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OUR HISTORY

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McChord Air Force Base 
Into the new Millennium
"Global Reach for America"
 
A line-up of 62 AW C-141B loading troops for deployment. 
 

In August of 1990, totalitarian Iraq invaded Kuwait, on the shores of the Persian Gulf. Within days the 62nd poured a stream of C-141s, aircrews, and support crews into Operation Desert Shield, the effort to deter further aggression from Iraq. The  97th MAS from the 446th MAW, was called to active duty and became, temporarily, part of the 62nd MAW. The operations tempo was unprecedented. By October, the United States had over 210,000 troops in Saudi Arabia, with more coming every day. USAF airlift, including the 62nd, made it all possible. This was a mobilization of troops and materiel like the world had never seen.  

In September of 1990 McChord lost one of it's longest serving units with the deactivation of the 25th Air Division. The Northwest Air Defense Sector (NWADS) would takeover the functions of the 25th AD.

By January 1991, Desert Shield became Desert Storm, as allied air power was unleashed upon the invaders with irresistible force. The 62nd and 446th joined the rest of the Military Airlift Command and the US Air Force Reserve in providing round-the-clock airlift to the Middle East, keeping the air war supplied, and aiding the build up of ground forces for the highly successful, though brief ground war in February. Before long, Kuwait was free, although the tremendous effort put forth by the 62nd and 446th had accelerated the aging process of their C-141s. The increased payloads and almost incessant flying would have lasting negative effects on the fleet of StarLifters.

After the war, the 62nd found itself involved, once again, in the business of saving lives. In June 1991, Mt. Pinatubo, in the Philippines, erupted. Within days Americans in that country were ordered to evacuate, and the 62nd plunged head first into Operation Fiery Vigil, bringing most of them to McChord. 

 

              PHOTO BY DEN PASCOE                                          DEN PASCOE - airliners.net

As a reflection of the changes within USAF organizations, unit designators worn on McChord C-141's would change from 62nd MAW / 446th MAW (Military Airlift Wing)  to 62nd AW / 446 AW (Airlift Wing), much like this example carried on the "City of Tacoma" C-141B 66-0137. 

 

Sweeping changes occurred within the Air Force organizational structure, one of those changes was the deactivation of the Military Airlift Command on June 1, 1992. To replace the Command the Air Force formed the Air Mobility Command, a command with greater responsibilities. As a reflection to those changes, the 62nd Military Airlift Wing became the 62nd Airlift Wing on December 1, 1992. The renamed Wing's squadrons were also effected, now called Airlift Squadrons.

In early 1992, 62nd AW and 446th AW crews and aircraft began participating in Operation Provide Hope, helping to deliver hundreds of tons of food and medicine to the former Soviet Union. 

The 446th AW not only proved to be one of the best C-141 units, but the best Airlift Wing during Rodeo ‘92 held at Pope AFB, N.C., the 446th was recognized as Best Overall Wing. 

By August, Operation Provide Relief (later known as Restore Hope), rushing food supplies to the starving people of Somalia, the relief of victims of hurricane Andrew in our own country, and relief efforts for the Guamanian victims of typhoon Omar kept our crews and aircraft on the move.

Tragedy struck the 62nd on 30 November 1992. Four C-141s were taking part in what was supposed to be a routine local air refueling/airdrop mission. The four StarLifters were refueling with two KC-135 Stratotankers of the WA ANG's 141st Air Refueling Wing over north central Montana. Two of the C-141s -- S/N's 65-000255 and 66-000142 -- collided in mid-air, killing all 13 crewmembers. Ten of the men were from the 36th AS, two from the 8th, and one from the 4th.

On October 30, 1992 C-141 66-0206 was dedicated as the "City of Tacoma" and carried the three colors (red, silver, and blue) of the 62d's three Maintenance organizations . C-141B -0206 would later be reassigned to Altus AFB, she would be the last C-141 assigned to that wing.

 

 

              PHOTO BY WALLY VAN WINKLE

During their time at McChord A-10A "Warthogs" from the 354th FS had been one of the USAF’s most deployed units. 

