MCCONNELL AIR FORCE BASE, Kan. – The Air Force is all about family, but one family will find that McConnell Air Force Base brought them closer than they ever thought possible.
U.S. Air Force Retired Staff Sgt. Galen Eberhardt, began his Air Force journey in June 1955. Little did he know, his future grandson, Airman 1st Class Douglas Bosarge, 22nd Operations Support Squadron airfield management shift lead, would start his career where Eberhardt left off.
“I thought it was great that he decided to join,” said Eberhardt. “I was very proud of him for making the decision to serve.”
Eberhardt went through 20 duty stations as a weapons loader for 16 years. In 1970 he moved to McConnell AFB, where he served as a mason, constructing buildings.
While stationed at McConnell Eberhardt loved the aircraft belonging to the 22nd Bomb Wing, the B-52 Stratofortess. After a 20 year career and being stationed at McConnell for his last five years in the Air Force, Eberhardt decided that it was time to hang up his uniform.
“I thought that McConnell was the perfect place to retire because it was close enough to drive home to [Nebraska] and we really liked Wichita,” said Eberhardt. “There is no place I would’ve rather retired.”
When Bosarge was a boy his family moved to Kansas where he was raised near his grandfather and McConnell.
“I would always listen to my grandpa’s stories about being stationed all over the world and everything he had experienced in the Air Force,” said Bosarge. “When I was at home I would always see aircraft flying over. At the time I had no idea what they were, but I did know that what they were doing was important and I wanted to be a part of it.”
It wasn’t long before Bosarge knew what he wanted to do with his life after graduating from Derby High School. He wanted to enlist in the U.S. Air Force to travel the world and follow the same path as his grandfather.
“My grandpa was the main reason I joined,” said Bosarge. “I always looked up to him and wanted to follow in his footsteps. I also knew that I wanted to keep the tradition of serving in the Air Force alive.”
After four months of basic military training and technical school to become an airfield management shift lead, Bosarge finally got his first duty assignment— He was going to McConnell AFB.
As time passed and a new generation of Airmen came to McConnell, a new generation of refueling aircraft did as well. McConnell became the 22nd Air Refueling Wing, inventory now includes the KC-135 Statotanker and the KC-46 Pegasus.
The KC-135 that Bosarge would end up working with, were specifically crafted to refuel the B-52’s that his grandpa once loved.
“I love being a part of the bigger mission and ensuring that our aircraft can take off when they need to,” said Bosarge. “Our tankers keep other aircraft going to accomplish the Air Force mission, and that to me is amazing.”
Bosarge credits his success in the Air Force to his grandparents and said his grandfather has given him strength while going through his first enlistment. He said he has learned a lot from his Grandfather’s experience while in the service.
“If it wasn’t for my grandpa I wouldn’t be who I am and where I am at today,” said Bosarge. “He has given me courage to accomplish all of my goals in and out of the Air Force.”
In the Air Force Airmen move bases and often never look back, but for this family. McConnell will forever be their home.