MACDILL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. --
While some units are pleased with having a break room to have lunch, the 91st Air Refueling Squadron takes pride in going above and beyond for their “heritage room.”
The 91st ARS heritage room will have newly refurbished tables, reupholstered chairs, frost-tinted front doors, a custom wood-finished countertop, a built-in wall chalkboard with repainted walls and flooring in a massive renovation.
“This means a lot for any flying squadron since heritage rooms hold a rich tradition in the Air Force flying realm,” said Maj. Doug Karl, the 91st Air Refueling Squadron assistant director of operations. “Some Airmen have learned more from the stories they heard in their heritage rooms than they have on a routine flight.
It’s a place for us to learn, allowing all of us to become better professional aviators while continuing to be the best Air Force in the world.”
Before the renovations, the 91st ARS shared a heritage room with the 50th Air Refueling Squadron on base, but now, the 50th ARS has moved to Hangar 5 on base freeing up the 91st ARS heritage room to be completely redesigned to solely fit the 91st ARS mission and colors.
What makes this renovation special is it is being mostly done by the Airmen who belong to the 91st ARS.
“This was an idea that a few of us in the squadron planned out on napkins and then we just went for it,” said Karl. “Capt. Sproul sent out a request for volunteers that have any skills or work with remodeling, and we were overwhelmed with the response we got.”
Airmen have contributed to painting, carpentry, reupholstering, and even wood craftsmanship to build a plank-style wood countertop to reflect their official pirate patch that they wear on their uniforms.
“I like to do wood working and have built furniture for my own house, so this was easy way for me to help give back to the squadron,” said Karl. “I am not alone in wanting to make this a place for people to be proud of and continue that heritage into the future.”
While the scope of the renovation is big, no project is too big, nor is any detail too small, as every aspect of the room is being considered for the remodeling.
“I think one of the coolest features is the patches from previous pilots and aircrew members that border around the entire room,” said 2nd Lt. Charles Wasz, a 91st ARS casual-status pilot awaiting training. “As someone who just arrived in June and knew very little about this squadron, I can now see the rich history and heritage of the aircrew members who have come before me dating back to the squadron’s inception.”
In an all-hands-on-deck effort, the members of the squadron are buying into the new heritage room and it is already positively impacting the squadron.
“This also allows us to get to know each other in the squadron better, become even more of a family, which in turn, helps build our resiliency as a squadron with a high ops tempo,” said Karl. “It allows everyone to know that we are all busy, but we are all there for anyone whenever they need it, and that it’s ok to ask for a time out.”
What once began as just an idea written on napkins, has now become a project of personal pride and as one of the founding idea-makers, Capt. David Sproul, a 91st ARS KC-135 Stratotanker pilot, couldn’t be happier with.
“Ultimately, just making our heritage room a place that brings the squadron pride, where people will want to hang out in to bring some moral and comradery back into the unit is the purpose behind this,” said Sproul. “It will be even more meaningful and special once manning is back to 100 percent following COVID ops.”