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164th Airlift Wing (ANG) 

Members of the 164th Airlift Wing salute the last C-141 in the Air National Guard fleet as it taxis out for its last flight to Davis-Monthan AFB, Ariz. The callsign used for the flight was “Elvis 73”.

Air National Guard says goodbye to Starlifter

MEMPHIS, Tenn. – The 164th Airlift Wing in Memphis, Tenn., said goodbye to the last C-141 StarLifter in the Air National Guard fleet in a ceremony at the Memphis airport May 2, 2004.

"The retirement of our last C-141 signifies the end of an era for this unit," said Col. Dave Burton, the wing commander. "For more than three decades the StarLifter was the work horse of strategic airlift and has served our State and the Nation with distinction." The 164th Airlift Wing in Tennessee and the 172nd Airlift Wing in Mississippi were the only Air National Guard units to fly the C-141. The 172nd has transitioned to the C-17 and the 164th will receive the C-5.

The C-141 StarLifter has achieved a seen-it-all, done-it-all reputation during it's 30 plus years of service to the United States. It has carried troops, supplies, vehicles, weapons, refugees, and huge high-powered NASA telescopes as well as providing support for a number of disaster relief missions. It has seen duty in operational areas from Southeast Asia to South America to the Persian Gulf. It has provided rapid lift for our wounded in an aeromedical role and has even brought our fallen heroes home to their final resting place. The C-141 StarLifter has become a part of the history of this great nation. In 1973, the StarLifter returned more than 500 American prisoners of war from North Vietnam to the waiting arms of their loved ones.

In 1983, the mighty bird evacuated 78 wounded Marines from the barracks in Beirut. It was the C-141 that provided support for flood relief in Minnesota in 1979, the Azores in 1980 and Louisiana in 1983. In 1985, she carried 39 former hostages from a hijacked airliner to freedom. During Desert Shield/Storm, the StarLifter made more than 37,000 on-time departures. The first C-141 was delivered to Tinker AFB, Okla. in October 1964 and began operations in April 1965. The Air National Guard received its first StarLifter in July 1986 at the 172nd Airlift Wing in Jackson Miss. The 164th Airlift Wing in Memphis received their first C-141 in January 1992. According to Col. Mike Brock, commander of the 172nd Airlift Wing, the C-141 was truly a workhorse aircraft for the unit.

"When we received our C-141s in mid-1986, we converted to a new aircraft and adopted a mission changing from a tactical air land and air drop capability to strategic airlift; it literally opened up a whole new flying era for the wing," said Brock. "As some of our pilots said, we literally stayed 'on the road' until the day the last C-141 left for Memphis.” The 172nd Airlift Wing logged over 72,000 accident-free flying hours. During Desert Storm, the C-141s from the unit were the first aircraft into the area delivering critical defensive capabilities.

"The aircraft helped gain our unit a world-wide reputation for excellence and earned us the privilege of becoming the first Air National Guard unit in the country to receive brand new C-17s," said Brock. The C-141 fleet has logged more than 10 million flying hours. The majestic StarLifter will continue to fly in the Air Force and Air Force Reserves. However, for the Air National Guard, this large, gray bird, tail number 60157, has made the last flight to it’s final resting place.


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