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Two Wisconsin Air National Guard units among best in nation

MADISON, Wis. -- Air Force officials announced Tuesday that two Wisconsin Air National Guard units would be among top Air Force units to receive the 2009 United States Air Force unit awards.

The Madison-based 115th Fighter Wing was one of only 31 units to earn the Air Force Outstanding Unit Award and the Camp Douglas-based Volk Field Combat Readiness Training Center was one of nine to receive the Air Force Organizational Excellence Awards.

"This is a tremendous accomplishment for the men and women of the Wisconsin Air National Guard," said Brig. Gen. Don Dunbar, adjutant general of Wisconsin. "These awards reflect the superb leadership at the 115th FW and the Volk CRTC, and the quality of our superb citizen- Airmen. It is a privilege for us to serve."

This is the sixth AFOUA for the fighter wing. Col. Joseph Brandemuehl, 115th FW commander, said the award is in line with the wing's motto of "Dedicated to Excellence."

"It's that motto that has built the culture of excellence we have today and that allows us to perform at such a high level," said Brandemuehl. "I think this award is validation that Wisconsin citizen Airmen are the best in the Air Force."

Col. Gary Ebben, Volk Field CRTC commander, credits a great staff, great work ethic and vast experience as the recipe for his unit's tremendous success.

Of only four CRTCs in the nation, Volk Field was the only one selected for the award in 2009. "All of the CRTCs provide a valuable service to our nation in supporting Guard, Active Duty, Reserve and interagency training and operational needs," said Ebben. "I can't speak to the specific tempo of the other CRTCs, but Volk Field has never been busier when all mission sets are considered."

A total of 40 units were recognized throughout the country.

The AFOUA was first authorized by the Department of the Air Force in 1954. It is awarded by the secretary of the Air Force to numbered units that have "distinguished themselves by exceptionally meritorious service or outstanding achievement that clearly sets the unit above and apart from similar units."

The AFOEA critiques nearly identical criteria but is awarded to units who are unique, unnumbered organizations that operate or perform missions like a numbered unit would.

Volk Field won the AFOUA in 2007 but National Guard Bureau determined the CRTC was more appropriately placed in the AFOEA category.

"This is a group of incredibly dedicated and committed individuals who collectively combine, forming an extremely effective team," said Ebben. "They do a tremendous job performing a very challenging mission."

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