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Airmen, family members witness mission in action

U.S. Airmen assigned to the 20th Fighter Wing (FW) and Team Shaw spouses board a 72nd Air Refueling Squadron KC-135R Stratotanker prior to an incentive flight at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., June 20, 2018.

U.S. Airmen assigned to the 20th Fighter Wing (FW) and Team Shaw spouses board a 72nd Air Refueling Squadron KC-135R Stratotanker prior to an incentive flight at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., June 20, 2018. Three incentive flights took place June 19-21 and gave passengers the chance to learn about and witness 20th FW F-16 Fighting Falcons being refueled. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Kathryn R.C. Reaves)

U.S. Air Force KC-135R Stratotanker pilots assigned to the 72nd Air Refueling Squadron, top, and a 77th Fighter Squadron F-16 Fighting Falcon pilot’s spouse prepare for an incentive flight at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., June 20, 2018.

U.S. Air Force KC-135R Stratotanker pilots assigned to the 72nd Air Refueling Squadron, top, and a 77th Fighter Squadron F-16 Fighting Falcon pilot’s spouse prepare for an incentive flight at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., June 20, 2018. The flight was one of three which gave passengers the opportunity to watch the refueling process of 20th Fighter Wing F-16s over the Atlantic Ocean. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Kathryn R.C. Reaves)

U.S. Airmen assigned to the 20th Fighter Wing (FW) and Team Shaw spouses gather for a photo in a 72nd Air Refueling Squadron KC-135R Stratotanker during an incentive flight over the Atlantic Ocean, June 20, 2018.

U.S. Airmen assigned to the 20th Fighter Wing (FW) and Team Shaw spouses gather for a photo in a 72nd Air Refueling Squadron KC-135R Stratotanker during an incentive flight over the Atlantic Ocean, June 20, 2018. The flight gave military spouses and F-16 Fighting Falcon maintainers a deeper understanding of the work 20th FW pilots do and new knowledge of how their own support and efforts enable the mission. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Kathryn R.C. Reaves)

A 77th Fighter Squadron F-16CM Fighting Falcon pilot’s wife, left, smiles as she watches a 72nd Air Refueling Squadron KC-135R Stratotanker in-flight refueling technician, right, refuel her husband’s jet during an incentive flight over the Atlantic Ocean, June 20, 2018.

A 77th Fighter Squadron F-16CM Fighting Falcon pilot’s wife, left, smiles as she watches a 72nd Air Refueling Squadron KC-135R Stratotanker in-flight refueling technician, right, refuel her husband’s jet during an incentive flight over the Atlantic Ocean, June 20, 2018. The incentive flight gave Team Shaw members insight on how refueling skills impact missions during deployments. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Kathryn R.C. Reaves)

A U.S. Air Force pilot assigned to the 77th Fighter Squadron navigates an F-16CM Fighting Falcon over the Atlantic Ocean while being refueled by a 72nd Air Refueling Squadron KC-135R Stratotanker, June 20, 2018.

A U.S. Air Force pilot assigned to the 77th Fighter Squadron navigates an F-16CM Fighting Falcon over the Atlantic Ocean while being refueled by a 72nd Air Refueling Squadron KC-135R Stratotanker, June 20, 2018. The F-16 was one of several refueled during training, allowing pilots to maintain proficiency in preparation for deployed operations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Kathryn R.C. Reaves)

U.S. Air Force pilots assigned to the 77th Fighter Squadron navigate F-16 Fighting Falcons in formation over the Atlantic Ocean, June 20, 2018.

U.S. Air Force pilots assigned to the 77th Fighter Squadron navigate F-16 Fighting Falcons in formation over the Atlantic Ocean, June 20, 2018. The F-16s were refueled in-flight by a 72nd Air Refueling Squadron KC-135R Stratotanker while 20th Fighter Wing Airmen and family members watched. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Kathryn R.C. Reaves)

SHAW AIR FORCE BASE, S.C. -- Team Shaw spouses and Airmen assigned to the 20th Fighter Wing received incentive flights in a 72nd Air Refueling Squadron KC-135R Stratotanker, June 19-21.

The flights departed from Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, and gave passengers the opportunity to watch the refueling of 55th, 77th and 79th Fighter Squadron F-16 Fighting Falcons over the Atlantic Ocean.

“As spouses, it’s really important to us to be able to have incentives like this that allow us to see firsthand what our spouses are doing day-to-day when they come to work,” said Hannah Carey, 77th FS spouse. “It’s really rewarding for us to know the Air Force is helping educate us on what our spouses do at work and that all the training and hard work they put in is actually paying off.”

Carey said the experience was not only cool, but also nerve-wracking.

“You want to wave, you want to be able to talk to (the pilots), but I also had to realize they’re still doing a job and they’re still training, making sure they’re completely up-to-date on all their qualifications,” she said.

While the flight informed Team Shaw family members and maintainers about the refueling training pilots conduct, it also gave them insight into how these skills impact missions during deployments.

“We don’t want to go over to the desert or Middle East or wherever our operations take us when it really counts and have them struggle or not be proficient,” said Capt. Ben Strader, 72nd ARS pilot from Grissom Air Reserve Base, Indiana. “We want our training done now so they’re good at their job.”

After landing back at Shaw, military spouses and F-16 maintainers departed the Stratotanker with a deeper understanding of the work 20th FW pilots do and new knowledge of how their own support and efforts enable the mission.