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STRATCOM Commander Presents Omaha Trophy to 509th, 131st Bomb Wings

U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. John Nichols, the 509th Bomb Wing commander, center left, and Col. Ken Eaves, the 131st Bomb Wing commander, display the Omaha Trophy at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo., May 8, 2018. The award was awarded to Team Whiteman by U.S. Strategic Command and the Strategic Command Council for executing the best Strategic Bomber Operations of 2017. (U.S. Air Force photos by Senior Airman Jovan Banks)

Brig. Gen. John Nichols, 509th Bomb Wing commander, center left, and Col. Ken Eaves, the 131st Bomb Wing commander, display the Omaha Trophy at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo., May 8, 2018. The award was awarded to Whiteman AFB by U.S. Strategic Command and the Strategic Command Council for executing the best Strategic Bomber Operations of 2017. (U.S. Air Force photos by Senior Airman Jovan Banks)

WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. (AFNS) -- Gen. John Hyten, commander of U.S. Strategic Command, awarded the Omaha Trophy to the men and women of the 509th Bomb Wing and 131st Bomb Wing at Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri, May 8, 2018.

The Omaha Trophy is awarded to units for excellence in strategic deterrence and global strike. Whiteman AFB won the trophy for executing the best Strategic Bomber Operations of 2017.

The trophy, however, doesn’t recognize an installation; it recognizes a team of individuals—a team of Airmen.

Hyten recalled a moment when this was reaffirmed to him.

During a family dinnertime conversation years ago, Hyten’s twenty-something son, Chris, shared an observation with his father: “You don’t do any real work anymore.”

The four-star general certainly felt he was working pretty hard day in and day out. But, Hyten took pause, and then realized his son was right.

“The people do the real work,” Hyten said.

And that includes the Airmen at Whiteman AFB, whom Hyten thanked in person Tuesday, both as a group of hundreds during an award ceremony and also throughout the day, one-on-one around the base.

“You’re being recognized because you’re the best,” Hyten said. “I’m just here to say ‘thanks.’”

The award was presented by USSTRATCOM and the Strategic Command Council, a civilian advisory group that acts on behalf of the people of Omaha, Nebraska.

The Omaha Trophy was first presented as one award in 1971. It has since expanded to five categories: Strategic Bomber Operations, Global Operations, Intercontinental Ballistic Missile Operations, Submarine Ballistic Missile Operations and Strategic Aircraft Operations. The 509th and 131st BW also earned the trophy in 2013 and the 509th BW received it in 2006.

Omaha business leader Steve Martin helped present the trophy during the ceremony to Brig. Gen. John Nichols, commander of the 509th BW, and Col. Ken Eaves, commander of the 131st BW.

“You stand as the best example of our nation’s freedom,” Martin said.

The two Wings earned the Omaha Trophy because of their interoperability to execute one of the country’s most important national security missions: nuclear deterrence by utilizing the B-2 Spirit stealth bomber to dissuade adversaries and assure our allies. The award explicitly recognized Whiteman AFB’s inspection and exercise excellence, as well as the execution of Operation ODYSSEY LIGHTNING in Libya, which significantly degraded the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria’s ability to carry out attacks in Europe and the United States.

"The total force success of Team Whiteman is truly one to emulate," Eaves said. "Time after time, our successes are spotlighted or awarded by our nation's military and civic leadership. The fact that the 131st and 509th Bomb Wings were honored again with the Omaha Trophy validates the excellence in our deterrence and assurance mission, and reveals how our Airmen continue to make a difference on a global scale."

Nichols added, “We take our mission very seriously; we understand our responsibility to our communities and our nation, and the Omaha Trophy reinforces that our Airmen’s efforts have a very real impact on the global stage. Team Whiteman is a dedicated, total force and we are immensely proud.”

Hyten had just one reminder for Whiteman AFB before his departure: “Just worry about doing your job every day,” he said, “This is the most important mission you’ll ever do.”