 

On January 5 1993, the 354th Fighter Squadron "Bulldogs" were activated at McChord AFB as a geographical separated unit from it's parent Wing, the 355 Fighter Wing at Davis-Monthan, AZ. Even though their primary mission was to support the Troops at nearby Fort Lewis and the Yakima Firing Center, the "Bulldogs" were one of the USAF's most deployed Squadrons. The squadron stay  was a short one, on October 1, 1994 the squadron was inactivated at McChord and reactivated at Davis-Monthan.   

A strong earthquake hit Los Angeles, California, in January of 1993. Within hours an 8th AS crew was on its way to that area with a 60-person Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) team, plus 37,937 pounds of search and rescue gear, tents, generators, and other equipment.

On October 1, 1993, the 62nd lost one of its squadrons, the 36th AS, as that designation was to be moved to Yokota Air Base, Japan, and the C-141 unit at McChord to be redesignated as the 7th Airlift Squadron, last based at Travis AFB, CA. The 62d  was once again made up of its three original squadrons, the 4th, 7th, and 8th.  

Great skill and airmanship paid off once again for the 446th AW in Rodeo 1993 at Little Rock AFB, Ark  The win took home trophy's for grading out as the Best Airlift Wing, Aircrew, Airdrop, Maintenance Preflight Inspection in the C-141 category in the competition.

In mid October Two members of the 446th AW's 40th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron assist in airlifting Army Warrant Officer Michael Durant out of Mogadishu, Somalia. Durant was held captive for 11 days after his MH-60 Blackhawk "Super 64" was shot down in the middle of the city. The story of the raid was later the subject of a book and a movie.

Ongoing relief efforts kept the 62nd busy throughout 1993 and 1994. In July 1994, a 4th AS crew was fired upon while flying a Provide Promise mission into Sarajevo, in the former Yugoslavia. The very next day, four 62nd aircrews and C-141s, along with approximately 140 airmen and 70,000 pounds of supplies, left for Operation Support Hope, the Rwandan humanitarian relief effort. Just flying Provide Relief / Restore Hope, the 62nd off-loaded more than 8,000 tons of cargo between December 1992 and August 1994.

 
 
McChord Air Museum's C-124C Globemaster II at Rodeo '94.
 

After many months of preparation, McChord played host for its first  AMC's Airlift Rodeo Competition began in late June of 1994, Since 1979, the Airlift rodeo has featured the best Airlift Crews from the Air Force and from Countries across the world. The 446th Airlift Wing earned the Best C-141 Airlift Wing in Rodeo ‘94, picked up their fourth Best C-141 aircrew award in the last five Rodeos and also earned the Best C-141 Airdrop and Best C-141 Preflight titles.  

After a grueling 10 day composition , the 178th FS / 119th FG was from the North Dakota ANG compiled the highest overall score during the 1994 William Tell Meet and beat out  11 top Fighter Squadrons for the overall Championship. Later that year the Unit won the 1994 Hughes Trophy becoming the only Air National Guard unit to win the award twice. The "Hooligans" are also the only F-16 unit to ever win the award.

On January 1, 1995 the Northwest Air Defense Sector and the Southwest Air Defense Sector would combined and reformed as the to Western Air Defense Sector (WADS) responsible for more than half of  the air defense of the Continental United States .  

Following the terrorist bombing of the Oklahoma City Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in April 19, 1995, both of McChord's Airlift Wing were called on to help. Four hours after the bombing an aircrew from the 313th AS / 446 AW flew a 62-member Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) team into Oklahoma City, three days later, another aircrew from the 97th AS / 446 AW flew four badly needed special burn beds, and a box full of stuffed animals, to the Children’s Hospital of Oklahoma City. Later a 4th AS / 62 AW aircrew left Andrews AFB, Maryland, carrying 56 members of the Montgomery County, Maryland, Urban Search and Rescue team (including four dogs and 16 tons of equipment). Eventually, more than 26 tons of equipment were delivered by 62nd AW crews.  

