An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Becoming a Boom Operator Instructor

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt Sean M. Evans
  • 514th Air Mobility Wing

JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, N.J. — On May 31, 2019, a crew of ten Reserve Citizen Airmen, mostly from the 76th Air Refueling Squadron, 514th Air Mobility Wing, and an Airman from the 305th AMW, departed Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst on a KC-10 Extender to Westover Air Reserve Base, Mass.

During this total force off-station trainer, the crew coordinated with a C-17 Globemaster III, for a refueling drill, moved cargo, and gave Soldiers of the 325th Military Intelligence Battalion a tour of the aircraft.

While all this was going on, a reservist was making progress on a mission of his own. Master Sgt. William M. Simurra, a boom operator with the 76th ARS is in the process of earning his instructor upgrade.

Simurra joined the Air Force Reserve in March of 2007 and began his service at JBMDL. He has been with the 76th ARS since 2012 and was recently selected by his squadron to become qualified to train other boom operators in their duties and responsibilities which include air refueling, cargo loading, passenger handling, evacuation and emergency situations, and acting as safety observers.

“Not every boom operator is selected to become an instructor, your squadron has to want you to become an instructor,” said Simurra. “If you value the career field you would want to take the opportunity to continue to learn and grow and develop.”

Helping Simurra on this flight was Tech. Sgt. Jeremy A. Becnel, a boom operator with the 305th AMW. Becnel joined the Air Force in June of 2004 as an active duty Airman and has been with the 305th since January of 2018.

“I help upgrade about eight to ten boom operators a year” said Becnel. It’s commonplace that active duty members handle the responsibility of upgrading reservist boom operators.

“It’s mostly active duty personnel training the Airmen because there’s so many more of us”, said Becnel. “The formal schools are all part of active duty squadrons as well since the reserve don’t have the facilities themselves.”

Simurra happens to be the first Reserve Citizen Airman to be upgraded this year from the 514th.

During the formal training, evaluations occur on flights while the Airman being upgraded is on orders to meet the requirements to graduate.

“It’s a higher level of responsibility because people look up to you”, said Becnel. “You can’t be a laid back Airman because it is difficult to learn all of the knowledge that comes with the upgrade.”

The evaluation includes ensuring the individual has a fluent knowledge of critical information required to know immediately by memory, called bold type knowledge.

Familiarity with general knowledge, information that is highly recommended to memorize, is also observed to ensure the individual can handle any situation encountered or know where to find that information in a timely manner.  

Simurra’s training is indicative of the close relationship between active duty and Reserve Citizen Airmen to get required training done.

For Simurra, this relationship between active duty and reserve started when he was put on orders April 3rd, 2019. His class graduation date from the KC-10 Boom Operator Instructor Course is July 2nd and thanks to the active duty Airmen having the facilities and personnel, our Airmen like Simurra are always reserve ready.