Fam flight: A different high school reunion

48th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
Story by Airman 1st Class Shanice Williams-Jones

Date: 08.21.2019
Posted: 08.21.2019 11:18
News ID: 336766
Fam flight: A different high school reunion

ROYAL AIR FORCE LAKENHEATH, England- The connections a person makes while growing up may add layers to their character and affect who they are as individuals. It can be rare and surprising when those connections come full circle, especially for those in the U.S. military.

One Liberty Wing Airman had the opportunity to be surprised by such a connection when he was notified he would receive a familiarization orientation flight. U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Derreck Day, 48th Operations Support Squadron Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape specialist, was selected for a familiarization flight based on his Air Force Specialty Code and superior performance.

This offer was not the end of the surprise. Day later found out that his pilot would be his high school friend, U.S. Air Force Capt. Caleb Wyatt, 493rd Fighter Squadron F-15C Eagle electronic combat pilot.

Familiarization flights are authorized for individuals who normally have aviation-related responsibilities with aircraft and missions. These flights allow personnel to gain the perspective of aircrew and become familiar with the F-15 and wing mission.

As a SERE specialist, Day provides survival training for fighter jet aircrew in the event of difficulties causing the aircraft to be grounded.

“I met Caleb in ninth grade. He sat next to me in math class and we just started talking,” Day said. “That year, we saw an airshow together and a pilot came to our school to talk to the students. It was a pretty defining moment for me. I knew then what I wanted to do with my life.”

Wyatt also had similar ambitions during their early friendship and this proved to be the start of their Air Force journey together.

“Caleb went to the academy after college but I wanted to be in SERE,” Day said. “When he completed pilot training, I knew one day our paths would cross again. As they say sometimes it is a small Air Force.”

Aircrew are required to maintain proficiency in SERE techniques. Most SERE training includes food and water procurement, navigation with and without the aid of a map, first aid techniques, methods of evasion and signaling, and methods of shelter craft in all climates and terrains.

“Even though I knew he was going to come through SERE, it was still surprising to see him in the course,” Day said. “I was proud to see all the hard work he put into his training and congratulated him on his course completion.”

Wyatt wasn’t the only one of this duo committed to excellence. SERE specialists complete extensive training courses and must commit to intensive on-the-job training to advance in their career field.

“The first time I saw Derreck since high school was through SERE training before finding out I was to be stationed at RAF Lakenheath as well,” Wyatt said. “It was pretty cool seeing how much he’s accomplished so far.”

This is the first duty station the pair have shared at the same since beginning their Air Force journey. Due to the nature of military service, it is not uncommon to go a significant length of time before being stationed alongside friends and family.

“We talked here and there over social media since high-school, but it’s like we’ve been in contact this whole time. Friendships like this can last over a lifetime,” Wyatt said. “This is my first familiarization flight too, and I’m honored to have him be the one in the back seat.”