Celebrating 20 years of excellence and airpower

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Sara Hoerichs
  • 62 Airlift Wing Public Affairs

Team McChord honored the 20th anniversary of the first C-17 Globemaster III delivered to McChord Field, Washington, with a rededication ceremony, July 26, 2019.

The ceremony featured retired Maj. Gen Donald Brown, former 62nd Airlift Wing commander, Mark Angello, vice president of C-17 Services at Boeing Company, and Col. Scovill Currin, 62nd Airlift Wing commander. They highlighted the story behind the making of the C-17 and what makes it such an extraordinary aircraft.

Since the first C-17 was delivered to McChord Field, the aircraft, tail emblazoned with Mt. Rainier on a green field, has influenced the installation’s purpose, global reach and culture.

“This green tail flash you see has struck fear in the hearts of Al Qaeda, ISIS, and the Taliban,” said Col. Scovill Currin, 62nd Airlift Wing commander. “This tail flash sends a clear and present signal that there is no safe haven for those who wish us harm. This same tail flash has provided hope and support for our friends and loved ones. To the citizens of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, a tsunami in American Samoa, and an earthquake in Pakistan, this tail flash has meant the difference between life and death.”

Hours of planning, labor and expertise from across the Department of Defense and civilian designers resulted in an aircraft uniquely capable of meeting the demands of the modern world.

“You just can’t ask for anything that flies any smoother or lands any more perfectly - it’s just an awesome piece of equipment,” said Charles Thornton, 627th Security Forces Squadron joint operations officer.

Though combat airlift is the primary mission, combat isn’t the only thing the C-17 can do.

“The people here understand the mission of this aircraft, which is several different missions, and that’s what I love about it,” said Cary Hatzinger, 62nd Maintenance Group superintendent of aircraft maintenance scheduling. “We have a humanitarian mission, a combat mission, a transportation mission, and a prime nuclear airlift force mission and they’re all equally important. But when you have something that you can use on a daily basis to help people all over the world, I think that’s what makes the C-17 special.”

The McChord mission could not happen without a diverse team.

“I’ll tell you what’s different about the C-17 and other weapons systems I’ve worked on and that’s the integrated team that we have here,” Hatzinger said. “We have Airmen, active duty and reserve, we have civilians, and we also have Boeing, and that partnership with Boeing civilians, the expertise that they bring every day to this weapons system, you don’t see that at most fighter bases. That level of experience really makes the C-17 as reliable as it is. It’s that full team effort out there on the flight line that makes this aircraft special.”

Over the past 20 years, McChord C-17s have reached every corner of the globe and landed on all seven continents. When the first C-17 landed at McChord Field, it had just over seven flight hours and seven landings. That same C-17, still flying missions out of McChord today, has over 19,800 flight hours and over 11,000 landings worldwide.

“Team McChord has set the standard since WWII,” Currin said. “You can go from the Doolittle Raid to the Berlin Airlift, Operation Homecoming in Vietnam to the opening nights of Operation Iraqi Freedom. We’ve always lead the way.”

Though currently the most modern cargo plane in the fleet, Team McChord Airmen are already looking to the future.

“When you walk through the airpark here you notice that throughout time the machines have always changed,” Currin said. “One thing has remained constant, that’s the spirit and passion and talent of the American Airmen. Hopefully it’s a long ways down the road but we’ll retire this plane someday. It will be a sad day but it’ll be a joyous day too because when they retire this aircraft and bring out the next variation, there’s still going to be that one constant. It’s going to be the next generation of American Airmen who protect our freedom and way of life.”

The ceremony ended with the C-17 West Coast Demonstration Team performing its first demonstration for Team McChord and various McChord Field units showcased their assets for all to see.