By Col. Brian Newberry, 92nd Air Refueling Wing Commander
/ Published July 23, 2014
FAIRCHILD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. -- As I reflect on my time in command of the mighty 92nd Air Refueling Wing, I could not be prouder of you rising to the occasion each and every time over the past two years. What makes me most proud as your commander was you answered your nation's call and in the process, despite challenges that were as numerous as any time dating back to 1994, you as a wing lived up to our motto of the 92nd Bombardment Group: "Higher, Stronger, Faster." You excelled as Airmen, as a team--you went above and beyond.
I smiled at my change of command in August 2012, because I felt privileged to be trusted to lead such a fine wing. I smile two years later because I am honored to have served such amazing Airmen. I smile because our legacy of excellence dating back to 1942 has not wavered. As an example, our focus on the nuclear support mission remains laser sharp. We were our HQ's nominee for the 2012 Omaha Trophy recognizing the best strategic wing. Last October, during the annual major nuclear support exercise, Global Thunder, our wing launched 13 tankers in under nine minutes to fuel the fight. It was an incredibly successful team endeavor and showed our Wing is ready should ever the call come.
Conventionally, we also remain ready and vigilant. We seamlessly transitioned from a decade of front line operations from Manas to new locations in the desert, still fueling freedom over Afghanistan. Last year alone, we provided enough fuel to combat aircraft to fill up a personal car around the world 12,500 times. In two years' time, our total force alert tanker responded 32 times to ensure our border stayed secure. We supported the 36th Rescue Flight helicopter unit and beyond supporting survival, evasion, resistance and escape training. This unit has 12 "saves" last year of local stranded residents and two this year. We also proudly supported the noble SERE mission that trains an astounding 18,000 Airmen a year to "return with honor."
What has been most gratifying about being commander of the 92nd is every time we are given a challenge, we not only hurdle the obstacle; we set a record doing it. Our February unit effectiveness inspection is case in point. We were the third base inspected under the new construct and in the end, our Inspection Program was named "best seen to date" and our inspector general team earned top IG award honors this year from our headquarters. That was a total force effort...that is Team Fairchild.
As if to be an exclamation point on us being an "Effective" wing, this spring, two Whiteman B-2 Spirit bombers launched on an 8,000 mile journey to Hawaii to demonstrate our capabilities to Defense ministers from around the Pacific. They made a textbook low level pass on time, on target, over our Secretary of Defense and his fellow ministers, in large part by the textbook support of two Fairchild tankers. We are certainly flying higher, stronger, and faster, ratified yet again when I watched our wing flawlessly deploy multiple crews, maintainers and aircraft in June, in less than 24 hours' time, to provide global reach overseas with deteriorating security in Iraq. Our Airmen, standing on shoulders of the 92nd giants, still deliver today, battling back enormous challenges in 2013 and being award winners in their own right. Air Force Association's Schilling Award, Air Mobility Command's runner-up to CINC Installation Excellence Award, AMC's Verne Orr Award...these are major awards earned during the most difficult year arguably since 1994 when we faced both a B-52 Stratofortress crash and active shooter tragedy.
As I say goodbye, I will never forget the sacrifice of the crew and the families of Shell 77, or the three other 92nd members lost in my command, but I will also never forget the resilience of a wing that stepped up to continue fueling the fight post sequester, post government shutdown, because we must. Our World War II 92nd aviators, looking to establish a motto to inspire to, set up a competition and decided that "Fame's Favored Few" and "Higher, Stronger, Faster" were to be our watchwords.
Finer words could not have been selected. As I look back on my command, I could not be prouder of my Airmen for battling adversity, seeking innovation and winning the war on terror one air refueling mission at a time. We remain Fame's Favored Few and "Higher, Stronger, Faster" are our watchwords...but wait, we are just getting started. As we become the center of excellence for KC-135 Stratotanker operations with the KC-46 Pegasus introduction to McConnell, our role in Global Reach for America will only continue to grow. We are flying, fighting and winning in a new century, but our roots remain deep with all those that came before us. Helen Keller once said "true happiness...is fidelity to a worthy purpose." I leave command incredibly content knowing I served a mighty wing that was absolutely faithful to a noble purpose..."Fueling Freedom."
Thank you 92nd and our partners, 336th Training Group and 141st Air Refueling Wing--you are first class and I salute you for your continued excellence...it is a habit!