ALTUS, OK (KSWO)-Today former airmen took to the skies celebrating the KC-135's first refueling flight --60 years later.
They held a reunion at Altus Air Force Base and invited some of its former boom operators to tag along on today's mission that took them all the way to the Mexican border.
The KC-135 is used for refueling missions and boom operators are in charge of connecting the pipe that feeds the fuel. The KC-135 hooked up and refueled two planes, C-17's along the way to the border of Texas and Mexico, just south of Lubbock and back to Altus. This aircraft is very special to the base and the United states Air Force as it served in many important missions such as the Cold War and Desert Storm.
Today was the first time in a long time for many boom operators to step back on an Altus Air Force KC-135. Bruce Pauley says he's been looking forward to this for months and finally being here, many flashbacks came rushing back into his mind.
"Memories, a lot of memories. One pulling out and sitting when it was 105 degrees out, and other things like that, but just a lot of memories. The plane has definitely upgraded. This is the 1963 model which is the youngest plane I've ever flown on," said Pauley.
Pauley says although he's retired, he's still active in helping the air force. He gives tours at air shows when they have KC-135's and educates people on the history of the plane and the military. He says having this experience of being in the air with a few members of his squadron means the world to him.
"It's great. For me, it's a once in a lifetime opportunity. I didn't ever think I would fly in one again," said Pauley.
Telling stories and reminiscing on the old times is how Tim Ablay and Pauley spent their time in the air, but for Ablay it was also about sharing this moment with his son because serving in the military is a family tradition.
"It felt wonderful to see that. I even tried to get my youngest son in here too, but his eyes prevented that, so he's a recruiter down in Texas. My son here is up at Tinker with me and also our daughter is in the reserves up at Tinker. So we have 3 out of 4 children in the military," said Tim Ablay.
TJ Ablay, Tim's son says since serving in the military is in his blood, he hopes to pass the tradition on to their next generation.
"If my daughter wants to be a boom operator, absolutely. I would support her 100 percent. I think it would be really neat for her to just come and just be a 3rd generation boom operator and sharing all the experiences that our family has," said TJ Ablay.
TJ and Tim Ablay both work at Tinker Air Force base now. Tim served for 30 years at the Altus Air Force base both as a boom operator and an instructor. He says being back today at the base and flying with his old team made him feel like he never left.
"It came right back to you and it's still there. You know, you still remember all of that. It's really wonderful. A wonderful feeling," said Tim Ablay.