MACDILL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. --
The U.S. Air Force strategically operates refueling missions around the world to provide air power anywhere in a matter of minutes.
Strong refueling power means boom operators must be trained and ready. The Boom Operator Weapon System Trainers placed at select bases to include MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, provides a platform to instruct Airmen assigned to the MacDill BOWST to Airmen from around the world.
“Without the required continuation training, a boom operator would be considered non-mission ready, and therefore would not be able to fly local missions, nor deploy,” said John Mercer, a BOWST Instructor assigned to the 6th Operations Support Squadron and retired boom operator. “Simulator training directly impacts mission effectiveness of overall operations.”
Airmen travel throughout the year to utilize the simulator. The U.S Airmen at Royal Air Force Mildenhall, England, is one of MacDill’s essential mobility partners.
“Four years ago, I was working in the squadron training shop and our team helped set this program up for Mildenhall,” explained Tech. Sgt. Augie Marshall, wing scheduler assigned to the 100th OSS. “Traveling to MacDill is an efficient way for us to complete BOWST training, an annual requirement at our base.”
During their time in the MacDill BOWST, these Airmen train on normal procedures as well as how to handle malfunctions.
“In the BOWST we focus a lot of time on malfunctions students may never see in the aircraft,” said Nathan Peachey, a boom operator instructor assigned to the 6th OSS and a former boom operator for 25 years. “We hope they never have to experience these malfunctions, but just in case, we want them to be prepared to handle a difficult situation.”
During their time here, they gain more and more experience and are better equipped to deal with unusual circumstances.
“It helps Airmen from the lowest to highest rank to be ready to go at a moment’s notice and use what we learn if needed,” said Marshall. “We take the knowledge back to our home station and teach other Airmen.”
The relationship is beneficial for both the Mildenhall and MacDill Airmen.
“We bring back certain scenarios and malfunctions that we have seen at Mildenhall and share with our BOWST instructors to see if any of MacDill’s booms operators or simulator instructors have seen anything like it,” explained Marshall. “We strive for a better understanding of the malfunction and a correct or better way to handle the malfunction in the future.”
As a total force, bases work together to successfully complete mission objectives. Mildenhall and MacDill team together to keep their forces educated and ready.