by Tech. Sgt. Terrica Y. Jones
379th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
1/8/2016 - AL UDEID AIR BASE, QATAR -- The
KC-135 Stratotanker fleet at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, flew more than
14,700 sorties in 2015 accumulating 103,419 combat hours in support of
Operations Inherent Resolve and Freedoms Sentinel.
"We provide refueling to every flying unit in the area of responsibility
which is Syria, Yemen, Iraq, and Afghanistan and supported 12 coalition
nations," said Lt. Col. James "J.J." Murray, 340th Expeditionary Air
Refueling Squadron director of operations. "We support aircraft
24-hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year so they can do their
Murray said over 60 KC-135 Stratotankers took part in achieving over
100,000 combat hours. Each KC-135 crew flies an average of seven hours a
day and off loads an average of 50,000 gallons of fuel per mission.
Murray said keeping an operations tempo of this magnitude is herculean.
"Imagine 12 airplanes flying 24 hours a day, it's incredible. If we were
not out there to give gas to all our receivers they we would have to
fly shorter missions," said Murray.
Murray said the KC-135's combat hour achievement was possible because of active duty, reserve and National Guard airmen.
"There are different Air Force components like active duty, reserve and
Air National Guard out here. There are also different types of tankers
on the ramp, with different modifications, so usually a new crew has to
be trained or certified in everything that we have here at AUAB. Having
an air crew trained gives us the flexibility to go out and fly any
tanker, and our squadron does internal training to make that happen," he
Senior Airman Timothy Weber, 340 EARS boom operator, shared what it was like to be part of the combat hour milestone.
"The tempo can become intense here," said Weber. "You have to adapt because it's busy and the environment is so dynamic."
"You can take-off with a plan and it can change drastically when you are
in the air, but it gets exciting and I get to see it happen right in
front of me, I love flying," Weber added.
Murray said the 340 EARS surpassed 100,000 combat hours without
realizing it because it happened faster than the unit anticipated.
The combat hour achievement is the result of various units at AUAB working together to make the mission happen Murray added.
"If something is broken in our room and we don't get adequate sleep,
that can affect our mission," said Weber. "We work long hours averaging
7-8 hours a flight and we can work between 12-14 hour days, so you
depend on other units out here to help you get the mission done," Weber
"There are so many pieces to the puzzle, from the moment our aircrew
wakes up and enjoys a hot meal to when they go back to bed," said
Murray. "There are many units on base that are needed in order to make a
single airplane take off every day."