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Wing garners 2015 Spruance Safety Award

MCGHEE TYSON AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Tenn. – U.S. Air National Guard Brig. Gen. William W. Spruance lectures students here at the I.G. Brown Training and Education Center. Spruance was a strong supporter of the Center, of which its multi-media building, Spruance Hall, was dedicated in his name. After surviving a fiery crash as a passenger in a T-33 in 1961, he made thousands of presentations on flying safety and crash survival and continued his lifelong support of aviation education and Air National Guard service. Spruance died Jan. 15, 2011. (U.S. Air National Guard file-photo/Released)

MCGHEE TYSON AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Tenn. – U.S. Air National Guard Brig. Gen. William W. Spruance lectures students here at the I.G. Brown Training and Education Center. Spruance was a strong supporter of the Center, of which its multi-media building, Spruance Hall, was dedicated in his name. After surviving a fiery crash as a passenger in a T-33 in 1961, he made thousands of presentations on flying safety and crash survival and continued his lifelong support of aviation education and Air National Guard service. Spruance died Jan. 15, 2011. (U.S. Air National Guard file-photo/Released)

PEASE AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, NEW HAMPSHIRE -- The 157th Air Refueling Wing has won the 2015 William W. Spruance Safety Award. This award is presented to the unit that makes the most significant contribution to accident prevention.

The Spruance Award was first established in 1975 by the Delaware Air National Guard. The award was named after Brig. Gen. William W. Spruance, former assistant adjutant general for air in that state. Spruance was severely burned in 1961 when the T-33 jet he was a passenger on crashed after take-off at Scott Air Force Base, Ill. After the crash, Spruance became and advocate and proponent of safety.

In an email to members of the wing, the state's adjutant general lauded the wing for winning the award for the first time.

"It is apparent that you have made safety a number one priority thought the wing," wrote Maj. Gen. William N. Reddel, N.H. adjutant general. "This emphasis on safety, through training and strict adherence to technical orders and standard operating procedures, has ensured the excellent flying and ground safety record achieved by all of you."

Other notes of congratulations came from the wing commander.

"The selection of this prestigious award provides strong affirmation of the safety culture that has existed here at the 157th Air Refueling Wing for many years," Col. Shawn R. Burrus, 157 ARW commander, also wrote in an email to members of the wing. "Without a doubt, this award was presented to us because of the many accomplishments of all wing members who have embraced the safety motto: 'Mission first, Safety always!'."

Lt. Col. Jeff Denton, the wing safety director, notes that this award is the culmination of a safety culture that exists throughout the base.

"The unit safety culture is how we've always done business here," said Denton. "Through all levels of the 157th Air Refueling Wing, from commanders to supervisors to the most junior Airmen, safety must always be a top priority on and off duty."

He added that Airmen do a good job of identifying problems in their duty sections and fixing them before they become larger problems.

According to the National Guard Association of the United States, "The award recognizes the Air National Guard units judged to have contributed most significantly to accident prevention in the reporting year. Nominees must make significant and far-reaching contributions to safety; low accident rates and high inspection results are considered."

Denton added, "Safety is how you manage risk and how the unit as a whole from the lowest Airman all the way up to the commander and back down again communicates the risk and mitigates it." 

"That's how we keep people safe and keep the mission going."

The award will be presented to the wing at the 137th General Conference and Exhibition of the National Guard Association of the United States in September, in Nashville, Tenn.
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