Wing of Choice awarded Outstanding Unit honor

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Kristen Pittman
  • 403rd Wing Public Affairs

The Air Force Reserve Command recently announced the 403rd Wing’s award for the Air Force Outstanding Unit Award for exceptionally meritorious service from 2015-2017.

The award dates back to 1954 and is awarded by the Secretary of the Air Force to units displaying superior performance.

“This award reflects the outstanding service the Airmen of this wing have accomplished in support of our nation,” said Col. Jeffrey A. Van Dootingh, 403rd Wing commander. “From providing weather reconnaissance data, global reach, force protection, community support, participation in joint training exercises, to short notice deployments for real world contingencies, the members of this wing continually prove why the 403rd is the ‘Wing of Choice.’ Congratulations on your outstanding achievement, and thank you for all you do.”

During those years the wing saw growth in gaining three units. In 2016, the 803rd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron arose to serve with the 403rd AMXS to support the 403rd Maintenance Group’s 20 aircraft responsibilities, and the 36th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron at Pope Field, S. C., was relocated to here, giving the wing critical care in the air capabilities.

A year later, in an effort to streamline the weather missions in the AFRC, the wing acquired the 12th Operational Weather Flight located at Scott AFB, Ill.

The 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron Hurricane Hunters experienced, at the time, the 10th-most active hurricane season on record in 2017 flying 90 missions into 12 named storms, 15 more missions than the previous year. In 2015 the Hurricane Hunters flew a record-breaking six named storms in support of the Central Pacific Hurricane Center and the most powerful storm on record, Hurricane Patricia.

The 815th Airlift Squadron faced dissolution and relocation of its aircraft as a result of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2013, but the decision was reversed in 2015 by then-Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James and the Flying Jennies were reinstated. By November 2017 the 10 C-130J Super Hercules squadron was fully operational.

The 403rd Mission Support Group’s Force Support Squadron was recognized as AFRC’s “best small installation,” receiving the Maj. Gen. Eugene L. Eubank Award in 2017. The award recognizes areas of mission accomplishment, leadership, innovations, management, customer focus and customer impact.

Additionally, the 41st Aerial Port Squadron directed movement of 4,911 tons of air cargo onto 668 aircraft in support of Exercise Mobility Guardian. It was Air Mobility Command’s largest scale exercise in history at the time.

During that time-span multiple squadrons and groups within the wing were awarded for their excellence including the 2015 Outstanding Unit Award for the 403rd MXG.

Once the 403rd FSS receives the necessary elements from AFRC, the Reserve Citizen Airmen who served in the wing during this time period will be authorized to don the ribbon for this award on their ribbon rack. Airmen are encouraged to check their Virtual Military Personnel Flight profile to ensure their records are correct. If there is a discrepancy, Airmen can contact their servicing military personnel section or the Total Force Service Center to update their Awards and Decorations.

“The members of these organizations should be extremely proud of their many achievements and contributions resulting in these prestigious awards,” Lt. Gen. Richard Scobee, AFRC commander, said in a letter. “My sincere congratulations on this outstanding achievement!”