Standing on the shoulders of giants

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Jordan Castelan
  • 86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
Heritage, pride, and legacy are a few words that came to mind as people walk through the halls of the 37th Airlift Squadron.

With display cases dedicated to historical artifacts like model airplanes of their squadron's past and photos of their brother's from World War II draped along the walls, it's clear the members of the 37th AS will not forget the legacy of giants that came before them.

One major part of the squadron's legacy is a Douglas C-47 Skytrain, named Whiskey 7. This year the 70th anniversary of D-Day will include this unique piece of history, the same C-47 that led the 37th Troop Carrier Squadron into D-Day.

In its 72-year history, the 37th TCS has had a few unit identifying names. Its most recent re-designation occurred in April 1992 when it was named the 37th Airlift Squadron. Since June 1942, the squadron has provided airlift capabilities across multiple theaters and operations, including Overlord, Market Garden, Tomahawk, Homecoming, Provide Comfort, Enduring Freedom, Iraqi Freedom and many more.

Arranging for Whiskey 7, which was assigned as the lead aircraft for the 37th TCS, to once make the 3,600 mile journey across the Atlantic and fly over the skies of Normandy was tasked to a few Airmen in the 37th AS.

"What's happening here is actually the accumulation of two years of work," said Capt. Brian Shea, 37th AS mission commander. "Content planning began in November of 2013 and became a full-time priority the past month and a half."

During the previous two years, Whiskey 7 and its crew were able to raise the $250,000 necessary to acquire the means to participate in this year's anniversary of D-Day.

"Now we're looking right outside and seeing this historical aircraft that flew during D-Day and lead our squadron," said Capt. Jon Dixon, 37th AS chief of tactics. "It's absolutely humbling."

We have this significant piece of history to honor and many military organizations have highly regarded heritages that they work hard to recognize; our squadron is no different commented Dixon.

"Our end game is to honor and remember those who made so many sacrifices fighting to ensure the freedom and democracy for many," said Capt. Andrew Richter, 37th AS deputy mission commander.

When asked how important unit legacy is to today's Airmen, the captains agreed Americans can feel safe knowing the 37th AS is able to secure today's future because of what 37th TCS Airmen accomplished 70 years ago.

"We are able to do what we can today because of those men that fought on D-Day," said Shea. "It's no secret that we all stand on the shoulders of giants."