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Final flight for Pease KC-135

PEASE AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, N.H.-- -- Members of the 157th Air Refueling Wing gathered here June 11 during a ceremony to honor the KC-135R Stratotanker 58-0008. Since its arrival to Pease in January 1997, the aircraft has flown more than1400 sorties for more than 5,600 hours.

For its final flight from Pease, the aircraft was adorned with special commemorative markings designed by Tech. Sgt. Frank Stephens from the sheet metal shop. The port side fuselage graphics feature a stylized New Hampshire Wildcat logo which is used with permission from the University of New Hampshire. The starboard side fuselage graphics depict New Hampshire's state motto, "Live Free or Die", which was written by General John Stark, July 31, 1809.

The aircraft is first headed to the New Jersey Air National Guard's 108th Air Refueling Wing where the engines will be swapped with another KC-135. Aircrew for the flight consisted of Lt. Col. Brian G. Waters, Maj. Jeff Cole, Maj. John J. Czachor, and Tech. Sgt. James A. Marier. Aircraft maintenance crew chiefs for 58-0008 are: Master Sgt. David A. Roger; Assistant Crew Chiefs: Tech Sgt. John J. Bober and Tech. Sgt. Todd B. Scruton.

"I don't look at 55 years of wear and tear. -- what I see is the pride and craftsmanship that go into these planes and the care that goes into maintaining them," said Lt. Col. John Pogorek, 157th Aircraft Maintenance Group commander. "That's really what we're recognizing: not the metal, but what people put into this ."

After the tanker departs New Jersey its final stop will be 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group, better known as "the boneyard" at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz. The replacement for the aircraft will be another KC-135 from an Air Force Reserve unit at Tinker Air Force Base, Okla., which will arrive on station on June 19.

The tanker was initially delivered to the United States Air Force on Feb 26, 1959. The aircraft's first assignment was with Strategic Air Command's 34th Air Refueling Squadron at Offutt Air Force Base, Neb. The aircraft would remain there, but be reassigned to the 4321st Strategic Wing in February 1962, and then to the 385th Strategic Wing in January 1963. The aircraft returned to the 34th Air Refueling Squadron in December 1964. In June 1966, the tanker relocated to New Hampshire to Pease Air Force Base with the 509th Bombardment Wing, then an active duty base.

During the one year there, the aircraft would spend most of its time deployed to Kadena Air Base, Okinawa Japan flying aerial refueling missions in South East Asia. Later, in July 1967, the tanker was relocated to Dow Air Force Base in Bangor, Maine. However, the aircraft was quickly sent back to support the Vietnam War, this time operating out of U-Tapao Air Base, Thailand. In March 1968 the aircraft was relocated to the 2nd Bombardment Wing at Barksdale Air Force La. In June, after a three month rest and reconditioning, the aircraft was reassigned to the 301st Air Refueling Wing, Lockbourne Air Force Base, Ohio (now Rickenbacker Air National Guard Base). It was then utilized outside the cointental United States at Kadena Air Base, Okinawa Japan; U-Tapao Air Base Thailand; Torrejon Air Base Spain, Don Muang Airport, Bangkok Thailand; and Andersen Air Force Base, Guam before returning home with a brief stop at Little Rock Air Force Base, Ark. at the conclusion of the Vietnam War.

In August 1975, the aircraft started its career with the Air National Guard at Rickenbacker Air National Guard Base's 160th Air Refueling Group. It is here that the aircraft would be converted from an "A" model to an "E" model in January 1987 and later to an "R" model in 1994. After 31 years of dedicated service, the aircraft once again returned to N.H. in January 1997, but this time as a member of the 157th Air Refueling Wing, Pease Air National Guard Base.

Now, after 16 years, many flying hours and a number of military operations, the tanker has honorably served the 157th Air Refueling Wing, its members, and the Nation. Senior leaders honor and remember the aircraft's past as it departs Pease for the last time.

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