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Simply the best: Tinker Control Tower tops in Air Force

Ti -- Being the best in the Air Force says something. Words like elite, top, cream of the crop or select can describe being the best. But two simple words describe the 72nd Operations Support Squadron and the Tinker Control Tower, "the mission" period.
   "If its Christmas morning or the evening of the fourth of July, our air traffic controllers are working hard, covering shifts 24 hours a day, 365 days a year," said Lt. Col. David A. Parr, 72nd OSS commander.
   The Tinker Control Tower was selected as the Air Traffic Control Facility of the Year for 2006. The tower's team provides safe and expeditious air traffic control services for nearly 45,000 aircraft operations annually for Tinker's four flying units including the Navy's Strategic Communications Wing ONE, the 10th Flight Test Squadron, 552nd Air Control Wing and the 507th Air Refueling Wing.
   "Being an air traffic controller myself, I know what they do is not easy," Col. Parr added. "I am just honored to be able to share this special recognition with these great Airmen."
   Although both the squadron and the air traffic control facility boasts excellent rating of 95 percent and 98 percent from the Unit Compliance Inspection and the Air Traffic System Evaluation, they were still amazed and honored by the recognition.
   "Winning any award is a great accomplishment, but this one means especially much because it's a team award. It means we all win, from the youngest Airman to the most senior, everyone contributed," said Capt. Claudia Gortva, 72nd OSS Airfield Operations Flight commander.
   In addition to the excellent ratings, the ATC team has received the Aircraft Save Award for saving eight crew members and $30 million in aircraft assets while deployed. The squadron has deployed nearly 50 percent of its controllers in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
   1st Lt. Nicole Backes, 72nd OSS operations officer, said the ATC team prides themselves on attention to detail and safety, something that cannot be compromised in the career field.
   "We strive to accommodate each flying units needs, and when they reach their goals, we reach ours," Lt. Backes said, demonstrating the priority of the mission.