 
 
62d AW C-141 StarLifters line up for takeoff.
 

In late 1995, Bill Clinton ordered the deployment of 20,000 U.S. troops to the former Yugoslav Republic of Bosnia, as part of a multinational peacekeeping force. Eighteen crews and six aircraft from the 62nd were in place at Rhein Main Air Base, Germany, by 18 December, ready to do their part. In spite of severe weather conditions, McChord crews and aircraft were soon flying troops and equipment into Tazsar, Hungary, for Operation Joint Endeavor.

In January 1996 nearly 170 McChord members, operating under a provisional wing located at Rhein Main Air Base Germany, continued supporting airlift missions into Tuzla and Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzogovina. and Taszar, Hungary in support of Operation Joint Endeavor. Six aircrews and five propositioned McChord C-141 StarLifters received aid from 122 ground support augmentees. Led by the 62nd Operations Group Commander, Colonel Thomas R. Madson, support personnel from McChord serviced C-5 Galaxy, C-17 Globemaster and C-141 Starlifter aircraft, delivering more than 9,480 troops and 21,600 tons of cargo.

On the night of May 15, 1996, aircrews from the 4th, 7th, and 8th Airlift Squadrons took part in Big Drop III, the largest airdrop since World War II. The 62nd was one of 28 participating units flying a total of 144 airlifters to simultaneously deploy 6,000 U.S. Army 82nd Airborne Division, U.K. 5th Airborne Brigade personnel, and their heavy equipment onto three drop zones on Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

 
 
McChord C-141's played an important role in Big Drop III.
 

In April 1996, aircrews from the 4th, 7th, and 8th Airlift Squadrons provided equipment and personnel transportation in support of an Air Power Expeditionary Force in the Middle Eastern Kingdom of Jordan. A four-ship contingency from McChord flew missions into the region as part of Operation Southern Watch.

McChord played host to the Bases second International Airlift Rodeo this time hosted by the U.S. Transportation Command. The 62d and 446th AW's did very well in the competition with the 446th defending its crown as best C-141 Aircrew for the fifth time. The unit was also named as the Best C-141 Wing during the competition. 

In July 1996, a 4th Airlift Squadron crew evacuated 68 injured troops from Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, following a bomb blast that killed 19 airmen. The crew diverted to Dhahran from Rhein Main Air Base, Germany, flying a C-141 configured for aeromedical operations. A 17 hour flight, with one refueling stop completed the transport of passengers to Eglin AFB, Florida.  

Beginning in 1996, Teams that attended the William tell Weapons Meet  were to be assembled differently than the had been in the past. In previous Meets teams competed as units (Squadrons or Wings) , in the 1996 each major Command, the Air Force Reserve, the Air National Guard, and a combined Canadian team would compete against each other for the right to be known as the best in the Air. Team ANG would be represented by WADS 123d FS / 142d FW from Portland, OR and the 1994 Champions, North Dakotas 178th FS / 119 FW "Hooligans".  Another Northwest Fighter squadron, the 114 FS / 173 FW flying the Air Defense F-16 flew for its command, Air Education and Training Command.

McChord Air Force base achieved another environmental first by having a cleanup site delisted from the National Priorities List (NPL). The site was a 22 acre stretch of land where aircraft used to be cleaned and drained of fuel. After nearly 10 years of self-repair, the site met the requirements for delistment from the NPL.

Throughout 1997, the 62 AW provided airlift support for numerous joint and combined training exercises such as Cobra Gold, Tandem Thrust, Northern Edge, Green Flag, Cooperative Nugget and Joint Task Force Six. The wing also participated in several accident response exercises, in addition to sustaining high operations tempos.

 
                                                                                            

Two penguins pass by a C-141 from 62d AW as it sits on the ground in Antarctica.

 

In January 1997, the 62nd Airlift Wing received the tasking to be the primary airlift for the re-supply of the US Antarctic Program, commonly referred to as Operation Deep Freeze. From August 16-30, 1997, Lt Col Ray Phillips and crew flew the first WINFLY 97 missions to Pegasus Airfield in preparation for the Annual Operation Deep Freeze missions. During the annual mission, September 30, - November 15, 1997, the 62 AW along with crews from the 446 AW, delivered 1,039,001 pounds of cargo and 1,478 passengers to McMurdo Air Station, Antarctica.  

