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Tankers land on Andersen for full AEF rotation

939th Air Refueling Wing, KC-135 Stratotanker, May 10, 2006.  (U.S. Air Force Photo/Maj. James R. Wilson)

Airmen from both Grand Forks Air Force Base, N.D., and MacDill AFB, Fla., deployed recently to Andersen Air Force Base, Guam. They will be maintaining the KC-135 Stratotanker like this one from the 939th Air Refueling Wing. (U.S. Air Force photo/Maj. James R. Wilson

ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam -- As part of a 120-day Air Expeditionary Force deployment cycle, 83 active-duty Airmen from from both Grand Forks AFB, N.D., and MacDill AFB, Fla., have recently flown to Andersen to form the 506th Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron.

"We have come and taken over for the Guard," said Capt. John Creighton, operations officer. "Now we will be providing our customers, such as the bombers that are here, with fuel for their missions, as well as other agencies out there that may need the fuel."

For continuity purposes, these active-duty Airmen will serve a full AEF rotation on Andersen, whereas the Guard units' rotations will remain 30-day cycles.

"It's not different from our perspective because, typically, active duty rotates 120-day cycles," said Senior Master Sgt. Larson Johnson, maintenance superintendent.

In hopes to set up a better continuity system, the 506th EARS believes that without the constant turnovers, people will have time to become more familiar with the current operations.

"The continuity we will provide is not so much focused on ourselves as it is for the operation that's currently going on here," said Sergeant Johnson. "That's where the continuity will be beneficial."

The tankers are not only here to provide gas to customers on Guam, but as a major AEF rotation rapidly approaches, they will also be providing gas to forces throughout out the theater during the AEF rotation change out.

"In addition to the mission here, we will still be providing the Air Mobility Command mission of world class refueling anywhere," said Sergeant Johnson.

One challenge they expect to face while here is merging separate units. For example, "things that we do on the maintenance side of the house may be different from what MacDill does; same for the opposite side of the house," said Captain Creighton, who is from MacDill AFB.

However, with standardized tanker operations and four months to go, they should do just fine, Captain Creighton said.