Keeping up with the 50th

Aircrew members from the 91st and 50th Air Refueling Squadrons meet for a pre-flight mission brief at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., Dec. 19, 2017. While the 50th continues to settle into their new home, both squadrons have been working as one to ensure their missions are achieved. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Ashley Perdue)

U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Ricardo Lopez, commander of the 50th Air Refueling Squadron (ARS), gives a tour of the future work center for the 50th ARS Airmen at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., Dec. 19, 2017. Airmen from the 50th and 91st ARS are working hand-in-hand to ensure mission readiness for both squadrons. Once all 50th members receive their required training, the only thing that will change with this dynamic is that each squadron will take responsibility of its respective administrative duties. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Ashley Perdue)


Over two months have passed since the 50th Air Refueling Squadron returned to MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, and from day one, they’ve hit the ground running.


“The Five-O has been 100 percent mission ready since day one,” said Lt. Col. Ricardo Lopez, commander of the 50th ARS. “Since the squadron stood up in October, we have had most of our personnel deployed, preparing to deploy, training, or doing other functions in support of the mission.”


Setting up a squadron is no easy task, especially when it is nowhere near being fully manned.

To help with this issue and the difficulties that arise with standing up a squadron, the 50th ARS has been working hand in hand with the 91st.


“Both squadrons are co-dependent on each other. Obviously, the 50th depends more on the already rooted 91st,” said Lopez. “Once we become ‘fully separated’, we will continue working together under the same roof, and supporting the same mission: to provide unmatched air refueling.”


Leaders from the 50th, 91st, and 63rd ARS, have teamed up on extra taskings during the holidays so that junior members can enjoy the holidays.


“The 6th Air Mobility Wing has been tasked with several high-priority missions over the holidays,” said Lopez. “The wing’s leadership, along with several senior leaders from the 63rd, will be flying these missions in order to ensure our young pilots and boom operators celebrate the holidays with their families.”


From here, the tasking will only continue to increase.


“We are gradually increasing our personnel numbers, but as we grow, so do the taskings,” added Lopez. “It is very challenging to keep personnel in the office to create day-to-day processes and lift other support functions, but make no mistake, we are executing the mission at the 100 percent level, and that will not change.”


Lopez has been and remains involved in all processes required to stand up the 50th and ensure its success.


“Lt. Col. Lopez is building a squadron from the ground up,” said Lt. Col. Gabe S. Arrington, director of operations with the 50th ARS. “From growing personnel to literally directing construction of the squadron location, he is overcoming challenges that most other squadron commanders are not presented with.”


While Lopez continues to build up the squadron, he plans to carry on the pride and history of the 50th.  


“If there’s one thing I want everyone to know, it’s that the 50th ARS, the Fightin’ Five-O, The Red Devils, are here,” smiled Lopez. “This is one of the most prestigious and decorated units in our Air Force and we are honored to call MacDill AFB home.”