56 ARS continues ‘Star Spangled Ambassador’ tradition

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Robert Sizelove, 97th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

A special package recently turned an ordinary training flight into something a bit more special at Altus Air Force Base, Oklahoma, August 3, 2021.

The Star-Spangled Ambassador, a flag that has flown over all seven continents and 50 different countries aboard 122 different airframes flew aboard a KC-46 Pegasus from the 56th Air Refueling Squadron.

The flag is the lifelong project of retired U.S. Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Richard E. Parks. Parks travels the world with the flag and has flown it on many aircraft and other interesting vehicles including a submarine. If Parks is not able to attend a flight in person, he ships the flag, which is how it made its way to AAFB.

“I was chatting with an old friend I was stationed with at Grissom AFB, Indiana back in the late 80’s or early 90’s,” said Graham Weidner, 97th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron KC-46 work leader. “He told me the story of this flag he had arranged to fly on a KC-135D in 1990. He asked me if I thought I could get this same flag on a KC-46. I told him that I was fairly certain I could make that happen.”

The following week, Weidner received an e-mail with a tracking number to follow the shipment of the flag to Altus. Once it arrived, the 56th ARS crew that participated was excited and ready to fly the flag.

“The tradition of the Star Spangled Ambassador is an important one because it provides a rich, interconnected history between generations of U.S. military and civilian aviators,” said Capt. Michael Fournier, 56th ARS flight scheduler.   

“We had the distinct honor of being the 123rd aircraft the flag has flown on,” Fournier continued. “This was all because of one member, the A-team’s finest, Mr. Graham Weidner. Through his connections he was able to get the flag shipped to Altus for the flight.”   

Weidner said he was simply proud to have been a part of the flag’s legacy.

 “I am honored to have been a part of arranging the flight on the KC-46 for The Star Spangled Ambassador to continue its impressive journey,” he said.

The KC-46 crew consisted of Fournier, 2nd Lt. Sonya Alexander, 2nd Lt. Carly Collette, Tech. Sgt. Jake Nenneman, Tech. Sgt. Amy James and Master Sgt. Richard Taylor.