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Felines found on flightline

Tech. Sgt. Darryl LeMaster, a crew chief for the 167th Airlift Wing, holds a kitten that he found on the flight line while supervising an aircraft refueling at the Martinsburg, W.Va. air base, June 19. The kitten had fallen off of a refueling truck as a fuel hose was pulled from its reel. Three other kittens were found inside the hose reel on the truck. The kittens eventually found homes with 167th AW Airmen.

Tech. Sgt. Darryl LeMaster, a crew chief for the 167th Airlift Wing, holds a kitten that he found on the flight line while supervising an aircraft refueling at the Martinsburg, W.Va. air base, June 19. The kitten had fallen off of a refueling truck as a fuel hose was pulled from its reel. Three other kittens were found inside the hose reel on the truck. The kittens eventually found homes with 167th AW Airmen.

Fuels specialists for the 167th Airlift Wing, Airman 1st Class Zachary Langhorne, Master Sgt. Christopher Whiteside, Staff Sgt. Phillip Wingerd and Airman 1st Class Andrew Stover display a box holding four kittens that were found in a hose reel of a fueling truck while the truck was refueling a C-17 Globemaster aircraft at the Martinsburg, W.Va. air base, June 19, 2018. The kittens eventually found homes with 167th AW Airmen.

Fuels specialists for the 167th Airlift Wing, Airman 1st Class Zachary Langhorne, Master Sgt. Christopher Whiteside, Staff Sgt. Phillip Wingerd and Airman 1st Class Andrew Stover display a box holding four kittens that were found in a hose reel of a fueling truck while the truck was refueling a C-17 Globemaster aircraft at the Martinsburg, W.Va. air base, June 19, 2018. The kittens eventually found homes with 167th AW Airmen.

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. --

A 167th Airlift Wing crew chief, noticed a small black object under a fuel truck as he was supervising an aircraft refueling at the Martinsburg, W.Va. air base, June 19.

Upon closer inspection, Tech. Sgt. Darryl LeMaster and the fuels specialists he was working with, Airman 1st Class Zachary Langhorne and Staff Sgt. Phillip Wingerd, realized it was a kitten.

They searched around the truck and found three other kittens inside a hose reel on the truck.

“It’s unbelievable where they were in the truck,” LeMaster said. “There’s only a small space between the hose and the drum that covers the reel. It was a struggle to get them out.”

LeMaster estimated the kittens were only a few days old and were most likely born on the truck.

The Airmen put the kittens, three black ones and a gray one, in a bucket they lined with absorbent towels and finished refueling the aircraft.

Langhorne and Wingerd took the kittens back to their shop, hopeful they could reunite the kittens with their mother.

But, when LeMaster told his wife Penny, who also works on base as a human resource specialist and personnelist, about the kittens, she rushed to the fuels shop to see them. She decided she would take and care for them.

“I had been wanting a kitten,” she said.

The LeMaster’s are no strangers to caring for animals. They have horses, chickens, goats, dogs and now two kittens.

The other two kittens found homes with Staff Sgt. Alexa Maroukian and Col. Rodney Neely.

All the kittens are being bottle-fed, and burped, every few hours.

“It’s a lot like caring for a newborn baby right now, but they are so much fun,” Penny said.