Active to Reserve, crew chief shares total force experience

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Bradley Tipton
  • 927th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

Having a father who served in the Air Force made the decision to enlist simple for Tech. Sgt. Devin Hughes, a KC-135 crew chief assigned to the 927th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, MacDill Air Force Base, Fla. The plan was to enlist on active duty and transfer to the Reserve once he’d found the right time.

“Overall, I experienced a ton of growth,” said Hughes. “I had a blast at all of my assignments and met a lot of great people including my wife who I met in Spokane. Ultimately the birth of my now two-year old daughter was the moment I decided to transition off active duty.”

Spending 12 years on active duty, Hughes grew accustomed to life in the uniform. “For me it just seemed normal,” said Hughes, “It’s not until I separated that I realized just how much being in the Air Force was part of my identity.”

Hughes spent the majority of his time in maintenance working on the KC-135 Stratotanker at Fairchild Air Force Base, Wa. However, he did have the opportunity to work on the KC-46 Pegasus program in Seattle, and was granted a base of preference assignment to MacDill AFB where he finally transitioned to a traditional reservist role at the 927 AMXS.

“As a traditional reservist you have so many benefits including the chance to serve at the base you choose,” said Hughes. “I’m near where I grew up, get to spend plenty of time with my wife and daughter and work on my career as a real estate agent. It’s fast paced and you have to be all-in to succeed.”

Serving in a part time capacity fit into Hughes’ plans, granting him the freedom to pursue a challenging career after active duty while still maintaining connections to the people he’s built connections with in the maintenance world.

“I would miss the comradery and just doing the job,” explained Hughes. “I enjoy drilling and spending time with people who’ve seen and done the same things”

As a crew chief, Hughes is responsible for the care and maintenance of the KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft. His education and experience allow him to troubleshoot issues, perform repairs and keep the jets prepared to go at any time. Skilled technicians like Hughes take many years to train and develop, and allowing them to remain in their career field as a part-time Citizen Airman bolsters mission readiness for the entire force.

“As a leading edge, innovative service driven by technology, it is expensive to create qualified Airmen,” said Col. Benjamin Robins, 6th Air Refueling Wing vice commander. “We need to retain that talent and experience.”

(This story is part 3 of 3)