and airfield management. The group provided essential aid to the citizens of Puerto Rico by supporting 268 aircraft, 3,887 passengers and the delivery of 3,617 tons of relief cargo.
Additionally, the 123rd Special Tactics Squadron deployed 18 personnel to Houston for rescue missions which resulted in the rescue of 336 stranded citizens. Twenty-three Airmen in five other areas in St. Thomas, St. Croix and St. Maarten controlled 636 aircraft that evacuated 1,286 citizens.
Back home, the wing exceeded recruiting and retention goals by 15 percent, surpassed 100 percent manning for the year, and received the Disney Award for the best food service in the Air National Guard. Additionally, the Airman and Family Readiness program hosted two Gold Star family events for more than 1,300 family members and 50 distinguished visitors from 14 states.
The wing also earned Distinguished Flying Unit Plaques in 1960, 1980, 1983, 1987, 1993, 1998 and 2017.
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