AIR FORCE BASE — The eighth and final C-17 cargo aircraft
being based in the state was welcomed yesterday with a strong
Hawaiian emphasis as a new Hickam base commander prepares for
their worldwide mission ahead.
Spirit of Kamehameha — Imua rolled up outside the historic
base operations building just after 1 p.m. after being flown
in from the Boeing plant in Long Beach, Calif.
is not just a new aircraft," said Maj. Gen. Darryll D.M.
Wong, who commands the Hawai'i Air National Guard. The eighth
C-17 "is the namesake of one of Hawai'i's most revered
naming "has special significance with those of us in the
Hawai'i National Guard," Wong told several hundred mostly
military members at the arrival ceremony. "As the state
militia, we can trace our lineage at least as far back as
Kamehameha the Great's grandson."
warrior king was a skilled negotiator and knew how to
incorporate new technology into his battle plan. Wong said the
new C-17 "will draw upon the spirit of Kamehameha
wherever it goes," whether to project military power or
for humanitarian aid.
an interview yesterday, new 15th Airlift Wing commander Col.
John "J.J." Torres, said the squadron of C-17s
brings true airlift projection capability to the Pacific.
order to operate in this theater with this tyranny of distance
and all this water, you've got to project power, and you've
got here the platform to be able to do that," Torres
42, whose father was born and raised in Kohala on the Big
Island, took command of Hickam on June 29. He had been vice
commander of the 89th Airlift Wing at Andrews Air Force Base
said he plans to "push that (air) mobility to the next
level" at Hickam as the relationship with the Hawai'i Air
National Guard to maintain and fly C-17s matures.
focus over the past year was bringing eight of the Air Force's
latest-generation cargo carriers to Hawai'i. Now it will be on
of the jets will be available for missions through U.S.
Transportation Command and executed through Air Mobility
Command, Torres said. The other four will be used for local
part of the maturation — now getting our crews versed,
experienced at doing the global mission," Torres said.
week, Hawai'i C-17s fly the "channel run," stopping
at Japan, Singapore and the Indian Ocean island of Diego
Garcia, where U.S. bombers are based, to deliver supplies,
the spring, two of the C-17 Globemaster IIIs moved Australian
troops and equipment.
the arrival of the C-17s, Hickam was largely a mid-Pacific
refueling stop. The Hawai'i Air Guard has F-15 fighters and
KC-135R refueling tankers. The C-17s replaced the Guard's
propeller-driven C-130 Hercules aircraft.
with a greater military emphasis on the Pacific, the Air Force
also indicated it wants to base at Hickam 18 of its most
advanced weapons systems — the stealthy F-22A Raptor
Raptors, with no arrival date as of yet, would replace the Air
Guard's 18 mid- to late-1970s F-15A and B Eagle fighters,
which have been used for Hawai'i air defense and in
no-fly-zone missions in Iraq before the start of the war in
Tony Wolleat, 32, an Air Guard pilot from Waimanalo who flew
in on the eighth C-17 delivered to Hawai'i, said Guard pilots
have been getting 20 to 50 flying hours in the aircraft a
are rumors that we may (fly missions) to Iraq; there are also
rumors that we may just be staying in the Pacific
region," said Wolleat, a 1992 Kahuku High School
pilot with Aloha Airlines, Wolleat said he's in the Air Guard
"to serve my country. I love to fly." He added if
Hawai'i C-17s are sent on Iraq or Afghanistan missions, he'll
volunteer to go.
Smythe, president of the royal Hawaiian society 'Ahahui
Ka'ahumanu, officially christened Spirit of Kamehameha —
Hickam C-17 squadron also has Spirit of Hawai'i — Ke Aloha,
and Spirit of Go For Broke.