This is our time

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Travis M. Rowley
  • 349th Operations Group

TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. – When standing in harm's way, do you want to be partially, mostly or fully ready to respond? Every day our friends, family and team of Airmen rely on us to be the best version of ourselves. Ask yourself if you have done everything you need to do for the person standing next to you or for your wingman? 

When Lt. Gen. William Tunner, Military Air Transport Service commander, executed the "Hump Airlift" mission over the Himalayan Mountains in the 1940’s, there were tremendous hazards faced by the Airmen of that operation. They flew over the world’s highest mountains with limited performance equipment in non-optimal weather conditions and over large areas of territory inhabited by enemy forces. That effort (not without loss of plane and crew) adequately supplied 60,000 American Soldiers who were able to tie up more than 1.5 million enemy soldiers who would have otherwise been engaged in combat operations in the Pacific islands. These Soldiers were responding to the nation’s need in far from optimum conditions. Through dedicated and careful planning, training and execution, they succeeded.    

On Jan. 8, 2004, a C-5 Galaxy with crewmembers assigned to the 22nd Airlift Squadron, departed Baghdad International Airport, Iraq. The aircraft was fully laden with fuel and cargo for a routine flight to its next destination when the number four engine exploded shortly after takeoff.  There was a flash seen out the right window and the plane shuddered as the sound of an explosion rang through the airplane. The aircraft was hit by hostile ground fire.

There was no panic. The crew performed their emergency procedures flawlessly. They secured the disintegrating engine, checked for collateral damage and steered the plane back to the airfield for an emergency landing. The crew landed and brought the plane to rest without further incident. The crew’s decisive and comprehensive actions that were learned in training and honed in practice, were critical in the safe return of the C-5 crew, aircraft, cargo and passengers without injury.

These stories did not start out as heroes’ tales. They started with Airmen doing the job they volunteered to do. Right here, right now, there are examples of individual and team greatness in all aspects of our mission at Travis Air Force Base, California.

There is a reason why our military careers are labeled with an Air Force specialty code. Think about the role you play in our great Air Force. You are trained to do something incredible just by doing your job. We are specialists. Make no mistake, we are the best at what we do. We have the history and a future legacy of greatness. We have the privilege of being members of the most powerful Air Force in the world. When we serve, we make a difference. We are achievers. We are doers and leaders. We know our greatest reward comes from having the greatest impact. We will train, plan and execute. This is our time for our generation. We will be ready.