Boom Operator Reaches 7,500 Flying Hour Milestone

Master Sgt. Ted Buit 600x400

FAIRCHILD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. -- Master Sgt. Todd Buit, the 92nd Operations Group standards evaluations NCO in charge and career boom operator, reached for the sky and broke records in the process.

The 92nd OG boom operator, who has served in the Air Force for more than 23 years, attained an occupational milestone of more than 7,500 flying hours Nov. 15, a feat most pilots only dream of.

"Honestly, I've just been doing my job," he said with a smile.

Buit started his career in 1990 at former Griffiss Air Force Base, N.Y., commanding the boom on KC-135 Stratotankers. He said he loved it then and has continued to enjoy every moment of his career since.

"I'd go another 23 years if they'd let me," Buit said.

Not only is this a high mark for Buit and record for Fairchild AFB, but according to the 92nd Operations Squadron aviation resource management, Buit now joins the ranks of but a few active-duty 'boomers' to ever reach so high, especially mishap free. The wing's average boom operator boasts between 1,500 and 2,500 hours.

"The Air Force spent millions of dollars on each of you to teach you how to fly, so have fun, that's the biggest thing," he says to Airmen when they ask how to get ahead in the career field. "Stay out of trouble and get the mission done."

Buit hopes his Airmen have the opportunity to experience all that he has in his career.

"You don't get that by whining, crying and not flying," he said referring to his milestone. "I got to do top secret missions and saw aircraft some people will never see. If you can stick it out until 20-plus years -- it's worth it. I loved the deployments and overseas duty."

Buit has served in every major conflict from the first Gulf War to current operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"My deployments have made me very well rounded and experienced," he said. "When I was young, I used to deploy back to back all the time."

And for Buit, he was happy to deploy. While deployments can be tough on military families, with no kids, the master sergeant and his wife have coped with them well.

"I always liked deploying," he said. "And my wife has been so supportive through all of it."

Jokingly he added, "Now I'm just too old and beat up for that."

Equally as important as family at home, an Airman's family at work ensures Fairchild remains first class.

"It's truly remarkable and a huge milestone for not only Master Sergeant Buit, but also for the operations group and wing," said Col. Shawn Teagan, 92nd OG commander.

Teagan is a command pilot with more than 3,000 flying hours. The colonel said he can only dream of accumulating as many hours as Buit and explained his importance to the group's boom operators.

"It's great to have someone with his level of experience here," Teagan said. "He works in our standardizations and evaluations office ensuring all our boom operators are performing and complying with set Air Force requirements and standards."

Flying the mission that put Buit over the top, aircraft commander, Capt. Jeramie Castellano from the 92nd Air Refueling Squadron, said it was really cool to be a part of something so significant for the boomer.

"He's a great guy with a wealth of experience," Castellano said. "I'm glad I was able to be a part of this flight for him."

Senior Airman Tracy Johnson, just one of many 92nd and 93rd ARS boom operators who benefit from Buit's mentorship and leadership. She said he's been a huge help.

"He evaluated my check ride, which is where we are evaluated on the safety of our operations in the boom pod, and shared with me techniques he's learned in the many years he's been flying," she said.

When asked about Buit's position in the group, Johnson said everyone would call him the unit's, "quirky uncle."

"I'm just happy to be here for our Airmen," Buit said. "It's been a long ride and if I could keep flying, keep supporting our war fighters, I would."

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