108th Garners Top Awards
By Maj. Denise Waggoner, 108 ARW/PAO

The 108th Air Refueling Wing received the coveted Air National Guard Distinguished Flying Unit plaque and the Curtis N. “Rusty” Metcalf Trophy at the 125th annual National Guard Association of the United States convention. Lt. Gen. Daniel James, Director of the Air National Guard, presented the awards.

Previously, the 108th received both the Air Force Outstanding Unit Award and the Air Force Outstanding Unit Award with Valor device.

"I couldn’t be more proud of the men and women of this wing," stated Col. Larry Thomas, 108th ARW Commander. "Receiving these two prestigious awards shows the defense community as well as the American people the ‘stuff’ we’re made of."

The Metcalf Trophy recognizes the airlift or air refueling unit that demonstrated the highest standards of mission accomplishment. Units are evaluated in the areas of exercises and deployments, human resources, accident rate history, accident prevention and significant accomplishments during the award period. The 108th was recognized for outstanding performance for 2002.

In 2002, the 108th ARW completed its wartime mission to near perfection in support of the global war on terrorism. More than 600 wing members were mobilized for Operations NOBLE EAGLE and ENDURING FREEDOM (ONE and OEF). Deploying to Southwest Asia for OEF, the wing achieved a 99.5 percent mission effectiveness rate while flying nearly 700 combat and combat support refueling missions over Afghanistan. For ONE, the unit maintained 24-hour alert status and flew an average of two combat air patrol refueling missions daily for a total of 2,300 hours on 540 sorties. The 108th flew more than 20 percent of all ANG tanker missions in support of these two operations.

The 108th Security Forces Squadron mobilized every available member to support missions at multiple locations worldwide including duty at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to guard Al-Quaeda detainees. Security Forces deployed to classified sites overseas while regular forces supported Homeland Defense missions at McGuire AFB and other locations stateside.

The wing also completed the Single Integrated Operations Plan Operational Readiness Inspection while simultaneously supporting ONE and OEF. The Inspector General identified the Maintenance Operation Control Center, Aircrew Life Support, and Security Forces as “Exceptional Performers.”

Family support throughout the year was a priority with the high level of deployments. Premobilization briefings were held for unit members and their families to cover all aspects of activation. Volunteers manned phones seven days a week to allow deployed personnel to make numerous morale calls home per month. These same volunteers worked countless hours contacting families so they could meet their loved ones when they returned home from deployments.