The STORM takes on JBSA

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Jessica Do
  • 6th Air Refueling Wing

MACDILL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- U.S. Air Force Col. Adam Bingham, 6th Air Refueling Wing commander, and Chief Master Sgt. Raun Howell, 6th ARW command chief, along with 17 MacDill civic leaders, toured Joint Base San Antonio, Texas, Sept. 27-29th, 2023.

The tour allowed MacDill civic leaders to see behind the scenes to gain insight of Airmen training requirements and the processes it takes to help them become proficient in their career fields.

On the way to Texas from MacDill, civic leaders observed boom operators from the 91st Air Refueling Squadron preform aerial refueling. Tech. Sgt Michael McGuire and Senior Airman Nathan Zelasko, 91st ARS boom operators, explained the process of air refueling, while demonstrating how the boom is flown to deliver fuel to receiving aircraft.

After arriving at JBSA, the civic leaders met with Brian Hoffman, the 502nd Air Base Wing’s vice director at JBSA-Randolph, where they learned about the mission of JBSA and their community engagement program.

From there, they visited the 558th Flying Training Squadron, where they were briefed on the Remotely Piloted Aircraft Instrumental Qualification Course, Remotely Piloted Aircraft Fundamentals Course, and the Basic Senior Operator Course. Here, they operated RPA and T-6 Texan II simulators.

To finish out the first day of the tour, they were briefed at the 99th Flying Training Squadron, one of the squadrons where pilots go to become T-1 Jayhawk first assignment instructor pilots, which also stands as the heritage squadron for the Tuskegee Airmen.

On the second day, the civic leaders were up bright and early to attend a Basic Military Training graduation at JBSA-Lackland. Later, they toured the dorms and met with Airmen in training at the Security Forces Technical Training dining facility.

“Attending the Airmen graduation instills confidence in me that we as a nation are in a secure place, and that there is hope for our youth if given proper training,” said Jeff Weckback, a MacDill civil leader.

Wrapping up the day and the trip, the 91st ARS boom operators showcased their skills once again by refueling a B-1 Lancer from Dyess Air Force Base, Texas.

“As I was riding home last night in the cockpit just observing and being quiet, I was in awe of the teamwork between the two pilots,” said Laurie Lupcho, a MacDill civic leader “The respect and comradery shown between teammates, when instilled with the core values and way of life, shows us as leaders that it really does start from the top down. We can make a difference, as managers of people by treating our employees, others, and each other the same way.”

The Air Force has a responsibility to establish and maintain personal contact with local civic leaders in order to increase public awareness of the missions, policies, and programs of the Air Force and an understanding of the Department of Defense. The goal is to partner with members of the local community while exposing them to the missions of the armed services.