WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – You’ve seen them flying out of Wichita, and you’ve probably heard them too. The big KC-135 Stratotankers are flying missions anywhere the U.S. military needs fuel.
The KC-135 tankers refuel any aircraft in the U.S. and many of our allies. Some of those missions fly right out of Wichita and at times into dangerous areas.
“We have our tanker crews prosecuting ISIS targets every single day, both in Iraq and Afghanistan, and we have tanker crews that are in Europe right now,” says Lieutenant Colonel Joseph Markusfeld.
RELATED LINK | Historical snapshot of the KC-135 Stratotanker
Markusfeld has been flying KC-135 Stratotankers for years.
“This is an incredible job. I can’t believe I’m getting paid to do this.”
— Lt. Col. Joseph Markusfeld
“We plan for the worst, we hope for the best, and we watch world events,” says Markusfeld. “And we’ve tailored our capabilities to respond to any crisis that might come out worldwide.”
Markusfeld says he’s proud to be on a team that is mission ready at all times. He says that team includes some unsung heroes and that it takes more than just the pilots to move tankers anywhere across the world.
“I order parts for the aircraft,” said TSgt. Nadine Wiese.
Nadine is one of those who supports the mission at McConnell.
“We get orders from maintenance and we order parts to be able to support the aircraft.”
Another one of the team members is SrA Darrielle Adams, 22nd Logistics Readiness Squadron, who is on the fuel team.
“It makes me very proud that I have a very important job,” says Adams. “Personally, when I first got here, I was just refueling planes. But the longer I’ve been in, the more I realize how important this is.”
Adams says he continues to grow in his role.
Then there’s SSgt. Joshua Hood, in charge of petroleum and lubricants.
“Every time I put the uniform on it does instill a sense of pride. Being raised in Kansas since the age of five.”
A Wichita South graduate, Hood says his motivation is to support the mission.
Another team member on the team is mechanic, SrA Victoria Stout, with the 22nd Logistics Readiness Squadron. She considers multitasking just another day at the office.
“I’m actually still a mechanic, I just help out in customer service when I can,” says Stout.
“We not only need to be prepared, we need to be ready to attack the mission and refuel the flight.”
— 1st Lt. Neil Ormerod
1st Lt. Neil Ormerod is a KC-135 pilot with the 350th Air Refueling Squadron “Red Falcons”.
“We just need to know that whatever is asked of us, we not only need to be prepared, we need to be ready to attack the mission and refuel the flight,” says Ormerod. “We spend a lot of time away from family and friends, but it’s worth it.”
Ormerod says it’s that team that makes his job happen. And it’s his grandfather that first taught him about teamwork.
“My grandfather is my biggest role model in the world. He was, is, just a hero in every form. And he was a Ball turret gunner in World War II,” says Ormerod. “He helped raise me. He is awesome. I spent a lot of time with my grandfather. So patriotic. Happy to serve. Loved what he did.”
Other team members also get motivation every day from their family members.
“I’m a logistics planner. I work in installation deployment readiness, in the deployment control center. We are command and control for all deployments and strategic air lift,” says A1C Jessica Jewell with the 22nd Logistics Readiness Squadron. “My dad served in the Air Force for 24 years, and I grew up as a military brat. And, honestly, my dad? I’ve always been his number one fan, I’ve always been a daddy’s girl, and I just wanted to follow in his footsteps, make him proud and that’s why I’m here. Serve my country.”
Jewell says getting airmen on planes to deploy to all parts of the world is a constant challenge. But she says it’s the desire to serve her country and really make a difference that keeps her focused.
“And this is the first job that I’ve had where I actually feel like I’m serving a purpose,” says Jewell. “We all play our part. We all need each other. It’s pretty cliche’ to say but it’s true. We all need each other. It’s nerve-wracking (job) but I’ve got faith in my base and the military as a whole and that’s something that kind of eases my mind. I can’t think of any thing else I’d rather do.”
For Lt. Col. Markusfeld, he also has confidence the team will always have the planes, mission ready.
“What rattles around in my head is how fun is this? How amazing is this?” says Lt. Col. Markusfeld. “This is an incredible job. I can’t believe I’m getting paid to do this.”
Lt. Col. Markusfeld also points out those KC-135 tankers will soon be flying out of McConnell, side-by-side with a new plane. The KC-46A Pegasus will also be stationed at McConnell.
RELATED LINK | KC-46A Pegasus
The KC-46A planes could be flying out of McConnell as soon as next spring. McConnell has a new hangar for at least three Pegasus planes, and it’s a project investment of $267 million.
“There’s a huge ramp-up to the KC-46, and the easiest analogy I can give to people they can understand is, think of a relay race,” says Lt. Colonel Markusfeld. “And people on the same team are running at the same speed on the track and the baton gets handed. That’s where we are right now. The Pegasus is beginning their run, and we are running full speed to them. At some point, we are both going to be running down the track together, and the baton is going to be passed off.”
It’s a new aircraft helping those at McConnell serve the military mission.
“Supporting our NATO partnerships, those are all McConnell-based crews,” said Markusfeld. “We’re ready. This is what we train for, this is what we’re prepared for and this is what we do.”
RELATED LINK | McConnell Air Force Base
KC-46A Pegasus Features
KC-46A Pegasus Milestones
- July 27 2017 | Boeing Team Completes KC-46 Tanker Electromagnetic Testing
- May 02 2017 | Boeing KC-46A Tanker Joins Flight Test Program
- Jan 27 2017 | Boeing Awarded $2.1B for Third KC-46A Tanker Production Lot
- Aug 18 2016 | Boeing Awarded $2.8B for KC-46A Tanker Initial Production
- July 08 2016 | U.S. Air Force Selects Boeing for KC-46 Pegasus Maintenance Training
- May 27 2016 | Boeing and U.S. Air Force Adjust KC-46 Tanker Schedule
- April 26 2016 | Boeing KC-46 Program’s Second 767-2C Aircraft Completes First Flight
- Feb 12 2016 | Boeing, U.S. Air Force Complete KC-46 Tanker Refueling Flight with F/A-18
- Jan 24 2016 | Boeing, U.S. Air Force Aircrews Make History with First KC-46A Tanker Refueling Flight
- Sept 25 2015 | Boeing, U.S. Air Force KC-46A Tanker Completes Successful First Flight
- Dec 28 2014 | Boeing, U.S. Air Force Achieve Successful First Test Flight for KC-46 Tanker Program
- June 30 2014 | Boeing Offers Next-Generation KC-46 Tanker in Republic of Korea Competition
- Jan 16 2014 | Boeing Starts Assembly of Final KC-46A Test Aircraft
- Oct 22 2013 | Boeing Begins Assembling 3rd KC-46A Tanker Aircraft
- Sept 04 2013 | US Air Force, Boeing Finalize KC-46A Tanker Aircraft Design
- Sept 03 2013 | Boeing Tanker Remains on Schedule with Start of 2nd Refueling Boom Assembly
- Aug 23 2013 | Boeing Begins Assembling 2nd KC-46A Tanker Aircraft
- June 26 2013 | Boeing Begins Assembly of 1st KC-46A Tanker Aircraft
- Oct 31 2012 |Boeing Opens 1st System Integration Lab for KC-46 Tanker Program
- Oct 16 2012 |Boeing Starting Production of KC-46 Tanker Refueling Boom
Get breaking news, weather and traffic on the go. Download our News App and our Weather App for your phone and tablet. Follow and like us on Facebook and Twitter.