Boom operator completes 500 combat missions

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Chris Thornbury
  • 22nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

MCCONNELL AIR FORCE BASE, Kan. -- A McConnell Airman completed his 500th combat mission as a boom operator during his current deployment, with the 379th Air Expeditionary Wing at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar.

Tech. Sgt. Dwight Miller completed the milestone on his 15th deployment by refueling a couple of F-16 Fighting Falcons.

The day was just like any other during his 13 year career, except this time Miller reached a milestone few have ever neared.

“The mission was a very typical mission over Afghanistan,” said Miller, 349th Air Refueling Squadron KC-135 Stratotanker boom operator.  “We had two F-16's come up to refuel with us twice.”

“It’s just crazy,” said Lt. Col. James Blech, 349th Air Refueling Squadron commander, while reflecting on Miller’s accomplishment. “He has been constantly deploying, every year for 13 years. That is a lot of flying.”

“He is the guy who volunteers, as soon as a mission pops up on the schedule. He is the first one to raise his hand,” said Blech. “It is no small feat. He spent most of his twenties and half of his thirties flying in combat missions.”

Miller’s missions gave him the experience of refueling a variety of American and allied aircraft.

Miller has refueled nearly every type of U.S. Air Force aircraft including bombers, cargo and fighters, as well as U.S. Navy, French, British, Germany, Australians, Saudi Arabians and Netherlands fighters.

“I’m glad that I can say that I have done it,” said Miller. “Few other boom operators or even pilots can say that they have completed that many missions in their careers. There are people that have flown other planes for 500 missions, but I can say that I did it purely in the KC-135.”

From early in his career to now, his efforts have created a footprint on the conflicts in the Middle East.

“It is really easy to take for granted when you fight a long war like this,” said Blech. “You can get lost in the numbers. When you go on a deployment it is awesome; when you talk about your 15th deployment people think ‘well that’s what you do now.’ I tell them it is no less significant on your 15th as your first.”