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Selfridge's 107th Squadron named 'best of the best'

October 22, 2005 (by Tom Watts) - The way in which the 107th Fighter Squadron at Selfridge Air National Guard Base conducts its overseas missions has been recognized with the Air Force's highest honor.

The 107th Squadron, made up of Air National Guard F-16 fighter jets that pilots call "Red Devils," announced Thursday that it earned its second Air Force Association Outstanding Air National Guard Flying Unit Award.

"They are the best of the best," Maj. George Di Michele said Thursday, noting the unit first received the honor in 2002. "They are one of the best kept secrets in the nation."

The 107th has been conducting "dual missions" when the unit is deployed in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other "hot spots," including being the only unit equipped with the Theater Airborne Reconnaissance System (TARS).

"It's an honor," 107th Squadron leader David Tenlen said Thursday before boarding an F-16 for a routine exercise. "We went to this awards ceremony and Gen. (T. Michael) Moseley -- the chief of staff of the Air Force -- is right there."

Members from the 107th Squadron -- the only Air Force unit tasked with training other active and reserve Air National Guard units on how to use TARS -- deployed to Iraq in February 2004.

"But the award solidifies what we've been doing since 1998," Senior Master Sgt. Natalie Bigham of the 127th Wing said Thursday. "It's definitely a morale booster for the unit."

The "TARS pod," as it is commonly referred to, is a giant camera attached to the "belly" of an F-16 fighter jet.

Air National Guard officials said the "pod" is capable of reading a car license plate from 30,000 feet away, and allows reproduction of the image in hours instead of days.

"This award has been won on the efforts of every airman and woman who volunteers," said Master Sgt. William Yurgen, a flight chief for maintenance in the 107th Squadron.

There were 12 various awards handed out during the August ceremony. Recognition of award winners was a collaboration of the Air Force Association, National Guard Association of the U.S., National Guard Bureau, and signed by Lt. Gen. Daniel James III, director of the Air National Guard.

The F-16 fighter jets at Selfridge, however, will be retired in a "couple years," DiMichele said, as prescribed in the BRAC announcements made earlier this year. In a major reshuffling of the aircraft inventory at the base, the 15 F-16 fighters and eight C-130 cargo planes now at the base, known as "Fighting Falcons" and "Hercules" respectively, will be retired.

The 927th Air Refueling Wing will transfer its eight KC-135 refuelers -- "Stratotankers" -- to the 127th Fighter Wing. The 127th will also get four more Stratotankers from California, in addition to 15 A-10s from Battle Creek and nine more from other bases.

Published on October 21, 2005 in the Macomb Daily News. Used with permission from
Macomb Daily. © 2005 The Macomb Daily, a southeast Michigan daily newspaper
owned and operated by Journal Register Company

Additional images:

USAF F-16C block 30 #85501 flies through the sky on a mission in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. The F-16 is assigned to the Michigan Air National Guard's 107th Fighter Squadron at Selfridge Air National Guard Base. [USAF photo by MSgt. Glenn Wilkewitz]

USAF F-16C block 30 #85-1504 belonging to the 107th FS seen here on June 26th, 2004 at London Ontario. [Photo by Jon Somerville]