On March 7, 1997 a coin flip determined that  McChord's last Globemaster II Squadron would be the first Globemaster III unit, that Squadron being the 7th Airlift Squadron. 

On March 27, 1997, Major Randy Woodward and crew, 4th Airlift Squadron, flew through the reduced vertical separation minimum (RVSM) airspace over the North Atlantic. This flight represented one of the most significant changes in oceanic air traffic management in the last 40 years.

The 62nd Airlift Wing provided humanitarian relief throughout 1997 as well. On  April 21, 1997, three C-141s and crews flew missions in support of the relief efforts at Grand Forks, North Dakota. These missions included delivering Federal Emergency Management Administration personnel, more than 20,000 pounds of equipment and cargo to Grand Forks Air Force Base to assist the city of Grand Forks just 13 miles from the base. On April 23, 1997, a crew from the 8th Airlift Squadron flew an additional relief mission to Grand Forks to deliver equipment and 32 Civil Engineering personnel from McConnell AFB, Kansas.

During a regular channel mission, Captain Brian J. Mullin and crew, 7th Airlift Squadron, volunteered and flew a 120 flight hour, 21 day augmented air refueling mission. While dodging Typhoon Tina and Super Typhoon Winnie the crew airlifted an emergency burn and trauma team to Guam after a Korean Airline 747 crashed, performed an emergency evacuation of a two day old infant and flew 16 missions moving elements of III MEF, a Navy Special Warfare Unit.  

In mid 1997 WADS would be in its final stages of it's second major restructure in over a year, Air National Guard Col Scott Powel would assume command of WADS from his active Air Force counterpart Col R.O. Smith signaling the beginning of the end of the active Air Forces last responsibility of the Air Defense mission in the Pacific Northwest. On October 1, 1997 the Washington Air National Guard officially assumed responsibility for the air sovereignty and air defense mission of the Western Air Defense Sector. An official change of command ceremony for new WADS Commander Col. John Cromwell proclaimed the end of a challenging three year operation that saw a virtually seamless transformation from an "active duty-owned" to an "Air National Guard-owned" mission.

An additional humanitarian mission included the deliverance of relief supplies from Kadena AB, Japan to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam after Typhoon Linda devastated the area in early November 1997. The typhoon unleashed torrential rains and winds that wiped out coastal villages, killed hundreds of people and left thousands homeless.

In June 1998 McChord hosted its third Airlift Rodeo, the host unit, the 62d AW was named the best C-141 Wing in the competition. 

 

                     PHOTO BY ERNEST WHITE, II                                         McCHORD AIR MUSEUM

Onlookers view McChord's newest Airlifter C-17A "The Spirit of McChord" 

 

On July 30, 1999 hundreds of onlookers witnessed the dawn of a new era for airlift in the Pacific Northwest as they saw the arrival of two of the most capable transport planes ever made  - the Boeing C-17A Globemaster III. C-17A named "The Spirit of McChord"  flown from Boeing's Long Beach plant by  Gen. Charles "Tony" Robertson, Jr., commander-in-chief United States Transportation Command and commander Air Mobility, was the first of 48 planes to be assigned to McChord and the 62d AW. The arrival of the C-17 Globemaster signaled the beginning of the end for the Wing's workhorse the C-141 Starlifter. As C-17 arrived C-141 were flown  the "bone yard" at Davis-Monthan AFB, Arizona.

A combined Air Force Reserve and active-duty C-141 aircrew from McChord scramble to airdrop emergency medical supplies to the South Pole for a doctor who discovered a lump in her breast. The 97th Airlift Wing aircrew gains international attention as they airdrop six bundles of medical supplies as well as fresh fruit in outside temperatures of close to 100 below zero in the back of the C-141 with the doors open.

