July 26, 2017 (by TSgt. Stephanie Sawyer) - Members of the base gathered to observe the final departure of the C-130 Hercules from Niagara, July 26, 2017.
The last remaining C-130 Hercules #92-3021 from 328th AS prepares for its final departure from Niagara Falls ARS on July 26, 2017. This is a significant stage in the process of transition for the 914th, from an AW to an ARW. [USAF photo by Steph Sawyer]
The 914th Fire Emergency Services rendered a water salute, shooting arches of water from firetrucks on either side of the aircraft, a symbolic gesture of farewell to a 47 year mission.
This day marks the final stage in the process of transitioning from an Airlift Wing to an Air Refueling Wing. Many feel hopeful but sad to see the aircraft leave for the last time.
“It’s sad to see it go,” says Tech. Sgt. Jeremy Lis, a Crew Chief of 13 years with the 914th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, “It’s the only air frame I’ve ever worked, but we’re opening a new chapter with the tanker.”
“Now that the C-130 is actually leaving, it’s really hitting home,” Col. Brian Bowman, 914th Air Refueling Wing Commander, reflects on the day’s event, “but the future looks to be absolutely outstanding and getting better.”
The departure of the aircraft from Niagara will enable 914th personnel to focus on the new mission, flying and maintaining the KC-135 Stratotanker.
The departing C-130, along with the seven others that were assigned here and have previously left, will remain assigned and operating within the Air Force Reserve Command.
Pending any changes, the aircraft that left today will be assigned to the 908th Airlift Wing, Maxwell Air Force Base, AL. Of the others, six have been assigned to the 908th AW and one has been assigned to the 910th AW, Youngstown Air Reserve Station, Vienna, OH.
In honor of the 47-year Airlift mission here, a static display will be built in the air park on base. A 1980 model C-130 from the 103rd Airlift Wing at Bradley Air National Guard Base, CT is scheduled to arrive in late September and will be put in place in spring 2018.