HomeNewsArticle Display

E-8C JSTARS all-African American flight crew makes history

Photo shows group of Airmen standing in front of aircraft.

Airmen and Soldiers from the Georgia Air National Guard’s 116th Air Control Wing, active-duty Air Force 461st ACW and the Army’s 138th Military Intelligence Company pose for a photo at Robins Air Force Base, Ga., Feb. 19, 2021. The crew made history as the first all-African American E-8C Joint Surveillance and Target Attack Radar System flight crew to fly from Robins AFB on a training mission. The mission was also in commemoration of Black History Month. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Nancy Goldberger)

ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. (AFNS) --

A crew of 33 E-8C Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System aviators made history Feb. 19 when the first all-African American flight crew in JSTARS history flew from Robins Air Force Base on a training mission.

The flight crew of Airmen and Soldiers from the Georgia Air National Guard’s 116th Air Control Wing, active-duty Air Force 461st Air Control Wing and the Army’s 138th Military Intelligence Company – collectively known as Team JSTARS – used the training to also commemorate Black History Month.

“This mission gives us the opportunity to celebrate the legacy and honor our previous successors in the Air Force, primarily the Tuskegee Airmen, and the sacrifices they made in order to get us to where we are now,” said Capt. Dewey McRae, 461st ACW senior director instructor.

Given the large crew size on the E-8C JSTARS, the mission was years in the making.

“Within the active-duty and Guard, we have finally been able to come together and fulfill an entire African American aircrew,” McRae said. “Taking that a step forward, we not only had enough people for the actual mission crew but were able to fill additional seats with instructors and evaluators, taking a full jet of African Americans to represent the combat Air Force.”

For Capt. Andrea Lewis, the first African American female pilot in Georgia ANG history, this flight was a dream come true.

“Being the first African American female pilot in the Georgia Air National Guard is a milestone,” Lewis said. “I didn’t intentionally plan on being in that position, but I am proud to be a part of this. I think back to Bessie Coleman being the first African American female pilot to where we are now. It shows the importance of a flight like this.”

Similar sentiments were shared by Maj. Sajjad Abdullateef, 461st ACW senior director technician.

“It’s always been something I’ve looked forward to, and I look back to individuals like the Tuskegee Airmen and 2nd Lt. Eugene Bullard, the first African American fighter pilot to fly in combat,” Abdullateef said. “Those are the individuals who we know when they stepped to their jets, the racial climate was a lot different than it is as we step to our jet today. They went through a different struggle than us. We appreciate the fact that we are now able to represent and display ourselves for the next individuals coming up.”

Members of the JSTARS aircrew reflected on the individual challenges they faced.

“When I think about my background and where I came from, with neither of my parents graduating from high school, to me joining the military and becoming an aircrew member on JSTARS, I didn’t think I would ever be able to do that,” said Senior Master Sgt. Tanisha Swift, 116th ACW senior director technician. “I’m proud to be able to show my son that it may be hard, but it can be done.”

The flight was historic on many levels: the first all-African American E-8C JSTARS flight crew, piloted by the first female African American pilot in Georgia ANG history, with the first African American former wing commander in Georgia ANG history, and the first female African American state command chief in Georgia ANG history – all executing a mission with the E-8C JSTARS at Robins AFB.

“This flight is about living the legacy, knowing the legacy, and growing the legacy,” McRae said.

Team JSTARS provides geographic combatant commanders around the world with on-call battle management, command and control, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance.