The McChord reservists aboard one the new C-17's transported 11 sets of what are believed to be American servicemen from the Korean and Vietnam wars. It was the first time remains from two separate wars were repatriated at the same time. 

Because of the 62d AW's conversion to the C-17, the 2000 Airlift Rodeo was held at Pope AFB, NC. Both the 62d and the 446th AW sent C-141and C-17 teams to compete in the events. After the smoke cleared the 446th was once again named the best C-141 wing.

 

               PHOTO BY ROBERT STETTER                                         www.robert-stetter.de                

Three 62d AW C-141's can be seen in this lineup of retired StarLifters. These aircraft and other C-141 stored in the Davis-Monthan AFB “Boneyard” provide many valuable components to keep other C-141's in the air.   

 

During a  January 21, 2001 change of command ceremony inside Oregon Air National Guard's main Hangar, Col. Garry C. Dean assumed command of the 142nd Fighter Wing becoming the units first man of color to do so. Since joining the Wing at the rank of Captain in 1990, the 1978 Air Force Academy Graduate, who is  African American, has been a racial trailblazer, becoming the units first man of color to become a fighter pilot, the first to be promoted to Colonel, and the first to hold numerous commands within the wing including Command of the 123rd Fighter Squadron "Redhawks" and later 142d Fighter Wing Vice Commander at the Portland based wing.

On September 11, 2001 four commercial airliners were used by to launch history's  worst attack against the US by any foe. As the airliners stuck New York's World Trade Center and the Pentagon, controllers at McChord's Western Air Defense Sector gave orders for the fighters at the Sectors four alert sites to maintain a runway alert status, parked, armed and engines running at the end of each sites runway . Shortly thereafter, all  jets on runway alert were ordered back to their alert hangars to maintain battle station status (pilots on alert duty inside their cockpits) this status was maintained until almost noon. 

Later that afternoon, WADS controllers identified a blip headed for the US West Coast, a Boeing 747. By this time, all aircraft over the United States had been ordered to the ground with all transoceanic aircraft inbound to the United States restricted from entering US airspace. WADS gave the "scramble" order two F-16C's of the 144th Fighter Wing/194th Fighter Squadron (California ANG) to identify the inbound 747. The  F-16 were cleared for a afterburner takeoff and dash to intercept the 747. The California Guardsmen with help from  WADS Ground Controllers intercepted the 747 and escorted the jumbo jet to San Francisco International Airport. The airliner was low on fuel and the pilot felt that he couldn't reach an Airport in Mexico or Canada. Earlier that day, another WADS unit on duty in the East coast to found themselves the middle of this days tragic events. 

 

                 Photo by Tech. Sgt. Lance Cheung                                                                                         usaf

Two fully armed 123rd Fighter Squadron / 142nd Fighter Wing  F-15A Eagles fly a combat air patrol mission over the Pacific Northwest. For months after the terrorist attacks, the 142nd FW maintained aircraft on alert at McChord AFB and their base in Portland, Oregon.

 

Shortly after the two commercial jetliners were flown into the Twin Towers in New York City, F-16 ADF's (Air Defense Fighter) from the North Dakota Air Guard's Detachment 1, 119th Fighter Wing were scrambled to New York from their location at Langley Air Force Base, Virginia. The unit has maintained a detachment of two F-16's on alert at the base since late 2000 and is under the command of the  Northeast Air Defense Sector, Rome NY. 

On their way to the site of Trade Center attack , the three fighters flown by  Maj. Dean Eckman, Maj. Brad Derrig; and Capt. Craig Borgstrom were diverted back to Washington, D.C. area after a third hijacked airliner was flown into the Pentagon. As the F-16's neared the city the pilots were directed to fly a Combat Air Patrol (CAP) around the D.C. area and were also given the chilling orders to shoot down any threatening civilian airliner, this would be the beginning of a CAP around the area that would last for months.

