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18th MXG secures Phoenix Award win

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Cedrique Oldaker
  • 18th Wing Public Affairs


KADENA AIR BASE, Japan -- When you think of aircraft your mind probably jumps to things like fighter jets, commercial airliners and pilots. If you were asked: "Who works with a plane the most?" You may confidently say it was the pilot -- but the people who repair the aircraft spend more time with the planes than their pilot.

The 18th Maintenance Group is a shining example of this, as it was announced the 18th MXG won the Department of Defense’s Phoenix Award for Maintenance Excellence on December 19, 2023, during the Secretary of Defense Maintenance Awards ceremony. The award is presented annually to honor the “Best” maintenance unit in the DoD, with this recognition being based on their efforts during Fiscal Year 2022.

“Winning the Phoenix Award has proven, without any doubt, that the munitions and maintenance team is the Best Maintenance Organization in the Department of Defense,” said U.S. Air Force Col. Randy Schwinler, 18th Maintenance Group commander. “Their herculean efforts were recognized by the Secretary of Defense.”

Schwinler continued, saying that he believes what contributed most to the group’s win was the mid-level Noncommissioned and Company Grade Officers ensuring that members had the equipment, time and procedures to excel in a dynamic, mission-oriented environment.

U.S. Staff Sgt. JoAnn Morgan said the win is a testament to the hard work, adaptability and perseverance the Shogun maintainers showcase daily.

“2022 was an intense year for the MXG; from preparing the F-15C/D fleet for divestment, HHQ objectives, numerous exercises and TDY’s, the Shogun Maintainers were able to execute on all directives thrown at them, all while maintaining day-to-day flying and battling on-going facility setbacks,” Morgan said confidently.

Throughout 2022, the 18th MXG provided their aircraft and munitions maintenance expertise for 80 aircraft. Through their efforts they were able to ensure air interdiction, combat search and rescue, aerial refueling, aeromedical evacuation, and command and control battle management capabilities that safeguarded national interests in the Indo-Pacific theater.

U.S. Master Sgt. Jordan Fiebelkorn stated that he hopes that everyone in the unit feels like their efforts are truly world-class. “I hope people are able to look back on this later in their career and realize they were part of the best maintenance unit in the entire DoD.”

Among these achievements, the 18th MXG is also providing support for rotating deployments of different units, ensuring Kadena is always ready to provide support to U.S. allies and partners.

“Our mission has changed quite a bit since the award period, we’ve taken on new partners and new aircraft,” said Fiebelkorn. “Learning how to operate in this new dynamic is key to not just Kadena, but our national security.”