Members of the 22nd Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron here reached a milestone of 25,000 air refueling missions May 4.
During the past year, 22nd EARS sortie support has grown 23 percent, allowing them to quickly eclipse the 25,000th mission mark.
"Like their squadron mascot, the mule, the 22nd EARS has stubbornly labored to safely and efficiently fuel the fight despite harsh winter and other operations-related challenges," said Col. Brian Newberry, the 376th Expeditionary Operations Group commander.
The 22nd EARS provides one-third of the aerial refueling for coalition aircraft supporting international efforts in Afghanistan.
Capt. Tanya Dubiel, a 22nd EARS pilot, said she was honored to fly the 25,000th mission.
"I think it's a really proud day for our unit; we've accomplished a lot," Dubiel said. "(This crew was) specifically chosen (for this mission), and I think it says a lot about our crew. We're young, but highly capable of performing the mission and doing it well."
Although the day was like any other, Dubiel said she enjoys the interaction with the receiving aircraft.
"Engaging with our receivers and knowing the fuel we give them helps the troops on the ground, is a very special part of the job," she said. "It makes me feel really good about what I do."
Besides accomplishing their 25,000th mission, 22nd EARS members held recently a change-of-command ceremony. Lt. Col. Peter Tschohl handed his role as commander over to Lt. Col. Russell Davis May 3.
Throughout his command, Tschohl and his unit have contributed to 4,700 missions.
"I'm humbled to be part of such an awesome team, and it's amazing to be part of the history that is taking place here," Tschohl said. "The men and women of the 22nd EARS have worked non-stop throughout the past 10 years to deliver fuel to our coalition receivers so they can protect and support our coalition ground troops and the Afghan civilians."
Davis said he feels honored and privileged to take command during this milestone and has high standards set for the 22nd EARS reputation.
"I think this is an incredible milestone, and it says something about the endurance, dedication and the hard work of everybody involved throughout the last 10 years," he said. "My number one goal is to maintain the relationship the squadron has throughout the tanker community. I want to make sure that this is still the desired place to come that it always has been."
The 22nd EARS has been a unit here since 2002 and is the only KC-135 Stratotanker unit to reach 25,000 missions dedicated to one region.
"(The mission of the 22nd EARS) extends the fight allowing us to give great top cover for the military members that are on the ground in Afghanistan," Davis said. "It allows them to be able to call in air power on a moment's notice with insurance that it's going to be there to provide the support that they need."
by Senior Airman Lynsie Nichols
376th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
Source: US Air Force
Date: May 8, 2012