MOFFETT FEDERAL AIRFIELD, Calif. - The California National Guard's 129th Rescue Wing was recognized Wednesday for its commitment to promoting diversity within its ranks as it received the National Guard Bureau Excellence in Diversity award.
The Silicon Valley-based 129th was selected because of its wide array of diversity initiatives, which have contributed to a top-notch unit that reflects the multicultural community in which it is based. The award was presented by Gen. Frank Grass, Chief of the National Guard Bureau, during the National Guard Diversity Conference in Savannah, Georgia.
"The diversity of backgrounds, experiences and perspectives in California is one of our state's greatest strengths," said Maj. Gen. David S. Baldwin, adjutant general of the California National Guard. "I am proud to be part of an organization that strives every day to reflect that diversity."
The 129th closely reflects the diverse demographics of the San Francisco Bay Area and boasts 41 Airmen who have been certified as translators for the Department of Defense. The 129th Chaplain's Office provides support for more than 50 denominations, and the wing regularly promotes cultural awareness through its social media pages, enabling internal and external users to participate in special observances and events.
"The greater the diversity of the California Guard and its leadership, the greater its language, cultural and social capabilities," said Col. Gregory F. Jones, 129th Rescue Wing commander. "The diversity of the 129th translates directly into mission success, both overseas and during domestic operations here at home."
The spirit of cultural diversity extends beyond the 129th's home at Moffett Federal Airfield, with many members volunteering to support nonprofits that benefit people of diverse backgrounds in the U.S. and other countries. The 129th's recruiters also led the way in recruiting gay, lesbian and bisexual members following the repeal of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy, reaching out to Californians at Pride events across the northern part of the state.
The Excellence in Diversity award is presented each year to one Air National Guard wing that makes significant contributions to its community; shows growth in diversity and under-represented groups; provides an effective mentoring program; and implements an effective action plan including partnerships with the civilian community.
The 129th, which flies HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopters and MC-130P Combat Shadow aircraft, has completed over 1,000 successful saves in combat and domestic environments since taking on its rescue mission in 1975.