WASHINGTON (AFPN) --
The commander of Air Combat Command received the Air Force Association's most prestigious annual award during the National Aerospace Awards and Air Force Anniversary Dinner Sept. 26 here.
Gen. Ronald E. Keys earned the H. H. Arnold Award as the military member who has made the most significant contribution to national defense.
"I am deeply honored to accept this award," General Keys said, " and humbled to be included in the same conversation as previous Arnold award recipients."
Previous honorees have included Maj. Gen. William H. Tunner, Airmen of the Berlin Airlift, Gen. Curtis LeMay, Apollo 11's Neil Armstrong and "Buzz" Aldrin, President Ronald Reagan and Gen. Colin Powell.
The award noted General Keys' contributions over the span of his 40 years of service to the nation, including his vigorous advocacy of Air Force air and space power, his strong support of material support for the Air Force's fighter, bomber, cyber and other combat forces -- and the Airmen who make it possible.
"We talk much about the 'greatest generation' -- people like "Hap" Arnold and Jimmy Doolittle, the pioneers of our service," the general said. "But there is another generation growing into that legacy today. I could not be more proud of our young men and women -- they truly embrace and embody the warrior ethos we have cultivated throughout our storied past."
Like the World War II era "greatest generation," General Keys said today's Airmen are, too, fighting a world war -- the war on terrorism.
"Today's Airmen have been called on to fight and win this long war while we simultaneously lean our force and recapitalize our fleet," General Keys said. "Only through their continued efforts and innovation can we continue to transform our Air Force into the light, lean, lethal force of the future. As commander of Air Combat Command, it has been my pleasure to lead these fine men and women ... these Airmen ... as they've engaged in the greatest fight of their generation."
General Keys, the Air Force's current longest serving commissioned officer, will conclude four decades of military service Nov. 1.
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