Captain follows in his father’s USAF footsteps to RAF Mildenhall

Capt Patrick Teal, 351st Air Refueling Squadron pilot and aircraft commander,  with a 100th Air Refueling Wing KC-135 Stratotanker at RAF Mildenhall
USAF  photo by Karen Abeyasekere
Capt Patrick Teal, 351st Air Refueling Squadron pilot and aircraft commander, with a 100th Air Refueling Wing KC-135 Stratotanker at RAF Mildenhall USAF photo by Karen Abeyasekere

When USAF Capt Patrick Teal had to select a new posting he knew his first choice would be to return to RAF Mildenhall.

The KC-135 Stratotanker pilot has never served there before but has happy memories of his childhood there, because he is following in his father’s footsteps.

Patrick Teal, second left, in May 1997, at RAF Mildenhall with his brothers, a friend, and his father  Maj. Greg Teal, then a 351st Air Refueling Squadron navigator

Patrick Teal, second left, in May 1997, at RAF Mildenhall with his brothers, a friend, and his father Maj. Greg Teal, then a 351st Air Refueling Squadron navigator

Patrick first arrived at Mildenhall as a four-year-old in 1993, when his father then Capt Greg Teal came to the newly activated 100th Air Refuelling Wing as a navigator.

Patrick left the UK when he was 12 but he said: “Most of my childhood memories are from when I was young and in England,

“My dad never pushed my brothers or me in that direction, but he was thrilled when I joined the Air Force. Working back at the same base my dad did means a lot to me.

“I didn’t set out necessarily wanting to be in aviation, but once I did, I wanted to follow a bit of the path that he had gone on because I saw how well it went for him.

“Being here is pretty special, especially when you can talk to someone and have shared experiences, and you know what each other is talking about, such as this base, the KC-135s and this area.”

Patrick says he now has a greater appreciation of what his dad did at Mildenhall.

His father remembers arriving in England: “It was absolutely wonderful! Our fourth child was just a couple of months old. England is such a beautiful country and we fell in love with it.

“We lived in Newmarket and fell in love with all the aspects of that, then coming to a new wing which had just been stood up was exciting.”

The tankers crews were new to European operations and Greg said: “Back then, there were no regulations or books written on how to do tanker operations in Europe, That was one of the biggest challenges.”

The navigator post no longer exists but when Greg was doing it, instead of GPS, they had to route the aircraft to the refuelling rendezvous using celestial and radar navigation.