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909th ARS wins Air Force's Albert Evans award

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Catherine Daniel
  • 18th Wing Public Affairs

The 909th Air Refueling Squadron was awarded the 2022 Senior Master Sgt. Albert Evans Award, distinguishing themselves as the U.S. Air Force unit with the best in-flight refueling operator section.

The trophy represents not only the results of the efforts of the Airmen assigned to the 909th ARS, but also the passion and hard work the Airmen put into their duties each and every day.

“The achievements annotated in the form 1206 show the amazing amount of work that the Airmen of the 909th ARS do out here,” said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Travis Epp, 909th ARS commander. “U.S. Indo-Pacific Command is the biggest area of responsibility in the world and we're the only active duty tanker squadron in all of INDOPACOM. With that, we're doing 70% of the work with 15 jets, which is 40% of the assets.”

During the last calendar year, the 909th ARS supported the transportation of both political and military leaders including the President of the United States’ first visit to Japan, the Speaker of the House’s visit to Taiwan and the INDOPACOM commander's urgent transport, which all drove crew member increases across the theater while fortifying relationships amid international tensions.

“There is no shortage of work and no shortage of projects to get across,” said U.S. Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Ben Davis, 909th ARS senior enlisted leader. “We are working with the 733rd Air Mobility Squadron, our mobility counterparts across the ramp, and we have some training opportunities and initiatives we're getting after in conjunction with them.”

During Exercise Cope North, Airmen assigned to the 909th ARS participated in a continuous mission with aims to shape how in-air refueling is conducted in the future. Altogether, the aircrew spent 36 hours on the aircraft, rotating on a work rest cycle where they sustained an active crew 24/7. The entire time, the Airmen were monitoring their biometric data to be able to calculate their overall physical performance. Afterwards, that information was sent to Pacific Air Forces headquarters for researchers to use to decide if continuous missions are a feasible practice to include in future plans.

“Some missions require us to sit alert and we're on alert for 24 hours,” said U.S. Air Force Senior Airman McKenna Monnoly, 909th ARS boom operator instructor. “You can get called at any point from like, nine at night to nine o’clock the next day.”

The 909th ARS led PACAF in aeromedical evacuations by flying nearly 100 short-notice missions that transported 131 patients including the Lieutenant. Governor of Guam, who was listed in critical condition. The 909th ensured that the Air Force’s largest theater had medical response teams capable of reaching any part of the Indo-Pacific region in less than a day.

“Our squadron is firing on all cylinders right now,” Epp said. “I get amazed every single day by the work the 909th has done. I've gotten no complaints and I'm as proud as can be about all the work they get done here. It's absolutely amazing.”

To overcome the lack of boom operator weapons system transfers, 909th ARS boom operators created a career development course replacement covering aerodynamics, tanker operations, emergency procedures and air refueling history.

“Their dedication and work ethic here is absolutely phenomenal,” Epp said.

The 909th ARS KC-135 Stratotanker provides crucial aerial refueling capabilities to U.S. and allied operations. It has provided unmatched global air support for more than 60 years.

The trophy is presented annually to the wing-level Air Force unit determined to have the best in-flight refueling operator record for the previous calendar year. The 909th ARS previously won this award in 1988.

“The Albert Evans Award has never been won twice in a row before,” Epp said. “I think we're in a good position to get after it all over again.”