C-9 completes last U.S. mission

  • Published
  • By 2nd Lt. Nicole Barnum
  • 375th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
Airmen prepared for Air Evac 696's Aug. 18 mission as they would for any other. But this was not like any other mission.

The aircraft, a C-9A Nightingale, was embarking on the 375th Airlift Wing's last scheduled C-9 aeromedical evacuation flight. In fact, it was the last operational C-9 AE flight in the continental United States, officials said. The flights have originated here since 1968.

"Since its inception, the C-9A has been the 'Cadillac' of aeromedical evacuation," said Lt. Col. Ron Langford, 11th Airlift Squadron commander. "(This) is a sad day for those of us who've flown or worked on the C-9. There is no more rewarding mission than helping your fellow soldier, sailor and airman return home to family and friends after sacrificing so much for this country. In the AE business, we got to briefly brush paths with the true heroes of this nation."

The last mission included one litter patient, several Army patients returning home from operations in Iraq and several space-available travelers. The aircraft flew first to Fort Campbell, Ky., then on to Alexandria International Airport in Louisiana, and finally dropped off its last patient at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio.

"The C-9 and aeromedical evacuation have been partners in care for 32 years," said Col. David Doty, 375th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron commander. "The very sight of the C-9 has been a constant symbol of hope, care and relief to (servicemembers) at home and abroad in times of trouble and in times of peace. As that great partnership passes into history, its proud heritage will carry on.

"The Nightingale mission was the breeding ground for the aeromedical culture that stands today as the worldwide leader of military medical 'care in the air,' ” he said. “AE is a mission, not an airframe, and so it will continue. But we will always owe a debt of gratitude to that proud bird, and the women and men who flew it, for their enduring legacy of sacrifice and excellence."