As Staff Sgt. Angila Thomas sleeps, an emergency alarm jolts her out of bed. She rapidly slips a green flightsuit over her thermals and sprints the stairs of her sand-colored compound to the white plane that runs full-time in the frigid cold of Nebraska in January.

Sergeant Thomas may be gone five minutes or five days; but that’s not her call, because she and 61 colleagues fly the ultimate communication plane known as “Nightwatch” — the E-4B National Airborne Operations Center.




by Staff Sgt. John B. Dendy IV
photos by Master Sgt. Dave Nolan