LUKE AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. --
The 56th and 944th Fighter Wings earned the Air Force Clements McMullen Memorial Maintenance Daedalian Trophy for the second-consecutive year, 2018 and 2019 -- the first time in the award’s 60-year history.
Awarded annually by the Secretary of the Air Force, the award is presented to an Air Force maintenance unit with the greatest weapon system maintenance record for the previous year. This most recent win is the 56th FW’s fourth time earning the trophy. The 56th FW is now competing at the Department of Defense level.
“Winning two years in a row has never been done before,” said Maj. Richard Wille, 56th Maintenance Group deputy commander. “We’re the largest owners and operators of F-35A Lightning IIs in the world. There are a number of firsts we’ve done with the F-35 that rolls into being the first to win the award in 2018 and 2019 in the Air Force, which is an awesome reflection on the work everyone is putting in.”
“The 56th Maintenance Group built upon the programs and innovations of the 2018 fiscal year to continue the success into 2019,” said Lt. Col. Joshua Wennrich, 56th Equipment Maintenance Squadron commander.
More than 2,772 active-duty and reserve maintenance personnel are assigned to the 56th and 944th Fighter Wing maintenance teams who aid in the process of maintaining 98 F-35A Lightning IIs and 77 F-16 Fighting Falcons.
Luke Air Force Base operates two premier fighter weapons platforms, four F-35 aircraft maintenance units, two U.S. and two allied nation F-16 units and supports one geographically separated F-15E Strike Eagle detachment to produce 22,000 sorties and 26,800 flying hours per year.
Additionally, the wing’s maintenance technicians made continual advancements and applied innovative management and repairs across all mission requirements, saving more than $36 million and 26,000 man-hours from Oct. 1, 2018 through Sept. 30, 2019.
“We empower our technicians,” said Wennrich. “Everyone in the maintenance group is superb. The dedication they put in every single day is second to none. The innovation and mission has sprung from ideas within the enlisted corps.”
More than 453 944th Maintenance Group reserve Airmen and 242 Air Reserve Technicians work alongside their Active Duty counterparts at the 56th MXG to provide technical expertise and additional support.
“I’m appreciative of the partnership,” said Col. Scott Briese, 944th Maintenance Group commander. “It’s wonderful working side-by-side and sharing this momentous event.”
The 56th MXG continues to keep the F-35s and F-16s serviceable supporting Luke’s mission of training the world’s greatest fighter pilots and combat ready Airmen.
“It’s been a great honor to not only win once, but twice,” said Wennrich. “It’s a testament to not only the hard work put in by the maintainers on a daily basis but the innovation and the out-of-the box thinking they put forward. It’s that difference that has made us so successful.”
Retired U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Nicholas Kehoe, Order of the Daedalians national commander, provided remarks during a trophy presentation held Oct. 6, 2020.
“You competed with all the other maintenance groups in the Air Force and won,” said Kehoe. “That means you got a heck-of-a good operation going on here. It’s so important that we recognize outstanding performance.”
You have a lot to be proud of, Kehoe added. You deserve many congratulations for all you have accomplished and will continue to accomplish. Keep up the great work! You have done a fantastic job with the busiest fighter wing in the Air Force.