The 911 ARS Takes Their Final Mission In A KC-135

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Mary McKnight
  • 916th Air Refueling Wing
Members of the 911th Air Refueling Squadron accomplished their final mission while attached to the 916th Air Refueling Wing upon departing Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, N.C., for Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, Dec. 12, to pick up deployers.
True to 911 form, they set the standard in their final mission by redploying their own aircrew to retrieve 911 ARS deployers and return them safely back home.
The 12 remaining deployers completed a six-month deployment that included Tech Sgt. Guy Hoeye, a 911 ARS crew chief, being selected to lead an agile combat expedition to Prince Sultan Air Base, Saudi Arabia, for the first time in 16 years.
The mission was a success and the crew went on to fly a combat sortie from PSAB to Iraq refueling F-22 Raptors, said Hoeye.
During this tour Hoeye was also nominated for NCO of the quarter and chosen to have dinner with Secretary of the Air Force Barbara M. Barrett who coined Hoeye the very next day.
“It is pretty surreal being one of the last 911th members to deploy,” said Hoeye. “What makes it better for me is the fact that my time, while deployed, consisted of a former 916th member and a fellow 911th member. I want to emphasize that none of my achievements while deployed could have been accomplished without my amazing team, Senior Airmen Nicholas Cameron (99 ARS crew chief, former member of the 916th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron) and Shannon Dagner (911 ARS crew chief). They were with me every day, working our hardest to represent to the best of our abilities,” said Hoeye.
Tech Sgt. Kevin Simon, 911 ARS boom operator, provides a perspective from the aircrew tasked to pick up the deployed members as their final mission with the 911 ARS.
“It’s kind of bittersweet,” said Simon. “I’m happy to be flying with these guys, picking up some of our deployers, and coming back for a celebration. It is really a way to end the good thing that we had going here. It’s a great squadron and I imagine they will carry that same spirit into the future.”
Approximately two years ago the 911 ARS was integrated into the 916 ARW as it participated in a three-year trial period of the integrated wing concept. After Congress’ review of the Air Force structure, the I-Wing was created in an effort to maximize value without sacrificing capacity, capability and readiness.
The three year trial period ended early due to the 916 ARW transitioning to a new airframe, the KC-46 Pegasus.
“The reality of the present is simply that we, the Reserve and Active components of the Air Force, are in fact brothers-in-arms,” said Stephen K. Beckett, the 916th Air Refueling Wing historian. “Depending on the needs of the Air Force at the time, collectively, we are two faces of the same sword or shield.”
Despite being cut short the 911 ARS and the 916 ARW has set the standard on how an I-Wing can operate within the Air Force.
“The 911th allows this wing to operate with a flexibility and reliability that the larger Air Force needs,” said Beckett. “It grants us a capability that is fairly unique to the Air Force, and the Combatant Commanders.”
In addition to providing the wing with a unique capability, the 911 ARS has become a part of the 916 ARW family.
“The 916th has been an amazing host and has become an amazing family for the 911th,” said Lt. Col. Adam C. Dalson, the 911 ARS commander. “We’ll always feel that Seymour Johnson is our home. It’s sad to end the era of flying the KC-135 here at Seymour Johnson, but we’re excited for the future. I’m excited for the Airmen, when they come back here to see all the great things the 916th has done with getting the KC-46 ready for the fight, and I’m excited to see how those Airmen are able to take it to the next level; because they surely will.”
For many this was goodbye, but for the 911 ARS this is until we meet again. Although the when a where of the 911 ARS has yet to be determined, one thing for certain is the time spent with the 916 ARW was filled with a sense of comradery and untraveled paths.