916th Air Refueling Wing History
Published August 02, 2006
Change has been a constant for the 916th Air Refueling Wing since the Air Force brought the Reserve mission to Seymour Johnson in 1985.
The number 916 was assigned to the unit from a Reserve group deactivated at Carswell AFB, Texas, in 1972-the 916th Troop Carrier Group, Heavy, flying C-124 cargo aircraft. Reincarnated as a refueling group, the 916th was a Reserve associate unit flying KC-10 Extenders side-by side with 4th Fighter Wing. They were called to active duty for Operations Desert Storm, Desert Shield and Proud Return, off loading the most fuel of any unit in the Air Force.
On Oct. 1, 1995, the group, now a wing, officially gained an independent refueling and airlift mission with KC- I 35R Stratotankers. Concurrently, the tanker mission became part of the Air Mobility Command.
The 916th's aircraft are the most recent version of the predecessor to Boeing's 707 airliner and sport new CFM-56 turbofan engines equivalent to the newest commercial power plants. They also have on-board auxiliary power units allowing stratotankers to take-off from remote airfields without ground support. Long-range planners speculate KC-135s will be an integral part of United States strategic power projection well into the next century.
The conversion process was completed in April 1997 when the 916th Air Refueling Wing officially became mission ready. The Air Force and Air Force Reserve tested the mettle of Reserve airmen even before the unit was on line. The wing was tapped to refuel domestic and global exercise and operational flights; they flew cargo and passenger missions in support of Joint Endeavor (Bosnia) and both Atlantic and Pacific supply missions; they were alerted for short-notice missions and crews stood alert duty for five days, ready to support U.S. military response in Southwest Asia. Early in the conversion process, the Reserve wing supported refueling and airlift for 4th Fighter Wing F-15E deployments, including hurricane evacuations and off-station exercises.
More than 185 full-time people live in the Goldsboro area, working daily to build proficiency and continuity with about 620 traditional reservists, from other counties and even other states, who dedicate their weekends and time off from civilian jobs. The operations group, logistics group, support group and medical squadron support Air Force and allied refueling and cargo missions, able to respond on short notice anywhere in the world.