by Tech. Sgt. Jennifer Seidl
97th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs
10/18/2010 - ALTUS AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. -- The Professional Loadmasters Association local chapter is working with others, including the 57th Military Airlift Squadron alumni, to place a memorial at the C-141 in Wings of Freedom park.
The memorial would commemorate C-141 crewmen who lost their lives in the line of duty.
"The PLA has had the reins on it the whole time, we're the main organization. It's made up of guys from the 58th (Airlift Squadron) and Boeing. Retired loadmasters put a majority of the work in with us. We expected a four to five year process (to establish the memorial) and it's been a little over a year and a half and we have reached our goal," said Master Sgt. Toby Thompson, Loadmaster Superintendent, 58th Airlift Squadron, a key player in the PLA's C-141 memorial committee.
"The 57th MAS was responsible for the initial training of all C-141 pilots, navigators, flight engineers, and loadmasters," said Kevin McAuliffe, alumni memorial committee member. "During Memorial Day weekend this year, we held a reunion of the 57th Military Airlift Squadron (MAS) alumni and raised money that would help put the memorial in place."
The PLA also worked with the base historian to ensure information would be correct on the granite memorial. They said they wanted to thank the citizens of Altus for purchasing raffle tickets and other fund raising items.
According to manufacturer Lockheed Martin's website, the C-141 was the first jet-powered airlifter, and the airframe logged more than 10 million hours between the first mission in 1965 and retiring in 2006.
The 57th MAS squadron was the sole source for initial qualifications and advanced training in C-141 strategic airlift aircraft. When the 57th was inactivated, 32 years of C-141 training at Altus AFB, OK ended, along with the C-141 mission at Altus AFB.
"Every one of those aircrew members that perished and are now being memorialized were trained by the 57th MAS," said Mr. McAuliffe.
The memorial dedication is set for Memorial Day, May 30, 2011.