The 914th Air Refueling Wing take New York's Civil Air Patrol on KC-135 tour

  • Published
  • By 1st Lt. Lucas Morrow
  • 914th Air Refueling Wing

For Niagara’s Reserve Citizen Airmen, it’s not just about delivering global mobility to the joint force, somedays it’s about inspiring our future Airmen to one day maintain and fly our KC-135 Stratotankers. The 914th Air Refueling Wing, located at Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station, New York, stopped by the 174th Attack Wing at Hancock Field located in Syracuse, New York on July 26, 2022 to showcase their aircraft to over 150 Civil Air Patrol cadets who took turns exploring the aircraft and speaking with Airmen from the 914 ARW.

“The event is called New York Wing Leadership Encampment,” said Civil Air Patrol Col. John Jones, New York Wing Commander. “Think of it as CAP’s ROTC-like summer camp.”

The cadets are staying in a multi-tent encampment just outside Hancock Field’s flight line for a week’s worth of events. They’re studying leadership and aerospace. They also have physical training and team building exercises and are getting exposure to various U.S. Air Force missions. What seems like simple fun for the cadets holds special meaning to the senior cadre.

“First, CAP is a Total Force partner with the U.S. Air Force so just being around Active Duty, Reserve and Guard units reinforces our relationship,” said Jones. “Second, CAP is an obvious pool of recruits for the Air Force. Many CAP cadets go on to serve in the U.S. Air Force. I was a CAP cadet and served in the U.S. Air Force and retired with just over 29 years of service.”

The 914 ARW cycled through several flights of roughly 20 cadets giving each member an opportunity to ask questions and to touch a KC-135, the Air Force’s oldest operational airframe for aerial refueling. Each tour started with an introduction from the 914 ARW’s commander, Col. Lara Morrison, who just took command of the wing earlier this year. Jones said that experience resonates with the cadets which leaves a lasting impression.

“I am extremely appreciative of the 914th’s efforts and their genuine interest in helping shape what may be the future of the Total Force,” said Jones. “One of the female cadets told me it was the best day ever.”

That day also held special meaning to the 914 ARW team. Morrison said she wanted to see New York’s CAP program for herself and wanted to personally meet the Air Force’s future leaders. Before each tour, Morrison explained to the cadets that she once was in their place. She started her career as an enlisted support airman. She said then she didn’t think she’d ever have the opportunity to become a pilot, let alone lead a wing.

“It’s important to show these cadets that every job is open to them, said Morrison. “That no position is out of their reach no matter their background. I’m proud to be able to represent that for them.”

Morrison also said it’s not just senior leadership who need to represent the wing but airmen from all ranks and background need to represent the wing. They built a diverse crew to show cadets anything is possible. Senior Airman Quinn Gross-Baes, a crew chief with the 914 ARW, led the cadets through several external KC-135 tours. She showed them the external portions of the aircraft and highlighted how a maintainer’s meticulous attention to detail keep these multi-million dollar assets in the fight.

“It’s my entire job to make sure this jet is safe to fly,” said Gross-Baes. “Being a maintainer is hard work but it’s rewarding. I just wanted to let them know that if you have that drive and motivation, to not let anyone stop you.”

The Civil Air Patrol formed on Dec. 1, 1941 and has since grown to over 56,000 cadets all between the ages of 12 to 18. Visit to learn how you can get involved in your local CAP organization.