Female Airman begins her journey as boom operator

Airman 1st Class Rebekah McCormack, 96th Air Refueling Squadron in-flight refueling specialist, secures loose safety items before her mission aboard a KC-135 Stratotanker (Photo by Staff Sgt. Alexander Martinez)


By Staff Sgt. Alexander Martinez, 15th Wing Public Affairs

Some jobs are harder to explain than others-for example, being a boom operator aboard a KC-135 Stratotanker. They have to try and explain how, in addition to ensuring the safety of everyone on board, they crawl into a confined space at the rear of the aircraft, peer through a tiny glass window, and direct a giant boom into a small opening on another aircraft in order to transfer thousands of gallons of fuel.

In addition to all of this, they do their job while traveling hundreds of miles per hour miles above the ground.

Sound like a tough job? According to Airman 1st Class Rebekah McCormack, 96th Air Refueling Squadron (ARS) in-flight refueling specialist, it is, but that doesn’t mean she enjoys it any less.

“I love it. It’s the best decision I’ve made in my life,” McCormack said. “I wanted a job that not a lot of people know about and one that allows me to travel, so I’m happy about it.”

McCormack, a Cedar Rapids, Iowa native, joined the Air Force a little over a year ago with the encouragement from her brother, who is also a medical technician in the Air Force. She began doing research on what she wanted to do and watched a few videos on YouTube about what a boom operator does.

“Honestly, I had no idea what it was when I first heard about it,” she said. “When I signed up for the Air Force, I put it as number one [job choice] and I got it.”

After being at Hickam for about a month, she is still going through on-the-job training with more experienced boom operators and, according to her trainers, she is adjusting to the job well.

“She did a great job,” said Senior Airman Marcus Hudson, 96th ARS boom operator. “At this point in her training, she is picking up the information well.”

McCormack will spend the next several months training with other boom operators to refuel different aircraft. She said the hardest part about her job is the amount of information they have to learn.

“Some people get the information faster than others, and I’m kind of slow in that I take my time with things so I can really understand what I’m doing,” McCormack said. “I put a lot of work into really understanding something.”

McCormack said there is a lot of potential for women, not only in her job, but also in the Air Force as a whole.

“In comparison to men, there’s not a lot of women that join the Airforce, so I would say they have to keep their mind open and try jobs that women wouldn’t normally do,” McCormack said.


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