An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Closing a chapter: The last KC-10 Extender Maintenance Instructor class

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Philip Bryant
  • 60th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. – A group of dedicated instructors in the 373rd Training Squadron (TRS), Detachment 14, completed their final KC-10 Extender Maintenance Field Training Instruction Class at Travis AFB, May 2023, cementing their place in history and closing the chapter on a remarkable aircraft.

As Team Travis prepares to phase out its fleet of KC-10s and phase in the newest KC-46, the last KC-10 maintenance class stands as a testament to the aircraft's enduring impact across the Department of Defense over the last 40 years. 

“Being a part of the closing chapter of the KC-10 is bittersweet,” said Staff Sgt. Jacob St. George, 373 TRS, Detachment 14, KC-10 APG instructor. “I personally have been assigned to this jet for my entire 11-year career and I have made a lot of friends and created a lot of great memories along the way.”

The maintenance field training curriculum incorporated realistic scenarios and hands-on experiences, replicating the challenges and complexities of real-world operations. Under the guidance of accomplished instructors, the students immersed themselves and learned the aircraft's unique characteristics to maintain them for years of service. In addition to honing their skills as maintainers, they absorbed the values of teamwork, adaptability, and unwavering commitment to the mission that defines the KC-10 community.

“The reward comes down the line when you see how successful the airmen you taught become within such a short period of time after graduating from our classes,” said Fitzpatrick. “When I started instructing in 2019, I never thought I would see the day that I would be teaching one of the last KC-10 classes to come through our doors. It is a bittersweet historical accomplishment that I will always cherish.”

As the weeks progressed, a sense of pride and nostalgia filled the halls of the training facility.  

“The amount of blood, sweat, and tears that have been poured into making this aircraft fly and succeed in all aspects of the mission is something we say cannot be done by any other aircraft,” said Tech. Sgt. Andrew Fitzpatrick, 373 TRS, Detachment 14, KC-10 APG instructor. “She definitely is, and always will be, the workhorse of the Air Force- even after she bids her final farewell.”

The Extender, a variant of the civilian DC-10 airliner, made its Air Force debut in the early 1980s. Designed for multi-role capabilities, the aircraft revolutionized aerial refueling by combining the capabilities of both a tanker and a cargo aircraft. With its advanced aerial refueling boom, large cargo bay, versatile drogue and probe systems, the KC-10 swiftly became a linchpin in strategic mobility operations.

The instructor class commenced with a comprehensive review of the KC-10's illustrious history, paying tribute to the countless missions and milestones achieved by the aircraft and the dedicated personnel who supported them. 

For more than four decades, the KC-10 Extender has been an essential workhorse in providing vital air-to-air refueling and global airlift out of the "Gateway to the Pacific.” Throughout the tanker’s service at Travis, it has played an integral role in projecting American power worldwide, missions. 

Tanker operations are a key component of Air Mobility Command’s joint maneuver force capability from the Middle East to the remote islands across the Pacific, enabling mobility support globally.