Can You Believe It?

It has been 15 years since the first delivery of the new C-17 airlifter. Airmen and officials at Charleston AFB, S.C., the site of the first operational C-17 unit, marked the occasion on June 14, according to a June 18 news release. Since that auspicious day, the Air Force has received more than 170 of the highly prized strategic airlifters that can operate equally well on paved runways or dirt strips. At a special presentation, featuring a panel of seven general officers, retired Gen. Michael Ryan, former Chief of Staff, recalled that the C-17 very nearly got canceled. “The single biggest thing that almost caused it to die was people; it wasn’t technical or money,” said Ryan. Gen. Norton Schwartz, currently commander of US Transportation Command and now new Chief of Staff designate, noted the across-the-military-board respect the C-17 has garnered over the years. “With the C-17, there is a feeling we are going to get there,” he said of the Army troops that ride on the C-17. And it’s no wonder, he said, because those “who maintain and operate the machine are the most committed we have to the [mobility] mission.” (June 18 Charleston report by MSgt. Sean Houlihan; June 13 Charleston report by SrA. Sam Hymas)