133rd named best of kind

The Iowa Air National Guard squadron based in Fort Dodge has been honored with a national award marking it as the best unit of its kind.

The 133rd Test Squadron has received the 2012 Air Force Outstanding Unit Award, according to National Guard officers.

”The 133rd Test Squadron was selected for this prestigious award because the unit’s airmen are high achievers working together to exceed the standards,” Maj. Gen. Timothy Orr, the adjutant general of the Iowa National Guard, wrote in a letter announcing the award.

”The effort and resulting achievement of each and every member is recognized with this award,” Orr wrote.

The squadron, located in a facility north of the city by Fort Dodge Regional Airport, tests communication gear, radar, data links and software before it is issued to all branches of the military. It has received the Air Force Outstanding Unit Award five times previously, most recently in 2002.

”They basically have picked you out from the all the other units of your type and said that you’re the best of the best,” Lt. Col. Jeff Clemens, the squadron commander, said of the award.

The unit was singled out for a number of accomplishments, including conducting 22 developmental and operational tests on $84 million worth of new equipment.

It was also honored for passing a unit compliance inspection during which the inspectors found nothing that wasn’t in compliance with military standards.

While the entire squadron was honored with the Air Force Outstanding Unit Award, a number of the outfit’s members won national and state awards in the past year.

Capt. Crystal K. McKinney, a St. Edmond High School graduate, won the Air Battle Manager of the Year Award for the entire Air National Guard.

Senior Airman Joshua J. Eernisse won the national Command and Control Battle Management Operator Award.

Senior Airman Daniel A. Nichols was named the Outstanding Airman of the Year for the Iowa Air National Guard.

Master Sgt. Randall L. Maines was named the Oustanding Honor Guard Member for the state, while Master Sgt. Mitch T. Pearson was named the Honor Guard Program Manager of the Year.

”I’m just extremely proud of our people,” Clemens said. ”They keep a positive attitude and love serving our country.”