Phoenix Rising: The First All 64th ARS Air and Ground Crew

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Victoria Nelson
  • 157th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

Just before the sun rose Jan. 19, maintainers with the 64th Air Refueling Squadron started their preflight around tail 18-046054 on the flight line at Pease Air National Guard Base.

This mission marked the first flight generated by only 64th ARS air and ground crews.

“It’s unique because we will almost always have total force crews mixed with the 157th Air Refueling Wing and the 64th,” said Col. Brandon Stock, the commander of the 64th ARS. “We get to demonstrate the capabilities of the 64th and show how far we’ve come in six months with 37 Air Force specialties that range from logistics support to operations and everything in between.”

The squadron has been steadily growing in numbers since they were stood up in July of 2022. Nearly half of the expected 160 Airmen have arrived and unified with Guardsmen of the 157th ARW.

“Integrating has been so easy,” said Tech. Sgt. Christian Sadousky, a crew chief with the 64th ARS. “Day one, we were welcomed and felt like part of the team.”

“Honestly, seamless,” he said.

The two groups work as a total force unit. They complement the needs of one another when either team needs help.

“It’s unique that we are two separate squadrons, but we act like one,” said Stock. “The 157th has needed instructors or aircraft commanders for missions and we’ve been able to help out even with limited numbers.”

“We’re sticking to the one team, one heartbeat philosophy of the Operations Group here,” he added. “There’s definitely a different mindset and a lot to be gained through the total force. Whether it’s the diverse experiences from the active-duty members or the knowledge of the Guardsmen, we are constantly learning from each other.”

The squadron is scheduled to have all of their members by Jan. 2024. Stock said the Airmen are using this time to train on the new KC-46 aircraft while they are in conversion.

“We’re still learning,” said Sadousky. “We couldn’t have the same output that we do without the Guard.”

“It’s been cool to learn from these guys,” he added. “They care about their people, their training, their qualifications. Every base is a little different but they really focus on people here, not just the numbers, and they have some pretty cool missions.”

Chief Master Sgt. Kevin Reiter, the 157th ARW command chief, was part of the 64th ARS when the unit was first stationed at Pease from 2009-2019 with the KC-135 Stratotanker. Reiter said he was equally proud and excited to have the squadron back.

“Looking back to the 64th, I remember how welcomed I felt my first day here,” he recalled. “This wing is able to take people from all different backgrounds and treat them as part of the family; active duty, guard, doesn’t matter. It’s what drove me to stay in the unit, to serve the unit and to try to make people feel the same way.”

“The 64th are generating sorties and have really complemented our mission,” Reiter added. “We’re working as a team, as a family. Every step they take to become fully operational is another step that’s going to help the wing, the Air National Guard and the Air Mobility Command.”