February 24, 2017 (by Bradley J. Clark) - The 908th Airlift Wing transferred the heritage of aircraft number #85-0040 known as War Eagle to aircraft number #91-9142 on February 24, at Maxwell Air Force Base.
USAF-AFRC C-130H2 #85-0040 from 357 AS showing nose art of the Auburn Tigers. Date unknown. [Photo by J. Cooper]
The transfer was completed by members of Auburn University, to include approximately 20 cadets from their Air Force ROTC detachment and Maj. Sam Manno, an Auburn ROTC alumnus, and navigator with the 908th Airlift Wing.
The transfer marks the departure and retirement of aircraft 40 after having flown more than 12,000 hours in the 31 years since it arrived at Maxwell. It has deployed in support of all of the named contingencies in the Middle East and Africa since then. It has also supported humanitarian and relief operations, following hurricanes and floods at home and abroad.
During the ceremony, Cadet Lowmiller and a group of Cadets in formation marched an Auburn University flag from 40 to 9142 symbolically moving the “War Eagle” name and legacy to the newer aircraft.
Auburn ROTC’s Detachment Commander, Lt. Col. Jeffery Welborn, read a special message from Jay Gogue, the President of Auburn University, to wing members which said, “Auburn is proud to work alongside Maxwell Air Force Base, and we are grateful for the service of the men and women who work there. We are particularly honored that the ‘War Eagle’ has represented Auburn throughout its distinguished military career.”
His message continued with, “Over its storied 31 years in service, the ‘War Eagle’ has witnessed first-hand the dangers associated with defending our great nation. In 2005, while deployed in Iraq, the ‘War Eagle’ took a 107mm rocket through one of its engines. Despite the attack, the ‘War Eagle’ was still able to land safely with all 55 passengers aboard unharmed. It serves as a reminder of the dangers military personnel face in protecting our country.”
The 908th is proud of its community ties and takes great honor in being the only reserve unit in the state, it means a lot to the wing to have those feelings reciprocated.
“While we are sad to see this plane removed from service, we are honored to celebrate its history and see its replacement continue to defend our country with a big ‘War Eagle,’ and Auburn logo painted on the side,” explained Gogue. “As you know, Auburn has a long history of supporting the U.S. Military and all of the brave men and women who serve in it. We wish the new ‘War Eagle’ C-130 Hercules all the best, and we are confident it will have a career equally as honorable as its predecessor. On Behalf of the Auburn family, we wish a hearty ‘War Eagle’ to you and all of Maxwell Air Force Base.”