(Via Ho’okele News)
Story and photos by Staff Sgt. Alexander Martinez
15th Wing Public Affairs
As part of the Sentry Aloha exercise that wrapped up March 19, hundreds of participants took part in exercise wartime scenarios during a Warrior Day held March 14 at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.
The Warrior Day included the participation of KC-135 Stratotankers, C-17 Globemasters III, F-15 Eagles, F-16 Fighting Falcons and F-22 Raptors.
“It’s always great when you get to work with so many different [aircraft] and operational capabilities,” said Capt. Jeremy Buxton, KC-135 pilot for 96th Air Refueling Squadron.
“For us and the boom operators, we gain experience from refueling the different aircraft, so it’s good to have these wartime scenarios,” Buxton said.
The training also helps the crew become familiar with aircraft they wouldn’t normally refuel here.
“This training is great for me because it helps me become familiar with the different aircraft. They all come with their different challenges when it comes to receiving fuel,” said Airman 1st Class Scott Willard, 96th ARS boom operator. “It was also great to see the different fighter formations.”
Willard, a native of Chambersburg, Pa., said in addition to the experience he is gaining from being a boom operator, the exercise helps him in his other duties, such as ensuring the safety of everyone on board.
“There are many other flight duties that we have to deal with in addition to the boom, so we get to train in the other areas as well,” Willard said.
Buxton, from Kissimmee, Fla., said this type of wartime training helps the less experienced pilot.
“It’s good for our younger co-pilots to experience multiple aircraft and a lot of radio chatter that they would need to deal with in order to accomplish a wartime mission,” Buxton said. “Also, there was a lot of planning and coordination from the guys at the 96th [ARS] and the 203rd [ARS]. They enabled us to be successful in today’s exercise.”
The 203rd ARS is the refueling squadron of the Hawaii Air National Guard and works closely with the 96th ARS during exercises.
Sentry Aloha is an air-to-air exercise that allows participants to practice offensive and defensive wartime tactics.