After 13 years of delivering troops to war and supplies to remote corners of the world, one of the Air Force’s four active flying squadrons at Joint Base Lewis-McChord was inactivated Friday.
In a morning ceremony, commanders swore the hard work of the 10th Airlift Squadron in JBLM’s 62nd Airlift Wing would be remembered.
“The 10th Airlift Squadron Pathfinders have a rich legacy of outstanding performance here at McChord,” said Col. Leonard Kosinski, commander of the 62nd Airlift Wing. “They have truly lived up to their motto of ‘Lead the Way,’ and their legacy will forever be a part of our Air Force.”
In 2003, the squadron began dropping troops and supplies to the Iraq War. It also delivered scientific equipment to the Antarctic, humanitarian assistance to West Africa, ammunition and fuel to remote corners of Afghanistan, and sometimes brought the wounded home on medical flights.
Retiring the squadron will send eight C-17 jets to reserve status and eliminate 400 positions for airmen at JBLM. Squadron personnel will be reassigned to other units.
The cost-saving move, part of President Obama’s 2015 defense budget, also takes eight aircraft from Joint Base Charleston’s 437th Airlift Wing in South Carolina and puts them into backup inventory.
Eliminating the two squadrons will save $110 million each year.
JBLM remains one of the Air Force’s primary airlift hubs and has the second-largest fleet of C-17 jets, with 47 aircraft assigned to the 62nd Airlift Wing.
The wing contains four airlift squadrons. Another three are assigned to the 446th Reserve Airlift Wing.
About 2,900 airmen are assigned to the active-duty wing, and another 2,300 reservists are based at McChord Air Field.
“For the nearly 13 years that the unit has operated the C-17 out of McChord Field, the men and women of the 10th Airlift Squadron have unfailingly provided rapid support to the warfighter and brought hope to those in need around the world, 24/7, 365 days a year,” said Lt. Col. Nathan Campbell, who leads the squadron.
“I could not be more proud of the outstanding men and woman who have served in the unit.”
Stacia Glenn: 253-597-8653