926th Wing sweeps two AFA awards

  • Published
  • By Maj. Jessica D'Ambrosio
  • 926th Wing Public Affairs

Members of the 926th Wing traveled to National Harbor, Maryland, to accept Air Force Association awards during a ceremony Monday that kicked off the Air, Space and Cyberspace Conference.

The wing was named the Outstanding Air Force Reserve Command Unit of the Year and Lt. Col. Michael Bess, 84th Test and Evaluation Squadron, received the AFA’s President’s Award.

“We’re so honored to be recognized at this level,” said Col. Ross Anderson, 926th Wing Commander. “The award represents a culmination of all our heavy lifting that went into supporting the mission of the United States Air Force Warfare Center and the Remotely Piloted enterprise this past year.”

“Our Airmen work side-by-side their Regular Air Force counterparts to accomplish training and real-world operations on a daily basis. The relationship we have with the RegAF is Total Force Integration at its finest, and we’re proud to see that highlighted in a forum of our peers.”

The wing was selected as the top Reserve unit for, among other things, flying more than 17,000 combat sorties in support of 10th Air Force’s Remotely Piloted Aircraft mission and undermanned RegAF units, leading an integrated adversary force for Red Flag exercises that trained more than 9,000 Airmen from eight nations, and providing satellite communications environment training and forward-deployment preparation for U.S. Navy ships and exercises.

Bess was recognized for directing the effectiveness evaluation of all F-15E air-to-ground munitions in the Air Force inventory. Additionally, he designed and led numerous evaluations of Air Force assets in the protection of naval carrier group elements, and innovatively tested the effectiveness of air-to-air missiles against ground targets.

The AFA recognizes achievements annually by Air Force, government, academia and aerospace industry professionals. The 926th Wing was honored with two of the three Reserve category awards.

“This was an amazing opportunity for our personnel to listen to and meet leaders at the most senior levels of the Air Force,” said Anderson. “As our diverse mission set continues to grow, we look forward to coming back to this conference and engaging with the entire community.”

The three-day conference featured guest speakers, technology expositions, and roundtable discussions on cyber warfare and the way ahead for the field. It invites members from all levels of the Air Force, as well as public and private industry partners to share their experiences.

The AFA is a non-profit military education association that serves to promote a public understanding of the importance of aerospace power. It directly supports Air Force members and their families through legislation, augmenting the Wounded Warrior program, transition support, professional development and grants.

Its leadership is made up of volunteers at local, state and national levels. The organization was born from the legacy of Gen. Billy Mitchell, who fought for a strong national defense through airpower during World War I. His efforts were carried on by Gen. Hap Arnold, who introduced the concept of having a civilian organization advocate for airpower.

The AFA formalized in 1946, and named Gen. Jimmy Doolittle as its first president. During the conference’s opening ceremony, it was announced that the Air Force’s newest bomber was officially named the B-21 Raider, after the Doolittle Raiders. Lt. Col. (retired) Richard Cole, the last living Doolittle Raider at 101 years old, was present to help make the announcement.