News>Refueling crew brings spirit of Aloha, fuel to fight
U.S. Air Force 22nd Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron members 1st Lt. Josh Ishiki, copilot, Capt. Michael Curtis, aircraft commander and Master Sgt. Eric Faurott, boom operator, give the shaka or hang loose sign after a mission on the flightline, Transit Center at Manas, Kyrgyzstan, Aug. 2, 2012. The shaka sign is native to Hawaii and is a sign of salutation that means friendship. The three team members are all members of the Hawaiian Air National Guard who work together to fuel the fight for Operation Enduring Freedom. The group is one of the many 22nd EARS crew who flies the KC-135 Stratotanker over Afghanistan to provide aerial refueling support to Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps and allied nation aircraft. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Michelle Revoir/Released)
A U.S. Air Force 22nd Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron KC-135 Stratotanker refuels a U.S. Air Force A-10 Thunderbolt over Afghanistan, Aug. 2, 2012. The 22nd EARS provides aerial refueling support to Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps and allied nation aircraft in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Alexandria Mosness/Released)
A U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon (Viper) is refueled over Afghanistan during overseas contingency operations, August 3, 2012. The 22d Expeditionary Air Refueling Sq. (EARS) conducts missions out of Transit Center at Manas, Kyrgyzstan, and plays an integral role in keeping air assets refueled in support of U.S. and coalition ground forces. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Clay Lancaster/Released)
by Staff Sgt. Alexandria Mosness
Air Forces Central Public Affairs
8/17/2012 - TRANSIT CENTER AT MANAS, Kyrgyzstan -- Being from Hawaii, the three-man refueling crew likes to bring the spirit of Aloha with them on each deployment. On their previous deployment to Turkey, the 203rd Air Refueling Squadron members from Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, brought crates of fresh pineapple to give out.
On this deployment with the 22nd Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron, they brought another Hawaiian tradition -- chocolate covered macadamia nuts.
"Wherever we go we always want to have something to give," said Capt. Michael Curtis, aircraft commander. "Our guys always get to know everybody, and I don't know if it because we are from Hawaii, but we are pretty laid back and easy going. We just want to show those who are helping us out that we appreciate them. It is as simple as the Airman who gave us a ride to the flightline. Eric ran back and gave her the box of candies."
However, it is not just random acts of Hawaiian kindness the Airmen are performing on their deployment.
1st Lt. Josh Ishiki, copilot, and Master Sgt. Eric Faurott, boom operator, are all members of the Hawaiian Air National Guard who work together to fuel the fight for Operation Enduring Freedom. The group is one of the many 22nd EARS crews who fly the KC-135 Stratotanker over Afghanistan to provide aerial refueling support to Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps and allied nation aircraft.
"Basically, we take off over the country, and we have certain refueling areas," Curtis said. "We provide fuel to the aircraft that are in those areas."
It starts with the troops with the boots on the ground. If they are having a bad day, the Joint Terminal Attack Controller coordinates with the fighter pilots who provide armed overwatch or strikes if needed.
"But those planes burn fuel fast and in order to stay in the air, they need more fuel. "And, that is where we come in," the aircraft commander added.
On this deployment, we have flown 43 sorties in 60 days and logged nearly 300 flying hours, Faurott said.
Curtis has worked with Faurott for seven years and Ishiki for one.
While the three all joined the military for different reasons, one common theme led them to the Hawaiian ANG: their families.
Curtis joined the military because it was always in his family.
"From all the way back to the Revolutionary War, a member of my family has served in every war," the Fayetteville, Ark., native said.
Curtis has an extensive military resume. He was in the Navy for 6 years , the Air Force Reserves for 3, and has currently served 11 years in the Air National Guard.
He ended up becoming a permanent resident of Hawaii after he met his wife and couldn't convince her to move to Arkansas.
"Snakes, swamps, and hunting just didn't do it for her," he said with a laugh.
Ishiki joined the military to go to college. He was active duty for six years as a jet mechanic, but he always wanted to fly.
"I received my wings in Oct. 2010, and it has been awesome," said Ishiki who is on his third deployment.
The copilot also knew he would always return home to his family in Hawaii, he said.
"We are real family oriented," said Ishiki, the Kaneohe, Hawaii, native. "I actually live on the same street as my grandpa, mom, and sister.
Faurott joined the military because it was in his family to serve, he said.
"My father was infantry in the Marines, and I followed him in his footsteps and joined the Army as infantry at the beginning of my military career."
Faurott has been a boom operator since 1996.
"As a flying line boom, my job is to give the other aircraft gas -- one contact and one offload," he said. "It has to be simple and fast in the combat support role. What people don't realize is the tanker's weapon is fuel. What we bring to our fight is our fuel."
The crew brings the fuel and their positive attitude as well.
"The 203rd ARS crew has the Hawaiian spirit," said Lt. Col. Russell Davis, 22nd EARS commander.
"But most importantly they bring an atmosphere of Ohana, which means family in Hawaiian," he continued. "You can tell they are all family. Showing up for a flight, they always warmly greet their maintainers and have a short conversation. There is always a handshake or shoulder bump, which is unique to a Hawaiian unit. A lot of my crews have that teamwork, but the Hawaiian crew has a high level of cohesion and teamwork that you don't see in most units. They are family and are connected."
The same connection is what keeps them safe on their flying missions.
"We have flown together for a while, and you are able to know the guy next to you limits and capabilities," Curtis said.
Curtis relies on Faurotts expertise on hazmat and cargo, and his 16 years of experience, as an integral part of the safety on missions, he said.
The team always has to keep talking to each other to keep everyone on the same page.
"We all have to work together," Ishiki said. "Everyone has an equal setting. There is no rank per say. We each have our specific jobs and we always have a line of communication."
It is the same family mentality that helps keeps each other motivated.
"I look to my crew to bring me up, and for me to bring them up when they need it," Faurott said. "If we work as a crew, not as an individual, there is nothing we can't overcome."