An Okie legacy across generations

  • Published
  • By 2nd Lt. Mary Begy
  • 507th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. – Col. Ken Humphrey, 507th Operations Group commander, flew his final flight as an Okie here September 29, 2022. He was joined by his son, 2nd Lt. Kennedy Humphrey, who is currently in pilot training.

Humphrey will be moving the command the 927th Operations Group at the end of the month. 

He has been with the Okies since Feb. 6, 1993, and he is the second generation of his family to be a part of the unit.

“I came up to the Okies on a family day weekend with my dad and had an impromptu meet and greet with the squadron commander which turned into an interview for flight training,” said Humphrey. “Thanks to some great Okie mentors and a little luck, I was accepted into undergraduate pilot training in the fall of 1994.”

Growing up in the local area, Humphrey was intent on becoming an Okie at a young age.

“A field trip in the sixth grade sealed the deal on what career path I wanted to take and all my decisions since then were all with the hope of one day becoming a military pilot, said Humphrey. “The Okies gave me a career that allowed me to fly and be there at home for my wife and kids.”

Humphrey’s son Kennedy will be joining the Okies as a KC-135 pilot upon his completion of pilot initial qualification. Kennedy Humphrey will become the third generation of the family to be an Okie.

“It’s definitely a family tradition,” said Kennedy. “I’m very proud of the time that both my father and grandfather spent being Okies and it is a major source of inspiration for me to be the best pilot and officer I can be.”

Kennedy began his career like his father, as an enlisted airman working in the 507th Medical Squadron as a Medical Technician before being selected for UPT.

“I enlisted at 17 years old in November 2014 and headed to pilot training in the summer of 2021,” said Kennedy. “I want to fly the KC-135 to be part of an integral component of the Air Force’s mission, while continuing to develop my skills as a professional aviator.”

Kennedy is looking forward to joining the wing and following in his father’s and grandfather’s footsteps.

“It feels like a dream come true, at times it can feel daunting when I think about the massive shoes to fill, but to be capable of providing my family the same opportunities and experiences that my father was able to give to me is something I’m very grateful for,” said Kennedy. “I’m excited to carry on the Humphrey family name in the squadron, but I am really looking forward to also making my career my own.”

While Humphrey will be leaving the unit later this month, he is excited to watch his son’s career take flight in the unit that he loves.

“It’s an incredible feeling knowing that my son will continue the legacy that started for me almost 30 years ago,” Humphrey said. “Having been through the same military training programs and overcoming similar challenges has brought us closer together.”

After decades of service and thousands of flight hours across three generations, the Humphrey legacy with the Okies will continue.

“It’s been an honor and privilege to have been in the same unit for such a lengthy career,” Humphrey said. “That is not something that occurs often and I would like to especially thank my wife and kids for supporting me and being there all these years; my time as an Okie will always be special and I look forward to the next chapter in my military career.”