Radar Controllers and fighters assigned to the Western Air Defense Sector and other Active, Guard, and Reserve units flew CAP's in the sky's of America, 24 hours a day in the first days following September 11. In a operation codenamed "Noble Eagle" American and Canadian fighters flew more than 20,000 air defense missions in the operation compared with only 150 in 2000. More than 13,000 people, 100 fighters, and a total of 150 tankers and AWACS surveillance planes joined the effort. Fighters on strip alert scrambled against potential targets 320-plus times.    

 

                   PAINTING by Rick Herter                                                                        www.rickherter.com

Aviation Artist Rick Herter's painting "First Pass" depicts Major. Dean Eckman lead pilot in a three plane element from Detachment 1, 119th Fighter Wing ND ANG, flying over the Pentagon shortly after Hijackers crashed American Airlines Flight 77 into the southwest side of the building. This "pass"  in F-16A S/N 82-0926 was histories first combat sortie in the defense of the Pentagon and the US Capitol. 

 

In a response to the terrorist attacks against America on September 11, 2001, President George Bush  initiates  war against terrorism named Operation Infinite Justice, later renamed Operation Enduring Freedom. McChord units supported these efforts by airlifting troops and supplies destined for Afghanistan. McChord C-17 also helped in a humanitarian airdrops that hundreds of thousands of the rations for starving Afghans.  

On March 11, 2002 a team of 13 Air Force Reservists and one active-duty member flew the last offshore C-141 mission for the 446 AW. On March 19 C-141B 66-7955 flown by members of the Active duty 62 AW started out on what would be the last mission for StarLifters at McChord, both missions flying cargo to stations across the globe.

On April 9, 2002, the McChord community said their goodbyes to a loyal friend. C-141B 65-000267 wearing the signatures of current and past crews who flew and maintained the Starlifter at McChord, took off on her final fight into retirement. What was once home to a fleet of 48 C-141's, McChord will now perform its current Airlift mission with the very capable C-17A Globemaster III.

On June 20, 2002 McChord received it's 34th C-17A, S/N 00- 0187 from Boeing's Long Beach Factory. This would be the last factory delivered Globemaster for the Wing until May 2003. 

 
 

The aircrew and well-wishers of McChord's last C-141 Starlifter mission gather around before the plane's departure to Davis-Monthan AFB, AZ for storage.

 

After more than a decade of violating UN Security Council Resolutions imposed against the country, Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein would be presented with an ultimatum from US President George Bush in September of 2002.  In a speech addressing the UN General Council, President Bush challenging the organization to swiftly enforce its own resolutions against Iraq stated “The conduct of the Iraqi regime is a threat to the authority of the United Nations, and a threat to peace. Iraq has answered a decade of U.N. demands with a decade of defiance. “We cannot stand by and do nothing while dangers gather. We must stand up for our security, and for the permanent rights and hopes of mankind. By heritage and by choice, the United States of America will make that stand.”

Months later the UN Security Council would unanimously approve Resolution 1441 imposing tough new arms inspections on Iraq with in days inspectors would enter the country, unfortunately the Iraqi Government were not fully cooperative. In late December, President Bush would approve the deployment of U.S. Forces to the Persian Gulf; McChord personnel and their C-17’s would again play an important role in the Gulf region.  

In January of 2003 additional personnel and aircraft from both the 62d and 446th Airlift Wings would deploy to locations all around the world in support airlift operations. By the end of January all McChord Aircraft supporting this effort would fly their missions from Charleston AFB, SC, the only East coast C-17 Base. Similar C-17 stage operations had been operating into Afghanistan from a base in Germany. After repeated noncompliance to UN demands Operation Iraqi Freedom begins. “On my orders, coalition forces have begun striking selected targets of military importance to undermine Saddam Hussein’s ability to wage war,” Bush says in an address to the nation.  During the time of war McChord personnel would be in the thick of the fight.

 
photo by Tech. Sgt. Stephen Faulisi                                                                              USAF

Troops from the Army's 173rd Airborne Brigade prepare to board the 62d Airlift Wing's "Spirit of 9-11, Let’s Roll” the transport was one of 15 Globemasters from the 62d and 437th AW used in the first combat insertion for the C-17. 

