Thursday, November 6, 2008

C-17 arrives to complete Travis squadron

C-17 arrives to complete Travis squadron
By Ian Thompson | DAILY REPUBLIC | November 05, 2008

Robert Travis, left, and his brother, Roger, sons of Air Force Brig. Gen. Robert Travis, who Travis Air Force Base is named after, look at the cockpit of the C-17 the "Spirit of Travis" Wednesday morning. The jet is the latest, and last, scheduled C-17 to arrive at the base. Photo by Brad Zweerink

TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE - With the arrival of the C-17 Globemaster called 'Spirit of Travis' Wednesday, Travis Air Force Base's 13-aircraft C-17 squadron is now complete.

But if local civic leaders have their way, the Spirit of Travis won't be the last C-17 based here.

'We will be redoubling our efforts to convince the new Congress that the folks here at Travis can handle another C-17 squadron,' Fairfield Mayor Harry Price said.

Congress has authorized the construction of 15 more C-17s and local leaders want them to be stationed here, Solano County Supervisor Mike Reagan said.

A dozen members of the family of Brig. Gen. Robert Travis, who the base is named after, were on hand to watch the arrival of the jet transport which is named after Travis.

'It was simply gorgeous,' said Jayne Travis Drought, Travis' daughter. 'Dad would have been proud to have been here to see this.'

Travis died Aug. 5, 1950, when the bomb-laden B-29 bomber he was piloting crashed on take-off near the base's present Main Gate.

Travis' popularity as a dedicated Air Force leader prompted the Air Force to change the name of the base from the Fairfield-Suisun Air Force Base to Travis Air Force Base Oct. 2, 1950.

Solano County officials lobbied hard to get a C-17 squadron based at Travis.

It has been nearly two years since the first of the squadron's aircraft, one named 'Spirit of Solano,' landed at Travis and was quickly turned around to fly a mission into Southwest Asia less than a day later.

'Spirit of Travis' made its landing with Air Mobility Command commander Gen. Arthur Lichte in the pilot's seat. The aircraft was flown here from the Boeing Aircraft factory in Long Beach.

Col. Mark Dillon, the 60th Air Mobility Wing's commander, called the flight 'historic.' Naming the aircraft after Travis 'honors the best of our past, our present and our future,' Dillon said.

'The qualities he emulated are alive and well today,' Dillon added.

Earlier in the day, the 615th Contingency Response Wing celebrated a couple of milestones of its own.

Air Force and community members cut the ribbon to its new Global Reach Deployment Center and broke ground for the 573rd's Global Support Squadron Operations Building.

'This enhances our ability to respond to crises throughout the world,' 615th commander Col. John Lipinski said.

The new, 90,000-square-foot building is twice as large as the 615th's old quarters and in a better location near Travis' cargo terminal.

Reach Ian Thompson at 427-6976 or at