Airman Re-Enlists While Refueling F-22 Over Syria

Staff Sgt. Rebecca Rains was flying 30,000 feet in the air when she recited the oath to re-enlist in the U.S. Air Force -- and not just anywhere.

Rains was soaring over Syria in a KC-10 Extender on March 3 as it refueled an F-22 Raptor. The F-22 pilot, Lt. Col. August Pfluger, 380th Expeditionary Operations Support Squadron commander and her deployed squadron commander, administered the oath to Rains while his stealth jet guzzled up the fuel it needed.

Since joining the service in 2009, "This was the coolest thing I've done," Rains said in a recent Air Force release about the event. "So I get on the headset and I'm talking to him, and he shared with me some background about his mission prior to coming up for fuel. He then said,

'You ready to do this?' and I said, 'Yep let's go.' "

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Pfluger had hooked up to the KC-10 just 11 minutes after flying missions over Syria, the release said. The Air Force did not disclose Rains' career field, nor did it detail Pfluger's mission that day.

"The Air Force is lucky to retain [Rains] for another four years, and I was honored to be asked to do this," Pfluger said.

Rains, deployed to an undisclosed location in Southwest Asia, stood next to the boom operator as the oath came at the end of the nearly eight-hour refueling flight, the release said.

"I really like the Air Force and I'm very passionate about my job," she said. "People are motivated in different ways, and being out here supporting real-world operations and seeing the impact that my job provides for the [area of responsibility] internally motivates me. I feel lucky to have had this opportunity.

"Everything just lined up perfectly, and the fact that [Pfluger] was able to do this was more meaningful to me," Rains said.

-- Oriana Pawlyk can be reached at Follow her on Twitter at @Oriana0214.