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JSTARS Crew Named ABM of the Year

ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. -- A Joint STARS crew recently received the Air Battle Crew of the Year Award for 2006.

The Air Force Association presented the award to the 24- person crew from the 116th Air Control Wing's 16th Airborne Command and Control Squadron.

The award recognized the members of "Crew 2" for sustained aerial support of the E-8C while assigned to 379th Expeditionary Operations Group, flying in Operation Iraqi Freedom from January to May 05.

As the 16th Expeditionary Airborne Command and Control Squadron, the crew flew 26 combat missions and provided command and control intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance to Combined Air Operations Center and Army and Marine ground commanders. As the premier air battle management entity in theater for OIF, Crew 2 provided a much needed communication link and threat warning to more than 500 convoy movements. 

Whether leading a response to the largest, most coordinated convoy attack to date inIraq or tracking suspicious vehicles, no job was considered to be more important that the other. 

"I don't think there was just one event that contributed to the crew receiving the award,"said Lt. Col. Timothy Smith, 116th ACW, mission crew commander. 

The crew did whatever it took to get the job done. 

"(We did) whatever the people on the ground wanted," said Col. Smith. "If that meant staying longer the answer was always yes." 

The award may go the air crew, but it is something everyone can be proud of. 

"The award is about how well we work together as a team," said Col. Smith. 

Everyone from the Air Force and Army crew in the plane to maintenance contributed to the award, he said. 

"The crew is representative of  the squadron as a whole: initiative, drive, competence and huge morale," said Lt. Col. Timothy Manning, commander, 116th ACCS. 

This is the 4th Air Battle Crew of the Year Award for the Joint STARS wing.

"JSTARS has received this award four out of the last five years," said Col. James J. Jones, 116th ACW Commander. "That is an amazing accomplishment." 

"It's a real testament to everyone that we can do our job consistently well crew after crew," said Col. Smith. 

"To the maintainers, operators and support personnel who made this possible, thank you for your excellence," said Col. Jones. 

Members of Crew 2 are scheduled to be presented with the award Sept. 25, in Washington, D.C.