A Richland native is part of an Air Force unit based at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Alaska that has been awarded the 2010 Secretary of Defense's Field-Level Maintenance Award for Small Organizations.
Air Force Master Sgt. Joseph Hamon, formerly of Richland, said while the award was unexpected, it wasn't surprising.
To recognize the achievement and take back lessons for other Department of Defense organizations, John B. Johns, deputy assistant secretary of defense for maintenance policy and programs, visited the base March 9-11.
Johns said the unit's commitment to innovation was the biggest factor in winning the award.
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"They're always looking for ways to improve and make themselves better ... more than any piece of equipment is the attitude of innovation. That's exportable," he said.
"There's a culture of leadership at every level, from the commander all the way down to the junior Airmen," Johns added.
During 2009, the squadron helped the 3rd Wing to support 480 F-15 and F-22 combat loads and to launch 131 sorties intercepting aircraft.
The wing supported six major deployments, and achieved the best F-22 mission-capable rating in the Combat Air Forces -- 20 percent higher than any other wing.
The squadron also resolved a safety problem that resulted in Air Force-wide changes to the flight manual.
Hamon said, "The level of professionalism and the maintenance of standards are incredibly high. We do things the right way, and I'm proud of that."
The flight is responsible for checking the linings of engines, and keeping up with supply could be difficult because linings are used by a few different sections in different locations around base.
The flight created a database -- the first of its kind in the DOD -- to track liner wear and use across the base so there is a constantly updated inventory.
"It's a parts-forecasting tool," Hamon explained. "It's the only operational one out there"