“The little engine that could”: AAFB nominated for AF-level award

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Kari Degraffenreed
  • 97th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

Efforts from Airmen across Altus Air Force Base, Oklahoma paid off Oct. 26, 2022, when Air Education and Training Command announced AAFB as a finalist for the 2023 Commander in Chief Installation Excellence Award.

If AAFB wins the award, they will receive $1.25 million to spend on the improvement of the base through new services, exceptional facilities, and continuing to make quality of life even better for Airmen and their families. As well as a trophy, an “installation excellence” flag, and a congratulatory letter from President Joe Biden.

The CINC IEA recognizes “the outstanding efforts of the people who operate and maintain Department of Defense installations and who have done the best with their resources to support the mission.”

The award encourages an atmosphere of innovation to enhance base-level services, facilities and quality-of-life. Installations compete in areas such as: force development, operations & readiness, logistics, facilities, security forces, contracting, energy & environmental, communications & information, public affairs, safety, services, and surgeon general.

In the last year, Airmen and civilians on base worked together to create an environment they are proud of through innovation, improving services and facilities, and forging better quality of life.

“We wouldn't have gotten here without the incredible efforts and innovations of our Airmen and their unmatched drive for mission success,” said Col. Blaine Baker, 97th Air Mobility Wing commander. “We have a world class team here at the 97th Air Mobility Wing, which is only strengthened by our premier partnership with the Altus community."

In September, Gen. Charles Q. Brown, Chief of Staff of the Air Force awarded AAFB with the Community Partnership Award at the Air Force Association Air, Space and Cyber Conference for all the positive work done towards housing, childcare, and a novel recycling program for the city.

Those accomplishments propelled AAFB to be one of two finalists for the CINC IEA, along with the renovation of the Hangar 97 dining facility, the wing innovation center, and L. Mendel Rivers Elementary school.

The group who put the initial award package together focused on the vision of Baker to portray AAFB as “the little engine that could.”

“Even if we lost track or lost focus, we went back to ‘the little engine that could.’” said Tech Sgt. Shannell Gray, 97th Healthcare Operations Squadron NCO in charge. “How we, as a small base, still make big changes. That’s how we set Altus apart from other bases."