Airmen, family members witness mission in action

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Kathryn R.C. Reaves
  • 20th Fighter Wing
Team Shaw spouses and Airmen assigned to the 20th Fighter Wing received incentive flights in a 72nd Air Refueling Squadron KC-135R Stratotanker, June 19-21.

The flights departed from Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, and gave passengers the opportunity to watch the refueling of 55th, 77th and 79th Fighter Squadron F-16 Fighting Falcons over the Atlantic Ocean.

“As spouses, it’s really important to us to be able to have incentives like this that allow us to see firsthand what our spouses are doing day to day when they come to work,” said Hannah Carey, 77th FS spouse. “It’s really rewarding for us to know the Air Force is helping educate us on what our spouses do at work and that all the training and hard work they put in is actually paying off.”

Carey said the experience was not only cool, but also nerve-wracking.

“You want to wave, you want to be able to talk to (the pilots), but I also had to realize they’re still doing a job and they’re still training, making sure they’re completely up-to-date on all their qualifications,” she said.

While the flight informed Team Shaw family members and maintainers about the refueling training pilots conduct, it also gave them insight into how these skills impact missions during deployments.

“We don’t want to go over to the desert or Middle East or wherever our operations take us when it really counts and have them struggle or not be proficient,” said Capt. Ben Strader, 72nd ARS pilot from Grissom Reserve Base, Indiana. “We want our training done now so they’re good at their job.”

After landing back at Shaw, military spouses and F-16 maintainers departed the Stratotanker with a deeper understanding of the work 20th FW pilots do and new knowledge of how their own support and efforts enable the mission.