Today’s Airmen are accomplishing great things

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. John Newberry
  • 344th Air Refueling Squadron commander
Capt. Travis Diltz has been deploying tirelessly since he arrived at McConnell in December 2001. For this pilot, serving continual deployments in support of Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom is all he knows of Air Force life. He has deployed 10 times in support of these operations.

The Global War on Terror has already surpassed the duration of World War II and has enabled many Airmen to attain lofty, flying milestones. At McConnell, 65 Airmen have flown more than 100 combat sorties each, and 15 are rapidly approaching this mark.

To put this accomplishment into perspective, I decided to contrast these amazing sortie counts with other aviators. Most of our pilots, navigators and boom operators nearing the 200 sortie count have been flying for five to six years.

In contrast, I have been flying for nearly 20 years. I've logged combat hours in Operations Just Cause, Desert Storm, Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom, but I have amassed only 56 combat sorties. This shows two things. First, I am old. Most of you probably don't even remember Operation Just Cause. Second, this rate of sortie execution is completely unheard of.

Brig. Gen. Chuck Yeager, one of the most famous aviators of all time, flew 127 combat missions over Vietnam. Col. John Glenn flew 90 missions over Korea. While these two American heroes' missions were flown under considerable peril, it does not minimize the outstanding accomplishments of our current warriors.

Captain Diltz does not consider himself special for this accomplishment. He would tell you he is only doing his job, and the true heroes are his fellow KC-135 crewmembers, hard-working maintainers and dedicated support personnel who move the mission 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Captain Diltz's accomplishment is something in which all of us in the 22nd Air Refueling Wing can take pride. His success is a direct result of our support of the Wing's mission.