'The type of leader the Air Force needed': Fairchild school dedicated to airman who died in Shell 77 crash

<p><p> Tech. Sgt. Herman “Tre” Mackey III is the ideal role model for airmen training to be officers at Fairchild Air Force Base, according to his friend, Senior Master Sgt. Larry Nahalea .</p></p><p><p>“Every single airman at this base that becomes an NCO (noncommissioned officer) is going to walk through the hallways with his name on that building,” Nahalea said. “Hopefully a little bit of Tre will rub off on all of them.”</p></p><p><p>Last month, the 92nd Force Support Squadron Airman Leadership School dedicated their schoolhouse to Mackey, who died in the <a href=”https://www.amc.af.mil/News/Article-Display/Article/786708/what-happened-aboard-shell-77″ target=”_blank”>2013 Shell 77 crash</a>. Fellow Fairchild airmen Capt. Mark “Tyler” Voss and Capt. Victoria Pinckney lost their lives in the refueling mission over Kyrgyzstan when the KC-135R tanker in which they were flying broke apart and exploded mid-air.</p></p><p><p>Mackey was a boom operator, the aircrew member aboard a tanker aircraft who is responsible for transferring aviation fuel to another plane in-air. </p></p><p><p>The school, now titled the Mackey Airman Leadership School, will train generations of leaders at Fairchild. The school trains around nine classes of 20 to 30 airmen a year.</p></p><p><p>According to 92nd ARW historian Rebekah Horton, students couldn’t have a better example above the door they will walk through.</p></p><p><p>“When it comes to honorable examples, I really can’t think of another person that displays this,” Horton said. “He was the type of leader the Air Force needed.”</p></p><p><p>To current and future students, Mackey is and will continue to be a role model. But for Nahalea, Mackey was a goofball in the best way possible.</p></p><p><p>He always had a smile on his face, and brought up the mood in a tough period when the two were far from home, stationed in Okinawa, Japan.</p></p><p><p>Nahalea remembers one time in Okinawa when Mackey was driving a truck and was confronted with a massive mud puddle blocking his way. Everybody told Mackey it was a really bad idea to drive through it, but sure enough, Mackey tried anyway.</p></p><p><p>“The water was completely up to halfway up his truck,” Nahalea said. “And then he opened his truck and took a step out of it, and then completely disappeared.”</p></p><p><p>Sometimes ill-advised but never lacking in confidence, that’s just who Mackey was, according to Nahalea. But most of all, Tre was his buddy.</p></p><p><p>For a long time, Nahalea couldn’t bring himself to go to ceremonies remembering Mackey. It was the first time he lost a really good friend in the force and, as a coping mechanism, he avoided ceremonies remembering him .</p></p><p><p>But during the August dedication ceremony when the school was officially named after Mackey, he said he finally got closure. Knowing that future students will see Mackey’s name and do their research on who he was finally made it easier to face the reality that he was gone.</p></p><p><p>Because Nahalea said even though Mackey was a goofball, he was a remarkable leader who always put his fellow troops and friends first. He deserves to be and will be remembered.</p></p><p><p>“All those airmen are going to know who Tre was,” said Nahalea.</p></p>