MACDILL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. – The 927th Air Refueling Wing and the 6th Air Mobility Wing combined efforts to ensure a multinational training mission received the fuel needed to honor aviation history, June 12, 2018.
Team MacDill’s KC-135 Stratotanker refueled a 96th Bomb Squadron B-52 Stratofortress from Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana, propelling the bomber to join French fighters over Étain, France, to commemorate the entrance of U.S. aviators into World War I, 100 years ago.
"It was imperative that our Total Force Integration team got this right,” said Maj. Marc McAllister, the deputy commander of the 927th Operations Group. “Not only did we get it right, we galvanized our relationship between the 927th Air Refueling Wing and the 6th Air Mobility Wing here at Team MacDill.”
The MacDill aircrews were originally committed to a different training mission but proved flexibility and Total Force strength when tasked the same day to provide aerial refueling support during an oceanic crossing.
“It was a challenge that we were ready to take on. Putting fuel in the air is what we do; there’s no other option,” said Master Sgt. Kevin McGrath, superintendent of the 927th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron. “We work in a dynamic environment and are expected to meet challenges as they come.”
Ground crews from the 6th AMW and aircrews from the 927th ARW collaborated to ensure the rapid refueling of the 96th Bomb Squadron’s B-52 during the first leg of its mission. Carrying more than 180,000 pounds of fuel, the tanker crews successfully offloaded over 65,000 pounds to fuel the bomber, proving Total Force Integration is a key component to global air superiority and unbreakable alliances.
“Our Total Force team rose to the challenge of this tasking and performed beautifully,” said Lt. Col. Dean Rancourt, aircraft commander and evaluator pilot assigned to the 63rd Air Refueling Squadron. “While our 927th aircrew members were handling the complexities of the change in coordination with air traffic controllers, both the 927th and 6th maintenance teams were scrambling to make the fuel load and aircraft changes to make this happen.”
The fueled-up bomber successfully flew alongside the Armee de l’Air over Étain, France, where the first U.S. combat aerial bombing took place during WWI on June 12, 1918, demonstrating the close resolve and cooperation of the U.S. and its steadfast ally France.
“I was extremely proud of my aircrews’ ability to make this mission change happen,” said McAllister. “This was successful only because of our deep rooted partnerships between the 927th ARW and the 6th AMW, both operations and maintenance!”