An aircraft ferrying squadron dating back to World War II, but perhaps best known for flying C-17 cargo planes out of Joint Base Charleston the past two decades, has now been grounded.
Leaders of the 17th Airlift Squadron held an inactivation ceremony at the base on Thursday, as the unit’s flags were folded a final time. The squadron was the victim of Pentagon budget cuts under a spending plan approved last year. A second unit based at Joint Base Lewis-McCord in Washington state was also inactivated as part of the realignment. The Air Force estimates the cost savings will be around $110 million each year.
“In this fiscally constrained environment, we have to balance readiness, capability and capacity,” Major Gen. Michael Stough, director of Air Mobility Command strategic plans, requirements and programs, said back in December.
This week actually marks the second time the squadron has been deactivated. It was reinstated and moved to Charleston in 1987 and became the first unit to fly the C-17A Globemaster III planes in the early 1990s. It made history again when it established the first fully-formed C-17 squadron as support during the War in Afghanistan, according to an announcement from military leaders.
The unit first started as the 17th Air Corps Ferrying Squadron in 1942. It went through several name and mission changes during its time in California until it was inactivated a first time in 1969. The modern unit was part of the 437th Airlift Wing based at Charleston.
The squadron’s eight C-17 cargo jets stationed at Joint Base Charleston will be placed on backup status as part of the inactivation.