Connecting at 22,000 feet

Lt. Col. Chad Marchesseault, 92nd Operations Group deputy commander, flew a KC-135 Stratotanker from Fairchild Air Force Base during an air-refueling exercise over Washington State April 5, 2016. One of the receivers, a C-17 Globemaster hailing from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, was flown by Chad’s youngest brother, Capt. Lance Marchesseault, 62nd Operations Support Squadron airlift director. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Sean Campbell)

Lt. Col. Chad Marchesseault, 92nd Operations Group deputy commander, flew a KC-135 Stratotanker from Fairchild Air Force Base during an air-refueling exercise over Washington State April 5, 2016. One of the receivers, a C-17 Globemaster hailing from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, was flown by Chad’s youngest brother, Capt. Lance Marchesseault, 62nd Operations Support Squadron airlift director. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Sean Campbell)

A C-17 Globemaster from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, approaches a KC-135 Stratotanker from Fairchild Air Force Base during an air-refueling exercise over Washington State April 5, 2016. The flight was part of a training exercise with multiple receivers in which they practiced formation procedures, tactical maneuvers and numerous approach and landing techniques. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Sean Campbell)

A C-17 Globemaster from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, approaches a KC-135 Stratotanker from Fairchild Air Force Base during an air-refueling exercise over Washington State April 5, 2016. The flight was part of a training exercise with multiple receivers in which they practiced formation procedures, tactical maneuvers and numerous approach and landing techniques. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Sean Campbell)

FAIRCHILD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. -- It was a beautiful spring day in April 2016, when two KC-135 Stratotankers took flight from Fairchild Air Force Base to participate in an ordinary air-refueling training exercise. The sun was warm, the sky was blue and there was nothing in the way of the flight the Marchesseault brothers were about to experience; for them, the day was anything but ordinary.

Lt. Col. Chad Marchesseault, 92nd Operations Group deputy commander, flew a KC-135 during the exercise meeting up with numerous receivers. One of the receivers, a C-17 Globemaster from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, was flown by none other than Chad’s youngest brother, Capt. Lance Marchesseault, 62nd Operations Support Squadron airlift director.

“One of the coolest moments of my life was pointing out at Lance’s plane and telling the aircrew, ‘that’s my baby brother’,” said Chad. “We’d been waiting years for this flight. Our family has always supported each other, so getting the opportunity to meet at 22,000 feet to support my brother and the mission, was very cool.”

The dream of flying together started when Lance was young. Chad, serving since 1992, had already begun his military career before Lance had even stepped foot in a kindergarten classroom. By the time Lance began pilot training, Chad had been flying as an Air Force pilot for more than 10 years.

“I essentially planned my life to follow in Chad’s footsteps,” Lance said. “He was the oldest, and I being the youngest, always looked up to him. He went to the United States Air Force Academy, so I went to USAFA. He went to pilot training in Oklahoma at Vance Air Force Base, so I went to pilot training at Vance.”

Chad, the oldest of five brothers, had always been protective of Lance. By the time Lance was born, Chad had grown old enough to take Lance under his wing. With years of experience in the Air Force, Chad was always able to provide Lance with invaluable advice.

Not long after enlisting in the Air Force in 1992, Chad went on to attend USAFA from 1994 to 1998; after graduation, Chad resumed his active duty status. Chad has been flying KC-135s for nearly 16 years. Lance, a 2010 graduate of USAFA, has been flying the C-17 for about four years.

“I was excited when Lance decided to join the Air Force,” Chad said. “We’ve been watching out for each other as Airmen, pilots and brothers for a long time.”

Chad commissioned Lance when he graduated from USAFA, and also attended Lance’s pilot training graduation. They are constantly discussing the experiences and opportunities the Air Force has given each of them and enjoy sharing the occasional war story about missions, crews and deployments.

When they aren’t talking about their love for Air Force aircraft, you can find the Marchesseault brothers giving each other a hard time.

“Every Air Force job has its own communities and rivalries, and of course, tankers and airlifters are no different,” said Chad. “Lance and I will make fun of each other and our respective aircraft as much as possible. But the bottom line is, we’re extremely proud of one another, and we will always be there for each other.”