WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. --
A former 509th Bomb Wing crew chief recently had the opportunity to reunite with an old friend during a visit to Whiteman Air Force Base. Upon arrival at the hangar, his eyes lit up instantly recognizing his friend - the B-2 Spirit stealth bomber that he helped put in the air.
Former Master Sgt. Keith Meadows, the first dedicated crew chief for the B-2 "Spirit of Missouri", tail number 80-329, and his son, Senior Airman Kasey Meadows, a weapons maintainer with the 910th Airlift Wing, were hosted by the aircraft’s current maintenance team who are crew chiefs with the Missouri Air National Guard’s 131st Bomb Wing.
Keith served at Whiteman from 1991 through 1996 and his former aircraft is now the 131st Bomb Wing’s flagship. During his time as a crew chief for the B-2, he helped maintain mission readiness by providing the necessary repairs and maintenance to keep the jet in the air.
Master Sgt. Justin Petree, the current dedicated crew chief for the “Spirit of Missouri," is in the same position Keith held all those years ago.
“It was an honor just seeing and hearing him talk about the plane,” said Petree. “It just showed you how much pride he had for the plane. You could see how excited he was to be back and tell his stories.”
Even after many years of being a crew chief, Keith still retained the knowledge of the job he used to have.
“I was surprised by how much he retained about the plane,” said Petree “The longer we were around the aircraft, the more he was remembering and conveying to his son.”
During the tour, Kasey soaked up the knowledge of what his father did at Whiteman. He was surprised with everything his father knew. Kasey said he was able to relate his father’s work with his service at the 910th AW.
Keith said the best thing about the day was that he could share it with his son.
Any bit of maintenance done to a plane is important. Maintainers like Keith, Kasey, and Petree are a critical part of the mission and are needed to maintain the mission generation after generation.
“We are entrusted to carry on from those who came before us and to pass on our knowledge and experiences to the next round of maintainers,” said Petree. “What myself and the other maintainers do daily to maintain the aircraft is a direct reflection on the ones who came before us and the ones who will ultimately take over the aircraft after us.”