TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. -- Members of Team Tinker were joined
by mission support partners and Reservists of the 507th Air Refueling Wing Oct. 7 to honor an Air Force icon.
The KC-135 Stratotanker’s 60 years
of service were recognized during a ceremony at Dock 5 ½ in Bldg. 3001. The
KC-135’s actual anniversary coincides with the first flight on Aug. 31, 1956,
so the fall celebration at the home of all organic depot workload was perfectly
Guest speakers from the Air Force
Sustainment Center, Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Rockwell Collins
and Boeing credited the longevity of the KC-135 fleet in large part to the
skilled workforce at Tinker Air Force Base, which was instrumental in putting a
record 75 KC-135 aircraft through programmed depot maintenance in fiscal 2016.
“As we celebrate the birthday of a
national treasure today, we do so realizing that the 60 years of success of the
KC-135 is due to generations that preceded us, this generation and the
generations to come that have invested their lives in the tanker fleet —
contractor, civilian and military personnel,” said Col. Mark Mocio, Legacy
Tanker Division commander and program manager for the KC-135. “Because of your
efforts, the KC-135 has served as the backbone of military aerial refueling for
60 years and will continue for decades to come.”
The Legacy Tanker program office
at Tinker is responsible for life cycle management of the KC-135 fleet, while
the maintenance, repair and overhaul is performed by the Oklahoma City Air
Logistics Complex, including the 76th Aircraft Maintenance Group.
They have separate organizational
chains and separate responsibilities, but the two groups work together to
provide combat power to the Airmen. Cooperation is the key to getting the job
done, Colonel Mocio said.
Col. Kenyon Bell, 76th AMXG
“Our strength really lies in our
people,” he said. “We can’t do anything without our talented and dedicated
workforce. Our collective team is laser focused daily on providing safe,
quality aircraft back to the operational forces.”
Donald Thompson, deputy program
executive officer for Tankers with the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center
at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, said those flying the first KC-135 in
1956 probably never imagined that the same aircraft would be flying 60 years
later, much less continue until the 2040’s.
“None of that would be possible
without you, the men and women of the Air Force and those working for our
mission partners,” he said. “For 60 years you have been the unsung heroes on
In 1994, the 507th Air Refueling Wing began operating and maintaining the KC-135 on operational mission's here. The 507th is an Air Force Reserve Command unit and is continuously supporting worldwide contingency operations and U.S. Strategic Command's national emergency requirements with eight KC-135 Stratotankers. The Citizen Airmen of the unit are proud of their contribution to the history of this airframe.
Air Force Sustainment Center
Commander Lt. Gen. Lee K. Levy II said there are many more chapters to be
written in the history of the KC-135 and he’s looking forward to seeing what
the next chapter will be.
“I don’t know what it will say,
but I can tell you it will be impressive,” the general said. “I know it will
help the United States Air Force, the world’s most respected and powerful
aerospace and cyber force, remain on top in its preeminent role. And whatever
it is that the KC-135 is called on to do next, it will be because of everyone
in this room and everybody that you represent. It’s an amazing legacy.”