05/03/11 — 916th crew refuels F-35 Lightning II

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916th crew refuels F-35 Lightning II

By Kenneth Fine
Published in News on May 3, 2011 1:46 PM

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Photo courtesy of the U.S. Air Force

A 916th Air Refueling Wing KC-135R Stratotanker completes the first in-flight refueling of an F-35 II Lightning, the Air Force's latest joint strike fighter.

Members of the 916th Air Refueling Wing are beginning to realize that being part of the top unit in the Air Force Reserves comes with certain perks.

A flight and maintenance crew from the 911th Air Refueling Squadron recently thought they were headed to California for a standard mission: to support, with their KC-135R Stratotanker, training and airlift for other wings.

They had no idea they would, instead, be making history -- that when they arrived at Edwards Air Force Base, they would be charged with completing the first aerial refueling of the F-35 Lightning II, the Air Force's newest joint strike fighter.

But this is not the first time the 916th has been tapped to take a historic flight. In fact, several years ago, a Goldsboro-based tanker was the first to refuel the F-22 Raptor, a mission that unfolded off the coast of Florida.

916th Commander Col. Randall Ogden said his airmen, and those living in the communities outside Seymour Johnson Air Force Base that house them, should be proud of their latest accomplishment.

"Being the first wing to refuel the F-35 certainly has its bragging rights and there is a lot of pride among our airmen to be associated with this mission," he said. "Our active-association with the 911th Air Refueling Squadron continues to prove itself as one of the best examples of total force integration in modern times.

"While our Reserve airmen are currently deployed around the globe, our active duty airmen assigned here continue to step up and fulfill obligations that make us the best at what we do, both within Air Force Reserve Command and Air Mobility Command."

916th Public Affairs Chief Maj. Shannon Mann contributed to this report.