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127th Wing named top flying unit in National Guard

A KC-135 Stratotanker and two A-10 Thunderbolt IIs from the 127th Wing fly over the wing's home station of Selfridge Air National Guard Base, Mich., May 24, 2016. The 127th Wing has been awarded the Spaatz Trophy by the National Guard Association of the United States, which recognizes the top flying unit in the country in the National Guard. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Elizabeth Holliker)

A KC-135 Stratotanker and two A-10 Thunderbolt IIs from the 127th Wing fly over the wing's home station of Selfridge Air National Guard Base, Mich., May 24, 2016. The 127th Wing has been awarded the Spaatz Trophy by the National Guard Association of the United States, which recognizes the top flying unit in the country in the National Guard. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Elizabeth Holliker)

SELFRIDGE AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Mich. -- The Michigan Air National Guard's 127th Wing has been named the top flying unit in the Air National Guard.

The National Guard Association of the United States (NGAUS) has awarded the Wing the Carl A. Spaatz Award, which is presented annually to the overall outstanding flying unit in the ANG. The award, which covers calendar year 2015, recognizes the significant combat operations of the 127th Wing in 2015, the unit's unprecedented success on a major operational inspection and the Wing's ongoing partnership with international, national, state and local partners.

"The work performed by the 127th Wing in 2015 rivals that of any flying unit in the U.S. military in recent history," said Brig. Gen. John D. Slocum, 127th Wing commander. ""This award represents the great work of our citizen Airmen at every level of the organization - a great recognition of Michigan excellence in action."

The 127th Wing, which is based at Selfridge Air National Guard Base, flies the A-10 Thunderbolt II, an attack aircraft, and the KC-135 Stratotanker, which is primarily used for aerial refueling operations. Both aircraft types were deployed extensively in 2015 and 127th Wing Airmen engaged in extensive combat operations in Operation Inherent Resolve. A-10 Airmen from the Wing engaged in more than airpower 1,700 combat sorties and the first combat use of GBU-54 munitions on A-10C aircraft. The Wing's KC-135's recorded the highest levels of use of any refueling aircraft in the combat theater in 2015. The Wing's 127th Air Refueling Group, which operates the KC-135s, also earning an unprecedented 100 percent score for both command and control procedures and general knowledge testing during a major operational readiness inspection at home station, even while a significant portion of the Group's Airmen were deployed overseas.

For much of the roughly middle half of 2015, more than 500 Airmen from the 127th Wing and more than a dozen aircraft were deployed - the largest single, sustained deployment of the 127th Wing since the Korean War in the early 1950s.

The Spaatz Award is named for the late Gen. Carl A. Spaatz who was the first chief of staff of the independent U.S. Air Force in 1947. Spaatz also served at what was then known as Selfridge Field, as the commander 1st Pursuit Group, 1922-24.

The 127th Wing was last awarded a major unit award by NGAUS in 2007, when the Wing received a Distinguished Flying Unit Plaque from the organization in recognition, in part, of deployments to Iraq in that year. The Wing's 107th Weather Flight was also awarded a Distinguished Mission Support Plaque in 2007 in honor of combat operations. The Wing's 107th Fighter Squadron was awarded a Distinguished Flying Unit Plaque in 2002 in recognition of flight response to the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.

"The Airmen who serve at Selfridge, they are Citizen-Airmen who truly take their responsibility to our great nation seriously. To watch how they perform on a day-in and day-out basis is truly amazing," said Chief Master Sgt. Tony Whitehead, the senior enlisted member of the 127th Wing.

The 127th Wing is comprised of nearly 1,700 personnel and is stationed at Selfridge Air National Guard Base.

The National Guard Association of the United States is the nation's oldest military association lobbying solely for the benefit of the National Guard of the United States and educating the public about the Guard's role and history in the Armed Forces of the United States. It was formed by militia officers in 1878 to obtain better equipment and training by petitioning Congress for more resources. Today it represents more than 470,000 men and women who serve their states and nation in the Army and Air National Guard.