The U.S. Air Force has announced that team Fairchild’s 97th Air Refueling Squadron successfully completed its first mission by supporting a 97th Air Lift Squadron C-17 Globemaster III from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Jan. 14.
According to a recent service news release, the 97th ARS reactivated in October 2019, in order to support 12 additional KC-135 Stratotankers and an estimated 1,000 Airmen and families being transferred to Fairchild.
“We are the center of excellence for the KC-135 here at Fairchild,” said Master Sgt. Dillon Poole, 97th ARS operations superintendent and boom operator. “With the activation of the 97th ARS, we now have more capability here at Fairchild to extend the reach of our receivers and effectively enable them to complete their mission.”
Refueling JBLM’s C-17 served as a training mission for Airmen aboard both aircraft to practice air refueling connections, simulated emergency separation procedures and low-visibility landings in icy weather. The aircraft was commanded by Capt. Steven Suhrie and was also crewed by the squadron commander and superintendent.
“These air refueling missions are critical to our training and making sure we are ready to perform the mission at a moment’s notice, support our Total Force partners and enable us to work together to execute the mission,” Poole said.
The successful completion of its most recent mission marks the latest addition to the 97th ARS’s 70 years of history. It started out as one of the original KC-135 refueling squadrons in 1949, deactivated in 2004, and is now revived as part of Team Fairchild.
“It was really exciting to be part of the squadron’s first mission,” Poole said. “This was just the beginning for the unit and was a great way to set the tone for a culture of success in the squadron, its Airmen and future missions of the 97th [ARS].”
Team Fairchild can expand its mission capacity with the successful completion of the 97th ARS’s maiden mission. The squadron will add additional capability for the wing’s lethality and support as the world’s largest air refueling installation.
“Having four air refueling squadrons here at Fairchild, as well as our Total Force partners in the 141st Air Refueling Wing, we are the largest air refueling wing in history,” said Lt. Col. Cindy Dawson, 97th ARS commander. “With our tanker fleet being more than double the size of any other worldwide, we are proud to have the 97th ARS Astra play a key role in expanding the Rapid Global Mobility mission.”
Team Fairchild is known for being ready to Compete, Deter and Win, and with the addition of the 97th ARS, Fairchild can continue to be the world’s premier air refueling team.