STRATCOM Commander Presents Omaha Trophy to 509th, 131st Bomb Wings
By Brye Steeves, 509th Bomb Wing Public Affairs
/ Published May 11, 2018
WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. -- U.S. Air Force Gen. John Hyten, commander of U.S. Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM), awarded the Omaha Trophy to the men and women of the 509th Bomb Wing and 131st Bomb Wing at Whiteman AFB, Missouri, May 8.
The Omaha Trophy is awarded to units for excellence in strategic deterrence and global strike. Team Whiteman won the trophy for executing the best strategic bomber operations of 2017. The award was presented by USSTRATCOM and the Strategic Command Consultation Committee, a civilian advisory group acting on behalf of the people of Omaha, Nebraska.
The trophy, however, doesn’t recognize an installation; it recognizes a team of individuals—a team of Airmen.
Years ago, during a dinnertime conversation, after Hyten had already been serving as one of our nation’s top leaders for some time, his twenty-something son, Chris, shared an observation with his father: “You don’t do any real work anymore.”
Hyten, who is now a four-star general and commander of the USSTRATCOM, 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 Air Force Base, Missouri, 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 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 Bomb Wings also earned the trophy in 2013 and the 509th BW received it in 2006.
Omaha business leader Steve Martin helped present the trophy during Tuesday’s ceremony to Brig. Gen. John Nichols, commander of the 509th Bomb Wing, and Col. Ken Eaves, commander of the 131st Bomb Wing.
“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, utilizing the B-2 Spirit stealth bomber to dissuade adversaries and assure our allies. The award explicitly recognized Team Whiteman’s inspection and exercise excellence as well as the execution of Operation ODYSSEY LIGHTNING in Libya, which significantly degraded ISIS’s ability to carry out attacks in Europe and the U.S.
"The total force success of Team Whiteman is truly one to emulate," said Eaves. "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."
“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,” added Nichols.
Hyten had just one reminder for Team Whiteman as he departed the hangar:
“Just worry about doing your job every day,” he said. “This is the most important mission you’ll ever do.”