BUNKER HILL — Eva Chupp was raised Amish in Michigan. Now, she’s training to fly on refueling missions at Grissom Air Reserve Base.
Chupp is currently learning the ins and outs of becoming a KC-135R Stratotanker inflight refueling specialist, or boom operator, who is responsible for controlling the fuel delivery system during in-flight refueling of other aircraft.
But sitting in a high-tech military plane is a far cry from her Amish roots. Chupp said she was part of the faith community until she was 13, but her family left after her parents had religious differences with the church.
After leaving the Amish community in Michigan and moving to Indiana with her family, she finished high school and entered the workforce.
The idea of joining the Air Force Reserves never occurred to Chupp until she was approached by a military recruiter at a fair where she was working.
“That was the first time it occurred to me that I could join the military because I was no longer Amish,” she said. “I didn’t know how my parents felt about it, but I talked to them and they were 100% supportive, which was amazing.”
Chupp didn’t join the reserves right away, but it stayed in the back of her mind. She got a gym membership and began to prepare herself for physical training.
Meanwhile, she started a new job at a coffee shop, but after working there for a while, she began to feel like she reached a plateau.
“At that point I had been there for a couple of years, and although I’m not Amish anymore, I kept a lot of those values,” Chupp said. “And I just asked God what he wanted me to do next, and he brought the Air Force thing back to me.”
With that, she went to a recruiter and started the process of enlisting.
Chupp began her Air Force journey in 2018 as an emergency management apprentice at Grissom but quickly realized she wanted to play a bigger role in flying missions. So earlier this year, she applied to become a boom operator.
In March, she learned she got the job. Chupp was transferred out of the emergency management unit and over to the 74th Air Refueling Squadron.
“I feel like I’m at a really good time in my life and able to take advantage of everything the military has to offer,” she said. “I love to serve my country, and as cheesy as that sounds, it’s true.”
But Chupp credited her Amish upbringing, and how it shaped her as a person, for her success in the reserves.
“Growing up Amish was a huge blessing,” she said. “It set a foundation for what the rest of my life ended up being. Most of my extended family is still Amish, and I love them.”
Chupp said it’s been 10 years since her family left the church, but they have reconnected since with her faith family and “it’s been really good.”
Chupp said that’s especially true with her first job in emergency management.
“They had no idea that a part of the Air Force is to help people and manage emergencies, and to show them that everything is not about hurting people,” she said. “It’s also about protecting the country, protecting our people, and helping other people.”
This article was made available through Hoosier State Press Association.