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Pilots in Mideast combat learn of alumni bond

RIVERSIDE, Calif. (BP) — Two pilots fighting ISIS in the Middle East connected in mid-air and realized they had something in common: They were both California Baptist University alumni.

“I was thrilled to have a fellow Lancer in the air with me over a combat zone,” said Keli Kaaekuahiwi, who was piloting an A-10 Warthog being refueled by Daniel Greer flying a KC-135 Stratotanker military aerial refueling aircraft.

“It’s very cool knowing that over a combat zone, halfway around the world, there’s a guy to the same small — when we were there — Christian school and share the same beliefs,” said Kaaekuahiwi, who was enrolled at CBU from 2006-2008.

Greer, a 2006 CBU graduate, was stationed in Turkey with the Air Force Reserves this spring where he and his crew provided air refueling for fighter jets. While Greer was refueling Kaaekuahiwi’s jet, the two pilots learned they were Lancers.

A week later, Greer and his team once again refueled Kaaekuahiwi’s jet and a few weeks later the two CBU alumni met in a chow hall at a military base in Turkey.

“We agreed it was pretty cool that two former CBU undergrad students got to do air refueling while flying missions in the war against terror,” Greer said.

Kaaekuahiwi, who is now stationed in Korea, said flying in the Middle East had its rewards.

“We were constantly flying over specific places that we all remember from the Bible. I could see the ancient ruins of Nineveh and the Euphrates River,” Kaaekuahiwi said. “It was very rewarding knowing that we were there to save some really good people who are just in a horrible situation.”

Greer has returned to March Air Reserve Base in California, where he coordinates missions for KC-135 Stratotankers.

After his return, Greer spoke to an aviation class at CBU. He said he is excited to see how CBU has grown, especially the department of aviation science.

“I would encourage all the students to be open what God may have in store for them because it may not have anything to do with what they’re majoring in,” Greer said, noting that he was a college senior before setting his sights on being a pilot in the U.S. Air Force.

“You never know where God is leading you or what He’s going to do,” Greer said.