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Command names Azores squadron tops for 2003

LAJES FIELD, AZORES -- The lone mobility unit in the Atlantic serving passengers, handling cargo and helping get iron to the fight for the Defense Department is the Air Mobility Command's best for 2003.

The command awarded the 729th Air Mobility Squadron with its Small Terminal Unit of the Year honor Jan. 26. Staffed by 65 airmen and civilians, the aerial port flight handles civilian and military heavy lifters transiting through Lajes Field. The squadron is a tenant unit of the 65th Air Base Wing.

The squadron's aerial port flight competed against a half-dozen others from across the globe to receive the award. Lt. Col. Steve Sorensen, the 729th AMS commander, said there were many other deeds accomplished to make the unit a winner. Now the fruits of the labor are visible.

"This is our greatest accomplishment -- short of the great job my troops do daily accomplishing our en route mission -- in my tour here," Colonel Sorensen said. "It's a flat out exclamation from AMC that we were their No. 1 small terminal unit in 2003."

The terminal processed better than 43,000 passengers and 4,400 tons of cargo on nearly 3,000 missions, according to the nomination package. The unit also helped move 553 tons of cargo and 1,462 passengers during Operation Enduring Freedom.

The unit also served as "AMC ambassadors to nine NATO countries." It unloaded and loaded 32 pallets, serviced 266 missions and provided support to six wide-body aircraft, according to the nomination package.

All this came as the squadron ran its terminal operations out of a temporary location. The permanent facility is undergoing renovation by the 65th Civil Engineer Squadron, which also helped the mobility team move into its current location.