19th ARG Airmen complete final official Air Force tasking

  • Published
  • By Amanda Creel
  • 78 ABW/PA
The return of 11 Airmen from the 19th Air Refueling Group Feb. 25 was an historic occasion.

The Airmen returned from the area of responsibility after completing the last official Air Force tasking for the Black Knights before its deactivation in June.

"I'm speechless," said Senior Airman Chris Yontz when asked how he felt to be one of the last Black Knights to return.

After a moment of contemplation, he added, "It's like starting a new chapter and closing down a chapter too."

However, for the families of the Robins Airmen their arrival was less about making history and more about holding tight to their loved ones.

As the Airmen departed the KC-135 Stratotanker, cheers erupted from their fellow Black Knights as they made their way down the stairs to embrace those left behind. For many of those waiting the anxious anticipation was unbearable.

"I have a pile of laundry on my bed because I had to change four times before I found the right outfit," said Angel Yontz, wife of Airman Yontz.

Mrs. Yontz wasn't the only one whose nerves got the best of them as they waited for someone special to return.

"This is my first time. I'm freaking out. It feels like I'm in the movie and I'm the one racing over and hugging them," said Ashley Williamson, as she waited for her boyfriend, Airman 1st Class Dan Miller.

Some of the younger members of the welcoming party had big plans for their returning parents.

Issac Swinney, 3, had little to say except "Daddy's coming" until his dad, Staff Sgt. Timothy Swinney, arrived. Then all he could say is "Daddy I got you a surprise."

Issac wasn't the only "man" of few words awaiting the return of the Airmen.

"That's my son," said Lewis Felton, as his son, Capt. Jeff Felton, parked the aircraft in front of Hangar 2066.

Capt. Felton's wife, Heather, had brought her husband's parents, Lewis and his wife, Dorothy, in an effort to surprise her husband.

Heather said her husband isn't big on surprises, but she knew this was one surprise he would love. Captain Felton, the pilot of the aircraft, said having his parents there was one surprise he appreciated.

Though Col. Chris Bence, 19th ARG commander, was glad to see the return of this group of Airmen, he was quick to point out many of the group's Airmen were still deployed.

"Even though this is our last official tasking, in true Black Knight fashion we still have a few people who are volunteering to help other units until the very end," Colonel Bence said.