January 21, 2009 (by 2nd Lt. Bryan Bouchard) - One of Luke's eight fighter squadrons was recognized this week as the top fighter squadron in all of Air Education and Training Command.
61st Fighter Squadron [USAF photo]
The "Top Dog" of the 61st Fighter Squadron, Lt. Col. Philippe Malebranche received the award during the AETC
Symposium last week in San Antonio.
"It is an honor and privilege to receive this award," the squadron's commander said. "The professionalism and work ethic of the Top Dogs is simply amazing."
The 61st FS
"Top Dogs," as they are called, were Luke's nominees for the award competing against fighter squadrons from other AETC bases. In fiscal 2008, the squadron trained 84 F-16 pilots of which 37 were new to the F-16.
"We had a 100 percent on-time graduation rate with only 80 percent manning," Colonel Malebranche said. "We flawlessly executed our flying hour program - more than 4,700 sorties and 6,300 hours. There were also Top Dogs supporting the Global War on Terror. Over the past year we had a combined temporary duty total of over 35 months with personnel deployed to Iraq, Afghanistan and the Philippines."
The award though, is not just a testament to the hard work of the Airmen within his squadron alone, but throughout the maintenance arena as well.
"The Top Dog operations and maintenance team is outstanding - we fly some of the oldest block 25
F-16s on base and produced more F-16 pilots than squadrons flying newer Block 42s," he explained. "Everyone is dedicated to accomplishing the mission - 'one team, one mission.' We have a rich squadron heritage and it shows in everything we do."
Now, the Top Dogs will test their mettle against the fighter squadrons of the rest of the Air Force including Air Combat Command, United States Air Forces in Europe and Pacific Air Forces.