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193rd SOW receives coveted award for record fourth time

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Jennifer Klimowicz
  • 193rd Special Operations Wing
Olympic great Jesse Owens knew a lot about overcoming obstacles in order to be the best.

He once said, "We all have dreams, but in order to make them come into reality, it takes an awful lot of determination, dedication, self-discipline, and effort."

For members of the 193rd Special Operations Wing, the gold medal moment for all their efforts came in the form of the wing's fourth Spaatz Trophy, awarded recently at the annual National Guard Association Conference in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Named for General Carl Spaatz, the first chief of staff of the Air Force, the prestigious Spaatz Trophy is awarded each year to the overall outstanding flying unit in the Air National Guard. Selection is based on overall combat readiness during the reporting year and the unit's performance with respect to all other Air Guard flying units.

Factors considered in the award are: events of national and international significance, exercises and deployments, human resources, accident-rate history, unit awards and community involvement.

"This highly coveted award is indicative of the incredible work done by the outstanding members of the 193rd," said Colonel James E. Astor, operations group commander. "As a commander, it is my privilege to work with these members who are so richly deserving of this award."

In addition to Astor and Brig. Gen. Eric G. Weller, wing commander, five enlisted members of the wing were on hand to receive the award. Among them was Sgt. Mathew Verghese, loadmaster for the 193rd Special Operations Squadron.

"There were many units there receiving all kinds of different awards and they all brought out their highest ranking officers to receive them," said Verghese. "Only one other unit actually brought out enlisted. It was definitely a morale-building opportunity for the enlisted personnel to be recognized in that manner."

The team mentality is one of the reasons the 193rd won, said Astor.

"Whenever the unit receives an award of this magnitude," Astor explained, "whether it is at the NGAUS national conference or any other venue, the wing endeavors to include a cross section of its personnel to participate in the receiving of the award."

Col. Jerry Otterbein, wing vice commander, was proud that the 193rd has won the award more than any other Air National Guard unit in the nation.

"Throughout the constant deployments and inspections and the most recent conversion to the C-130J, the men and women of the 193rd have proven over and over again, they are truly the finest citizen-soldiers of our generation," he said.