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New C-17 Globemaster III honors President Reagan

by Senior Master Sgt. Matt Proietti
452nd Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

1/13/2006 - MARCH AIR RESERVE BASE, Calif. (AFPN) -- Former first lady Nancy Reagan today helped dedicate the Air Force’s newest C-17 Globemaster III to honor her late husband, former President Ronald Reagan.

The Spirit of Ronald Reagan is assigned to Air Force Reserve Command’s 452nd Air Mobility Wing here. It is the first Reserve unit to fly its own C-17s.

“We’ve been looking forward to this day and leaning forward to get ready for this day for over five years,”  wing commander Brig. Gen. James T. Rubeor said.

He said more than half the wing’s C-17 maintenance force is trained, 28 of 40 assigned flight crews are mission ready and the rest are currently in training.

The unit should be able to declare its C-17 operations mission ready this summer, more than two years ahead of schedule, the general said.

Mrs. Reagan, 84, did not address the more than 1,000 people who attended but issued a statement in which she said it was an honor to help welcome the aircraft to its new home.

“Ronnie believed that it is the responsibility of every American to help guard the freedoms we hold dear,” Mrs. Reagan said in her statement. “So I know he would be especially pleased that this plane will be flown by citizen aircrews, providing support for our troops fighting in faraway lands.”

The aircraft is the last of eight C-17s the wing received in the past five months. It was flown by Lt. Gen. John Bradley, chief of the Air Force Reserve and commander of the Air Force Reserve Command, from Boeing’s assembly facility in Long Beach, Calif.

“The C-17 has phenomenal capability and flexibility,” General Bradley said. “It can go into places that many other airplanes cannot. It can carry huge loads (and) great numbers of troops into very austere environments. It will help the Air Force in its continued war on terror.”

General Bradley acknowledged past leaders, including President Reagan, who had “the vision to provide the kind of capabilities that we need today.”

“This aircraft will fly around the world and do wonderful things for America and for many other people,” he said. “It will deliver troops and equipment (and) deliver humanitarian supplies to people around the world who’ve never seen anything from America.”

California Congressman Kenneth Calvert said the aircraft’s delivery marks the dawning of a new aircraft era at the base.

“The fact that our Airmen are equipped with unsurpassed military assets like the C-17 is a testament to those leaders, especially President Reagan, who demonstrated the commitment to sustaining our military strength,” he said.

While the wing is the first Reserve unit with its own C-17s, the command’s 315th Airlift Wing at Charleston AFB, S.C., and 446th AW at McChord AFB, Wash., operate C-17s owned by active duty units.

President Reagan, who served in the Army Reserve and Army Air Corps during World War II, died June 5, 2004, at age 93.

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