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KC-135 boom operator supports Washington food banks

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. David Stefaniak, a boom operator with the Washington Air National Guard's 116th Air Refueling Squadron, sorts food at the Issaquah Food Bank April 15, 2020. Stefaniak is supporting multiple food banks in the Puget Sound area as part of the state's COVID-19 response.

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. David Stefaniak, a boom operator with the Washington Air National Guard's 116th Air Refueling Squadron, sorts food at the Issaquah Food Bank April 15, 2020. Stefaniak is supporting multiple food banks in the Puget Sound area as part of the state's COVID-19 response.

ISSAQUAH, Wash. – Staff Sgt. David Stefaniak is one of over 200 Washington Air National Guard members who have stepped up to volunteer to help shore up food banks across the state during 2019 coronavirus pandemic.

“The massive economic impact caused by COVID-19 means that food bank services are critically needed, now more than ever,” said Col. Kenneth Borchers, 194th Wing commander. “These Guardsmen are determined to do all they can to help their fellow citizens.”

Stefaniak wanted to volunteer because he felt called to serve his community in a time of need. “I was stationed in Washington state while I was on active duty and later joined the Washington Air National Guard in 2014 in order to stay here and serve the communities and state that I love,” explained Stefaniak.

In his normal military role, Stefaniak is a boom operator on KC-135s assigned to the 116th Air Refueling Squadron at Fairchild Air Force Base. As boom operator, his job is to pump thousands of pounds of fuel to any capable aircraft, thousands of feet about ground, flying at 200 knots, while only 47 feet from colliding into each other.

But for now, Stefaniak is serving his community at the Issaquah Food Bank and the Mason United Methodist Church in Tacoma by helping to prep food to hand out to people in need.

“I have been unloading pallets, stocking food, packing boxes and bags, loading supplies into waiting cars, and assisting with cleanup,” Stefaniak said. “It’s very fulfilling to get to directly serve Washingtonians that are in need.”

“I have always had a military job that was focused on the national and homeland defense of the United States,” he said. “So to actually get to interact with people in the local community and see and hear how thankful they are for us to be there is amazing!”

Volunteering to support the citizens of Washington state is actually a family affair for Stefaniak. His wife, Capt. Nicole Stefaniak, is serving on the Joint Task Force Steelhead command staff at the Pierce County Readiness Center at Camp Murray. She helps provide information requirements and analysis that has the potential to affect Guard members and operations throughout Washington state. Her traditional Guard occupation is an intelligence officer with the Western Air Defense Sector.

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