Beyond the Fence

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt Cierra Presentado
  • 459 ARW/PA

JOINT BASE ANDREWS, Md. – The 459th Air Refueling Wing recently started ‘Beyond the Fence’- an orientation flight program designed to promote a better understanding of how each Airman in the wing contributes to mission success at the 459th.

“The idea stemmed from a brainstorming session with Major Ben Baci, and Tech. Sgt. Mark Simmons of the 756th Air Refueling Squadron on how we connect what happens on the flight line and in the Air to what we do across the 459th to support each other,” said Master Sgt. Alicia Lofton, Wing Resiliency First Sergeant. “We wanted to find a way to connect the importance of each Airman’s job, how every Airman at the 459th contributes to another’s mission.”

The program kicked off this month and gives outstanding Airmen from around the wing the opportunity to fly orientation flights each quarter.

It works as an incentive and helps motivate the wing’s Airmen, build their commitment and resilience, and further their understanding of the wing’s operational missions.

“How does the Airman in the Logistics Readiness Squadron issuing gear and clothing impact the maintainer on the flightline who fixes the broken parts on an aircraft?” Lofton said. “How does the Force Support technician who processes an enlistment affect the boom operator who provides air refueling capabilities? This program will give insight to what goes on beyond the fence.”

The program will also provide KC-135 Aircrews the opportunity to showcase their pride and build relationships with everyone on both sides of the flightline or ‘beyond the fence.’ 

“When we’re all connected and have a better understanding of how aircraft are refueled, we can choose to know and do the things that reflect our mission in a greater capacity,” Lofton said. “Understanding creates greater communication, which in turn can motivate Airmen to go further to support the mission of providing unsurpassed air refueling, aeromedical operations, and agile combat support from our Nation’s capital to the world.”

Currently, the selection process for the program targets outstanding performers. The program is a great opportunity for Airmen to excel and be recognized for their hard work and leadership. Airmen interested in the program can speak to their chain of command to coordinate with Master Sgt. Lofton.

“My role in this opportunity is to promote the morale and recognition of Airmen within our wing,” Lofton said. “I get to support everyone finding their ‘why’ and how it’s important. One of the highlights of the trip was seeing the joy in Airman Sfreddo’s eyes as he took pride in explaining the parts and components of the aircraft he fixes. This flight surely brought us all ‘beyond the fence’.”

As part of the four-hour flight, members observe a refueling effort.

“Knowing our why, why we’re here, and connecting the pieces from every Airman’s contribution, from E-1 to O-6; everyone is important, and plays an important role in the 459th. I’m happy to be a part of such an amazing team of individuals!”