COLUMBUS AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. (WTVA) — Student pilots at Columbus Air Force Base train to fly a T-6 in a simulator, and Jim Cucchiara is one of those flight simulator instructors.
Prior to this, he flew a tanker in Afghanistan that refueled other aircraft while they were in the sky.
"I can't tell you how many times we would fly straight over the battlefield and be refueling one of our fighters while his wingman was down over the fight protecting the guys on the ground, and then, they'd swap out," said Cucchiara.
When you're flying for the military, you have to be prepared to handle surprises, and Cucchiara says surprises were a daily event in Afghanistan.
"A ground battle would take place, and they would start shifting airplanes," said Cucchiara, "and when airplanes move, they have to have gas, so the tankers would move with them."
Cucchiara served in the Air Force for eight years before retiring.
For him, Veterans Day is a reminder of those who served before he ever put on the uniform.
"The reason I have a wife and three children, I'm able to do the things that I do is because they came before me and did what needed to be done for this country," added Cucchiara.