October 16, 2014 (by TSgt. Joseph Harwood) - On Oct. 8, 2014, members of the 179th Airlift Wing traveled to Little Rock Air Force Base, to pick up its final two C-130H Hercules, completing its fleet with a total of eight. These particular aircraft previously served in Air National Guard missions, one from New York ANG and the other from the Alaska ANG.
Members of the 164th AS arrive back at Mansfield, Ohio, after collecting C-130H #82-0055 one of the final two C-130H Hercules, bringing their fleet up to a total of eight C-130s that have been assigned to the Ohio ANG unit. [ANG photo by TSgt. Joe Harwood]
The 164th Airlift Squadron aircrew members got a ride down to Little Rock AFB in a C-12R provided by the Joint Operations Special Airlift Center with Michigan Army National Guard pilots. A team of members were sent to pick up the two C-130s, some from 179th Airlift Wing Maintenance, to inspect and repair anything necessary for the aircrew to fly the aircraft back to its new home station in Mansfield, Ohio. The Quality Assurance Maintenance team was able to clear the two aircraft to return, the New York aircraft arrived back at Mansfield Lahm Airport on Oct. 8, 2014 and the Alaska aircraft arrived on Oct. 14, 2014 (#82-0055
), with the state of Ohio flag waving out of the top.
Maj. Patrick Cooney and Lt. Col. Jeff Capretto piloted the flight back in the New York aircraft, with Master Sgt. David Cales as Flight Engineer, Lt. Col. Robert Dunlap as the Navigator and Tech Sgt. Bryan Thompson as the Loadmaster.
Capretto was excited to bring the aircraft back to Mansfield, saying "Today highlights the efforts of the entire 179th Airlift Wing and the hard work and dedication each Airman has to our safe, effective and efficient conversion. Bringing our final two C-130's home to fill the ramp will give them a daily reminder of their efforts!"
Veteran C-130 Navigator, Dunlap held the American flag out of the top of the aircraft as it taxied in at Mansfield Lahm Airport, proud to bring home one of the final pieces of the puzzle, the big picture coming together.
The addition of these final aircraft is a large step forward in the 179th Airlift Wings return to a fully operational tactical airlift wing. During the C-27J Spartan era of the unit, only four aircraft were assigned and thus reducing the operational manpower needs of the wing considerably. Under the current assignment of eight C-130H Hercules, the unit has had to recruit members at a rapid rate to build back up to support the increase in aircraft. As a result, the 179th recruiters have been able to exceed expectations and have recruited a record number of accessions, with over 200 new airmen added in each of the past two years. These numbers, the highest in the nation, are a testament of a community willing and ready to serve their state and country here in Mansfield.
The 179th, always working towards the future, have begun to prepare these aircraft for mobilization at a moment’s notice. The unit stands ready to serve the governor with the State of Ohio mission and the Federal Mission which can be called upon globally. Ready and professional trained airmen have a history in Mansfield that will no doubt do great things in the aircraft provided to them.