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Last KC-135 leaves Manas

A KC-135 Stratotanker taxis while members of the 376th Air Expeditionary Wing salute on Feb. 24 at the Transit Center at Manas, Kyrgyzstan. The KC-135 departed after the final refueling mission over Afghanistan from the TCM. (Staff Sgt. Travis Edwards/Air Force)

The last Stratotanker has left the Transit Center at Manas, Kyrgyzstan, ending 12.5 years of refueling operations at the base.

The transit center’s last refueling mission landed Feb. 24, according to the Air Force. The KC-135, deployed from MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., flew for six hours, refueling A-10s and F-16s over Afghanistan.

“It’s pretty special to be able to say that we were able to fly on the last sortie out of Manas,” said Col. Mike Seiler, the commander of the 376th Expeditionary Operations Group, according to a release. “When [I] think about it, we flew our last sortie just like we did our first one: fighter support, troops in contact. … I got chills rolling down the runway for the last time.”

Over the past 12.5 years, KC-135s flew 33,500 sorties, refueling more than 135,000 aircraft with more than 12.2 billion gallons of fuel, according to the Air Force.

The mission now transfers to a new hub at Mihail Kogalniceanu Air Base in Romania. Once the KC-135 left Manas, the only aircraft that remained was an iced-over C-17, according to the Air Force.

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