Countdown to the AFRC's 70th

  • Published
  • By SSgt. Michael Hong
  • 514th Air Mobility Wing public affairs

To celebrate the upcoming Air Force Reserve 70th birthday, the 514th Air Mobility Wing organized a media event in coordination with the 419th Fighter Wing, from Hill Air Force Base, Utah, and the 104th Fighter Squadron, from Barnes Air National Guard Base, Mass., on April 7th, 2018.

Two F-35A Lightning IIs with the 419th FW and two F-15C Eagles with the 104th FS flew the skies with three of the KC-10 Extenders—piloted and crewed by Reserve Citizen Airmen of the 514th AMW—to demonstrate the Freedom Wing’s refueling capabilities to members of the media.


The coordination for this event involved parties across the spectrum of active-duty Air Force members, Reserve Citizen Airmen and Air National Guard members, highlighting the total force capabilities that their partnership provides.


For some of the media members who participated in this event, this was the first time they’ve covered military aircraft on the ground as well as in-the-air, from the seat of a boom operator onboard a KC-10.


“Well, that’s one way to spend a Saturday,” said Justin Sinanan, a social media editor for an airline and aviation news website.


“I’ve got too much adrenaline going on right now!” said Ryan Kelly, a photographer for an aviation enthusiast website, as he captured images while braving the chilly winds outside the warm bus parked beside the KC-10.


To bring showcases like this to light, the Reserve Citizen Airmen of the 78th Air Refueling Squadron here train to maintain the same qualifications and standards as their active-duty counterparts.


“Years of training come into play to execute a safe and effective mission with several moving parts,” said 1st Lt. Gregory Fratantaro, KC-10 pilot with the 78th ARS here. “Missions like these are a team effort, no one person is able to get aircraft from three different bases airborne and also coordinate with them to rendezvous in the air.”


A day before the event that took place here, five maintainers from Hill AFB, four Reserve Citizen Airmen with the 419th FW and one active-duty member with the 388th Fighter Wing, flew with the Freedom Wing on a KC-10 as it took-off in formation with two 419th FW F-35’s from the runways of Hill AFB bound for Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst.


In the end, the media was shown how we fly in formation as one Air Force. Active-duty, Air National Guard and Reserve Citizen Airmen continue to fly, fight and win together with no distinction in providing critical capabilities as a unified operational force.