Image provided by: University of Nebraska-Lincoln Libraries, Lincoln, NE
About The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current | View Entire Issue (March 15, 1996)
Master Sgt. Stan Krause writes
postcards to members of his
family in Nebraska. Krause has
been in the guard for 14 years.
Staci McKee for the DN
Above and beyond
makes the most of traveling
Editor’s note: The following story details a deploy
ment of the Nebraska Air National Guard's 155th Air
Refueling Wing. The trip went from Nebraska to New
Hampshire to Germany to England and back.
By Matthew Waite
In a lamp lit comer of room 263 of the
Howard Johnson’s in Portsmouth, N.H., Master
Sgt. Stan Krause sat filling out a couple of
The rest ofthc Nebraska Air Guard crew was
at the hotel bar — it was karaoke night on this
Krause was alone, but that didn’t bother him.
He had been here before.
For the members of the 155 th Air Refueling
Wing of the Nebraska Air Guard, it was just
another day at the office.
The crew flew out of Lincoln near dawn on
the first leg of their deployment. They would be
going from Lincoln to New Hampshire, then to
Germany and finally to England before going
But not every minute of the deployment was
spent on the job. For the men and women on the
flight — eight crewmen, five medics and six
civilian passengers—there was a lot oftime off
There was time to see the sights, lime to
relax. A member of the armed forces for more
than 18 years, with more than 14 years in the Air
National Guard, Krause had been around the
Stamps in his passport include Turkey, Hon
duras, Panama, Germany (twiee), Ieeland and
And at every stop, the master sergeant puts
pen to paper and writes postcards to his parents
in Grand Island and to his three daughters. He is
divorced, and his daughters have all grown up.
Krause’s youngest daughter, a recent gradu
ate of the University ofNebraska-Lincoln, takes
care of things when he is gone. He writes out his
bills and she mails them. She also takes care of
Krause, a bald man creeping towards middle
age, said he called twice a week to make sure
everything was OK at home.
But for Krause, Air Force barracks and mo
tel rooms had become a second home.
“I have been on enough of these that you
learn the secrets to making yourself comfort
able,” he said, sitting in a wood and canvas chair
in the comer of his room.
The secrets, he said, are bringing a sleeping
bag for the long trans-Atlantic flight, learning
what clothing to do without and learning how to
wash clothes in the sink.
“You learn to get maximum usage of your
clothing,” he said, laughing. “And it works. It is
something you learn from other people.”
Technical Sgt. Ronald Guenther, Technical
Sgt. Lyle Denton and Krause looked out of
Walkingdown the heart of Boston’s bustling
Quincy Market on Tuesday afternoon, the trio
seemed like an island in the middle of a mon
Businessmen and women in their navy suits
and expensive trench coats scurried away with
their lunches, trying to get back to an office
As the noon hour pressed on, the crowd in the
marketplace^ 100-yard long strip of food stores,
Seeking refuge in a postcard shop/news
stand, the three split up. Krause bought iiiohe
postcards while Denton and Guenther quietly
watched the crowd roll by.
“It kind of makes you appreciate what you
have back home,” Denton said about traveling.
“In fact, I haven’t seen a place I would rather
live (than Nebraska).”
After a thought, Denton said hiscarecr in the
guard had surprised him.
“I kind of look forward to going on these
trips,” Denton said. “I didn’t ever expect to go
It was time to get down to business.
At 9:06 p.m., the mission briefing started in
a medium-sized auditorium at Pease Air Na
tional Guard Base in Portsmouth, N.F.
Capt. Nicole Bixler of the New Hampshire
Air National Guard stepped up to the podium.
Her short hair and stern face spoke only of the
business at hand.
The auditorium had crews from five other
KC-13 5’s from guard bases in Kansas, Pennsyl
vania and New Hampshire,
Using transparencies, Bixler went over the
mission. Crews were to “drag” 16 F-16’s flying
out of Shaw Air Force Base in South Carolina
across the Atlantic, refueling them ten times.
Two of the tankers were to make the whole
trip, one landing at Royal Air Force Mildenhall,
a base in England, and the Nebraska plane was
to land at Ramstein Air Force Base in Germany.
Bixler ran down the flight plan with speed
and precision, using a blizzard of acronyms. At
times, her monologue sounded like a whole
After a lengthy run-down of abort options,
Bixler breathed in and cracked her first smile.
“Clear as mud, right,” she said.
A low chuckle was heard and the crews
broke up for separate crew briefs.
After about 3 5 minutes of waiting, they started
Staci McKee for the DN
ghton M ichaelson lies in the boom pod guiding the long refueling boom into
F-16 somewhere over England.
to load up.
The plane was freezing, since it had sat
dormant on the runway, unheated, for almost
two days. The passengers quickly got situated
and hunkered down for the night.
By the time the plane was prepared to take
off, just after 1 a.m. EST, several (including the
author) were sleeping.
Over England, the sun had been up for some
time — it was 10:30 a.m. In Nebraska, it was
The morning sun was well on its way to the
top of the sky over the North Atlantic when
Gold 91, the Nebraska tanker, got to show its
The tanker, referred to by the crew as a “gas
station in the sky,” had flown all night as other
tankers refueled the F-16’s.
It was the Husker flight’stum to play Texaco.
Like hummingbirds to a feeder, the single
seat fighters would ease up under the tanker,
which was trailing a long “boom.”
The boom, a fifty-foot-long pole driven by a
boom operator, gently slid into a hole in the
back of the F-16. Aviation gas then flowed
rapidly into the aircraft.
The feeding took place 9,000 feet above the
ground at speeds around 550 miles per hour.
Crewmen joked that the plane was so much
like a gas station in the sky, some of the boom
operators wore Texaco and Exxon hats. During
some missions, the plane’s call signs were gas
As the flight went on, energy sagged and
“We need to take a stress test man, a chill
pill, Leighton Michaelson, a boom operator,
said over the radio.
F-16 after F-16 lined up for gas, topped off
and ducked away.
With the second refuel, the Husker flight
gave six aircraft 59,400 pounds of fuel. That’s
8,865.67 gallons of gas.
“It’s a blast,” Michaelson said of his job as
boom operator. “It’s the best enlisted job in the
Michaelson, a father of two, was the only full
time National Guard member in the crew. He
said his job had taken him from England to
France to Germany to Japan to Pango Pango.
“I had to look where that was on the map,”
Michaelson said with a laugh.
Being away from the wife and kids is tough,
but he said the job of the tanker was needed
world wide. And it doesn’t hurt that being a
boom operator is fun.
After a week of refueling operations for the
crew, and a week of work in the base hospital for
the medical staff, everyone was ready to go
So ready, the pilots bet the Kansas crew
S100 they could beat them to their own base.
After more than 10 hours in the air, Capt.
Paul Hutchinson landed his plane — 10 minutes
behind the Kansas crew.
“Ah, if I would have meant it, I would have
gone faster,” Hutchinson said.
After a customs check by two security po
licemen and a 30 minute flight, Hutchinson
lands the plane in Lincoln.
“I’malways happy when I’m home,” he said,
resetting some of the instruments in the cockpit.
“I love the guard, but I love being home.”
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