Last updated on May 16, 2017 at 02:40 pm
For three months this summer, Amanda Check worked overseas in a KC-10 refueling jet at more than 20,000 feet in the sky. The views and environment were quite different than her other job at Plymouth Rock Assurance in New Jersey.
Amanda, a Staff Sergeant in the Air Force Reserves, temporarily left her job as a Plymouth Rock Claims Technician to serve her first tour of duty with the 908th Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron.
“One day I’m here handling claims and the next day I’m refueling airplanes,” Amanda said. “Seeing other countries from that elevation — I’m getting views that a lot of people will never have. It’s a unique experience.”
Amanda works as a boom operator in a KC-10, which is capable of refueling other aircraft in the air. A boom operator oversees the in-air refueling process. The aircraft is also sometimes used to carry passengers and cargo.
Though this was her first deployment, Amanda has been with the Air Force Reserves since 2011. A self-described wanderlust, she signed up to satisfy that urge. She was excited to do her part and returned home from her deployment with a sense of accomplishment.
“There’s really a sense of comradery and legacy,” she said. “To be part of something so much bigger and to be doing this job is such an incredible feeling — it’s a sense of accomplishment, it’s a sense of pride.”
Amanda regularly travels for her duties with the Air Force, so her family and friends are used to her being away. Still, she said her family and colleagues were extremely supportive during her deployment, checking up on her with emails and sending care packages.
With Veterans Day not long after she returned home, Amanda said she’s grateful for all of the veterans, but doesn’t yet consider herself one.
“I don’t feel like I’ve earned that title yet,” she said. “Some guys don’t eat for a couple days at a time and are marching with tons of gear on their back or they’re in active combat zones getting shot at. To me, that’s what a veteran is.”
A memento that Amanda received during her deployment is an American flag that was flown over her unit’s base. It is now being proudly displayed at her Plymouth Rock office. The flag’s certificate of authenticity says:
“This flag represents the commitment of the men and women of the Armed Forces, the Global War on Terrorism and honors the thousands who died in the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and the fields of Pennsylvania on September 11, 2001. Let all who look upon this flag be reminded of their accomplishments and steadfast devotion to protecting the freedom our flag represents.”