JOINT BASE CHARLESTON, S.C. –
Former military members of the 41st Military Airlift Squadron held a reunion tour here Oct. 20, 2017.
The 41st MAS operated in Charleston Air Force Base from April 13, 1954, to Oct. 1, 1991. While in Charleston, the 41st was led by the 1608th Air Transport Wing and later on, the 437th Military Airlift Wing.
“I served under the 41st MAS three different times in my career,” said retired Lt. Col. Douglas White, 41st MAS alumni member. “First from 1971 to 1977, then from 1981 to 1983, and again from 1986 until my retirement in 1992. In that time I flew the C-141 Starlifter. I also worked on some of the first C-17 Globemaster III simulators just before I got out.”
White’s father, retired Maj. John White, 41st MAS alumni member, is one of the oldest living men who was stationed with 41st MAS back when it was the 41st Air Transport Squadron from 1957 to 1963. John originally received a commission in the Army Air Corps in 1942, before the Air Force was separated into its own branch.
“I did everything I could to become a pilot because back then, if you dropped out of pilot training, you were automatically put into infantry,” said John. “It wasn’t long until I joined the Air Force, but it wasn’t until near the end of my career I became a part of the 41st. However, in my short time there, I flew the C-121 Constellation and saw the arrival of some of the first C-130 Hercules aircraft in our command.”
41st MAS alumni members toured a static display of a C-17 Globemaster III on the flightline and compared it to the aircraft they all once maintained or flew.
“Just before the C-17 came to Charleston was the time the 41st was being inactivated,” said Douglas. “This was when the 437th Military Airlift Wing moved from the Military Airlift Command to the Air Mobility Command and renamed the 437th Airlift Wing because the MAC was being disestablished during an Air Force-wide reorganization. This caused the 41st, 20th and 76th Military Airlift Squadrons to either be inactivated or transferred to another base.”
Members of the 41st MAS were transferred to the 14th, 15th, 16th or 17th Airlift Squadrons after the command units changed. As a result, the former members of the 41st MAS created their alumni group. Over the past 25 years they have gotten together 11 times for reunions and tours.
“I’m so blessed I got to be here and watch the history of this unit transpire,” said John. “The fact my son followed my steps and was able to share the memory of the 41st with me is a beautiful thing and I hope to be around the next time we get together here.”