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Active duty flying squadron officially stands up as part of Reserve wing

  • Published
  • By Capt. Shannon Mann
  • 916th Air Refueling Wing
Hangar 4909 was already busy 30 minutes prior to the start of the ceremony. And not just busy, buzzing.
There is an undefinable excitement that comes when people realize they are adding a new chapter to their history. Today the 911th Air Refueling Squadron started another chapter in its illustrious history and it added a chapter to the historical pages of the 916th Air Refueling Wing.
At 9:11am the ceremony began in the traditional military fashion with the colors be posted and a beautiful duet rendition of the national anthem by Airmen First Class Joy Agpawa and Grace Smith. Col. Jon Klaus, commander of the 6th Operations Group, was the presiding officer for the ceremony.
Colonel Klaus told the audience the significance of having an active duty squadron under the operational direction of an Air Force Reserve wing and how changes like these are not easily made. He explained that the 916th owned the equipment, and they, along with the 911th provided the manpower, and how the administrative control of the 260 active duty Airmen lay with the 6th Air Mobility Wing in Florida. He noted the historical significance of the association and that the 911th was not entirely new to the Goldsboro community.
The colonel explained that the 911th has actually been in business since May 1917 and since that time the squadron has changed locations 20 times and has flown 15 different aircraft. The squadron started flying tankers in 1958 and actually was assigned at Seymour Johnson from 1985 to 1994.
But the most important message Colonel Klaus left with the audience was his faith in his new squadron commander, Lt. Col. William Uptmor. He shared with the audience the lieutenant colonel's past assignments, deployments and experience and told the crowd that "Bill has all the skills and experience necessary to succeed."
"It is with an easy and light heart that I pass the guide-on to Bill," said Colonel Klaus.
So as the 911th guide-on was unveiled and passed, and as Colonel Uptmor received his commander's badge and first salute from his squadron, the significance of the day was lost on no-one there.
"Today we begin writing a new chapter in Air Force history," Lt. Col. Uptmor told the crowd. "The 911th along with the 916th Air Refueling Wing, 6th Air Mobility Wing and 4th Fighter Wing will write the book that will define Total Force operations for years to come. We will work as one, live as one and fight as one."
The new squadron commander then went on to recognize his maintenance chiefs and told everyone that the squadron was off to a great start in fixing and flying the tankers. He stressed mission, family and safety to his troops noting the importance of each in their daily lives. He ended by thanking the people who helped him get to where he was...his family. He said that the Air Force core values of integrity, service before self and excellence in all we do had been the same core values his parents had instilled in him. He thanked his siblings and his wife and children for always being there and for their support and love.
The ceremony ended in the usual military fashion too with the departure of the official party and the Air Force song; and while the ceremony itself was conducted in the usual fashion the meaning of the moment was different today for not only the men and women of the 916th and 911th, but the Air Force and Air Force Reserve as a whole.