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Tanker town makes it rain

  • Published
  • By Maj. Denise Hauser
  • 940 Air Refueling Wing

Beale Air Force Base’s 940th Air Refueling Wing has been awarded Fourth Air Force’s Raincross Trophy for the 2020 fiscal year!

The Raincross Trophy recognizes exceptional Airmanship during an individual mission or sustained operations and carries bragging rights as "the best of the best wing" in the numbered Air Force.

Despite COVID-19 challenges and one of the worst wild fire seasons in the history of California, the 940 ARW persevered and came out on top.

“Congratulations to all on winning the Fourth Air Force Rain Cross Trophy, given to the number one wing in 4th Air Force,” said 940 ARW commander Col. Jeffrey Downs. “Your efforts with standing up the wing, the nuclear program, and the deployments that directly impacted our national security highlight the dedication and excellence embraced by every Airmen in this wing. “

The 940 ARW distinguished itself in the performance of outstanding service to the United States by providing air refueling capability and mission-ready Citizen Airmen in support of national security objectives from Oct. 1, 2019 to Sept. 30, 2020. During this time, the 940 ARW culminated five years of transformation by reaching full operational capability with eight KC-135 Stratotankers and nearly 1,000 Airmen prepared for any mission, anywhere in the world at any time.

The wing completed its first operational deployment by mobilizing in support of Operation INHERENT RESOLVE, during which 940 operators executed 319 Air Tasking Order lines, flew 58 combat missions, and offloaded 24 million pounds of fuel in support of the Combined Forces Air Component Commander over Iraq and Syria.  More than 70 maintainers from the 940th Maintenance Group led a deployed total force team which completed 5,788 tasks enabling 6,677 flying hours, 1,304 OIR missions, and the offload of 82.6 million pounds of fuel.

When the coronavirus pandemic hit, deployed members from the 940 ARW were involuntarily extended for three months, where they managed to keep a fleet of 60-year-old KC-135 Stratotankers at an 80.3 percent mission-capable rate.

Back at home station, 940th Aerospace Medicine Squadron members were mobilized to the COVID-19 epicenter in New York City, where they delivered more than 1,000 hours of care in support of NORTHCOM. As the 940 ARW flexed to an unprecedented HPCON status and partial teleworking model due to COVID-19 and the California wildfires, it never paused in preparing for its new STRATCOM nuclear mission. It held three exercises, established the first 940th Emergency Operations Center in 10 years, certified 100 percent of aircrew, and drafted a new wing instruction.

In addition, the wing also supported two Coast Guard rescue missions. These were no-notice taskings that diverted training lines and saved the lives of individuals lost at sea.

The 940 ARW was decorated for excellence both at home and abroad. It earned a safety award, 23 medals, three team awards, and nine individual awards for deployed performance. The unit also won the Large Nuclear Command and Control Operations Unit of the Year and best Individual Medical Readiness statistics in Fourth Air Force.

“You have set the example for the rest of the mobility wings and it is clear you will continue to succeed as the wing achieved nuclear certification,” said Downs. “Keep putting up the good fight and showing our adversaries we are ready to fight tonight.”