U.S. Air Force Maj. Gary Sowa, 56th Air Refueling Squadron operations flight chief, briefs U.S. Rep. Frank Lucas on the capabilities of the KC-46A Pegasus at Altus Air Force Base on April 22, 2022. The KC-46 is one of two aerial refueling aircraft at Altus. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Airman 1st Class Miyah Gray)

ALTUS AIR FORCE BASE — Oklahoma U.S. Rep. Frank Lucas and his team visited Altus Air Force Base on April 22, 2022, to learn about the base’s training mission, surrounding community impact and future installation infrastructure improvements.

After an initial briefing, 56th Air Refueling Squadron aircrew members hosted Lucas and gave a first-hand tour of a KC-46 Pegasus to demonstrate the wing’s newest weapon system capabilities and modernization of the U.S. Air Force’s next generation aircraft.

Col. Blaine Baker, 97th Air Mobility Wing commander, said Lucas’ visit to Altus provided him a valuable glimpse into the wing’s newest mission, as the sole training location of all USAF KC-46A Pegasus aircrews.

“We were thrilled to welcome Congressman Lucas back to mobility’s hometown,” Baker said. “It is important for him to spend the time seeing how we train the most inspired, proficient and adaptive mobility warriors. Our hopes for his visit are that he gained a better understanding of our unique mission here at the Mighty 97th and the mobility airpower we provide America.”

Lucas’ team saw new installation updates to the base gate, the growth of base housing and future building plans to update Mendel Rivers Elementary School.

“It’s important that we show leaders that we don’t only train airmen,” said Maj. Karissa Greene, 97th Force Support Squadron operations officer. “We also have a large presence in the community and we’re ready to help wherever and whenever we can.”

Lucas finished his tour by visiting base dormitories. The dorms currently are under construction, but when completed, will house more than 100 airmen.

Lucas’ said his visit to the 97th AMW is indicative of the need for Congress to support the base’s mission and the airmen stationed here.

“We’d like to think that our commitments in Congress are meeting both the equipment and technology needs of Altus AFB, and also the quality of life requirements,” Lucas said. “We will step up to help you address the things that you’re going to have to step up to. We have to be prepared in every way.”

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