Tenn. – The 164th Airlift Wing in Memphis, Tenn., said
goodbye to the last C-141 StarLifter in the Air National Guard
fleet in a ceremony at the Memphis airport May 2, 2004.
retirement of our last C-141 signifies the end of an era for
this unit," said Col. Dave Burton, the wing commander.
"For more than three decades the StarLifter was the work
horse of strategic airlift and has served our State and the
Nation with distinction." The 164th Airlift Wing in
Tennessee and the 172nd Airlift Wing in Mississippi were the
only Air National Guard units to fly the C-141. The 172nd has
transitioned to the C-17 and the 164th will receive the C-5.
C-141 StarLifter has achieved a seen-it-all, done-it-all
reputation during it's 30 plus years of service to the United
States. It has carried troops, supplies, vehicles, weapons,
refugees, and huge high-powered NASA telescopes as well as
providing support for a number of disaster relief missions. It
has seen duty in operational areas from Southeast Asia to
South America to the Persian Gulf. It has provided rapid lift
for our wounded in an aeromedical role and has even brought
our fallen heroes home to their final resting place. The C-141
StarLifter has become a part of the history of this great
nation. In 1973, the StarLifter returned more than 500
American prisoners of war from North Vietnam to the waiting
arms of their loved ones.
1983, the mighty bird evacuated 78 wounded Marines from the
barracks in Beirut. It was the C-141 that provided support for
flood relief in Minnesota in 1979, the Azores in 1980 and
Louisiana in 1983. In 1985, she carried 39 former hostages
from a hijacked airliner to freedom. During Desert
Shield/Storm, the StarLifter made more than 37,000 on-time
departures. The first C-141 was delivered to Tinker AFB, Okla.
in October 1964 and began operations in April 1965. The Air
National Guard received its first StarLifter in July 1986 at
the 172nd Airlift Wing in Jackson Miss. The 164th Airlift Wing
in Memphis received their first C-141 in January 1992.
According to Col. Mike Brock, commander of the 172nd Airlift
Wing, the C-141 was truly a workhorse aircraft for the unit.
we received our C-141s in mid-1986, we converted to a new
aircraft and adopted a mission changing from a tactical air
land and air drop capability to strategic airlift; it
literally opened up a whole new flying era for the wing,"
said Brock. "As some of our pilots said, we literally
stayed 'on the road' until the day the last C-141 left for
Memphis.” The 172nd Airlift Wing logged over 72,000
accident-free flying hours. During Desert Storm, the C-141s
from the unit were the first aircraft into the area delivering
critical defensive capabilities.
aircraft helped gain our unit a world-wide reputation for
excellence and earned us the privilege of becoming the first
Air National Guard unit in the country to receive brand new
C-17s," said Brock. The C-141 fleet has logged more than
10 million flying hours. The majestic StarLifter will continue
to fly in the Air Force and Air Force Reserves. However, for
the Air National Guard, this large, gray bird, tail number
60157, has made the last flight to it’s final resting place.