During the night of March 26, busy C-17 crews McChord were not too busy to make history.  Under the cover of darkness from there forward operation location at Aviano, Italy performed by crews and aircraft from both active duty and Reserve, from both McChord and Charleston AFB, S.C. and 15 C-17’s led by 62d AW Commander Col. Bob Allardice would fly into combat in to the hostile sky’s of Northern Iraq to delivering Army Paratroopers. The nine-hour mission, covering distance roughly the equivalent of Seattle to St. Louis, delivered 1,000 members of the Army's 173rd Airborne Brigade into to an area north of Baghdad. This mission, the largest combat airdrop since the invasion of Panama in December 1989 in Operation Just Cause, was the first combat insertion of paratroopers using a C-17.  

To avoid possible small arms fire the night of the airdrop, C-17s used "tactical descents," dropping at a rate of about 4,000 feet per minute, before leveling off to drop the 1,000 Army paratroopers who secured the airfield. Including the five nights that followed, the Bashur mission totals were impressive: 17 C-17s; 62 missions; 2,175 passengers; 3,060 short tons of cargo, including M-A1 Abrams tanks; 408 vehicles. "There's a huge amount of pride when you're involved in an operation like this," said Col. Allardice, "We (trained) for years with the Army to be able to project power anywhere in the world. To finally get the opportunity to execute that kind of mission is a big thrill."

 In April,  McChord's green tail flash would be a common sight to viewers watching the rescue and return of the POW's (Prisoners of War) from the Army’s  507th maintenance Company held after weeks in captivity in Iraq. C-17’s (00-0181 & 00-0183) would be called upon to fly these noble missions. 

 
 photo by smSgt. David H. Lipp                                                                                           usaf

 Lt. Col. Dana S. Mullenhour of the North Dakota ANG’s 119th Fighter Wing steers his F-16 through a shower celebrating the completion of 60,000 accident-free flying hours in the F-16 Fighting Falcon for the 119th Fighter Wing.

During a two-versus-two tactical intercept training mission on May 14, 2003, F-16’s from the North Dakota ANG’s 119 FW established a new flight safety record for Air National Guard Fighting Falcons. Hours compiled during the training flight pushed the wings accident-free hour total passed 60,000 hours with out a loss of an aircraft or pilot. Since converting into the F-16 in 1989, The "Happy Hooligans" have flown more than 38,729 sorties in the Air Defense Fighter version of the Falcon, achieving 50,000 accident-free flying hours on May 17, 2001 and 40,000 hours on Nov. 3, 1998. “The Happy Hooligans have an unparalleled safety record, when you examine the facts,” said Maj. Gen. Michael Haugen, North Dakota Adjutant General and a former 119th FW Commander.  “We’ve now flown beyond 60,000 hours in F-16s, we flew more than 51,000 hours in F-4 Phantom fighters, and before that, another 21,000 hours in F-101 Voodoo fighters.” The Hooligans' last aircraft accident occurred 25 years ago when the unit was flying the F-101B Voodoo interceptor.   

On the 10th day of the 10th month at 10 minutes after 10am The McChord Team grew by one squadron, after months of anticipation the 10th Airlift Squadron became the newest of the 62d Airlift Wing's C-17 squadrons. The 10 AS, which last flew the C-23 Sherpa in Europe (as the 10th Military Airlift Squadron) until it's deactivation in 1991, is one of the Air Force's more historic transport squadrons, and was very active flying C-47's African and European theaters in World War II. With a personnel strength of more than 80 members upon activation, the 10th will double in size by April 2004 were it will be at full strength. 

 
                                                                                                                                                       USAF

C-17 Aircraft Commander reviews navigation charts with his Co-Pilot  from the cockpit during a routine mission.  

 

On December 10, 2002 a McChord C-17 was rocked after an explosion the aircrafts number 2 engine shortly after takeoff from Baghdad International Airport. This was not an accident, the Pratt and Whitney engine was hit what was believed to be an infrared guided shoulder-launched Surface-To-Air missile.

