Thunderbolt Cup competition returns to Fighter Country

  • Published
  • By Jenna Bigham
  • 56 Fighter Wing Public Affairs

After several years off, the tradition of the Thunderbolt Cup made its return to Luke Air Force Base, Arizona, for a day of competition and camaraderie among Airmen on Nov. 9, 2023.

The first Thunderbolt Cup event took place in 2016 and brought Airmen from across the 56th Fighter Wing together for esprit de corps and sportsmanship.

“This year’s event marks the first time the competition has been held since 2019 and we are excited to bring it back,” said Master Sgt. Myranda Borja, 63rd Fighter Squadron senior enlisted leader and 2023 Thunderbolt Cup project officer. “With a total of eight events and 144 teams registered, we have had a great turnout and a lot of involvement from across the wing.”

Participants had the option of competing in a 5K run along the flightline, cornhole, volleyball, softball, 3-on-3 basketball, spades, poker, or attending any of the three resilience events available with special guest speakers.

“The Thunderbolt Cup offers all Airmen of Thunderbolt Nation a chance to come together in a laid-back environment away from the everyday stressors of work,” said Brig. Gen. Jason Rueschhoff, 56th Fighter Wing commander. “The camaraderie and teamwork I’ve seen today through friendly competition is exactly what we hoped for when we decided to reinvigorate this event.”

Squadrons earned points for each event they participated in, with additional points offered to those taking home the win in each of their respective events.

As the competition wrapped up, only one stood to take home the trophy. Though the numbers were close, the 56th Logistics Readiness Squadron came out on top, with the 56th Equipment Maintenance Squadron coming in second, and the 56th Component Maintenance Squadron rounding it out with a close third.  

In addition to the competition, vendor displays, lunch, and music were among the highlights for all in attendance whether participating in the competition or cheering on their squadron members.

“Congratulations to all and thank you for another great year of the Thunderbolt Cup,” Borja concluded.