Nation’s busiest air sovereignty alert unit, D.C. Guard’s 113th Wing, earns award

  • Published
  • By Capt. Byron Coward
  • 113WG Public Affairs
District of Columbia National Guard's 113th Wing was recently awarded the First Air Force/Continental U.S. NORAD Region Meritorious Service Award for outstanding mission accomplishment. One of its major achievements this year was surpassing 3,000 alert responses, the highest of any air sovereignty alert unit in the nation, according to Air Force Lt. Col. Susan Romano of First Air Force. "I am very proud of the team effort that this entire wing puts into defending the skies of our nation's capital," said Air Force Brig. Gen. Jeffrey R. Johnson, 113th Wing commander. "I would like to further recognize the entire Air Sovereignty Alert Detachment, commanded by [Air Force] Lt. Col. Scott Arbogast, for their never-ending commitment to excellence and air sovereignty alert readiness." The ASA mission began on 9/11 minutes after an airliner piloted by terrorists crashed into the Pentagon. Smoke from the attack could be seen by an incoming F-16 Fighting Falcon fighter pilot, who was ordered to stay airborne by the White House to protect Washington, D.C., from other potential attacks that day. Since that time, the unit has become the busiest among the 18 ASA sites in the nation because of its proximity to Washington. The National Guard operates 16 of 18 sites. ASD units nationwide have responded to about 59,000 alert missions, according to Romano. "We stand vigilant and ready to continue this mission for as long as it takes," Johnson said. He added that the detachment has not failed to respond to a single alert mission. "Reaching 3,000 alert responses is a credit not only to our pilots and controllers, but also to airmen who maintain and crew our aircraft," said Air Force Lt Col. Jeffrey Bozard, 113th Maintenance Group Commander. "They keep the ASA jets ready for daily sorties 24/7." The wing's mission is particularly important because Washington is considered to be the most powerful city in the world. Unfortunately it makes the city a target for terrorists. Having a significant role in protecting the city adds urgency to the unit's performance. "Just as important," Johnson said, "is that we are defending our families, friends and fellow Guardmembers. We take this mission personally."