One for the home state.... was down there during the summer with Boy's state.... That visit is what gave me the idea of AFROTC as a possibility.... DAFB one of Air Force's best Shot at No. 1 has Dover Air Force Base morale sky-high By JEFF MONTGOMERY, The News Journal Posted Wednesday, January 30, 2008 With global bragging rights on the line, Dover Air Force Base wound up a nearly two-day whirl of inspections Tuesday in the final round of a search for the best Air Force base worldwide. Only one other installation, Hill Air Force Base in Utah, remains in the running out of 117 competing for the service's Commander In Chief's Installation Excellence Award. "It's definitely a big deal," said 1st Lt. Chris Sukach, a Dover spokeswoman. "It's huge, not only for the base that wins, but for the community." Four inspectors from military units around the country visited 125 work centers around Dover during the inspection, after being greeted before dawn Monday by airmen and women at a rally in the base theater. Delaware's congressional delegation, community leaders and the Dover High School Rolling Thunder Drum Line turned out to support Dover's bid. Retired Col. Arthur G. Ericson, a combat veteran and retired Dover Air Force Base commander, described the award as a big morale booster. "The community support in Dover is some of the best I've seen in the Air Force anywhere," Ericson said. "It's very much an honor to win for the Air Mobility Command, but to be one of the two remaining out of all 117 bases out there competing is really neat." The program recognizes installations that make the best use of resources available to them, according to the Air Force. The winning installation will receive $1 million for quality-of-life programs and activities. "We showed them as much as we could in the short amount of time we had," Sukach said. "If they would have had more time, we would have had more to show them." Civilian and military personnel at the base won the Air Force's prestigious Environmental Restoration Installation award in 2006 for the base's efforts to clean up gallons of pollutants in the water beneath the base. That effort and other ongoing cleanup activities, expected to take at least another seven years, were among the activities seen by the inspection team, said Master Sgt. Melissa Phillips, spokeswoman for the 436th Airlift Wing. "The Air Force [is] very interested in environmental programs," said Jo Anne Deramo, an environmental restoration manager at the base. "Environmental stewardship is very important here." Dover City Council President Beverly C. Williams said the base is an "inseparable" and enthusiastically supported part of the capital city and surrounding area. More than 3,000 men and women serve on active duty at Dover, and thousands more serve on active duty or on assignment from other stations. The city and Kent County also have a large retiree population. "Dover, Delaware, is Dover Air Force Base," Williams said. "It's always been that way. It's a great relationship. I don't think that many of us who have lived here for a long time can imagine Dover without the base." Dover operates the military's busiest air cargo terminal, and is home to squadrons of C-5 and C-17 cargo jets. It handles most cargo for military operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and Southwest Asia, along with McGuire Air Force Base in New Jersey. Men and women stationed at the base have made thousands of deployments on security, ground support and other missions in recent years. Dover aircraft were called on 45 times to handle special or large cargo needed for presidential travel during 2007, according to a recent base report. The installation also has served as a standby emergency landing runway for some space shuttle missions over the years.