Boom Operator Symposium returns to Altus

  • Published
  • By By the 54th Air Refueling Squadron
  • Altus Air Force Base

After last year’s event was canceled due to the coronavirus, boom operators from across the globe once again gathered at Altus AFB for the 41st Annual Boom Operator Symposium on September 17 – 18, 2021.

This year, 98 active duty, guard, reserve, retired and honorary boom operators participated in this time-honored tradition coming from as far away as Mildenhall, England, to share in the camaraderie of their fellow boom operators. The symposium offered professional development seminars and networking opportunities focused on accelerating change in how boom operators train and fight.

 “I was honored to be a part of the Boom Operator Symposium this year,” said Staff Sgt. Joe Cadwallader, 54th Air Refueling Squadron boom operator and president of the Altus Boom Operator Association. “With the help of our local community, we were able to bring back the symposium better than ever.”

At the symposium, a memorial and retreat ceremony was held at the Boom Operator’s Memorial, located at Wings of Freedom Park. This ceremony honored the boom operators who lost their lives in the line of duty. During the ceremony, names were read off one by one in honor of those who gave their last full measures to their country.

One of the name readers, Airman Maxwell Richards, 97th Training Squadron boom operator in training, said, “Looking out across the faces of the people there, as I read the names of fallen boom operators and seeing the emotions, really made me proud of this career field that I am coming into and it showed me how important this job truly is.”

The boom symposium concluded with an awards banquet celebrating the successes of the past year, and which culminated with the presentation of the Senior Master Sgt. Al Evans award to the Air Force’s top air refueling section.

The 50th Air Refueling Squadron from MacDill AFB, Florida was recognized as the SMSgt Al Evan’s trophy winner for their outstanding accomplishments in 2020.

By celebrating the rich history of their career field, the symposium is an incredible reunion of past and present boom operators. Through shared experiences, new friendships were forged and memories were made for years to come.