MCCONNELL AIR FORCE BASE, Kan. — Not even a pandemic could stop Team McConnell from refueling the fight and providing tanker support to Air Force missions overseas.
The 349th Air Refueling Squadron from McConnell Air Force Base recently returned from Southwest Asia, where they supported Operation Inherent Resolve, Freedom’s Sentinel, Spartan Shield and the Combined Defense of the Arabian Peninsula.
During the four and a half month deployment, the 349th ARS supported 1,100 combat missions and flew more than 7,000 combat hours. By the end of the deployment, the crews supplied more than 38 million pounds of fuel to 16 different airframes.
In order to accomplish these demanding tasks, teamwork and cohesiveness are critical. Lt. Col. Daniel Schone, 349th ARS commander, stated that by implementing unit deployments, stress is reduced on the Airmen, allowing them to accomplish the mission.
“Over the last year, Air Mobility Command and U.S. Air Force Central Command have worked together in an effort to enhance verifiable mission success through squadron deployments,” said Schone.
In Nov. 2017, the Air Force began “Deployed Teaming” for members to deploy with their local units creating more cohesion and mutual support during their deployments.
“The opportunity for members to deploy with their in-garrison squadron also creates bonds that last a lifetime,” said Schone.
While Schone said he is very proud of his unit for all of their hard work, he credits all of the supporting units at McConnell and 22nd Air Refueling Wing leadership for being able to make this deployment happen.
“It’s a total wing effort anytime we deploy an Airman or a squadron from McConnell AFB,” said Lt. Col. Mitchell Parker, 22nd Logistics Readiness Squadron commander.
Providing support to a unit deployment can be a strenuous task for all of the helping agencies. These units play a critical role in ensuring the deploying members have all required equipment to continue the refueling mission.
“Supporting units, such as the 22nd LRS, are absolutely essential to facilitating the deployment of any individual Airman or squadron,” said Parker. “Units, to include the 22nd Force Support Squadron, 22nd Medical Group and the 22nd Wing Staff Agencies, are responsible for executing the passenger and cargo deployment functions.”
Both the Bandits and the rest of the 22nd ARW worked hard to keep the mission going at home station and overseas. The effort of Team McConnell does not go unnoticed by 22nd ARW leadership.
“The entire 22nd Air Refueling Wing team worked to get the Bandits out there to fuel the fight,” said Col. Richard Tanner, 22nd ARW commander. “We are happy to welcome them home.”