Hawaii Air Refuelers Arrive Home
By Senior Airman Orlando Corpuz, 154th Wing Public Affairs
/ Published November 17, 2017
– JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii --
Airmen from the Hawaii Air National Guard and three KC-135 Stratotankers recently returned home following a six-month deployment to the Middle East in support of Operation Inherent Resolve.
Airmen and aircraft from the 203rd Air Refueling Squadron, along with maintenance and support personnel from the 154th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron and 154th Maintenance Squadron returned over the course of a week with the first group of airmen and aircraft arriving on October 30 and a second group celebrating the homecoming on November 5.
Deployment durations for individual Airmen ranged from more than two months to six months. In all, more than 90 HIANG airmen deployed during the six month period.
While deployed the airmen refueled U.S. and other coalition aircraft striking ISIS targets in Iraq and Syria.
“It’s what we train for every day,” said a returning 203 ARS boom operator. For security purposes the HIANG is not releasing the names of any of airmen that deployed. “We forward deploy around the world and give gas when needed.”
The aircrews flew more than 300 missions, offloading more than 7 million pounds of fuel to just over 600 aircraft, and in the process logged in over 2100 hours flight time.
Aerial refueling is essential to U.S. air operations around the world. The refueling allows fighter jets and other aircraft to remain over the battlefield longer, which allows greater support to U.S. and coalition forces fighting on the ground.
“Air refueling is one of the most vital portions of the effort over in the Middle East that we are performing,” said a returning 203 ARS pilot. “Without air refueling, basically nothing can get done.”
Just as with all deployments, team work played a vital role in mission success.
“We had great comraderies…there’s lots of great people over there in the Middle East right now serving our country.” a 203 ARS pilot said.