Jersey hands over reigns to Illinois
By Senior Airman Robbie Finley, 108th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
/ Published November 16, 2006
INCIRLIK AIR BASE, Turkey --
The 108th Air Refueling Wing, McGuire Air Force Base, N.J., passed the refueling reigns to the 126th Air Refueling Wing, Scott Air Force Base, Ill. Before departing the 108th made their mark in supporting Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom.
Over a hundred service members from McGuire's "super tanker" unit took over the 90th Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron and the 90th Expeditionary Maintenance Squadron (both of which belong to the 385th Air Expeditionary Group) to support Air Mobility Command operations by providing aerial refuelings via the 108th's KC-135E Stratotankers.
Between Sept. 4 and Nov. 4 six 90th EARS flying crews conducted an average of three refuelings a day, according to Lt. Col. Thomas P. Coppinger, the 385th AEG's deployed director of operations. Most of these were for C-17 Globemaster IIIs, although they did occasionally refuel C-5 Galaxys.
The 385th AEG's operations personnel plug away day and night coordinating the aerial refuelings assigned to them through the Tanker Airlift Control Center. The TACC dictates where and when an aerial refueling is going to be required.
Almost every member who initially deployed to Incirlik was replaced by other 108th members halfway through the deployment, with only 28 people having stayed from beginning to end, according to Lt. Col. Daniel J. Rutkoski, the 385th AEG deployed logistics plans officer. Short deployments and personnel exchanges are fairly common within the Air National Guard.
"With the Air National Guard, we swap out much more than active duty," said Lt. Col. Daniel J. Hummel, the 90th EARS deployed commander.
Although many of the KC-135's flown date back to the late 1950s, there weren't any major mechanical complications during the 108th's tour.
"We only lost one mission to date due to a hydraulics problem. Other than that, everything was 100 percent," said Colonel Kevin J. Keehn, the 385th AEG deployed deputy commander.
The rotations continue day after day. The mission now lies in the hands of the 126th ARW.