KC-135 wing moves from Michigan to Florida

  • Published
Air Force Reserve Command's 927th Air Refueling Wing transferred to MacDill AFB April 27, forming a classic associate unit partnership with Air Mobility Command's 6th Air Mobility Wing.

Before the move, the 927th ARW was at Selfridge Air National Guard Base, Mich., where it flew and maintained its own KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft. At MacDill AFB, the wing will help fly and maintain the active-duty wing's aircraft.

"We are going to build the premier KC-135 associate wing," said Col. Kenneth Lewis, who took command of the Air Force Reserve wing on the same day as the transfer. "When I ask you to integrate with active duty everywhere, it makes sense to do so. Or, when I tell our Airmen [they] need to conceive, devise and implement better ways of utilizing resources in order to maximize our efficiency and productivity, it is because the better we do our jobs as individuals and collectively, as a wing, the more we contribute to the destruction of our enemies."

It has been nearly three years since the Base Realignment and Closure Commission directed the wing to relocate to MacDill AFB to become an associate wing.

Aircraft formerly managed by the 927th ARW went to Air National Guard units.

Wing Airmen and civilian employees continue to find employment through the Air Force Reserve Command clearinghouse and with Air Force Reserve units that are within commuting distance. Some went to work for other federal agencies or joined the Michigan Air National Guard. Others returned to the regular Air Force or chose to serve with another military service.

Despite these changes, "morale remains high, and the remaining people realize there is a big job to be done," said wing officials.

"The men and women of the 927th have a unique opportunity to build something great here, and I know that you will," said Col. Gary Beebe, who passed the wing leadership flag to Colonel Lewis.

Colonel Beebe now commands 4th Air Force, Detachment 2 at Selfridge, an organization that will close out Air Force Reserve business there in 2009.

"Cling to our core values and decide today that you will not compromise them even in the face of adversity," Colonel Beebe told the reservists at MacDill AFB. "You are all warrior leaders. Take that very seriously, but learn some things better than anything else: learn to lead with humility. Learn to always say hello, please, thank you, can I help and, most importantly, to say 'I'm sorry.' We all blow it sometimes. Admit your mistakes and move in the right direction. It will empower your leadership."

April 27 was also the first unit training assembly weekend for the reservists at MacDill. More than 150 of them participated in the drill weekend with 142 in formation for the ceremony, beneath the nose cone of a KC-135 that bears the numeric designation of the Reserve and active-duty wings.

"We have a long and exciting future, and I'm thrilled about us being able to do this," said Maj. Gen. Robert E. Duignan, 4th Air Force commander, referring to the Total Force Integration at MacDill AFB. "There have been a lot of people who have worked very hard for this to come about, and we are ready for this relationship to begin.

"There are processes in place (at MacDill) to take care of our personnel, and they are ready for us to start flying operations. It will be here, as at other places, where you won't be able to tell the difference between the forces whether they are active duty or Reserve. Everyone will function toward the same level of mission accomplishment."

At the height of its operations at Selfridge, the 927th ARW had more than 1,200 people assigned, including traditional reservists and full-time workers. They had an annual economic impact on the local economy of more than $58 million dollars.