by Senior Airman Erin O'Shea
48th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
6/2/2015 - ROYAL AIR FORCE LAKENHEATH, England -- On
the night of May 29, RAF Lakenheath's 493rd Fighter Squadron, also
known as the Grim Reapers, was awarded the Raytheon Trophy after being
named the top fighter squadron in the U.S. Air Force.
Gen. Frank Gorenc, U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa
commander, and Lt. Gen. Darryl Roberson, 3rd Air Force and 17th Air
Expeditionary Air Force commander, along with many 493rd FS affiliates,
attended the ceremony.
"It's great to be here with all of you in this squadron, because I know you're carrying that legacy forward," Gorenc said.
The Grim reapers were awarded the trophy for the fourth time in 2014 for
their ability to remain forward, ready, now, during an operationally
"I'm enormously satisfied with our Air Force tonight because we have
committed ourselves as an air force to a vision and core values that we
really stick to," Gorenc said. "As a result of our commitment to that
vision and our core values, what's been happening all across USAFE and
AFAFRICA is a readiness level and an attitude that is defined by
forward, ready, now."
One of their most significant accomplishments was their rotation
supporting the Icelandic Air Policing mission, followed by a quick
response to Lithuania.
The Reapers produced 2,856 hours of alert, flew 480 alert lines, 221
armed over-watch sorties and 22 active air scrambles out of Lithuania to
intercept 31 Russian Federation air force aircraft when they threatened
and sometimes even violated Baltic airspace.
"You guys kept your readiness up," Gorenc said. "You volunteered and
were given the task to go to Iceland to do air surveillance and
transition very quickly into air policing in the Baltics for the NATO
According to a previous article written when the squadron was named the
2014 Raytheon award winner, Lt. Col. Lendy Renegar, who commanded the
squadron through much of the award period, said the Reapers deployed 195
days straight in split locations. He said he couldn't emphasize enough,
the total force it took to accomplish those missions.
Gorenc's closing speech served as a time for the squadron to reflect on
their accomplishments throughout the year, which were clearly
highlighted during his remarks.
"Once again, we have proof the world can change rapidly, and whenever
that change happens, invariably, the solution falls onto air power,"
"This team's efforts in 2014, and this trophy, reaffirm the importance
of the air-superiority mission in Europe and that Europe-based forces
are essential," Renegar said. "We could not have responded this fast
from the (United) States."
Gorenc's final words concluded with a motto all USAFE Airmen are familiar with and abide by on a daily basis.
"We're forward, we're ready, and we're ready now," he said. "That's what we do."
Click the link below for the initial article on the squadron's accomplishments during 2014.