If it comes back, it was meant to be

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Kenneth McCann
  • 940th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

In an official ceremony held June 4, 2016, the 940th continued its proud story as an Air Refueling Wing at Beale Air Force Base, California. Citizen Airmen of the 940th ARW along with former wing leadership, 9th Reconnaissance Wing and 195th Wing leadership, local community leaders, family and friends shared in this historic event.

Three Assumptions of Command also took place to include the 940th ARW commander, Col. Craig Peters and his command chief, Chief Master Sgt. Carmen Madia, the 940th Operations Group commander, Col. Richard Heaslip and newly assumed 940th Maintenance Group commander, Col. Aaron Heick.

The tanker mission is no stranger to the 940th or Beale AFB. Historically, the 940th flew Stratotankers for more than three decades from 1977 until the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure Commission realigned the unit. The last tanker left in 2008 when the 940th Wing also gained the RQ-4 Global Hawk high-altitude Intelligence, Reconnaissance and Surveillance mission. This past Saturday, the 940th switched from the RQ-4 Global Hawk mission to welcome back the KC-135 Stratotanker mission, although the RQ-4 mission will still physically remain at Beale under the 13th and 12th Reconnaissance Squadrons.  

Maj. Gen. John C. Flournoy, Jr., 4th Air Force commander, officiated all ceremonies for the event Saturday.

“To the men and women of the 940th Air Refueling Wing, what a great opportunity,” said Flournoy. “You’ve gone through significant changes over the years, but life is about change, the military is about change. It’s how we adapt to change that matters and you never cease to amaze me.

The renewed KC-135 Stratotanker mission ushers in exciting new opportunities yet challenges for the wing as well as its new leaders.

Peters assumed command of the wing from former commander, Col. John Trnka, Jr. Prior to Peters’ current assignment, he was the Assistant Deputy Director for Global Policy and Partnerships on the Joint Staff, Pentagon, Washington, D.C. Peters is a command pilot with more than 7,000 hours, including more than 290 combat flying hours.

Peters thanked the audience for supporting the renewed Beale mission and said to thank their family members too.

“It gives me great pleasure to be here and stand up a new wing,” Peters said. “As a Citizen Airman, after a long work week you have a choice whether to be here on a Saturday instead of with family and friends. Thank you for being here and for supporting this new operation.”

Both speakers agreed the hard work and dedication of previous leadership and all members of the 940th played a key role in the successful return of the tanker mission.  

“To have a unit change missions, then gain the air refueling mission back years later, is a true testament to the focus of prior leadership and the 940th reservists’ abilities to accomplish the mission,” Peters said.  

With the tanker mission brings room for growth including a slight increase in the number of people working at Beale. The tanker’s mission will directly affect the surrounding population and community since most Citizen Airmen are integrated directly into the local community. The 940th will increase from approximately 900 to an estimated 1,200 personnel once all allotted jobs are filled and the mission is fully underway.

Rep. John Garamendi of the 3rd Congressional District, reflected his thoughts about the renewed mission’s impact on the community and the return of the tanker mission to Beale.

“I am sharing in a special moment, not only for the 940th but also for this base," said Garamendi. "Beale used to have these planes, now they are coming back. It means history is being repeated here. This is going to benefit the region as far as economic growth as well as increase the stature of this base. I am thrilled the mission is here at the 940th and refueling is back in town."