So there I was......

Last October I watched Yokota's last legacy Herc fly off and it was an emotionally draining day for me. I've spent years and thousands of hours flying all over the world and I still try to pinpoint why I'm so passionately attached to this piece of metal and the Tac Airlift mission? Tough to say. The 36th Airlift Squadron has a tradition of retelling valiant tales with maybe 10% truth to those who leave. The departing member hangs their patch and leave a piece of themselves behind. I'd like to share some tales about this aircraft that has left Yokota and maybe leave a small piece of its heritage behind as well.

So there I was......

My first 10 flights in the E-Model taught me several techniques in storing massive amounts of vomit. Those are trade secrets so I won't share here, and it was months before I realized my "MVP" nickname stood for most violent puker. It just seemed that the Herc attracted a certain type? That plane had its own personality and it was as rugged and extraordinary as the crews and wrench benders that put their hands on it daily. It never seemed to fly that fast, in fact, it flies at the speed of smell. That speed is....subjective. The Legacy Herc doesn't fly that high. It actually makes its money flying low. Not like helicopter slow and low but enough to never be called a Strat Airlifter. There is nothing worse than being called a Strat airlifter. That's for the Gucci C-17 crews.

So there I was......

2008....springtime in Iraq. Our crew has been delivering beans and bullets for months and we finally get the call. Combat airdrops! We were finally going to airdrop the goods. It's what we were training and practicing for years and it all led to this moment. That's when I found out what a leaflet drop was and I'm not going to lie....I may have set my expectations too high with the excitement level. We met with some Australians to mission plan and I went overboard trying to explain leaflet drop dispersal patterns in regards to atmospheric conditions. It was just a fancy science-like way of saying that wind blows these things all over the place once we dump them out the back of the plane. The Australian Navigator finally just stopped me and told me it was all magic and that I should focus on supporting the mission in Iraq instead of on the Royal Australian Air Force. To this day, I have no idea what he was talking about but that was mostly because of his accent. Long story short, I combat airdropped (not littered) 300,000 pieces of paper all over the city of Nasiriyah.   

So there I was.....

Some of the best missions were the relief sorties delivering aid because it was helping humans. My crew landed in Tbilisi Georgia later that year and a Senator from Delaware met me at the back of the plane to inspect all of our sleeping bags we were delivering. At first, I thought it was just a really overdressed Tbilisian port dawg until all the camera crews showed up. After some quick introductions he shook my hand and asked if I wanted to take a picture with him. He did say that I had a firm handshake and asked where I was from. Turns out he made a lot of headlines later that month when it was announced that Sen. Joe Biden from Delaware was selected to be the vice presidential running mate with Barrack Obama. My version of events did not make the Stars and Stripes though.

There are so many missions and tales that have cemented the legacy...of the Legacy Herc. A smart but loud Colonel once told me that changing the plane doesn't mean changing the culture. Maybe it's the culture that I'm emotionally attached to? 

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Safe travels and Sayonara mighty Hercules.

 

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