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131st Bomb Wing among recognized with Air Force Outstanding Unit Award

131st Bomb Wing Commander Col. Greg Champagne affixes the Air Force Outstanding Unit Award streamer to the 131st Bomb Wing unit flag while Master Sgt. David Zambruski stands by, Feb 11. The 131st was awarded this high honor for exceptionally meritorious service from 1 June 2008 to 31 May 2010. (Photo by Senior Master Sgt. Mary-Dale Amison)

131st Bomb Wing Commander Col. Greg Champagne affixes the Air Force Outstanding Unit Award streamer to the 131st Bomb Wing unit flag while Master Sgt. David Zambruski stands by, Feb 11. The 131st was awarded this high honor for exceptionally meritorious service from 1 June 2008 to 31 May 2010. (Photo by Senior Master Sgt. Mary-Dale Amison)

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- The Missouri Air National Guard was recently recognized with three 2011 Air Force Outstanding Unit Awards.

The 131st Bomb Wing, at Whiteman Air Force Base, 139th Operations Group, in St. Joseph, and the 157th Air Operations Group, headquartered at Lambert Air National Guard Base with operations at historical Jefferson Barracks, were each recognized for their outstanding contributions to the United States Air Force, said Maj. Gen. Stephen L. Danner, adjutant general of the Missouri National Guard.

"The Missouri National Guard is lucky to have such outstanding Airmen across the state," Danner said. "These men and women are consummate professionals, whether they're serving in missions overseas or at home on state emergency missions. These awards reflect their hard work and dedication."

Established in 1954, the Air Force Outstanding Unit Award is presented to units which have distinguished themselves by exceptionally meritorious service or outstanding achievement that clearly sets the unit above and apart from similar units.

"Our Airmen have been highly engaged throughout the state and world in 2011," said Command Chief Master Sgt. Bill Phillips, the state command chief. "Whether they were filling sandbags in northwest Missouri, participating in major training exercises, or conducting operations overseas, Missouri's Airmen met every challenge."

The National Guard's only B-2 Spirit wing, the 131st Bomb Wing, was recognized for transitioning from its previous F-15 mission and supporting operations including Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. Additionally, the wing excelled in all six inspections during that period, and received an overall rating of 'Excellent' in the Headquarters Air Combat Command Nuclear Operational Readiness Inspection.

The 131st also helped the Air Force elevate the concept of total force integration by forming a classic associate mission with the active duty Air Force's 509th Bomb Wing.

Col. Richard Chapman, who led the 157th Air Operations Group during much of the period recognized by the award, said it reflects the hard work of the group's Airmen.

"This award speaks to the cumulative accomplishments and professionalism of the 157th Air Operations Group, and recognizes the hard work, dedication, volunteerism, and selfless service of each and every member of the unit," Chapman said. "I'm very proud of the men and women of the 157th."

The 139th Operations Group's wide-range of accomplishments includes numerous missions worldwide for federal service as well as for state service across Missouri and the nation. The Airmen also engaged the St. Joseph community through volunteerism, emergency support and other actions. The group was consistently a top performance in inspections, exercises and readiness evaluations.

Brig. Gen. Jon Kelk, Missouri Air National Guard's chief of staff, said the Missouri Air National Guard will continue to provide the same high level of service to the state and nation.

"Congratulations to our fine Missouri Air National Guard Airmen," Kelk said. "This honor is well-earned and well deserved."