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NEWS | June 22, 2015

17th Airlift Squadron; A look back:17th AS recieves AFA Award

By Tech. Sgt. Paul Kilgallon 437th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

Editor's Note: As the 437th Airlift Wing gears up to inactivate the 17th Airlift Squadron, we hope you enjoy a walk down memory lane with us as we reprint our final story highlighting the achievements of the Air Force's first operational C-17 squadron. This week's article was first printed in the July 6, 2007 edition of the Airlift Dispatch.

Maj. Gen. James Hawkins, 18th Air Force commander announced June 25, 2007, during the 437th Airlift Wing change of command ceremony, that the 17th Airlift Squadron was selected as the Air Force Association 2007 David C. Schilling Award winner for their contribution in the field of flight.

The 17 AS was selected for the award because of their accomplishments while deployed in support of the Global War on Terrorism in 2006.

The 17 AS was the first C-17 squadron to deploy under the two expeditionary airlift squadron construct. In a 90-day timeframe, they flew more than 3,100 sorties, totaling more than 5,000 hours, and transported more than 84 million pounds of cargo.

"The mission of the 437th Airlift Wing is to take the fight to the enemy," said Col. John Millander, 437th Airlift Wing commander. "In this case, the 17 AS was the first to the fight as they developed the 2 EAS construct to reduce personnel turbulence, actually increasing mission success while improving the quality of life for our people."

They moved more than 23,000 pallets and more than 1,500 vehicles utilized by U.S. air and ground forces as part of Operations Enduring and Iraqi Freedom.

The squadron transported more than 95,000 passengers including the Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, United States Ambassador to Iraq Dr. Zalmay Khalizad, U.S. Speaker of the House of Representatives Dennis Hastert, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, secretaries of energy, commerce and agriculture, U.S. attorney general, chairman of the joint chiefs of staff and the commander of the United States Central Command.

Additionally, the 17 AS saved lives by conducting more than 130 aeromedical, human blood plasma and critical care evacuations in the region and flew non-combatant evacuation operations in Lebanon evacuating more than 620 non-combatants and 886 thousand pounds of equipment from Lebanese war zones.

Finally, for their squadron's efforts, 23 Iraqi Campaign Medals, 11 Afghanistan Campaign Medals, 109 Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Service Medals, 162 Armed Forces Expeditionary Service Ribbons and 120 Air Medals were issued for the 17 AS accomplishments during their EAS deployment.

"The 17 AS winning this award is just another example of Team Charleston being first to the fight. Well done!" said Colonel Millander.

Charleston is no stranger when it comes to the Schilling Award. The wing was previously awarded the Schilling Award in 1998 for conducting a 20-hour non-stop flight to Uzbekistan where an eight-ship C-17 formation airdropped more than 500 soldiers during a combined exercise. At that time, this mission was the largest airdrop in aviation history.

The Schilling Award is presented for the most outstanding contribution to national defense in the field of manned flight in the atmosphere or space by either a military member or Department of the Air Force civilian, unit or group of individuals. While priority is given to activity directly related to manned flight, the award has also been awarded for significant contributions in the area of policy or procedure that advances flight activity.

Lt. Col. Scott DeThomas, commander of the 17 AS, will accept the award on behalf of the 17 AS and Team Charleston Sept. 24 at the 2007 Air and Space conference in Washington, D.C.