April 15, 2009 (by Maj. Audra Flanagan) - Chief of Staff of the Air Force, General Norton Schwartz recently announced that the 179th Fighter Squadron is the recipient of the 2008 Raytheon Trophy for its accomplishments in Fiscal Year 2008.
USAF F-16C block 25s #83-1155 & #84-1242, both from the 179th FS, are seen forming up with an F-22 on March 3rd, 2008 prior to a training sortie during there deployment to Elmendorf AFB. [MN National Guard photo]
The 179th Fighter Squadron is attached to the 148th Fighter Wing; a Minnesota-based Air National Guard Wing.
The Raytheon Trophy, formerly known as the Hughes Trophy is awarded for outstanding performance to an Air Force or Air National Guard fighter unit with a mission in air defense or air superiority. Units are judged on performance in the air defense or air superiority mission, exercise participation, inspection results, squadron and/or individual accomplishments.
In addition to an "Excellent" Phase II Operational Readiness Inspection and "Mission Ready" Alert Force Evaluation rating, the 148th deployed in support of Operation NOBLE EAGLE and IRAQI FREEDOM. After the Air Force grounded its F-15 fleet, the 148th quickly deployed jets and personnel to Hickam Air Force Base to perform Air Sovereignty Alert for nearly three months. A week after returning from Hickam, the 148th deployed jets and personnel to Elmendorf Air Force Base to perform Alert for another five-weeks. While at Elmendorf, the 148th was the first F-16 unit to intercept a Russian "Bear" Bomber off the coast of Alaska. The 148th performed Alert from both Minneapolis and Duluth during the Republican National Convention where they executed two active scrambles, three air patrols and prosecuted five temporary flight restriction violations. The 148th completed the year by deploying to Joint Base Balad, Iraq
for a third time since 2005.
This is only the fourth time an Air National Guard unit has received the award and only the second time an F-16 unit has received the award since its inception in 1953. 179th Fighter Squadron Commander, Lt. Col Eric Chandler said "It's awesome for the Bulldogs to get recognition for the hard work they did in 2008. All our people make it look easy, but it isn't. They deserve this kind of award."
148th Fighter Wing Commander, Col. Frank Stokes stated that "This award is especially important to our Wing because it validates the intense effort we have put forth over the last several years: the many times we have answered calls from ANG
, and the Air Force; packed up and deployed on short notice; and accomplished the mission in a professional, efficient manner. We have answered those calls repeatedly, and often returned to take an inspection or deploy to the AEF
, and then immediately fulfilled another short notice request. We have done all this without complaining, and in a manner that often left the operation in better shape than when we came. The Bulldogs should feel good that our efforts were not lost on our Nation's Leadership - they have now rewarded us for them."
The Raytheon Trophy will be presented at a later date. No details on the event are yet available.