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Capts. Rusty and Fenny Evers chat next to Rusty’s KC-135R tanker after he completed a six-hour air refueling mission during Cope North exercises at Misawa Air Base, Japan Tuesday. They are based together at Okinawa’s Kadena Air Base.
Capts. Rusty and Fenny Evers chat next to Rusty’s KC-135R tanker after he completed a six-hour air refueling mission during Cope North exercises at Misawa Air Base, Japan Tuesday. They are based together at Okinawa’s Kadena Air Base. (Wayne Specht / S&S)

MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan — Flying is a family affair for two Air Force officers here for Cope North bilateral air combat exercises.

Capt. Rusty Evers, a KC-135R tanker pilot with the 909th Air Refueling Squadron at Okinawa’s Kadena Air Base, said he first met his wife, Fenny, while both were stationed at Grand Forks Air Force Base in North Dakota.

“She was waiting for a training slot, and I was flying tankers for the 911th Air Refueling Squadron there, but forward-deployed a lot,” Evers said.

Fenny Evers, also a captain, is a senior weapons controller director flying aboard an E-3B Airborne Warning and Control System aircraft that happens to be based with Kadena’s 961st AWACS Squadron.

Rusty Evers said he didn’t get to see Fenny very often at Grand Forks — Operation Enduring Freedom curtailed their opportunities.

“I flew 41 refueling missions in an 80-day period over Afghanistan during 2002,” he said. “I was gone more than I was home.”

It wasn’t until the couple met again at Nevada’s Nellis Air Force Base where they both were on temporary assignment during Red Flag air combat exercises did they become serious about each other.

They married six months ago.

Managing to convince the Air Force to assign them to the same base was a challenge, but because both tankers and AWACS are stationed at Kadena, the task was a bit easier.

Temporary duty commitments keep the couple apart, and Rusty Evers said he had to work hard to get them together for the Cope North exercise here.

“We begged, borrowed and bribed to be here since both of our airplanes would be at Misawa for the exercise; it was a perfect opportunity for us,” he said.

Fenny Evers said the Air Force makes accommodations for dual military couples — within reason.

“They do a good job trying to keep you together, and once we put the paperwork in, it happened pretty fast,” she said.

“We feel very fortunate to be at Kadena where both of our airplanes are together,” said Rusty Evers.

Calling herself “an AWACS baby,” Fenny Evers oversees controllers directing fighter aircraft aboard the four-engine AWACS.

“I’m pretty new to the job,” she said. “I’ve just been upgraded.”

What the future holds for the Everses is not entirely certain.

Fenny Evers said AWACS are only assigned on Okinawa, and at bases in Oklahoma and Europe. Tanker aircraft flown by her husband may not always be assigned at those bases.

That doesn’t seem to faze Fenny Evers, at least not at this point in their careers.

“Family is important to me,” she said. “We’ll try to stay together as long as we can.”

Rusty Evers said he has another reason for trying to be together on temporary duty assignments.

“I can have dinner with her every night,” he said.

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