Heseltine’s ‘Recruited’

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Abigail Klein
  • 931st Air Refueling Wing

When Col. Phil Heseltine assumed command of the 931st Air Refueling Wing Dec. 1, 2018, the ceremony signified the end of an almost year-long transition from active duty vice commander to leader of the Kanza Warriors. 

A “military brat,” Heseltine was born at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz.  He moved around with his family numerous times until he embarked on his own military career in 1993.  His final assignment at McConnell became his adopted hometown, and Heseltine knew that he still wanted to serve at McConnell when he retired last summer.

“For me the decision came down to continuing in service; to my country, my community and my family.  What an amazing opportunity we have here to serve in a community we love; and a community who loves us,” said Heseltine.  “Ultimately though my decision to keep wearing the uniform had everything to do with meeting the needs of my family.”

Though the location to his new assignment was a slight move down the hall of Building One, the transition proved unique for McConnell’s Reserve Recruiting Team, mainly Master Sgt. Tabetha Coley.

“We began working his process in October 2017,” Coley said. “Officers have to get scrolled in order to maintain their commission on the Reserve side of the house and that process can take four to six months.”

The scroll is a document that allows an officer to become part of the Reserves.  There were other challenges too, said Coley, one was the process of having to do an indispensability waiver, which go through no less than 30 people, all the way up to Maj. Gen. Randall Ogden, 4th Air Force Commander.  

Fortunately for Heseltine, Coley, a brand new in service recruiter, was up to the challenge, Coley’s flight chief, Senior Master Sgt. Christopher Modlin, aided her with the process.

“I think Master Sgt. Coley was fantastic during this process,” Heseltine said.  “I wouldn’t be here without her.  We are blessed to have recruiters with her passion and enthusiasm, which is a big reason I wanted her to narrate the Wing’s first-ever change of command.  Speaks to how integral our recruiters are to the success of our mission.

During the ceremony, Heseltine spoke of the importance of the Reserves, and how he felt about becoming a Kanza Warrior.

“I am honored to have been given a gift to serve, again, alongside our Nation’s Citizen Airmen.  I am amazed at the ability of our Traditional Reservist Airmen and their families to balance their full-time, family and military lives,” said Heseltine.

He also noted the importance of the unit’s air reserve technicians.

“I am also in awe of our air reserve technicians and civilians who continually ensure our wing is and remains war ready at a moment’s notice,” Heseltine said.  “This is even more challenging as we have been and are continuing to bring on the KC-46 while we sunset our mission in the KC-135.  We absolutely could not do any of this without a unified total-force effort within our wing and across McConnell Air Force Base; to include our fellow active duty and Kansas Air National Guard wingmen.” 

Consisting of nine squadrons and more than 650 Airmen, the 931 ARW aids its active-duty counterparts through vital contributions to the global mission of McConnell AFB.  The wing shares responsibilities with the 22nd Air Refueling Wing for aircraft maintenance, with flying operations conducted by both units, using KC-135R Stratotankers, and soon, the KC-46 Pegasus.