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KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany — For the third year in a row, Ramstein Air Base’s 86th Airlift Wing has been selected as a top Air Force unit.

The wing was awarded the U.S. Air Force Outstanding Unit Award for a period spanning Nov. 1, 2006, to Dec. 31, 2007, according to a press release.

The award is presented to units that perform "exceptionally meritorious service, accomplish specific acts of outstanding achievement, excel in combat operations … or conduct with distinction military operations involving conflict with, or exposure to" a hostile force, according to the Air Force.

The wing, which flies the C-130 Hercules cargo plane, flew more than 8,800 hours, carried 150,000 passengers and hauled 5,500 cargo tons in support of the U.S. European Command and war on terrorism during the 13-month period. In addition, the wing transported 1,000 patients on 47 aeromedical evacuation missions and evacuated 550 U.S. Embassy personnel in Guinea.

The Air Force previously presented the wing with the award for Nov. 1, 2005, to Dec. 31, 2006, and from Jan. 15, 2004, to Oct. 31, 2005, according to the release.

173rd Airborne BCT soldier dies of noncombat causes at BagramA soldier with the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team who died of noncombat causes at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, has been identified.

Pfc. Willington M. Rhoads, 23, of Las Vegas, died Wednesday, according to a Southern European Task Force news release. He was assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 173rd Brigade Support Battalion (Airborne), which is based out of Bamberg, Germany, with duties in Vicenza, Italy.

Rhoads was deployed with Task Force Bayonet in support of NATO International Security Assistance Force operations.

The cause of death is under investigation, the release said.

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