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Gucci Standard: 9th ARS named Air Force's best section

Airmen from the 9th Air Refueling Squadron gather around the Albert L. Evans trophy July 23, 2015. The annual award is presented to the most outstanding air refueling section in the Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Charles Rivezzo)

Airmen from the 9th Air Refueling Squadron gather around the Albert L. Evans trophy July 23, 2015. The annual award is presented to the most outstanding air refueling section in the Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Charles Rivezzo)

A KC-10 Extender lands Sept. 19 at Travis Air Force Base. The aircraft has been part of Travis' mission for 20 years. (U.S. Air Force photo/Heide Couch)

A KC-10 Extender lands Sept. 19 at Travis Air Force Base. The aircraft has been part of Travis' mission for 20 years. (U.S. Air Force photo/Heide Couch)

TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- The 9th Air Refueling Squadron was recognized July 18 as the "Top Air Refueling Section in the Air Force" after being presented the Albert L. Evans award during the 36th annual Boom Symposium at Scott Air Force Base, Illinois.

The Evans award was established in memory of Senior Master Sgt. Albert L. Evans, a pioneer in the history of Strategic Air Command's air refueling operations.

The purpose of the trophy is to annually recognize, on a rotational basis, the most outstanding Boom Operator section in the Air Force, based on the accomplishments and professional qualities of the assigned Boom Operators.

Refueling squadrons across all major commands and refueling platforms compete for the prestigious award.

However, throughout 2014, the 9th ARS served as the cornerstone unit for Operations Enduring Freedom and Inherent Resolve, maintaining a significant worldwide presence and ensuring U.S. objectives were met.

"I think this achievement punctuates a tremendous year for our squadron and especially our Boom Operators," said Senior Master Sgt. Shane Hickman, 9th ARS superintendent. "Our Boom Operators are now part of a select few that have won this prestigious award and no one will ever be able to take that away from them.

"That being said, we could not have achieved this award if it were not for the efforts of our entire Gucci team."

During this period of activity, the 9th ARS executed more than 1,700 combat missions, offloading 41.8 million pounds of fuel to U.S. Air Force, joint and coalition aircraft over Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria.

The squadron engaged in multiple Department of Defense capstone missions within the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility, including leading the coalition strike group conducting the first air strikes on Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant forces in Syria - a mission that featured the first female Emirati flight lead.

Gucci aircrews also provided crucial air-to-air refueling support for the first Iraqi offensive to reclaim the Mosul Dam - a significant asset - in northern Iraq.

But offloading fuel wasn't the only mission-set the squadron was called upon for. The iconic "triple-threat" of the KC-10 Extender was similarly on display as the 9th ARS transported 3.9 million pounds of cargo and moved more than 3,000 passengers.

With a considerably high operations tempo and approximately 45 Boom Operators within the in-flight refueling section, these Airmen spent roughly 200 days of the year away from home.

The men and women of the 9th ARS have maintained what they refer to as the "Gucci standard." A mantra they say epitomizes "executing the mission safely, swiftly and with pride."

"Gucci is a symbol of excellence and prestige that our squadron truly exudes each and every day," Hickman said. "The Gucci standard is always performing at the highest possible level. It is always setting the bar high and going above it. It is always pushing yourself and the team to the limit and never being satisfied with mediocrity. It is having a mindset that no one individual is bigger than the team."

Hickman added that this achievement is just another example of "upholding that standard and mindset."

According to squadron officials, this is the third time the 9th ARS has earned the Albert L. Evans award and the first time since 2006.

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