This sounds like the receiver (C-17A) underran the tanker, during, or just after the Boom Operator made contact. This will take the boom and receiver below the lower limit and outside of the air refueling envelope. That is the most dangerous position to be in as the Boom Operator cannot control the boom if a disconnect occures in this position, aerodynamic forces could spring the boom into the tankers tail section. The correct manuver is for the receiver to drop down (slowly), then back.
If the receiver pilot tries to back out, first, he will actually come up and in. Only the Boom Operator can see enough to give the proper direction.
Most times this happens to fast for the Boom Operator to call for a "Breakaway" manuver.
Someones career is on the line here, and I doubt it will be the Wing Commander. The Boom Operator is in charge of the refueling, he will most likely get dinged here, as well as the pilot of the KC
It is unusual to refuel near the end of the mission (200nm from HNL
after flying from LTS), esspeically with passengers aboard.
I'm glad no one got hurt.