The U.S. Air Force (USAF) 50th Air Refueling Squadron completed its first refueling mission aboard a KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla. on Jan. 16, three months after being relocated and re-designated.
The unit was earlier stationed at the Little Rock Air Force Base in Little Rock, Arkansas. The 50th Air Refueling Squadron is made up of eight Boeing KC-135 Stratotanker aerial refueling jets and about 250 personnel.
The 50th squadron dates back to the days when the U.S. Army operated an air installation on land it turned over after World War II for what would become the Tampa International Airport.
“It takes a lot of effort to generate a flight because there are a lot of moving parts, but we finally got it done,” said Lt. Col. Ricardo Lopez, 50th ARS. “We were finally able to fly the first true 50th Air Refueling Squadron training mission two months ahead of schedule.”
Although this was the first true training flight for the Red Devils, it was by no means their first mission.
“We’ve been operating with our sister squadron, the 91st Air Refueling Squadron, but this is the first one that was ours,” said Master Sgt. Justin Poteet, the 50th ARS superintendent. “It was definitely a big step to have our own mission numbers and operate as an independent squadron.”
With the call sign of DREW 50, the mission consisted of providing 16 thousand pounds of fuel to three F-15 Eagle fighter aircraft, along with some tactical training.
“Drew was the old name for Tampa International Airport, which is where the original 50th Airlift Squadron was born back in 1942, so we figured it was fitting,” said Lopez. “It was really cool to bring that name back to Tampa because of its significance.”
Airman 1st Class Caleb Nunez, 6th Air Mobility Wing