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Madison Fighter Wing Airmen continue to perform at an 'Outstanding' level

Four F-16 Fighting Falcons from the 115th Fighter Wing fly in formation over Lake Monona, Wis. Wisconsin Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Paul Gorman

Four F-16 Fighting Falcons from the 115th Fighter Wing fly in formation over Lake Monona, Wis. Wisconsin Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Paul Gorman

MADISON, Wis. -- The 115th Fighter Wing is known in Green Bay for their patriotic flyovers, but they continue to be known across the nation for sheer excellence.

For the third time in six years, the 115th has been recognized with the Air Force Outstanding Unit Award (AFOUA) -- solidifying the fighter wing as one of the best Air National Guard units in the country.

"This highlights that we are one of the premier units in the nation," said Brig. Gen. Joseph Brandemuehl, 115th FW commander. "It speaks to the professionalism and dedication of each and every Airman in this organization."

This includes personnel like Airman 1st Class Patrick Soderlund, of De Pere, Wis., who was recently recognized as the top Airman in the state. He's been with the unit for three years and credits his success to the culture that resonates everywhere within the fighter wing.

"I've been mentored through a culture of 'lead by example' -- working with very driven Airmen, peers and supervisors, who go out of their way to help with tasks and understanding information," Soderlund said. "It's an honor and a privilege to be part of a unit that performs and operates at the level we do."

Brandemuehl emphasized the AFOUA is a collective effort of the more than 1,000 Airmen that come together, train together and execute together to keep the fighter wing running as safely and efficiently as ever before.

"These Airmen will never cease to amaze you with their performance, and they are the best in the nation," he said. "The commitment and professionalism of these individuals are really what this award is highlighting."

Maj. Gen. Don Dunbar, adjutant general of Wisconsin, said he was extremely pleased but not surprised with the award.

"This award continues to validate the professionalism and dedication our Airmen of the 115th Fighter Wing display each and every day," Dunbar said. "It is gratifying that the Air Force recognizes what I see on a regular basis -- the continuation of a 60-year legacy of excellence at the 115th."

The fighter wing's motto is "Dedicated to Excellence." Those words hold true to the legacy that continues to be written as this is the 115th's seventh AFOUA in unit history. Previous awards have come in 1980, 1989, 1991, 1998, 2005 and 2009.

This award -- which recognizes the Wing's achievements from Nov 1, 2009 through Oct. 31, 2011 -- speaks to the overall, and well-rounded, success of the Wing and its members. The Wing has made a significant impact on the state, nation and even across the globe during this timeframe.

Some of those accomplishment include executing 4,740 sorties equating to more than 7,000 flight hours, deploying more than 200 Airmen to 18 different countries around the globe in support of numerous U.S. led and supported contingency operations, deploying medics to Nicaragua to treat more than 6,200 patients as part of a humanitarian mission and lessening the carbon footprint in Wisconsin by embracing innovating design and technology in the realm of environmental stewardship.

There are countless other accomplishments the Airmen of the 115th have previously and continue to achieve across the spectrum of all operations on base -- from logistics and personnel to mission support and operations.

Inspiring Airmen to continue performing at such a high tempo and culture of excellence could be considered difficult. Brandemuehl sees it a different way.

"I don't think it's one thing we do to motivate -- I think it's the organization itself that motivates the individuals to maintain that legacy of excellence," Brandemuehl said. "These Airmen just expect that they have to live up to that high standard."

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