In the crisp, clear air of the morning, Master Sgt. David Pearl and his crew launched Aircraft 57-2606. As the plane took flight, they were all acutely aware that they would not see that aircraft again.
“The Volunteer,” as 2606 was known, was on its way to Kansas to undergo the extensive engineering upgrades and re-engine process necessary to convert the airframe from a KC-135E to a KC-135R. After the “E” to “R” conversion, 2606 will go to Kansas for Depot-level maintenance, then it’s on to Washington state to become part of their R model Air Wing.
During the 26 years 2606 spent at McGuire, more than 9,000 flight hours where logged on the airframe. It was in 1998 Master Sgt. Pearl gave 2606 the name “The Volunteer.” The airplane was involved in a variety of conflicts including Vietnam, Desert Shield/Storm, Noble Eagle and Iraqi Freedom. “The Volunteer will undoubtedly continue to serve the Air Force proudly and will be a great asset to any unit in which it serves,” stated Master Sgt. Dave Pearl.
Senior Airman Robert Atkisson (left) and Master Sgt. Edwin Quinones (right), 108th Air Refueling Wing (ARW) Maintenance Group, work on a KC-135R Stratotanker engine while deployed to Incirlik Air Base, Turkey. Approximately 30 members of the 108th deployed in late December to support aerial refueling of U.S. and coalition aircraft over Iraq. Photo courtesy Chief Master Sgt. Joe Ortu, 108ARW.
Senior Master Sgt. Richard Bouffard (left), 108th Logistics Readiness Squadron, discusses the mobility bag process to Lt. Gen. John Baker (right), Vice Commander, Air Mobility Command during the general's visit to the wing on Feb. 26. Photo by Senior Airman Elizabeth Sheetz, 108 ARW/PA.