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NEWS | July 13, 2015

The end of an era is marked by the inactivation of the 17th Airlift Squadron

By Col. John Lamontagne 437th Airlift Wing commander

As commander, I have the honor of leading our greatest people through the good times as well as the challenging times.  And today, on the 17th of July, I reflect on one of our recent challenges when we inactivated the 17th Airlift Squadron on June 25th, 2015 at 11:17 am.  To give you an idea of how much of an impact the 17th had on our operations, last year alone its members flew 1,144 missions, accumulating 11,779 flying hours, and delivering 55.4 million pounds of cargo to locations around the world.  The 17th Airlift Squadron was a tremendous part of our success here at Joint Base Charleston and will be missed.

In addition to the 17th Airlift Squadron's operational impact, it also had a large influence on the entire C-17 community.  Part of the squadron's proud heritage was being the first C-17 operational flying squadron EVER ... paving the way for everyone who has since flown the Globemaster III.  We owe so much to those initial cadre members who broke ground for the C-17, taking a fledgling aircraft with a self-imposed 25 mile range and turning it into the workhorse of Air Mobility Command. They developed the initial training, techniques, and procedures which are the baseline for today's C-17 operations.  Beyond the operational significance of the 17th Airlift Squadron, dozens of retired general officers and chiefs once called the 17th home.  And still today, many of our mobility Air Force's leaders can proudly call themselves the first Moose.  Lt. Gen. Carlton Everhart, Lt. Gen. Samuel Cox, Maj. Gen. Michael Kim, Brig. Gen. Lenny Richoux, Col. Frederick Boehm, Chief Master Sgt. Jeanette King, and Chief Master Sgt. Chris Dockery are just a few of today's incredible leaders who once called the 17th home. We owe these individuals much gratitude for their contributions to our flying community.

Looking into the future, the 437th Airlift Wing is now a much leaner organization, but we are still very capable of excelling at our job.  While there are fewer people here now and we will fly fewer missions than we did before, I know that the best part about this wing is that our Airmen will continue to make our mission happen every day.  There is no doubt in my mind that you will continue to generate, repair, load, and fly C-17s in a world class manner ... regardless of which squadron you call home.