916 ARW tops off the Blue Angels
Story by SSgt Mary McKnight on 08/29/2019
SEYMOUR JOHNSON AFB, N.C. (August 26, 2019) The 77th Air Refueling Squadron of the 916th Air Refueling Wing departed the flightline here to refuel the U.S. Navy Blue Angels, over Loring Air Force Base, Maine, Aug. 26.
Upon completion of the New York Air Show on Aug. 24-25 in Windsor, New York, the Blue Angels needed their fuel topped off to travel for a scheduled performance at the Air Show Atlantic, Aug. 31, in Greenwood, Nova Scotia.
The 916 ARW was there to complete the mission by providing the Blue Angels with approximately 60 pounds of fuel to get them to their next show, said Col. Craig McPike, commander of the 916 ARW here.
At approximately 10:00 a.m. on Monday morning two aircrews departed in two KC-135 Stratotankers to refuel the Blue Angels. Although this was not the first time the 916 ARW refueled the Blue Angels, it was a first for some of the crew-members.
“I’m blessed to have gotten this opportunity,” said 1st Lt. Nickie Bodie, a 77 ARS pilot, about her first time refueling the Blue Angels. “Especially since we’re not going to be flying the KC-135 much longer, before we transition to the KC-46. This could be the last time our squadron gets to refuel the Blue Angels. It’s pretty awesome.”
For another member of the aircrew his first time refueling the Blue Angels brought about childhood memories.
“I went to see the Blue Angels when I was 11 years old,” said Tech Sgt. Dan Frost, a 77 ARS boom operator. “Being able to refuel them now is a dream come true to me because as a kid I would have never thought I would be refueling the Blue Angels.”
Despite the excitement of the Blue Angels and recollecting his childhood memories, Frost was able to focus on the mission first.
“Whether it’s an F-16, F-18 or the Blue Angels, it’s all the same mission to us,” said Frost. “We go up there to refuel whoever needs it, I think that’s the most important thing. We do the mission the same way, every single time, the same procedures every day.”
The 916 ARW lived up to their mission by delivering fuel whenever and wherever needed.
“To look out over my wing and see the Blue Angels flying in fingertip formation really made for a great day,” said McPike. “It made me feel really proud to be an Airman in the 916 ARW. I’d like to give a shout out to all of our maintainers that keep our aircraft ready, the logistics support folks who makes sure our fuel is loaded, and to our aircrew who remain resilient and ready to fly our aircraft and make it happen. We had some challenges to overcome today, but no different than any other day. Today we advanced air power, improved our position and ensured that our country is safe, by practicing air refueling. It’s what we do.”