WESTFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – A national competition between active and guard wings across the country returned after 19 years and the 104th Fighter Wing from Barnes Air National Guard Base received recognition for their efforts.

The William Tell 2023 competition was held on September 15th in Savannah, Georgia. Airmen participated and were tested on aircrew performance in air superiority, weapons and tactics used, weapons loading, maintenance, command and control, intelligence, and weapons director competitions.

The 104th Fighter Wing was named the F-15 superior performer for the competition. Additionally, they were awarded the Lieutenant Colonel James H. Harvey, III Top F-15 Award, and won the Overall Weapons Load Competition.

“It’s a really dynamic environment with no scripts, so it’s on you to figure out the situation and respond accordingly,” said Lt. Col. Matthew ‘Beast’ Tannis, 104th Fighter Wing pilot. “Events like this, where you can practice together in the same airspace at the same time, is a rare opportunity because everyone is busy. To gather in one spot and do it for real with a scoring system where you get feedback and more importantly, a debrief, is amazing.”

Lieutenant General Russ Mack, deputy commander of Air Combat Command, spoke to the importance of the competition regarding ensuring a lethal and ready Air Force. “We must keep our adversaries continually arriving at the realization that today is not the day,” said Mack. “Not the day to mess with the United States of America and not the day to mess with the U.S. Air Force. The best in the world and second to none.”

“Nothing forges excellence more than competition,” said Col. David ‘Moon’ Halasi-Kun. “It doesn’t matter if we are talking about a near peer adversary, or every F-15 unit in the Air Force. At William Tell the Barnestormers rose up, performed, and dispelled any doubt about who commands the skies and what team delivers Airmen and airpower to dominate the competition. We’ve talked a lot about being the best at what we do. Words can be argued, opinions can be dismissed. Actions and performance speak for themselves. I am incredibly proud of this team, this family, for rising to the challenge.”

The event was named after the Swiss archer and started in 1949. It was previously a biennial competition that showcased the most challenging air-to-air scenarios since 1954. The meet has been on hold for the past 19 years. During that time the Air Force has grown its fleet to include 5th generation aircraft.

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