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Incentive Flight Creates Opportunity For Spouses

Spouses from two Alabama Air National Guard units to took a ride in a  KC-135R Stratotanker over Montgomery, Ala. as part of an incentive flight, January 9, 2016. The flight which  involved the 117th Air Refueling Wing and the 187th Fighter Wing  helped spouses learn more about the Air Guard mission.  (U.S. Air National Guard photo by: Senior Airman Wesley Jones/Released)

Spouses from two Alabama Air National Guard units to took a ride in a KC-135R Stratotanker over Montgomery, Ala. as part of an incentive flight, January 9, 2016. The flight which involved the 117th Air Refueling Wing and the 187th Fighter Wing helped spouses learn more about the Air Guard mission. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by: Senior Airman Wesley Jones/Released)

Spouses from two Alabama Air National Guard units to took a ride in a KC-135R Stratotanker over Montgomery, Ala. as part of an incentive flight, January 10, 2016. The flight which  involved the 117th Air Refueling Wing and the 187th Fighter Wing helped spouses learn more about the Air Guard mission. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by: Capt. Jonathan Russell/Released)

Spouses from two Alabama Air National Guard units to took a ride in a KC-135R Stratotanker over Montgomery, Ala. as part of an incentive flight, January 10, 2016. The flight which involved the 117th Air Refueling Wing and the 187th Fighter Wing helped spouses learn more about the Air Guard mission. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by: Capt. Jonathan Russell/Released)

Spouses from two Alabama Air National Guard units to took a ride in a  KC-135R Stratotanker over Montgomery, Ala. as part of an incentive flight, January 9, 2016. The flight which  involved the 117th Air Refueling Wing and the 187th Fighter Wing  helped spouses learn more about the Air Guard mission.  (U.S. Air National Guard photo by: Senior Airman Wesley Jones/Released)

Spouses from two Alabama Air National Guard units to took a ride in a KC-135R Stratotanker over Montgomery, Ala. as part of an incentive flight, January 9, 2016. The flight which involved the 117th Air Refueling Wing and the 187th Fighter Wing helped spouses learn more about the Air Guard mission. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by: Senior Airman Wesley Jones/Released)

Spouses from two Alabama Air National Guard units to took a ride in a  KC-135R Stratotanker over Montgomery, Ala. as part of an incentive flight, January 9, 2016. The flight which  involved the 117th Air Refueling Wing and the 187th Fighter Wing  helped spouses learn more about the Air Guard mission.  (U.S. Air National Guard photo by: Senior Airman Wesley Jones/Released)

Spouses from two Alabama Air National Guard units to took a ride in a KC-135R Stratotanker over Montgomery, Ala. as part of an incentive flight, January 9, 2016. The flight which involved the 117th Air Refueling Wing and the 187th Fighter Wing helped spouses learn more about the Air Guard mission. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by: Senior Airman Wesley Jones/Released)

Spouses from two Alabama Air National Guard units to took a ride in a  KC-135R Stratotanker over Montgomery, Ala. as part of an incentive flight, January 9, 2016. The flight which  involved the 117th Air Refueling Wing and the 187th Fighter Wing  helped spouses learn more about the Air Guard mission.  (U.S. Air National Guard photo by: Senior Airman Wesley Jones/Released)

Spouses from two Alabama Air National Guard units to took a ride in a KC-135R Stratotanker over Montgomery, Ala. as part of an incentive flight, January 9, 2016. The flight which involved the 117th Air Refueling Wing and the 187th Fighter Wing helped spouses learn more about the Air Guard mission. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by: Senior Airman Wesley Jones/Released)

Spouses from two Alabama Air National Guard units to took a ride in a  KC-135R Stratotanker over Montgomery, Ala. as part of an incentive flight, January 9, 2016. The flight which  involved the 117th Air Refueling Wing and the 187th Fighter Wing  helped spouses learn more about the Air Guard mission.  (U.S. Air National Guard photo by: Senior Airman Wesley Jones/Released)

Spouses from two Alabama Air National Guard units to took a ride in a KC-135R Stratotanker over Montgomery, Ala. as part of an incentive flight, January 9, 2016. The flight which involved the 117th Air Refueling Wing and the 187th Fighter Wing helped spouses learn more about the Air Guard mission. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by: Senior Airman Wesley Jones/Released)

An F-16C Fighting Falcon approaches the boom of a KC-135R Stratotanker for refueling over Montgomery, Ala., January 10, 2016. The mission was part of an incentive flight involing the 117th Air Refeuling Wing and the 187th Fighter Wing. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by: Capt. Jonathan Russell/Released)

An F-16C Fighting Falcon approaches the boom of a KC-135R Stratotanker for refueling over Montgomery, Ala., January 10, 2016. The mission was part of an incentive flight involing the 117th Air Refeuling Wing and the 187th Fighter Wing. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by: Capt. Jonathan Russell/Released)

Spouses from two Alabama Air National Guard units to took a ride in a  KC-135R Stratotanker over Montgomery, Ala. as part of an incentive flight, January 10, 2016. The flight which  involved the 117th Air Refueling Wing and the 187th Fighter Wing helped spouses learn more about the Air Guard mission. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by:Airman 1st Class Lee Murphy/Released)

Spouses from two Alabama Air National Guard units to took a ride in a KC-135R Stratotanker over Montgomery, Ala. as part of an incentive flight, January 10, 2016. The flight which involved the 117th Air Refueling Wing and the 187th Fighter Wing helped spouses learn more about the Air Guard mission. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by:Airman 1st Class Lee Murphy/Released)

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- Alabama Air National Guard spouses made lifelong memories during two incentive flights involving the 117th Air Refueling Wing and the 187th Fighter Wing on January 9 and 10, 2016.

More than 30 spouses, from both wings, flew in a KC-135R Stratotanker as it refueled F-16C Fighting Falcons from the 187 FW.

The two refueling missions were very special for both the pilots and the passengers. One of the passengers, Melodie Efferson, is wife to Col. Randy Efferson, pilot and Commander of the 187 FW. After 20 years of marriage and a short ride to 10,000 feet, Melodie Efferson watched from the boom pod as Col. Efferson made his approach to the KC-135R.

"I was almost in tears when I saw him for the first time during the flight," said Efferson. "I'm always proud of what he does, but to be up there and experience that with him, it's hard to put into words."

One by one, the pilot's wives took turns watching their husbands receive fuel from the stratotanker, a process that was coordinated by the boom operator, Staff Sgt. Jake Langner. Melodie Efferson also met with Langner after the flight and gave him a coin on behalf of all the pilot's wives from the 187 FW.

"Everyone in the military is important, but the boom operator is a big deal to me as a pilot's wife," said Efferson. "Whether our husbands are practicing or deploying, the relationship he has with the boom operator is very important and something we consider very special."

Mackenzie Carroll, wife of Staff Sgt. Chad Carroll Executive Assistant of the 117 ARW also had the opportunity to observe the refueling mission.  "It was an incredible experience to watch those guys in action up there". I'm just thankful for the opportunity to go up and see what my husband is actually supporting," said Carroll.

A total of 32 spouses participated in the incentive flights, 22 from the 117 ARW and 10 from the 187 FW. The Incentive Flight Program is designed for military spouses to understand the mission they are supporting.
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