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Maintenance group earns prestigious awards

HURLBURT FIELD, Fla. -- The 1st Special Operations Maintenance Group at Hurlburt Field exemplified Air Force superior performance by earning top-maintenance honors in the 2014 Clements McMullen Memorial Daedalian Weapon System Maintenance Squadron Trophy.

The maintenance trophy, first awarded in 1960, is presented annually to an Air Force unit determined by Headquarters Air Force to have the best weapon system maintenance record for the preceding calendar year.

“I am absolutely humbled to be a part of this team and extremely proud of what our Airmen do every day to take the fight to our nation's enemies,” said Col. Rene Leon, 1st SOMXG commander. “When I took command, I knew I would be walking among some of the best maintainers in the Air Force, whether we received any accolades for it or not...but it's nice to get some validation for all the long hours of work and sacrifice our Commando maintainers undertake.”

This award comes on the heels of a high operations tempo year, with the 1st SOMXG logging 8,954 flying hours spanning 5,100 sorties and transporting 1.4 million pounds of cargo, according to the award citation. The “Quiet Professionals” of the 1st Special Operations Wing maintenance community also distinguished themselves by repairing an unprecedented 314 discrepancies on three battle-damaged CV-22 Ospreys.

“While we have thousands of great aircraft maintainers in our Air Force, I think what pushed the 1st SOMXG over the top this year was that our Airmen seized all opportunities to directly combat violent extremism overseas, while keeping our mixed fleet of old and new aircraft at readiness levels that exceeded many of the metrics by which we measure our performance,” said Leon.

Further demonstrating the 1st SOMXG’s excellence, two individuals, who fall under the group’s chain of command, won Lt. Gen. Leo Marquez maintenance awards.

The Lt. Gen. Leo Marquez individual honors are awarded to the most outstanding maintenance individuals who demonstrate the job performance, efficiency, knowledge and Airmanship one needs to be a well-rounded maintenance professional.

Lt. Col. Jeffrey Johns, 801st Special Operations Aircraft Maintenance Squadron commander, was awarded field grade manager of the year and John W. Varner, 1st Special Operations Maintenance Operations Squadron quality assurance supervisor, was awarded civilian manager of the year.

“Awards like this aren’t a ‘Me’ thing. I’m not the one out there turning wrenches, I’m not the one out there going through the programs on a daily basis, and I’m not inspecting our support equipment on a daily basis like our Airmen are,” said Johns. “It’s just a benefit and a testament to their hard work. I’m in a fortunate situation where I get to serve as their commander.”

For Johns, the recipe for the maintenance group’s success is simple.

“Give overarching guidance, set priorities and expectations, and let your Airmen amaze you,” said Johns.

Coming off a strong 2014, the group continues to push forward to continue providing combat airpower across the globe.

“We’re looking to constantly improve in order to continue to provide combat power...we're only as good as our last victory and there are still plenty of bad guys out there our special operators need to hunt down,” said Leon. “We need to maintain a razor sharp combat edge and we'll do that using the framework of our wing priorities.”