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Crew Chief Dad Marshals Daughter's First Flight

  • Published
  • By Senior Master Sgt. Shawn Monk
  • 171st Air Refueling Wing
Megan Hirlehey wanted to be a pilot ever since she came to the base for family day as a kid with her dad Kevin Clancy, a Master Sergeant in the Pennsylvania Air National Guard.

“This is kind of the last thing I’m hanging around for, because I’m 38 and a half years in” said Kevin.

“When she was 13, it was right after 9/11, we had to generate an alert crew,” Kevin continued to say that he was asked to stay at the base for five straight days. “My wife and two daughters, Megan being the oldest, came out and brought me a change of clothes…Brian Krawchyk put my two kids in front of the refrigerator that was full of ice cream, and he opened that door and there was nothing but ice cream, I swear that’s what made Megan decide to join the guard,” he laughed.

In 2008, before graduating high school, Megan followed in her father’s footsteps and enlisted in her dad’s unit, the 171st Air Refueling Wing, located near Pittsburgh. There she served at the base’s Education and Training office and also the base’s Small Air Terminal, while her dad continued to serve in the unit’s Maintenance Group as a crew chief.

“She really showed determination. You know, when they say no you can’t do that, and you turn around and say oh yeah? Hold my beer and watch this! You know - and now she is in the pilot seat. It was kind of a big deal, and I’m real proud of her.”

Megan followed her dream to be a pilot at the 171st. She applied for the position and later commissioned to be an officer in 2020. She overcame many obstacles and stayed patient and determined.

“As a dad you want the best for your kids, alright, and the 171st is the best, so I guess I win”.

On July 6, 2023, 1st Lt. Megan Hirlehey flew her first mission with the 171st - aboard the very aircraft her dad served as a crew chief on for six years. Kevin marshaled his daughter off the flight line and saluted her as she steered the KC-135 aircraft towards the runway for take off.

“The highlight of my career was watching her taxi for her first, it was good, it was a great day for me, now I can retire.”