"The impact just shuddered the plane," said Capt. Paul Sonstein, the mission's aircraft commander. The crew immediately started going through emergency checklists, and planning their return to the airport. With Captain Sonstein flying the plane, co-pilot 1st Lt. Andrew Oiland ran the checklist and worked the radio. Behind him sat another C-17 pilot, Capt. Anne Lueck, who watched over the cockpit to ensure nothing was missed.

Tech. Sgt. Jim Alexander, a Reserve loadmaster at McChord, had the best view of the engine from his jump seat behind Capt. Sonstein. "We had a very large flame coming out of the top of the engine, it looked like a flamethrower sticking out of the top." With Sergeant Alexander scanning the engine and monitoring the fire, the C-17s other on-board loadmaster and fellow 446th Reservist, Staff Sgt. Eric Olson, was downstairs taking care of the passengers and coordinated everyone's escape once they landed.

Perfect partnership between personnel from “Team McChord’s” two C-17 Wings, the 62d and 446th Airlift Wings saved the lives of Sixteen persons, (including the five crew members) and the $200 million dollar airlifter.  

Elaine Thompson                                                                  Associated Press 

Vice President Dick Cheney pins the bronze star on Air Force Maj. Brian S. Robinson during a ceremonies in which he and other Airmen and Soldiers received metals for their heroic deeds during major Combat Operations in Iraq. 

On December 22, 2003 McChord was center stage for a visit from Vice President Dick Cheney, the first from a Vice President since 1994. After a meal with the Men and Women of the local Military, Vice President Cheney thanked the Members McChord and nearby Fort Lewis and their families for their contributions in the War on Terrorism. To honor some who carried out those missions, the Vice President pinned medals on nine airmen and soldiers who fought combat operations in Iraq.

 Crew members from the 62d and 446th whose skill and teamwork saved the lives of their passengers and their airplane after managing to land their crippled jet at Baghdad IAP were all awarded Air Metals for their  "exceptional teamwork” after their plane was hit by a shoulder fired missile. Receiving the honor were Capt. Paul Sonstein, Capt. Anne Lueck, First Lt. Andrew Oiland from the 62d AW, Tech. Sgt. James Alexander, and Staff Sgt. Eric Olson from the 446th AW.  

Also honored was Maj. Brian Robinson who received a Bronze Star on for his meritorious service in planning 1,400 successful missions in Iraq, which included the massive 1,000-troop airdrop of the Army's 173rd Airborne Brigade over Northern Iraq in the early stages of the war, the largest since World War II.

On March of 2004 the McChord Crew who led the March 26, 2003 mission to drop the Soldiers of the 173rd Airborne Brigade over Northern Iraq received news that they were winners of the National Aeronautic Associations Clarence Mackay Trophy. The award presented annually for the most meritorious flight of the year and for gallantry, intrepidity, unusual initiative and resourcefulness was first awarded in 1911, the original trophy is on display at the National Air and Space Museum. 

The crew of the lead C-17 (call sign Vijay 10) consisted of Members from all of McChord's active flying units, Lt. Col. Shane Hershman,(7th AS), Maj. Bob Colvin, (8th AS), 1Lt. Matt Clausen, (4th AS), MSgt. Shawn Brumfield, (62nd OG), and MSgt. Chris Dockery, (7th AS). The crew of Vijay 10, members of the  along with active and Reserve crews from Charleston AFB, S.C., and McChord, flew four more night missions.
were the aircrew for Vijay 10 the lead C-17 Globemaster III on the March 26, 2003, airdrop over northern Iraq.

Just as they have done in the past, the Men and Women of McChord and their associated units are more than ready to set the pace into the new Millennium.  

 

 
SPECIAL STORIES 
McCHORD'S LAST F-106
McCHORD'S LAST C-141
 McCHORD's C-17's
 
 
 
Website provided and maintained by:
 
The McChord Air Museum Foundation
P.O. Box 4205
McChord AFB, WA. 98438-0205
253-982-2485
e-mail - mamfound@mcchordairmuseum.org
 
 
 
 
Last update: Tuesday May 10, 2004
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