Military News

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

75 Years of Pelican Pride

by Senior Airman Zachary Cacicia
436th Airlift Wing Public Affairs


9/29/2015 - DOVER AIR FORCE BASE, Del. -- "Once a Pelican, always a Pelican," said Lt. Col. Matthew Husemann, 9th Airlift Squadron commander.

The 9th AS celebrated its 75th Anniversary with various events and reunions Sept. 25-26, 2015, at Dover AFB, Delaware.

"The Proud Pelicans have been built by 75 years of tradition from the leaders that have come before us," said Husemann. "They're the ones that taught us how to move the mission; they're the shoulders of the giants we stand on today."

The 75th Anniversary weekend's events and reunions included a golf tournament at Eagle Creek Golf Course and a Block Party Cookout on Friday. Saturday saw a 75th Anniversary Barbecue Lunch and a Plane Pull at the Air Mobility Command Museum. Countless 9th AS alumni, current Pelicans and their families attended this event. The weekend's activities concluded with the 75th Anniversary Reunion Banquet at the Duncan Center in downtown Dover.

"It's a time for former Pelicans to interact with current ones," said Capt. Joel Loftus, 9th AS pilot and 75th Anniversary events organizer. "This whole weekend is about us reflecting on how some things have changed, and how some things stayed the same."

Originally designated at the 9th Transportation Squadron, the 9th activated on Dec. 1, 1940, a year prior to the American entry into World War II. During the war, the 9th went through several changes. In 1942, it was redesignated as the 9th Troop Carrier Squadron and moved from its original home at Patterson Field, Ohio, to Camp Williams, Wisconsin. The squadron then moved to Hickam Field, Hawaii, in early 1944 to support operations in the Pacific against Japan. The squadron's mission consisted of transporting cargo, mail and passengers, as well as the air evacuation of the wounded. Highlights for the squadron include aircrews dropping supplies to U.S. Marines fighting on the island of Iwo Jima, and deforestation spraying missions over the islands of Okinawa. The squadron was decorated with several campaign streamers during the war to include: Air Offensive - Japan, Eastern Mandates, Western Pacific, Ryukyu Islands, New Guinea, Biskmark Archipelago and Leyte. The 9th TCS was inactivated on Oct. 15, 1946.

The squadron reactivated and re-inactivated several times over the next two decades, and redesignated itself as the 9th Military Airlift Squadron. During this time, the squadron settled down and began to grow roots in its new home, Dover AFB, in 1968. The squadron inactivated one last time in that year to prepare for its new fleet of C-5 Galaxies in 1971. Since receiving the C-5, the squadron has supported nearly every major airlift operation throughout the world. In 1991, the squadron once again redesignated itself to its current name, as the 9th Airlift Squadron.

Since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the Pelicans have once again taken center stage. By the end of 2001, the 9th flew more than 535 sorties and delivered more than 25.5 million pounds of cargo in support of Operations Enduring Freedom, Noble eagle, and Infinite Justice. In 2003, the squadron once again answered the nation's call in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, surging to a 300 percent operations tempo. The squadron flew 11,161 hours and moved 106,767 pounds of cargo and 23,000 troops.

Today, the 9th AS continues to support military and humanitarian operations around the world. The 9th AS will fly to wherever the U.S. needs it to.

Over the past 75 years, the 9th AS has operated C-33 Debonairs, C-34 Airmasters, C-39 DC-2s, C-50 Twin Bonanzas, C-53 Skytroppers, C-47 Skytrains, C-46 Commandos, C-54 Skymasters, C-124 Globemaster IIs, C-141Starlifters and C-5 Galaxies. Today, they fly the newly upgraded C-5M Super Galaxies. The dedicated pilots, loadmasters and flight engineers of the 9th AS have operated all of these aircraft.

"We are the Proud Pelicans, we are the 9th Airlift Squadron," said Husemann. "We often talk about the four patches that you wear on your flight suit as you go out and who it is that you represent."

Pointing to the American Flag on his left shoulder, Husemann said, "We've had a storied tradition to always be able to represent the United States of America, and that's first and foremost."

The commander then pointed to the AMC emblem on his right chest.

"Then we represent Air Mobility Command," he said. "The patch has changed over the years, depending on where the 9th has called home."

The third patch that Husemann pointed to was the blue and orange squadron patch on his right shoulder.

"The other patch that you get to wear is that patch on your shoulder that is the Proud Pelican," he said. "The power behind that patch and what you represent is 75 years of excellence, moving the mission and rocking it all over the world."

The fourth and final patch Husemann pointed to was his nametag.

"Finally, the thing that you represent is yourself," he said. "So if you are going to call yourself a Proud Pelican, then you better represent yourself well."

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