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Durstein diaries: Brotherly connections flying KC-135

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman David Bernal Del Agua
  • 22nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

MCCONNELL AIR FORCE BASE, Kan. -- The world of the KC-135 Stratotanker can be a family affair. With a wide community stretching across the globe, the instances of related Airmen working in close proximity with other family members are higher.

One such instance are the Durstein brothers, a pilot and navigator combination who have flown on the KC-135 since 2006.

The team-up began on assignment day for Capt. Alex Durstein during undergraduate pilot training.

“I vividly remember my assignment night during undergraduate pilot training when I found out I was going to fly the KC-135,” said Alex, 351st Air Refueling Squadron resource advisor at Royal Air Force Mildenhall, England. “I listed the KC-135 as my top pick on my wish list, mainly because I knew a great deal about the mission and the flying community through my brother, and it seemed exactly what I was looking for too.”

Alex’s choice put him in on the path to work in close proximity with his older brother, Maj. Dick Durstein, who was stationed at McConnell Air Force Base, Kansas, at the time.

“When they were about to announce what aircraft and which base he would be assigned to, I was nervous that he would be assigned the tanker,” said Dick, 344th ARS assistant director of operations. “But when assignment was announced that he would be flying my tanker at my McConnell, I was ecstatic. Any nervousness I had was instantly relieved by the realization that I knew he would excel.”

By the time Alex arrived, Dick was a couple months out from a permanent change of station.

“A lot of things have changed during this time period,” said Dick. “Because of Alex, even when I was stationed in Florida I still felt attached to McConnell.”

Dick eventually PCS’ed back to McConnell and joined Alex at the 344th ARS. While they weren’t allowed to fly together because of an Air Force Instruction, they worked together scheduling missions and ensuring their Airmen were ready to fly.

“Over the past couple of months before I PCS’ed to Mildenhall, my brother and I got to share another overlap,” said Alex. “My last duty was chief of mobility, and my brother was an assistant director of operations. He helped determine the crews for certain deployments, temporary duties, exercises and inspections. I made sure they had all the necessary training and equipment to perform those missions.”

Alex and Dick Durstein may not be working together at the same squadron anymore, but they still share the common link of flying the KC-135.

“Every day I spend flying or supporting the KC-135 mission I consider a great day,” said Alex. “Looking back at the entirety of the last 10 years, I think it’s awesome the amount of change we've seen and impact we've both been a part of while stationed at McConnell.”