Earlier this month, the 115th Fighter Wing learned that it would receive the 2013 Air Force Outstanding Unit Award - its eighth such award.
The announcement was made during the 2014 Wingman and Family Day held at the unit's Madison, Wisconsin base Sept. 7.
"Your dedication and commitment enable the Air National Guard to fulfill its commitment to our national and state missions," said Col. Jeffrey Wiegand, 115th Fighter Wing commander. "Thank you for the enthusiasm and professionalism you bring to the 115th Fighter Wing and the Wisconsin Air National Guard every day."
One of the Airmen who contributed to this year's award has been a member of the unit since 1987. He remembers the first time the unit won the award.
"I was a young Airman at the time that first unit award was announced," said Chief Master Sgt. Alan Dickrell, 115th Fighter Wing force support squadron superintendent. "I didn't comprehend how great of an achievement it was. I was fresh out of active duty and didn't even know how many Air National Guard wings there were in the country."
According to the Air Force Personnel Center, the Air Force Outstanding Unit Award is awarded to a number of units that have distinguished themselves through exceptionally meritorious service or outstanding achievement that clearly sets the unit above and apart from similar units. All 89 Air National Guard units have an opportunity to submit a package for the award.
"Throughout the years we kept winning awards and I began to understand more and more about the Air National Guard, and about what a great organization I was a part of," Dickrell said.
This year's unit award was especially important to Dickrell, as he won the General Lew Allen Award, an award given annually to honor a base level officer and senior non-commission officer working in aircraft munitions or missile maintenance. That award is only given to two people in the entire Air National Guard and strongly influenced the unit award submission.
"Receiving the Lew Allen was a critical contributor to the outstanding unit award because it is really a reflection of all the positive things we accomplish at the 115th Fighter Wing as a team," Dickrell said. "Not any one individual can take credit."
As a fifth-year chief, Dickrell felt this award was more meaningful to him.
"This one is different because I really understand the big picture and what it takes to win awards like this," Dickrell said. "Everyone has to maintain a high standard of excellence every day to be recognized. I'm proud to say the culture of excellence is deeply ingrained in everyone who is a part of our Wing, and I'm very proud that our leadership strives to pass that on generation to generation."
The hard work the Airmen of the Wing put forth each and every day isn't over yet.
"Even though we won the award, no one is stopping and basking in the glory," Dickrell said. "Everyone took a moment to reflect and be proud, but they are now pressing forward to plan and complete our next mission. I am proud to be a part of the 115th Fighter Wing and everything it is about."