Military News

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

351st ARS boom operator receives 2014 USAFE Instructor of the Year award

by Senior Airman Christine Halan
100th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

7/28/2015 - RAF MILDENHALL, England  -- Teaching others is something Master Sgt. Joseph Blakley, 351st Air Refueling Squadron operations superintendent and chief boom from Strawberry Plains, Tennessee, has always wanted to do.

Enlisting September 1998 and now 36-years-old, he has been stationed at RAF Mildenhall for almost two years.

As an instructor boom operator, Blakley teaches Airmen a variety of necessary tasks while on the ground or in the air, eventually resulting in their ability to fly as the only enlisted person on a KC-135 Stratotanker.

"I take students and teach them ground classes that are associated with flying, aircraft systems, boom knowledge, refueling and egress knowledge, and passenger considerations. Then I take them up in the airplane and allow them to practice so that they can do it themselves," said the instructor, adding he often flies with experienced boom operators to evaluate them and ensure their qualifications or up to date.

Blakley has gathered his experience both on the job and while teaching as a technical school instructor for four years.

"I wanted to be an instructor and I enjoy it so much that I went to the school house. Now I get to fly and still instruct," he said.

In 2014, Blakley orchestrated U.S. Air Forces in Europe's new boom simulator requirements, managing a six-figure temporary duty assignment plan amidst surge operations that included multiple deployments while ensuring Airmen were combat ready. He also instructed over 100 hours in the aircraft for combat mission capability.

"This award meant a lot to me because it meant someone had seen the work I was putting in. I was pleased to get the award because I knew [my leadership] supported me.

"I might have received this, but there are probably at least six people here that could have received the same award who can do just as much or more of what I gave on the instructor side," he said. "What makes me pleased is to know that when I go home I know I did my best at the end of the day."

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