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Mission: Service — People & working dogs retire from service, but aircraft also get retirement fanfare

Posted at 7:14 PM, Sep 13, 2022

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — Retirement ceremonies are one of the many traditions the United States Air Force has practiced over the decades.

Typically, when we think of these traditions, we think of people.

But aircraft are also retired with some of the same fanfare as retirement ceremonies for service members and military working dogs.

The commander of the 55th operations group at Offutt Air Force Base presented a brief history of the aircraft.

"She was first introduced to the Air Force as a 135 B on 20th April 1962, when she was delivered to an air transport wing at Travis," said Colonel Derek A. Rachel.

Since then, the aircraft has supported the nation in weather, reconnaissance, and air sampling missions.

"In 1986, the WC 135 program played a major role in tracking radioactive debris from the Soviet Union's Chernobyl nuclear plant disaster in 2011," Colonel Rachel explained. "The WC was deployed to collect air samples from the Fukushima nuclear plant power plant disaster in Japan."

The operations group commander emphasizes that the retirement ceremony represents much more than the aircraft at the center of attention.

"It represents the hundreds of missions, thousands of flight hours flown by airmen who have flown to every corner of the globe and called their home for weeks at a time and pulled her home for weeks at a time while flying alone and not afraid," Colonel Rachel exclaimed. "It represents the hundreds of thousands of hours."

The ceremony also represents memories made and the missions successfully and safely accomplished over the years.

"We hope down in the sunny sands of Arizona that you, along with your WC 135 sister tail, finally find a peaceful resting spot."

The next stop for this storied aircraft is the aircraft boneyard at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base outside of Tucson, Arizona.

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