185th Air Refueling Wing Hosts Medal of Honor recipient Michael J. Fitzmaurice.

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The 185th Air Refueling Wing Hosted Medal of Honor recipient Michael J. Fitzmaurice in Sioux City Iowa this week. The visit included a tour of the 185th maintenance facilities, meetings with leadership and a flight on a KC-135R Stratotanker.

During the flight, Fitzmaurice, a South Dakota resident, along with other local veterans and friends, were able to witness aerial refueling operations from the boom pod in the rear of a KC-135. 

The group saw a number F-16s assigned to the South Dakota Air National Guard’s 114th Fighter Wing refueled. The flight was also the first time Fitzmaurice had been in a KC-135. 

“Ive seen a lot of things in my life but I’m going to have to move this to the top of my list, it was awesome,” said Fitzmaurice. 

After the F-16 fighters had received their fuel, Fitzmaurice was also given the opportunity to sit up front in the flight deck the during the landing back into Sioux City.

“I liked watching the pilots, they have to know so many things, it was impressive,” said Fitzmaurice. 

Upon landing Fitzmaurice was greeted with a salute by all available 185th members and after thanking Wing Commander Col. Sonya Morrison, Fitzmaurice shook hands and personally thanked each 185th member for their service. 

The tour was largely coordinated by 185th Maintenance Squadron Commander Lt. Col. Scott Smit through connections with local veterans organizations. According to Smith the visit had been three years in the making but delays occurred due to COVID restrictions and operational needs. 

When asked about the events that led to receiving his Medal of Honor, Fitzmaurice simply said 

“I’m just a lucky guy.”

According to the Congressional Medal of Honor Society, Michael J. Fitzmaurice was awarded the Medal of Honor for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty on March 23, 1971 in Khesanh, Republic of Vietnam.


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