posted Mar 17, 2011, 10:16 AM by Woodrow Hall
updated Sep 14, 2013, 5:29 PM
Memorial Honors Aircraft, the Airmen it served
by Capt. Darrick Lee and Gary
305th Air Mobility Wing
11/12/2008 - McGUIRE AIR FORCE BASE,
N.J. -- Fallen crewmembers who served aboard the U.S. Air Force's
most successful airlifters received proper recognition during a Veterans Day
ceremony at McGuire Nov. 11.
A large crowd of people representing active duty
military members, Reservists, veterans and the civilian community gathered at
the site of the new Starlifter C-141 Memorial Park. They paid tribute to what
some describe as the most versatile aircraft of all time, while remembering
Airmen who gave their lives serving aboard the historic plane.
The C-141A (the initial edition of the plane) first
flew on Dec. 17, 1963 -- the 60th anniversary of the Wright Brothers first
flight. It arrived at McGuire in 1967.
The entire fleet underwent a service life extension
program from 1979-1982 that included stretching the aircraft by inserting a
23-foot four-inch tubular section to the forward fuselage, lengthening it to
168.3 feet. The stretched C-141 became the C-141B and also incorporated an
in-flight refueling receptacle increasing its range to almost limitless
McGuire received its first C-141B in 1980. It later
made history when it became the first military cargo jet crewed only by women
in 1983 during a cross-Atlantic air evacuation mission. The fleet had more than
9 million hours of total service and has supported every major American
operation contingency since Vietnam.
The new Starlifter park is the latest contribution
from The Maj. Thomas B. McGuire Foundation. The foundation, whose mission is to
support the local military community, has a history of honoring military
service, including the creation of a P-38 display at McGuire's Pudgy's circle,
and the Ultimate Weapon monument at nearby Fort Dix. Ted Strempack, the
foundation's president, spoke about the significance of the memorial.
"During this ceremony, we will be honoring
others who are not here today because they lost their lives serving in this
noble aircraft," Mr. Strempack said. "This park will become a sacred
meeting place to visit, honor and remember."
There were five accidents resulting in the complete
loss of a C-141 operating from McGuire in 30 years of service. Seventy-two crew
and passengers died in the incidents.
Col. Scott Smith, 305th Air Mobility Wing vice
commander, echoed Mr. Strempack's comments, sharing praise for the fallen as
well as those who remain to tell the Starlifter's story.
"This memorial will honor every crew dog, Army
grunt, POW, dependent, patient, evacuee, and refugee who benefited from the
C-141 mission," the colonel said.