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Greenbank man heads to Qatar with Utah Air National Guard

1st Lt. Don Cronk, right, graduated from Vance AFB at the top of his class as a distinguished graduate and received the Commanders Trophy from 71st Training Wing commander Col. Richard Klumpp Jr. - Photo courtesy of Don Cronk
1st Lt. Don Cronk, right, graduated from Vance AFB at the top of his class as a distinguished graduate and received the Commanders Trophy from 71st Training Wing commander Col. Richard Klumpp Jr.
— image credit: Photo courtesy of Don Cronk

Air Force 1st Lt. Eric Cronk of Greenbank recently completed the Air Force pilot training program and is now flying KC-135 air refueling tankers for the Utah Air National Guard in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Cronk leaves the day after Christmas to fly refueling missions from an air base in the State of Qatar, located on a peninsula bordering the Persian Gulf and Saudi Arabia.

Cronk’s unit will provide support to fighters and bombers flying missions in Afghanistan. This will be his first tour of duty overseas in support of the war on terrorism.

Cronk lived on Whidbey with his wife and children until mid-2006. The Utah Air Guard sent him to the Air Force pilot training program at Vance Air Force Base in Oklahoma.

Cronk is married to Hillarie Payne, daughter of Gary and Karol Payne of Freeland. They have two daughters, Olivia and Frances.

The Boeing-built KC-135 Stratotanker is an aerial refueling aircraft, in service with the United States Air Force since 1957.

It carries a crew of four and costs $39.6 million.

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