Saying Goodbye to the KC-135: Colonel's Fini Flight

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Emily E. Amyotte
  • 190th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

The jet takes a victory lap over the runway before looping around and taxiing onto the ramp. The aircrew parks and makes their way through all the required maintenance checks. Meanwhile, family and friends wait eagerly for the signal to run toward the aircraft. As the lucky individual emerges from the jet, he comes face-to-face with cheers, spraying champagne, and congratulations.

Col. Chuck Remboldt just celebrated his final flight in a KC-135 Stratotanker with the 190th Air Refueling Wing; a well-known tradition for Air Force pilots.

It’s a tradition that’s been happening since World War II, and not much has changed for pilots of the Kansas National Guard today. It’s expected to be showered with fire hoses, champagne, and coolers of ice water as a pilot downs the ladder of his or her last flight with the unit.

“Usually you have your whole family waiting for you, but unfortunately, my kids are all busy,” Remboldt mentioned when talking about his three children who are crew chiefs at the 190th but have military obligations elsewhere. “They're sad that they can’t be here, but I understand. Duty calls.”

Remboldt serves with his immediate family members, but he has also embraced an entirely new family of Kansas Coyotes that he calls his military family.

“Not only do I have kids in the unit, I’ve seen other people’s kids grow up from babies and become pilots out here that I’ve flown with,” he said. “It really is like a family. I’m looking forward to retirement, but it’s like a party you’re leaving behind.”

With a combined 6,000 hours of military and civilian flying hours and a three-decade-long career, the colonel will officially retire in September and transition back into the civilian aviation sector.

“It comes a time when everyone needs to retire,” he said as he showed off a countdown timer on his phone from when he first enlisted into the Kansas National Guard 34 years ago. “It goes back to 10:00 a.m. on February 14, 1984.”

Although he is also anxiously counting down his days until retirement--which is now in the double-digits--he isn’t sure how to feel about the day he has to hang up his uniform.

“It's such a huge amount of mixed emotion that sometimes I really have trouble with it,” he said. “It’s going to be a hard goodbye.”