The 521st Air Mobility Operations Wing awarded Meritorious Unit Award for 2023

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Joshua T. Crossman
  • 521st Air Mobility Operations Wing
The 521st Air Mobility Operations Wing was awarded the Meritorious Unit Award for 2023 for its exceptional performance in providing agile, resilient and reliable air mobility throughout Europe, Africa and Southwest Asia, from Oct. 1, 2022, to Sept. 30, 2023.

“I couldn’t be more proud to serve with this team”, said Col. Dan Cooley, 521st AMOW commander. “This past year has demanded a lot from our Airmen and they proved that Air Mobility Command and the Joint Force can continue to “Depend On Us!” Leading the charge for the mobility community, the 5-2-1 aggressively closed capability gaps across the AOR with irreversible momentum, while projecting rapid global mobility during historic operations.”

During this period, the 521st AMOW sustained a 900% mission surge to provide relief to 50 million civilians following a series of earthquakes that struck central Türkiye and Northern Syria which claimed the lives of over 50K people, and flooding in Pakistan that affected all four of the country’s provinces and approximately 15% of it’s entire population. The wing expedited nearly 600 humanitarian airlift missions delivering over 20K tons of critical supplies to those in need.

Additionally, the wing integrated with 13 allied nations during Exercise DEFENDER EUROPE 2023, establishing three mobility hubs across Europe enabling an aircraft stage operation, which airdropped over 7K allied paratroopers to validate NATO’s multi-national crisis response capabilities. They forward deployed an Air Mobility Team to Darwin, Australia in support of Exercise MOBILITY GUARDIAN 2023, demonstrating capability to execute Rapid Global Mobility anywhere at any time. The 521st AMOW led the charge for AMC on integrating over-the-horizon augmented reality technology, or HoloLens goggles, and Star Link systems into AMT’s. This innovative approach enabled forces in Australia to receive technical assistance from Subject Matter Experts located in Europe.

Finally, they kept supply lines open for Ukraine, expediting anti-aircraft systems and munitions to the warfront to contest Russian air superiority and fuel Ukrainian counter-offensives to reclaim lost territory. The efforts of the 521st Air Mobility Operations Wing increased agility and resilience across multiple domains and proved an undeniable deterrent to the United States’ adversaries.

“This is a significant achievement our Airmen should be proud of,” said Jennifer Blankinship, 521st AMOW historian. “The decoration denotes a high level of honor for exceptional conduct in support of combat operations. 521st AMOW Airmen continue to set themselves apart from the pack by exhibiting outstanding devotion and superior performance while in support of difficult tasks. Since the creation of the MUA in 2004, the Airmen of the 5-2-1 have earned their 12th MUA, reflecting their exceptional conduct and dependability to always get the mission completed!”