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97 AMW continues history of excellence, hits 16-year student graduation high

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Trenton Jancze
  • 97th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

The 97th Training Squadron hit a 16-year high in graduating aircrew members that came through Altus Air Force Base, Oklahoma, during fiscal year 2023.

The squadron manages the training and well-being of students at Altus AFB for C-17 Globemaster III, KC-46 Pegasus, and KC-135 Stratotanker formal training.

“Much of our effort goes to developing our students as Airmen and leaders,” said Lt. Col. Benjamin Davidson, 97th TRS commander. “Our students aren’t here to just learn their specific air platform, but to further develop mentally, physically, spiritually and socially. We recognize this and provide opportunities through our Talon Challenges and multiple mentorship programs.”

With 2,114 graduates during fiscal year 2023, the squadron celebrates its highest number of student graduates in 16 years. Davidson praised the KC-46 student pipeline as a major factor in accomplishing this goal.

“It is directly tied to the increased mission of the KC-46 student load,” he said. “When the 46 started out, we had transition course students, then we went to initial qualification students, and now we’re working on instructor upgrade training. Once that is started, we’ll start building the aircraft commander upgrade course too.”

All of this progress would not be possible without the collaboration of the 56th Air Refueling Squadron, led by Lt. Col. Peter Culbert, 56th ARS commander. “So we’ve had almost a year’s worth of initial qualification students, and it’s been awesome how far we’ve come,” Culbert exclaimed. “Relationships matter, and we have a wonderful working relationship with the TRS. We are able to take students from the TRS and develop them into mission capable Airmen, ready to get back to their units and hack their mission.”

The contributions of the men and women of 54th Air Refueling Squadron, the formal training unit for the KC-135, and the 58th Airlift Squadron, the formal training unit for the C-17, were also critical in helping reach this milestone.

The training squadron is an integral part of the 97th Air Mobility Wing and Col. Jeff Marshall, 97th AMW commander, made that clear.

“I’m beyond proud of the men and women of Mobility’s Hometown for always going above and beyond to execute our mission to the highest degree,” said Marshall. “We’re all here to train exceptional mobility Airmen day in and day out, and that’s exactly what we accomplished.”