News: KC-10 crew recounts highlights of deployment, OEF missions
Story by Maj. Khalid Cannon
UNDISCLOSED LOCATION - Aircrew assigned to the 908th Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron flew more than 200 missions and offloaded more than 23 million pounds of fuel to over 1,300 U.S. and coalition aircraft providing close air support for Airmen and joint personnel in Afghanistan last month.
Nearly half of the squadron's aircrew members flew to Afghanistan every day. During the upcoming summer months, the 908 EARS is projected to fly more than 350 sorties each month and offload approximately 26 million pounds of fuel.
Capt. Tim Farwell, Capt. Sebastian Dauby, Senior Airman Christopher Wampler, and Senior Airman Shawn Aldrich flew 24 Operation Enduring Freedom missions in the last two months of their deployment. The crew is deployed from Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J.
"The most rewarding part of my job is getting our guys the gas they need, and finding out from Intelligence how we impacted operations," said Aldrich, the crew's boom operator who is from Douglas, Mass. "I can't think of any other job I'd want to do."
Aldrich also said that he enjoyed speaking with pilots during refueling and hearing their stories about what they did in support of ground operations, including the munitions they dropped.
On one occasion Dauby, the co-pilot and a Hudson, Ohio, native, was able to have a conversation with the pilot of a Belgian F-16 in French.
Farwell highlighted the contributions of Wampler, flight engineer, who recently cross trained from the maintenance career field where he served as an electrical environmental specialist for the B-2 Spirit.
Wampler, who is from Farmington, Mo., used his technical experience to troubleshoot a computer system that malfunctioned during one mission.
"We relied heavily on him because we were able to focus on flying while he went through the checklists. His systems knowledge helped us stay on track when things didn't go as planned," said Farwell.
According to Farwell, the KC-10 Extender has the unique ability to refuel U.S. Navy and coalition aircraft using an adapter system, allowing the crew to perform drogue and standard boom refueling during a single mission.
In February, the 908 EARS refueled fighter and bomber aircraft that supported 24 troops in contact situations which accounted for 50 percent of all occurrences.
Crews also onloaded almost two million pounds of fuel during tanker-to-tanker refueling operations that provided tasking flexibility to the Combined Air Operations Center, according to Farwell.
Farwell highlighted the effort of the maintenance personnel to ensure mission success.
"We didn't have one maintenance delay, and that is a testament to their hard work so we can take off on time," he said. "That's very impressive."
"As I spend more time in the Air Force, I'm starting to get the bigger picture," Farwell said. "It takes a lot of people to get us off the ground. Not only maintenance, but also the civil engineers that maintain