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Airman celebrates different KC-135 anniversary

Chief Master Sgt. Steven Robinson and his wife Justine said "I do" aboard a KC-135 Stratotanker 15 years ago. Today, in front of the familiar aircraft with special 50th anniversary nose art, they reminisce about their marriage's unconventional beginning. (U.S. Air Force photo/Margo Wright)

Chief Master Sgt. Steven Robinson and his wife Justine said "I do" aboard a KC-135 Stratotanker 15 years ago. Today, in front of the familiar aircraft with special 50th anniversary nose art, they reminisce about their marriage's unconventional beginning. (U.S. Air Force photo/Margo Wright)

TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. (AFPN) -- As people here join in the base's 50th anniversary celebration of the KC-135 Stratotanker, many are reminiscing about their own experiences with the aircraft. Few have a story like Chief Master Sgt. Steven and Justine Robinson.

Fifteen years ago, they married on a KC-135 somewhere over Indiana. Both were stationed at Grissom Air Force Base, Ind. 

"We found out we were the first and maybe the only couple to get married on a KC-135," said Chief Robinson, program manager at the 465th Air Refueling Squadron. 

Chief Robinson, then a senior airman boom operator, dated Airman 1st Class Justine Odenthal for two years. They made arrangements to marry, but their plans were constantly postponed. 

"I was put on alert and I was last-minute deployed to go to Desert Shield and I was scheduled to get married," Chief Robinson said. "So, I put that on hold and was gone about three months." 

When he returned, the couple began to make plans again. But about three weeks into it, they had to be changed again as Chief Robinson was put on alert for possible deployment to Desert Storm. 

He couldn't leave the base. 

Seeing his frustrations, one of his commanding officers presented the idea of marrying on a KC-135. After initial disbelief passed, Chief Robinson and his bride-to-be accepted the proposal. 

"It was quite a unique offer," said Mrs. Robinson, a logistics management specialist at the OC-ALC's 553rd Combat Sustainment Squadron. 

Though not a chaplain, Capt. Ardell Camacho, a minister assigned to the wing, married the couple. Lt. Col. Larry Wheeler, Chief Robinson's squadron operations officer, walked Mrs. Robinson down the aisle, and Capt. Joe Rich, the aircraft commander, served as best man. 

After the ceremony, the plane landed and the newlyweds enjoyed a small reception of about 50 people from the squadron at a local restaurant. 

The next day, Chief Robinson was back on alert, and three weeks later, he deployed to Turkey for two-and-one-half months. 

"Our wedding was very special and I wouldn't dream of changing it," Mrs. Robinson said. "The best part of it was being called Mr. and Mrs. Steve Robinson for the first time."

The Robinsons have two daughters, Ashley and Chelsea. On Dec. 4, the couple will celebrate their 16th wedding anniversary.

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