21st Airlift Squadron nominated for Citation of Honor

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Jonathon Carnell
  • 60th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. –The 21st Airlift Squadron was nominated for the Citation of Honor, an Air and Space Force Association Aerospace Award, which was presented to the unit in Sept., 2022. 

The 21st AS, or BEEliners, were one of 14 nominees to be selected Air Force wide for the outstanding achievement. 

The 21st AS hosts the C-17 Globemaster III and they aren’t shy when it comes to flexing the “muscles of the moose”, a fond nickname for the C-17. 

In July 2021, the 21st received orders for a short-notice deployment for three C-17’s to support the Afghanistan “go to zero” drawdown campaign.

“Within seven days, we sent our three aircrews out the door to help augment C-17 operations in Afghanistan,” said Lt. Col. William Street, 21st AS commander. “The great thing about this squadron is those three aircrews were all made up from volunteers who were willing to step up and deploy short-notice to be a part of that campaign.” 

On August 14, 2021, the squadron received the call to send as many crews as they could in support of Operation Allies Refuge. The BEEliners supported nine aircrews within 24 hours.

Overall, the unit deployed 12 crews in support of Operation Allies Refuge, resulting in the providing safe transportation for 6,177 evacuees. 

“Just when we thought we could not have higher operations, the war in Ukraine kicked off,” said Street. “The squadron was called to respond. We moved ammo our nation promised to Ukraine within 72 hours.” 

The C-17 can perform tactical airlift and airdrop missions. As part of the C-17 mission, the aircraft can support aeromedical evacuation services which includes litter transportion and ambulatory patients during aeromedical evacuations. The inherent flexibility and performance of the C-17 force improves the ability of the total airlift system to fulfill the worldwide air mobility requirements of the United States.

“It’s the volunteer military service that can make things happen like no other military.” said Maj. Charles Cummings, 21st AS C-17 chief pilot.

“We go out and execute the mission,” said Cummings. “This is why we train every single day.”

According to the C-17 fact sheet, the aircraft is capable of rapid strategic delivery of troops and all types of cargo to main operating bases or directly to forward bases in the deployment environment. 

“We are able to provide direct delivery straight from a main operating base into a small forward operating base, with maybe semi prepared runways, half-way across the globe when the need arises,” said Street. “We can literally launch from Travis Air Force Base to the other side of the world at any time.”

Distinguishing itself as part of the 60th Air Mobility Wing, the 21st AS flew over 8,500 hours and delivered over 34 million pounds of cargo around the globe throughout 2021. 

“This squadron is a humbling place to be and gives me an amazing sense of pride,” said Street. “There are people here who are making amazing things happen every single day. To be a BEEliner is something that is a uniting force.”

The C-17 made its maiden flight on Sept. 15, 1991 and though the BEEliners were activated in 1942, they were officially assigned to Travis AFB shortly after the maiden flight. Team Travis is proud of the history and heritage they continue to bring to the fight.