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NEWS | May 15, 2023

VNG fixed-wing detachment named “Unit of the Year”

By Mike Vrabel | Virginia National Guard Public Affairs

The Virginia National Guard’s Chesterfield-based Detachment 1, Charlie Company, 2-245th Aviation Regiment was recently named the Army National Guard East Region Unit of the Year for Fiscal Year 2022 according to an announcement by the Joint Operational Support Airlift Center, the airlift branch of the United States Transportation Command. 

The detachment operates and maintains a C-12 Huron, the VNG’s fixed wing capability. It consists of six Soldiers and two civilian contractors who provide maintenance. 

During FY22, the unit logged more than 700 flight hours over nearly 50 missions, all while maintaining operational readiness at above 90%. That accomplishment merits extra commendation because of the detachment’s small size, according to Lt. Col. Craig Lewis, the VNG’s State Army Aviation Officer. 

“Despite the unit’s composition of just six Soldiers, each Soldier is a significant force multiplier throughout the entire Department of Defense,” said Lewis. “Commonly called upon to transport senior DOD travelers, the entire team provides an invaluable resource to the DOD. This combined with being recognized among the OSA community as one of the best, further exemplifies the professionalism of these six Soldiers and two contractors.”

Their accomplishment is even more impressive when factoring in that not all of the six Soldiers are full-time.

“It would be important to note that we do accomplish all of that in a year with one airplane and six people, only three of which are full-time staff, including two pilots and one readiness noncommissioned officer,” said Chief Warrant Officer 3 Randy Addington, one of the detachment’s pilots. “ So, it’s quite an accomplishment when you consider the effort of the M-Day staff to execute missions.”

Addington said to be considered for the unit award, the detachment had to make the top three in their category in the number of non-training missions per aircraft,  average flight hours per aircraft, percentage of missions supporting non-OSA services, percentage of flights canceled due to crew or maintenance issues and logistics flight records submitted. 

Since Detachment one placed in the top three, They were then judged on criteria including aircraft status accuracy, cooperative spirit and flexibility, professionalism and OSA enterprise “big picture” focus. 

“This part of the process is largely determined by our reputation and interactions we have with the JOSAC folks,” said Addignton. “We work very hard to maintain this and go out of our way any chance we can to help them out with mission execution.”

The unit’s main mission is flying high-level DOD and government officials throughout the country when needed, Addington said. That work, at times, keeps the crew away from home for days at a time. 

“It isn’t uncommon for our pilots to have breakfast at home in Virginia and spend the night in west Texas or Colorado before returning home a day or two later when the mission dictates,” Addington said. 

Despite their hard work and busy operational tempo, Lewis said the detachment doesn’t always get the visibility they deserve, but receiving the unit award from JOSAC is an excellent recognition. 

“Detachment 1, Charlie Company, 2-245th Aviation Regiment receives very little publicity for their outstanding professionalism and support provided throughout the entire DoD community,” said Lewis. “A small collection of aviators and support personnel that go about their job without regard for prestige or recognition, their actions reflect the definition of the quiet professional.”    

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