Award-winning spouse proves vital to 93rd ARS mission

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. J.G. Buzanowski
  • 92nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
The craziest thing Megan Capelle and her husband, Michael, did in college was make a day trip to Wisconsin.

After all, there was an air show that weekend and her fiancée wanted to become a pilot.

Back then the two were enrolled in the University of Illinois. He was in the Air Force ROTC program and a mechanical engineering student; she was pursuing a degree in recreation, sports and tourism. The sweethearts didn't have a lot of time to spend together, so she found a way to change that.

Capelle joined Silver Wings, an organization affiliated with the Arnold Air Society. Both groups work together to encourage leadership, professional development and awareness of the military. She soon became the national president of Silver Wings, solidifying her love of supporting her fellow spouses of Airmen.

"At first I did it as a way for us to have something to do together since he was in the Arnold Air Society," Capelle said. "I wanted to learn more about the Air Force and what it was going to be like once he went on active duty. I found it was a great way to give back to the community, which was something we both really enjoyed."

The two were married their senior year and after graduation headed off to their first assignment so he could attend pilot training. The Capelle family is now stationed here at Fairchild. He's a KC-135R Stratotanker pilot with the 93rd Air Refueling Squadron; she's the president of the squadron spouses group.

"She does so much behind the scenes to help keep all of the spouses informed and feeling welcome; it makes my job a lot easier," said the 93rd ARS commander, Lt. Col. Patrick O'Brien. "The nature of our job means we spend a lot of time away from home and Airmen can't focus on their job if their spouse is having issues. Megan is an important part of helping all our spouses from the time they arrive on station to when they depart. Her help has a direct impact on our mission at home and abroad."

Megan knows firsthand what it's like to be the spouse of a deployed Airman - her husband returns from his fifth Monday.

"Every deployment has its own challenges," she said. "Fortunately we've been able to talk or text just about every day - communication is the key. You have to stay connected.

"What I tell spouses who are going through their first deployment is to embrace their faith, whatever it might be," Megan added. "That's what will keep you going whenever you feel alone and overwhelmed."

Megan and Michael have two kids: Gabriel, 4 (who was adamant we knew he loved Transformers - his favorite is Optimus Prime) and Abigail, 2. She's due in August with their third.

"We found out ahead of time the genders of the other two, but since we have one of each, we're going to let this one be a surprise," Megan said.

Their family spends a lot of time exploring the local area as well as taking advantage of events offered on base.

"We go to a lot of the movies as the base theater and we like to spend time at the base library whenever we can," Megan said.

Because of her work as the squadron spouses group president and community service, Megan was the 92nd Air Refueling Wing's submission for the Joan Orr Air Force Spouse of the Year Award. The award honor significant contributions made by nonmilitary spouses of Airmen and is named after the wife of former Secretary of the Air Force Verne Orr. She was also the first recipient of Fairchild's new Blue Star Spouse Award.

According to the award package submitted for both awards, Megan had a number of accomplishments including:

- Creating a spouses Facebook page to increase interaction and outreach for the squadron
- Preparing more than 36 newsletters to keep spouses in the know about squadron events
- Gathering coats to be distributed by deployed Airmen to families in Kyrgyzstan
- Leading a variety of church activities, like Bible study groups for children and adults

"I was greatly humbled by the recognition because I feel like I work with a great group of people," Megan said. "I don't feel like I do anything to be singled out, so I'm very thankful leadership thinks so highly of the spouses group as a vital support network."

The most important thing is making every spouse feel like they're a part of the Air Force family, regardless of rank or position, Megan said.

"Megan was the very first person I met on base," said Danielle McCluskey, whose husband is a boom operator. "She's always there for spouses and takes the time to visit them. It really adds that personal touch to being a military spouse."

For Megan, that's just part of a calling that started back in college.

"As a spouse, especially a new spouse, you can quickly start to feel lost, so with us, it's important that rank goes out the window," she said. "It can be easy to harbor a lot of resentment toward the military when you don't understand or appreciate what Airmen do. The squadron does a lot to involve spouses so we have a better understanding of what military members go through.

"If we can make being a military spouse a positive experience," Megan added, "then we've done our job and at the end of the day, I feel like I've made a difference."