Total Force Refueling

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Dan Heaton
  • 127th Public Affairs
Add another milestone to the long history of the Michigan Air National Guard's 127th Wing. After becoming one of the newest mission-ready refueling groups in the Air Force earlier this year after the completing a transition to KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft, Wing airmen were buzzing in November after refueling the Air Force's newest fighter aircraft, the stealthy and powerful F-22 Raptor. 

For many in the 127th Wing, it marked the first time to see an F-22, let alone refuel one. 

"Every aircraft is a little different and has its own special characteristics, but once it starts to approach, the training just takes over and you focus on the mission," said Senior Airman Misty Bice, a boom operator with the 171st Air Refueling Squadron, who participated in the history-making mission. 

While catching a glimpse of a pair of F-22s in flight high above the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of New England was a treat for the Michigan Guardsmen, the Raptors are no stranger to Total Force missions. The F-22s that received fuel from the 127th on Nov. 1 belong to the 1st Fighter Wing at Langley AFB in Virginia. The 192nd Fighter Wing, a unit of the Virginia Air National Guard, works with the active-duty FW to fly and maintain the F-22s. 

The historical hook-up had a number of additional witnesses. The 127th was flying a flight of three KC-135s, carrying about 45 passengers as part of a "Spouse Lift" program. 

"During our transition from flying C-130s to KC-135s, we've brought in a number of new Airmen from the Reserve and from active duty and had many people away at school for four months," said Maj. Joe Meadows, a pilot with the 127th who helped organize the Spouse Lift. "This event gave us a chance to say thank you to the spouses for their support of all this and also to allow them to see exactly what it is that we do, to better understand our mission." 

The mission was hugely successful, according to Dessie Sudberry, a passenger on the Spouse Lift flight. Her husband, Master Sgt. Robert Sudberry, is a boom operator and flew on another KC-135 during the Spouse Lift. 

Armed with both a still camera and a video camera, as were many of the spouses, Sudberry called the flight "the ride of a lifetime." 

"To get a chance to see all of this is really something," she said. "I'm going to be talking this up for a long time."