NEWS | Feb. 13, 2017

C-17 pilot retires after more than 35 years of service

By Senior Airman Tom Brading 315th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

The oldest C-17 pilot in the Air Force retires, whose departure marks the end of a legendary career.

With more than 35 years of dedicated service, Lt. Col. Rick Davis, 317th Airlift Squadron aircraft operations officer, retired following an official ceremony Feb. 12, at Joint Base Charleston, South Carolina.

Davis, a graduate of the College of Charleston, entered the U.S. Air Force in 1981, dedicated nearly three decades of his storied career here in the Lowcountry.

“Lt. Col. Davis is old school, he isn’t old,” said Lt. Col. Stan Davis, 317th Airlift Squadron commander. “He believes in doing things the right way, the first time, every time. As iron sharpens iron, so does man sharpen another man.”

The 317th AS commander added, the U.S. Air Force wasn’t a career for Lt. Col. Rick Davis, it was a calling.

Serving multiple roles, his latest was the 317th AS’s senior Air Force Reserve technician in maintaining discipline, standards, and ensuring readiness to support worldwide operations.

“Lt. Col. Davis played a tremendous impact on his squadron’s overall success,” said (Ret.) Master Sgt. Tom Crawford, retirement narrator and ABC 4 Charleston News Anchor. “His squadron maintained the highest overseas contingency operations tempo within the wing supporting five major contingencies.”

During his flying career, Davis logged more than 6,700 flying hours participating in multiple combat and humanitarian operations to include: Operation’s Desert Shield, Desert Storm, Enduring Freedom, Iraqi Freedom, and a European Strategic Intra-Theater Deployment.

In response to the worst Ebola outbreak in history, Davis orchestrated the loading and flight-testing of the new state of the art Transportation Isolation System. His efforts led the way for future infectious disease emergency response.

“His departure marks the end of an historic C-17 era, leaving a lasting legacy in the 317th Airlift Squadron that will stand the test of time,” said Crawford.

Crawford added, the singularly distinctive accomplishments of Lt. Col. Davis culminate a long and distinguished career in the service of his country and reflect great credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.

“It’s an honor to consider him a brother,” said Maj. Gen. Michael Kim, Mobilization Assistant to the Chief of the Air Force Reserve and former 315th Airlift Wing vice commander. “(He) made a difference to both the people and the mission. The difference you make in the lives you touch is a testament to the legacy you leave.”

During his closing remarks, Davis spent the majority of his time thanking everyone in attendance, from senior leadership at Joint Base Charleston to the student choir that sang the National Anthem.

“I enjoyed my time here,” said Davis, reflecting on the decades of years in Charleston.

In the end, he left the audience with advice.

“We see each other through a pane of glass,” said Davis. “Every once in awhile, slide a mirror in front of it and see yourself. Look into your eyes and figure out who you are and what you’re about.”