Published in "The Flying Razorback", official newspaper of the 188th Fighter Wing, Forth Smith, Arkansas (March 2011 public online issue):
By Capt. Heath Allen
188th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
Most associated with the 188th Fighter Wing already knew it but the Air Force confirmed it.
The 188th recently earned the Air Force Outstanding Unit Award (AFOUA) for its accomplishments from Oct. 1, 2008, to Sept. 30, 2010. The recipients for the outstanding unit accolades were recently announced by the Air Force.
The 188th has surmounted an arduous catalog of obstacles to reach the crescendo of the Air Force's system of unit recognition.
From the decision by the 2005 Defense Base Closure and Realignment Commission (BRAC) that was slated to strip the 188th of its flying mission and F-16 Falcons to the subsequent verdict reversal that allowed the unit to continue patrolling the skies with A-10 Thunderbolt II "Warthogs", the Flying Razorbacks have endured the gamut en route to a Phoenix-like return to prominence after making it off BRAC's death row.
"This just exhibits how our Airmen take potential problems and turn them into opportunities," said Col. Tom Anderson, 188th Fighter Wing commander. "We've had a tough path but we've met each challenge with dedication and enthusiasm, taking pride in each task and ensuring mission readiness. What we've accomplished is because of the people in our unit. They simply are the best in the Air National Guard and this award recognizes them for all their hard work. They truly deserve it."
The 188th plowed through a bustling schedule to transition to the A-10 in 2007 and later to the A-10C before deploying approximately 300 Airmen and six of its Warthogs for an Air Expeditionary Forces rotation to Kandahar, Afghanistan in 2010.
The 188th logged more than 2,700 combat hours in the A-10 without missing a single mission tasking while in Kandahar in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
During the award period, the 188th also deployed 141 members for Expeditionary Combat Support for Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom as well as other contingency operations worldwide.
The 188th also aced an Air Combat Command Unit Compliance Inspection in 2009. The unit graded "Complies" or "Complies with Comments" on 534 of 537 inspected areas for an overall mark of 99.4 percent.
"The competition was extremely keen, and each winner is commended for having been selected from an outstanding group of nominees," said Lt. Gen. Harry M. Wyatt III, Air National Guard director. "The dedication and commitment of the members of these organizations enable the Air National Guard to fulfill its commitment to the missions of peacekeeping, humanitarian relief, domestic improvement, and most important of all - defense of America. Again, my congratulations to the best of the best."
The 188th will receive a plaque, certificate, citation and special order. Also, all 188th members assigned or attached to the unit who served with the organization during the inclusive award period are authorized wear of the AFOUA ribbon or appropriate cluster if they directly contributed to the mission.
But the 188th won't have time to rest on its laurels. The unit is currently preparing for an Operational Readiness Inspection in July and an air show featuring the U.S. Air Force's Thunderbirds Oct. 1-2.
"We're very proud of this award," Col. Anderson said. "But there's always more work to be done and we have a busy schedule coming up. I know each of our Airmen will continue to make us all proud."