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Family business: a generation of bombers

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Ryan Hayman
  • 7th Bomb Wing Public Affairs

A sense of excitement builds inside his body as he steps up the ladder of a B-1B Lancer. He's been surrounded by this aircraft for the majority of his life, but this time is different as he'll be the one flying now.

The skies are a crystal-clear blue as he's slammed into his seat due to rapidly changing inertia as he takes off into his first flight in a B-1B Bomber.

This tactical transition led Col. Kevin Kippie, former 7th Bomb Wing vice commander, to find a deeper connection to his family roots through his service in the bomber community.

Retired Col. Peter Kippie, Kevin's father, attended the U.S. Military Academy, where as a cadet, Peter experienced the true importance of airpower during a field exercise with the U.S. Army.

"During the exercise, the company commander broke radio silence, and as a result, two F-4 Phantoms conducted a simulated strike on our position," said Peter. "That's when it was demonstrated to me, rather forcefully, the importance of airpower and the realization that it'd be better to join the Air Force to fly and provide the punishment than to be on the ground and take that punishment."

Peter had come in with the initial team of cadre of the B-1B Lancer in February 1985, where they laid the essential groundwork for the B-1B's future success.

Kevin grew up in Abilene, Texas, while his father was working on base ensuring the future of the B-1B.

Kevin joined Air Force ROTC after starting college at Texas Tech University. He learned more and more about the Air Force while attending the program and would later become the corps commander.

Kevin rose to the top of his Air Force ROTC detachment and then was ready to start over in climbing the ladder by joining the Air Force in 1999.

The father and son duo would find themselves in an unusual situation in 2003, now as colonel and captain, deploying together flying combat missions over Iraq. 

"One night during the deployment, my sortie was heavily engaged with Surface to Air Missiles," said Peter. "I later called Kevin saying that he wouldn't believe what I had just experienced, and he told me that the same thing happened to him. During that phone call, we pieced together that we had been flying in the same airspace in southern Iraq, as we were engaged with the same SAMs that night."

This event forced the pair to learn and mentor one another to safeguard their families from potentially losing one of them. Kevin learned to grow exponentially both in his craft as a pilot and as a leader.

Kevin later served at Dyess from June 11, 2021, to June 30, 2023.  At Dyess he was the vice wing commander of the largest B-1B wing in the Air Force, providing combat-ready B-1B’s, aircrew, combat support and expeditionary Airmen for global taskings.

"I get a front-row seat to watch as people do amazing things every day," said Kevin. "I have a sense of pride, knowing the people here at Dyess are doing outstanding work, as they volunteer to work on a $300 million aircraft, guard the base or lead the charge on renovating the fitness center with $1.2 million all at the age of people in their mid-20s."

The pair have proven to be an inspiration to others in all they do during their time in the Air Force. They can now reminisce about having the opportunity to serve together, the B-1B and what they have done for the Air Force and bomber community.

“We can both share our pride for the B-1B together now, as we’ve both flown different and the exact same aircraft,” said Kevin. “It served as an opportunity to grow our bonds together as well as whenever we always talk about its past, present and future about the B-1B and where it’s leading into the future.”