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Masters of the Art: 70 years of setting the foundation, still leading the charge

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Whitney Laine
  • 92nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

The 93rd Air Refueling Squadron has stood the test of time through two relocations and a change of mission set and has continued their legacy as the first air refueling squadron to pave the way for Team Fairchild as the premier air refueling base.

The 93rd ARS was established only two years after the Air Force was founded. They gathered to celebrate their 70th anniversary and honor their history on March 29, 2019.

The U.S. Air Force Strategic Air Command first activated the refueling squadron in 1949 at Castle Air Force Base, California, using KB-29P Superfortress tankers. The squadron converted to the KC-97 Stratofreighter from 1954 until 1957, when the KC-135 Stratotanker became, and continues to be, the backbone of air refueling.

“We carry a heavy history,” said Lt. Col. Kevin Parsons, 93rd ARS commander. “The 93rd ARS became the ‘schoolhouse’ to teach the entire Air Force how to fly the Stratotanker after being the first squadron to receive the KC-135. Our heritage of leading the way for in-flight refueling has only continued to develop and drive us forward.”

Two 93rd ARS aircrews set a distance record in 1958, less than one year after gaining the KC-135, by taking the new aircraft half-way around the world from Tokyo to the Azores Islands non-stop, spanning more than 10,000 miles in less than 19 hours.

After almost four decades of training and fostering generations of KC-135 crew members, the 93rd ARS relocated to Fairchild on March 31, 1995, to become part of the 92nd Air Refueling Wing.

“Each mile-marker of the 93rd ARS has been tested by the Air Force’s ever-evolving, ever-changing demands,” said Master Sgt. Mathew Hunsinger, 93rd ARS superintendent. “I experienced this first-hand as a young dependent, and have received two assignments to Fairchild, which allowed me to see our unit supporting multiple mission sets. Our reaction time in response to momentous world events over the years has been awe-inspiring.”

Although the 93rd is not a frontline fighter squadron, it has proven to be a vital component in fueling the fight, said Hunsinger.

In response to the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States, the squadron’s tankers refueled combat aircraft for operations Noble Eagle, Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom.

“If there is a ‘who’s who’ of in-flight refueling, the 93rd ARS would top the list in every category,” said retired Gen. Stephen Lorenz, former 93rd ARS commander. “It is safe to say the key role played by air refueling in today’s Air Force would not be possible without the contributions of those who have and those who are serving in this great squadron.”

The 93rd ARS’ 70 years have lived up to their motto of Domini Artis -- “Masters of the Art”.

“Air refueling is the cornerstone of air mobility,” Parsons said. “The KC-135 is the backbone of air refueling. Our lineage of excellence continues to confirm we are the best in the business and we show the rest of the Air Force how it is done.”

Air refueling is crucial to modern warfare and to sustaining U.S. and allied partners efforts across the globe, shown by the decades of experience provided by the 93rd ARS to Fairchild AFB, the U.S. Air Force, Department of Defense and partner nations.