July 25, 2013 (by TSgt. Kristine Dreyer) - A crew from the 17th Special Operations Squadron began the final flight of MC-130P Combat Shadow, tail #69-5825, July 18 from Kadena Air Base to Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz.
Members of the 17th SOS salute as the aircrew of MC-130P Combat Shadow #69-5825 completes a final taxi before the aircraft's departure from Kadena AB, Japan on July 17, 2013, to Davis-Monthan AFB. The aircraft will retire after 44 years of active service and more than 18,000 flying hours. ([USAF photo by TSgt. Kristine Dreyer]
"After having executed a wide variety of missions in the aircraft over the last 13 years, I have mixed emotions seeing her headed to retirement" said Lt. Col. Daniel Kobs, 17th Special Operations Squadron, operations officer. "While it is sad to see an aircraft that has accomplished so much leave operational service, it marks the beginning of an important AFSOC transformation in the Pacific as we usher in a new era of SOF airmen and capabilities."
With nearly 19,000 flying hours, tail #69-5825
has a long history in the European and Pacific theaters conducting both special operations and rescue missions. The aircraft is most noted for its participation in the evacuation after the eruption of Mount Pinatubo near Clarke Air Base, Philippines, in June 1991.
At that time, this aircraft was designated as an HC-130N. The HC-130N "King" was the only dedicated fixed-wing personnel recovery platform in the Air Force inventory.
In addition to its history, tail 69-5825 has a solid reputation among not only those who flew the aircraft but also those who maintained it. Senior Airman Robert Brown and Tech. Sgt. Anthony Rutt, 353rd Special Operations Maintenance Squadron 69-5825 designated crew chiefs, accompanied the aircraft to the Aircraft Maintenance and Regeneration Center, often called "the boneyard."
"I've been with the aircraft since it arrived in Kadena four years ago. It's hard to watch it go," Brown said. "You get attached to these aircraft. You have pride in your own plane and the work you have put into it."
The retirement of tail 69-5825 begins the 353rd Special Operations Group's transition period for upgrading the MC-130 fleet.