 

Engage

Twitter
RT @SecAFOfficial: Acting SecAF Roth & @GenCQBrownJr flew on a #KC46 with @AirMobilityCmd #Airmen this week to learn more about the @USAirF
Twitter
Join @GenCQBrownJr's fireside chat with @MEaglen on accelerating change in the #USAF at 10 AM EST.… https://t.co/NYUfzC4B9d
Twitter
Join @cmsaf_official JoAnne Bass, Chief Master Sergeant of @SpaceForceDoD Roger Towberman and @thejointstaff #SEAC4https://t.co/kne8oL31kX
Twitter
RT @GenCQBrownJr: I recently visited several bases and saw how empowered, multi-capable #Airmen are driving the common sense changes requir…
Twitter
RT @AirForceAssoc: Tune in today at 0900 EST for #vAWS2021! https://t.co/3znoc5LrXF
Twitter
RT @SecAFOfficial: Well done to all who had a role in this test launch and for keeping the Nation's strategic deterrent force #AlwaysReady!…
Twitter
.@GenCQBrownJr, @cmsaf_official and more will take part in @AirForceAssoc's 2021 Virtual Aerospace Warfare Symposi… https://t.co/d7NDRPgi3f
Twitter
RT @HQUSAFEAFAF: 🚨🚨 #BomberTaskForce Update 🚨🚨 USAF B-1B Lancers have arrived to Norway in support of upcoming #BTF missions. They are…
Twitter
Nearly 30 years after combat ended Feb. 28, 1991, #DesertStorm’s influence on the #AirForce and @SpaceForceDoD rema… https://t.co/ghmYOP50fr
Twitter
Twitter
The 2020 Vice Chief’s Challenge "Saving Airmen Time" results were announced. The 15 winning submissions were select… https://t.co/zDMQoiLDWD
Twitter
A team from @Travis60AMW and @JBSA_Official unload over 57,000 bottled water at Kelly Field, Texas. Approximately 8… https://t.co/vxSZ7vcxab
Twitter
The 25th Attack Group began flying the first active-duty operated @HQUSAFEAFAF MQ-9 Reaper sorties in Romania via r… https://t.co/JVllJwnmVA
Twitter
Eight #USAF F-16 Fighting Falcons and two KC-135 Stratotankers participated in an Agile Combat Employment exercise… https://t.co/i7DjyIqICh
Twitter
RT @USAFCENT: As a dynamic force employment asset, F-15Es from @SJAFB quickly moved into the theater of operations to familiarize w/regio…
Twitter
RT @USAF_ACC: Historic First: Migo is the First Female American Samoan Chief Master Sergeant in the United States Air Force Hear her story…
Facebook
The newest Air Force Podcast recently dropped. Listen to a small snippet of CMSAF Kaleth O. Wright talk with Staff Sgt. New about resiliency. Listen to the entire podcast on Youtube: https://go.usa.gov/xpnAD or Subscribe to The Air Force Podcast on iTunes: https://podcasts.apple.com/podcast/the-air-force-podcast/id1264107694?mt=2
Facebook
Our mantra, "Always ready!" It's the spirit we fly by! #B2Tuesday
Facebook
Need some motivation to get your week started off right? Listen as CMSAF Kaleth O. Wright weighs in...
Facebook
The U.S. Air Force Academy gives its cadets some unique opportunities. Ride along one of this opportunities.
Facebook
A United States Air Force KC-135 Stratotanker refuels an F-22 Raptor over northern Iraq, Nov. 6, 2019. U.S. Central Command operations deter adversaries and demonstrate support for allies and partners in the region. (Video by Staff Sgt. Daniel Snider)
Facebook
Although the Silver Star is the third-highest military medal, it's not given often. Today, TSgt Cody Smith was the 49th Special Tactics Airman to receive this medal since Sept. 11th, 2001. Read more of TSgt Smith's amazing story: https://www.airforcespecialtactics.af.mil/News/Article-Display/Article/2024815/special-tactics-airman-battled-through-injuries-awarded-silver-star/fbclid/IwAR2LZWwx1VHdTnQe39rIEBOuJS_0JvMQBBGt7I-E6zsxxn-Lx9387yu43Bc/ Cannon Air Force Base Air Force Special Operations Command United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) U.S. Department of Defense (DoD)
Facebook
Tune in as our Air Force musicians along with other military musicians are awarded the National Medal of Arts.
Facebook
Like Us
Twitter
1,329,429
Follow Us