Heritage Display Marks 25th Birthday of the 916 ARW

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Mary McKnight
  • 916 Air Refueling Wing

Happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you, happy birthday to the 916th Air Refueling Wing, happy birthday to you!

The 916 ARW added a new addition, Sept. 18, to the base’s atmosphere.

New additions may be a stretch, the aircraft placed on stands outside of the 916 ARW’s building hold a place in the wing’s history that span 25 years and counting.

The heritage display of the 916 ARW aircraft includes the KC-10 Extender, the KC-135 Stratotanker and the KC-46 Pegasus, said Stephen K. Beckett, the 916 ARW historian.

All have been or will be flown under the 916 ARW since being reorganized as a unit equipped wing on October 1, 1994.

“Last fall Col. McPike came to me and said Boeing is gifting us a model KC-46 to display as we choose,” said Beckett. “4th Air Force accepted the gift on behalf of the USAF (U.S. Air Force) and I asked if we could include additional aircraft as a representation of the 916th throughout different periods of time. In my research I found between the 916th Air Refueling Wing, the 916th Air Refueling Group, the 77th Air Refueling Squadron and the 911th Air Refueling Squadron we have flown a minimum of 28 aircraft through their entire lineages, to include the KC-46 scheduled to arrive in 2020.”

History shows the 28 aircraft flown by the 916 ARW, 77 ARS and the 911 ARS were flown prior to the 916th becoming a wing, when the 916th was considered an air refueling group.

Col. McPike made the final decision to pare the chosen models down to the aircraft we have flown at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base and that is how we decided on our three aircraft models, said Beckett.

The model aircraft could not have come at a better time. They arrived just in time to mark the wing’s 25th birthday and are contributing factors in what became an aircraft heritage display.

“We decided to build a historical monument that charts our path from the past to the future of the 916th Air Refueling Wing,” said Col. Craig McPike, commander of the 916 ARW. “We wanted to present this monument to the wing on October 1, 2019, the 25th birthday of the 916th Air Refueling Wing. The aircraft outside the wing building represent the heritage of the men and women of the 916th for the past 25 years.”