SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. — The Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce was announced as the recipient of the 2016 Abilene Trophy April 28, 2017 during Phoenix Rally — a week-long look at mobility air force priorities, roles, and missions— at the Global Reach Planning Center here.
The annual award, also known as the Air Mobility Command Community Support Award, was awarded by the Abilene Chamber of Commerce’s Military Affairs Committee to the community that provides the best support to an AMC base, in front of a record-setting Phoenix Rally audience of 166 Total Force wing commanders and command chiefs across the mobility air forces. The Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce won for its support of McConnell Air Force Base, Kansas.
“The Greater Wichita area and Friends of McConnell clearly represent Air Mobility Command’s most supportive community and couldn’t be prouder to give their all to patronize McConnell’s brave men and women in uniform,” Yvonne Batts said during the ceremony. Batts is a member of the Abilene Trophy selection committee.
The community provided Total Force mission-related support to include preparation associated with the arrival of the KC-46, the re-designation of the 931st Air Refueling Wing from a group to a wing, and honoring the heritage and mission contributions associated with the 60th anniversary of the KC-135.
Additionally, the area’s civic leaders established programs such as the Home Away from Home program. This program involves civic leaders opening their homes to Team McConnell in order to personally connect with Airmen and families. Additionally, the Wichita Metro community supported programs such as Hearts Apart, wing banquets, the installation’s Wingman Day, and other programs.
“The Wichita community is making a difference in the day-to-day lives of Airmen and are critical partners in making rapid global mobility happen,” said Gen. Carlton Everhart II, AMC Commander. “It is great communities associated with AMC demonstrate such a strong spirit of service.”
Pat Gallagher, an AMC Civic Leader from Wichita, said winning the award was very humbling.
“This is the ultimate good feeling,” she said. “I’ve been involved with McConnell for 25 years and I appreciate McConnell tremendously because they are a crucial part of the Wichita community, and the very best this nation has to offer.”
Col. Al Miller, 22nd Air Refueling Wing commander, said he was pleased the Wichita area was recognized for its outstanding work to the McConnell AFB community.
“This is a win for the entire community,” he said. “The level of great support McConnell receives is unmatched. Our Airmen benefit from the great work our civic leaders and community members do for us.”
Col. Mark Larson, 931st Air Refueling Wing commander, echoed Miller’s sentiment, stating winning the award was well-deserved and long overdue.
“I couldn’t be happier,” Larson said. “I’ve been in a lot of communities and the civic leaders at McConnell are some of the finest people I’ve had the opportunity to work with. It’s good to reciprocate because they’ve supported our Airmen for so many years.”
Sponsored by the Military Affairs Committee of Abilene, Texas, and AMC, the award was established January 1, 1999 and recognizes community activities conducted from January to December of the previous year.