KADENA AIR BASE, Japan – The 353rd Special Operations Group was awarded the Meritorious Unit Award Dec. 16 for their exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding service from Oct. 1, 2010 to Sept. 30, 2012.
Superior performance of the day-to-day mission alone does not satisfy the requirements needed to earn this award. The unit must also be able to show how their accomplishments stand out from the rest, and the diverse 353rd SOG mission reflects just that.
“Men and women of the 353rd SOG maintain a continuous combat presence in Afghanistan and the Philippines while also contributing to emergent humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations like Operation TOMADACHI, Joint Chiefs of Staff-directed exercises rehearsing contingency operations, and joint combined exercises operationalizing theater engagement strategy,” said Col. Brad Sullivan, 353rd SOG commander. “Group personnel are vigilant…we rehearse and train hard year round so we can execute when we are called to do so. This award testifies to our ability to prosecute missions to the highest standards through an empowered combination of SOF-educated decision making and personal accountability.”
During the two-year period, the group participated in 26 Joint Chiefs of Staff-directed and joint combined exchange training exercises throughout the Pacific. These exercises are what keep the air commandos of the Pacific primed and ready for anything.
In March 2001, the group completed their Operational Readiness Inspection earning an “Outstanding” rating. Just 72 hours later, they deployed six aircraft and approximately 350 people to support exercise FOAL EAGLE in the Republic of Korea. Less than a week into the exercise, Northwestern Japan was hit by a 9.0 magnitude earthquake and a tsunami followed.
From Korea, half of the deployed SOG personnel further deployed to Yokota to provide humanitarian relief. The group’s special tactics personnel facilitated the first landing into the heavily damaged airport of Sendai. The opening of the airfield created the opportunity to the deliver 2.5 million pounds of aid for the disaster victims.
Airmen assigned to the 353rd Special Operations Group during the award period should see their records automatically updated in virtual Military Personnel Flight within the next few weeks.
“This award only begins to spotlight the caliber of people we have in the 353rd SOG,” said Chief Master Sgt. Gregg Jones, 353rd SOG, command chief. “Every day I am proud to be a part of this exceptional organization and our specialized mission. The award is no small feat and very well deserved.”