The U.S. Air Force reactivated the 97th Air Refueling Squadron at the Fairchild Air Force Base during an assumption of command ceremony on Oct. 18.
The reactivation of the squadron, that has been deactivated for 15 years, is due to an increase of KC-135 Stratotanker aerial refueling aircraft being transferred to Fairchild AFB along with more than 400 Airmen and their families.
Fairchild AFB was chosen to support the new squadron and tankers due to a multitude of factors, including infrastructure, local area, current operations and more.
“Fairchild (AFB) is the perfect fit for these new tankers because of our demonstrated capability to provide responsive air refueling across the globe,” said Col. Derek Salmi, 92nd Air Refueling Wing commander, in a previous article. “Through hard work and dedication, our Airmen have established Fairchild (AFB) as the Air Refueling Center of Excellence and we will continue to carry forth this legacy as the world’s largest tanker wing.”
“(Fairchild AFB) will be a strategic hub for KC-135 refueling operations for decades to come,” said Maj. Gen. Sam Barrett, 18th Air Force commander, during a meeting with Fairchild AFB Airmen earlier this year. “It’s extraordinary that we take these weapon systems, with our innovative Airmen and employ them all around the word with near-perfect mission execution. This base is truly the center of excellence for the KC-135.”
“We have been working very hard to set up our squadron, with a new building and new furniture, setting up our processes, (all the while) we have already received tasking’s to send our Airmen downrange to support the fight,” said Lt. Col. Cindy Dawson, 97th ARS commander. “We have a lot to do to get our squadron operating like a normal day-to-day squadron, but the fight doesn’t stop. We are jumping right into being part of that.”
The 97th ARS has over 70 years of history. It was previously a bomber squadron and was one of the first Air Force air refueling units in 1949.