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44th FS named Air Force's top air superiority squadron

Airman 1st Class Agustin Gonzales, 44th Fighter Squadron aircraft maintainer, performs final pre-flight checks with Capt. Jeffery Thomason, 44th FS pilot, before a mission on Kadena Air Base, Japan. Gen. Herbert Carlisle, Pacific Air Forces commander, recently announced Kadena's 44th FS "Vampire Bats" as winner of the Raytheon Trophy for 2012. (Courtesy photo by Jake Melampy)

Airman 1st Class Agustin Gonzales performs final preflight checks with Capt. Jeffery Thomason before a mission at Kadena Air Base, Japan. The 44th Fighter Squadron was recently named as the winner of the Raytheon Trophy for 2012. Gonzales is a 44th FS aircraft maintainer and Thomason is a 44th FS pilot. (Courtesy photo/Jake Melampy)

Capt. Jeffery Thomason, 44th FS pilot, checks his "six" before a mission on Kadena Air Base, Japan. The 44th closed out 2012 with more than 3,000 sorties, logging more than 5,000 hours of flying, and also provided air superiority for 11 countries across three continents. (Courtesy photo by Jake Melampy)

Capt. Jeffery Thomason checks his "six" before a mission at Kadena Air Base, Japan. The 44th Fighter Squadron closed out 2012 with more than 3,000 sorties, logging more than 5,000 hours of flying, and also provided air superiority for 11 countries across three continents. (Courtesy photo/Jake Melampy)

A 44th Fighter Squadron F-15 Eagle fighter aircraft undergoes maintenance on Kadena Air Base, Japan. The 44th FS was recently awarded the Raytheon Trophy for 2012. (Courtesy photo by Jake Melampy)

A 44th Fighter Squadron F-15 Eagle undergoes maintenance on Kadena Air Base, Japan. The 44th FS was recently awarded the Raytheon Trophy for 2012. (Courtesy photo/Jake Melampy)

A 44th Fighter Squadron F-15 Eagle fighter aircraft takes off from Kadena Air Base, Japan. The 44th FS was recently awarded the Raytheon Trophy for 2012. Presented annually since 1953, the Raytheon trophy is awarded to the top air-superiority or air-defense squadron in the Air Force. (Courtesy photo by Jake Melampy)

A 44th Fighter Squadron F-15 Eagle takes off from Kadena Air Base, Japan. The 44th FS was recently awarded the Raytheon Trophy for 2012. Presented annually since 1953, the Raytheon trophy is awarded to the top air-superiority or air-defense squadron in the Air Force. (Courtesy photo/Jake Melampy)

KADENA AIR BASE, Japan (AFNS) -- The 44th Fighter Squadron "was recently named as the winner of the Raytheon Trophy for 2012.

Awarded annually since 1953, the Raytheon trophy is awarded to the top air superiority or air defense squadron in the Air Force. Units are not only evaluated on operational mission performance, training and organization as a whole, but also individual achievements, awards and unit incentive programs.

The 44th FS closed out the year with more than 3,000 sorties, logging more than 5,000 hours of flying and also provided air superiority for 11 countries across three continents.

"I would just like to thank all the Airmen for their professionalism, hard work and sacrifices that ultimately made this award possible," said Lt. Col. David Eaglin, the 44th FS commander. "The 44th FS was deployed for over 290 days, and that kind of operations tempo can take a toll on our Airmen and their families. To their credit, no one ever complained. They just packed a bag, suited up and did what they were asked to do."

In 2012, the squadron did more for global United States' interests both at home and abroad than any other fighter squadron in the world. 

Members of the 44th FS rewrote a joint and combined operational plan that is now being adopted by Allied Forces Central Europe. They also participated in two major contingency deployments, three flag-level exercises, six international training exercises, five operational readiness exercises and four international air shows.

"Whether flying from their forward-based home in the Pacific or protecting joint assets throughout the world, the (44th FS) always delivered unparalleled air supremacy," said Lt. Gen. Stanley Kresge, the Pacific Air Forces vice commander.

During the year, the squadron proved they were the best not only as a whole, but individually as well. Airmen from the 44th FS were awarded various awards: Bronze Star, Air medals, Air Force Commendation medals and Air Force Achievement medals.

"They have set themselves apart as dominant air superiority warriors," Carlisle said. "Their long legacy, from flying some of the first sorties on Dec. 7, 1941, to combat sorties in U.S. Central Command, have proved them worthy to join the long line of excellence that spans 57 years of Raytheon trophy competition."

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