by Senior Airman Vernon L. Fowler Jr.
6th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs
9/5/2014 - MACDILL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- With
16 KC-135 Stratotankers on its installation, MacDill Air Force Base,
Florida and the members of Team MacDill waste no time when answering the
call to defend the nation--even when there is little to no notice. As
these planes can be seen and heard overhead, one has to wonder where in
the world they are flying.
On June 27, 2014 four aircrews from the 91st Air Refueling Squadron
(ARS) were tasked to forward deploy, on short notice, in support of the
fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). Two
KC-135s, each carrying two crews and a maintenance package, were flown
16 hours non-stop to the U.S. Central Command's Area of Responsibility
in Southwest Asia.
"We were able to put crews in the AOR within 48 hours of a notification,
getting them out to support the fight 17 hours faster than normal,"
said Lt. Col. Nathan Oliver, 6th Operations Group. "We deploy
everyday...this is what we do." The main responsibility of the deployed
91st ARS tanker crews is to support U.S. and coalition aircraft through
air refueling whenever and wherever it's needed in support of the
situation on the ground."
Two crew members, Capt. Ryan Christie and 1st Lt. Kaylyn Leibrand,
recently deployed from MacDill. "It's important to do what we can to
help and protect the citizens who can't protect themselves and the
assets we have in the country," said Leibrand. "We are fueling assets in
the air who are able to assist with the situation for Iraqi troops and
civilians on the ground."
Since Aug. 8, U.S. aircraft supported by tanker units like those from
MacDill have delivered humanitarian aid, including more than 101,000
halal meals and nearly 46,000 gallons of water, and conducted more than
130 airstrikes across Iraq. Air Force efforts have helped relieve some
of the humanitarian suffering caused by ISIL and slow their advance in
Northern Iraq giving Kurdish and Iraqi security forces time and space to
resume offensive operations including the recent recapture of the Mosul
According to Lt. Col. Gene Jacobus, 91st ARS Commander, not only is the
91st ARS still deploying crews, this is also one of the largest efforts
they have supported in the last couple of years.
"All of our crews are prepared to deploy on short to no notice all the
time" Jacobus said. "However, in order to do it on this scale, all of
Team MacDill has to come together."
Because the 91st ARS is one of the largest active duty tanker units in
Air Mobility Command, they play a major role in the overall success of
our nation's current fight against terrorism.
So when hearing or seeing news about the United States' strike on
terrorism and campaign for peace from the air, just know that MacDill is
helping to keep them flying there.