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123rd named top airlift wing in Air National Guard

Louisville, Ky., Mayor Greg Fischer presents Kentucky’s adjutant general, Maj. Gen. Edward W. Tonini, with a plaque honoring the Kentucky National Guard during a Veterans Day ceremony in Louisville Nov. 11, 2014. The mayor referred to the Kentucky National Guard as the “best of the best” for its service to the community, commonwealth and nation. (Kentucky National Guard photo by Olivia Burton)

Louisville, Ky., Mayor Greg Fischer presents Kentucky’s adjutant general, Maj. Gen. Edward W. Tonini, with a plaque honoring the Kentucky National Guard during a Veterans Day ceremony in Louisville Nov. 11, 2014. The mayor referred to the Kentucky National Guard as the “best of the best” for its service to the community, commonwealth and nation. (Kentucky National Guard photo by Olivia Burton)

LOUISVILLE, Ky -- The 123rd Airlift Wing had been named the top airlift unit in the Air National Guard, Kentucky's adjutant general announced during a Veterans Day celebration held in downtown Louisville Nov. 11.

The unit earned the Curtis N. "Rusty" Metcalf Award from the National Guard Bureau for sustained operational excellence at home and overseas during 2013, said Maj. Gen. Edward W. Tonini, addressing a crowd gathered for the city's annual Veterans Day parade.

"This award recognizes that the 123rd Airlift Wing has again attained the highest standards of mission accomplishment," Tonini said. "The 123rd has a long and distinctive history of service, and I'm proud to say that the tradition of excellence continues."

The unit earned the Metcalf Trophy for superior accomplishments from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31, 2013. During that time, the 123rd Airlift Wing deployed 260 personnel to multiple locations in seven countries, providing 17,500 days of support to military contingency operations and training missions.

Among those deployments, the wing sent 75 percent of its pararescuemen, combat controllers and special operations weathermen to Afghanistan and Africa in support of global taskings, including high-risk missions to kill or capture the most wanted enemies of the United States.

The wing also deployed 26 security forces Airmen to Kuwait, where they provided security for 1,800 aircraft and 74,000 passengers at the second busiest aerial port in U.S. Central Command; one-third of the Logistics Readiness Squadron to Afghanistan, where the Airmen processed 467 short tons of cargo for Operation Enduring Freedom; and nine Airmen to Afghanistan in support of Agribusiness Development Team 5, which fostered the creation of a sustainable agriculture economy by teaching business, financial and agricultural management practices to the Afghan people.

The 123rd previously won Metcalf Trophies in 1994, 2002 and 2007. The wing is among the most decorated units in Air Force history, with 16 Air Force Outstanding Unit Awards and numerous other commendations for excellence.