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New 203 ARS Command Team

April 28, 2022
Hawaii Air National Guard photograph

We can’t explain exactly why, but astonishing things tend to happen aboard the 203rd Air Refueling Squadron’s historic aircraft, ‘Hoku 0329.’

While supporting a Central Command mission in 2016, Majors Kelly Church and Carrie Hironaka flew together aboard tail 60-0329. Their boom operator brought up a playful joke, saying “Maj. Church, someday, you’re going to be the next commander of the 203 ARS.”

The pair of friends laughed it off and Church snapped back, “Yeah… but only if Maj. Carrie is my DO.”

Years later, the boom operator’s witty prediction of her squadron’s leadership became a reality, with Lt. Col. Church in command and Lt. Col. Hironaka as director of operations. 

Church attributes this story, to something he calls ‘0329 Magic,’ as the aircraft is renowned for pulling off a first-of-its kind maneuver which saved lives during the Vietnam conflict. On May 31, 1967, a skilled aircrew flew aircraft 0329 engaged in a tri-level refueling procedure in support of U.S. Navy aircraft which endured dangerously low levels of fuel.

The Stratotanker has been in service within the Hawai‘i Air National Guard since 1993 and is now slated retire as the first Stratotanker to be displayed by the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force on April 30.

From → History

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