News Search

After 33 years of service, Loadmaster pushes his last pallet

By Maj. Wayne Capps | 315th Airlift Wing Public Affairs | Feb. 5, 2019

SOTO CANO AIR BASE, HONDURAS — As a lone loadmaster pushed the last pallet of humanitarian aid off the aircraft, he turned, grinned, and said, “Well, that’s it.”

Master Sgt. Bobby Barrett, a loadmaster with Joint Base Charleston’s 300th Airlift Squadron, finished his last mission in preparation for his upcoming retirement after 33 years as a traditional reservist.

“It has been an honor to serve with him,” said Lt. Col. Mark Pool, director of operations for the 300 AS. “He is one of the true professional loadmasters that everyone likes to fly with, and he will really be missed in the squadron.”

Barrett began his career in 1986 when he enlisted as an environmental systems mechanic with the 315th Maintenance Squadron. Four years later, he cross-trained to become a C-141 Starlifter loadmaster and joined the 300th Airlift Squadron, where he’s been ever since. He flew on the C-141 until 1995, when he switched to the C-17 Globemaster III aircraft along with the rest of his squadron. In total, he’s flown more than 6,600 hours – an impressive number for a traditional reservist.

Reflecting on some of his career highlights, Barrett said one of his favorites was shaking the hand of President Obama while on a presidential support mission. But the most memorable day in his 33 years was 9/11.

“I remember getting called by my chief, saying I was on alert,” he said. “Sure, I’m flying tonight, but my flight was canceled and he told me somebody ‘kamikazed’ the World Trade Center. After that, I was on orders until January 2008.”

Many of the crewmembers who have flown with Barrett reflected on their fond experiences.

“Bobby ‘Margaretta’ has always been held in high regard by the entire squadron because of the way he conducts himself on and off the plane,” said Master Sgt. Brian Farmintino, a fellow loadmaster in the 300 AS.

One of the pilots on the mission laughed as he recalled Barrett asking a young loadmaster how old he was. Barrett chuckled and said, “My flight jacket is older than you are.”

Barrett retired from the Charleston Fire Department in 2016 and says he now looks forward to spending more time with his family and competitively shooting skeet full-time.

“I have always felt like I have never really grown up,” said Barrett with a laugh. “I still like playing with fire trucks and airplanes.”

Barrett also reflected on how much the Air Force has changed in the past 33 years.

“The Air Force has changed a lot, but I think it has changed for the better,” he said. “I was just as proud putting this uniform on the first time as I will be when I take it off for the for the last time.”

His wife, Harriett, is also a staple in the Joint Base Charleston community as the operations catering manager for the Charleston Club. Barrett also has two daughters, Candace (24), Kourtney (21) and a 10-month-old grandson, Kingston.