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Spouses and civic leaders take flight on KC-135s

Thirty-five spouses of 111th Fighter Wing members and 25 local community leaders from around the state took flight on a KC-135 during an air refueling flight Oct. 3 that gave the Pennsylvania Air National Guard the opportunity to show its appreciation for the level of support it receives from Guardsmen’s spouses and civic leaders.

Thirty-five spouses of 111th Fighter Wing members and 25 local community leaders from around the state took flight on a KC-135 during an air refueling flight Oct. 3 that gave the Pennsylvania Air National Guard the opportunity to show its appreciation for the level of support it receives from Guardsmen’s spouses and civic leaders.

WILLOW GROVE AIR RESERVE STATION, Pa. -- Spouses of members of the 111th Fighter Wing and local community leaders from around the state took flight on a KC-135 during an air refueling flight that gave the Pennsylvania Air National Guard the opportunity to show its appreciation for the level of support it receives from Guardsmen's spouses and civic leaders.

Thirty-five spouses and 25 civic leaders boarded two KC-135s and flew to Duke Military
Operating Area where they were given the opportunity to witness an in-air refueling operation. One-by-one, the spouses and civic leaders entered the boom operator's area of the KC-135 and witnessed the in-air refueling of one of four A-10s from the 111th Fighter Wing.

During the refueling flight, Lt. Col. Thomas Fennell, an A-10 pilot with the 103rd Fighter Squadron came in and connected to the fuel boom. At the same time, his girlfriend, civic leader Dr. Jenell Coleman, Assistant Professor Perinatal HIV Clinic at the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Pennsylvania, listened in on an extra set of headphones to Colonel Fennel's conversation with the boom operator. He then pleasantly surprised her by proposing marriage to her-- she joyfully accepted.

Overall, the refueling flight was successful and gave many a peek into Air National Guard flight operations.

"This has been a great experience. We are very thankful to have this opportunity," said Stephen Gardner, Right Worshipful Grand Master of the Masonic Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania.

In a briefing before the flight, State Command Sgt. Maj. Donald Shiner, his successor Command Sgt. Maj. Nicholas Gilliland, Command Chief Master Sgt. Ralph Braden, 111t h FW Commander Co l. Anthony Carrelli, and 111th FW Command Chief Master Sgt. Richard Mertz offered a word of thanks to the spouses and civic leaders.

Many kudos go to Capt. Mike Stock, 103rd Fighter Squadron A-10 pilot, who brainstormed and coordinated the entire event. Captain Stock and Colonel Fennell were joined by Flight Lead Lt. Col. Ed Fink and Lt. Col. Tim O' Toole, both also A-10 pilots with the 103rd FS. Also, many thanks to the 171st Air Refueling Wing out of Pittsburgh, Pa. who provided the KC-135s for the event.