McConnell a finalist for Air Force award

McConnell Air Force Base has been selected as an Air Mobility Command finalist for the 2013 Commander-in-Chief’s Installation Excellence Award, which recognizes innovation in improving the lives of service members.

“This recognition is a tremendous achievement for McConnell Airmen, their families and our civic partners,” said Col. Ricky Rupp, 22nd Air Refueling Wing commander, in a news release. “It represents all the phenomenal teamwork between the 22nd ARW and our Total Force partners, the 931st Air Refueling Group and the 184th Intelligence Wing. It’s a huge win for McConnell and the Greater Wichita Area.”

To get to this point, McConnell beat 12 other bases in the Air Mobility Command unit and then beat Travis Air Force Base in California to be named an Air Mobility finalist. McConnell received $200,000 as a finalist and will compete against nine other military bases on the Air Force level and could then go on to compete at the Department of Defense level to win a $1 million award to invest in quality-of-life programs for airmen.

Members of the award’s selection board visited McConnell on Sept. 20 to see operations and programs developed on the base. McConnell will undergo another inspection later this year as it competes for the final award.

McConnell programs that have been highlighted include: the Total Work Force Maintenance Facility, which allows the Air Force to share resources with active duty and Air Force Guard and Reserve members; The Den, which offers a place for airmen to socialize in daily programs after work; extended fitness center hours and green initiatives, including a fuel-savings plan and a boom operator weapons system trainer that is expected to cut fuel costs by $6,000 an hour.

“McConnell programs really make airmen feel they’re part of a family and cared for,” said Staff Sgt. Abigail Klein, McConnell public affairs specialist.

The award, which was created in 1984, is presented annually to one installation from each service.

Klein was uncertain about when the award would be made or whether the base had been a finalist before.

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