Sondrestrom Air Base, long noted as home of the Arctic fox, raven, and hare (plus an occasional musk-ox), is also habitat of the migratory red firebird, emblematic of the 17th Troop Carrier Squadron. This month makes the fifth anniversary of the firebird's sojourn at this Greenland installation. Flying the only ski-equipped C-130 aircraft in the Air Force, the 17th TCS provides continuous support to the ice cap radar sites.
Originally activated at Dyess AFB, Texas, in 1961, the 17th now calls Elmendorf AFB, Alaska, home. Since its activation, the squadron has flown in support of many complicated operations such as Swordfish, Swift Strike I and II, Sunday Punch, the Mercury Space Project, Polar Siege, Polar Strike, Northern Hills, Long Shot, and many others. The unit's biggest mission at Sondrestrom is the petroleum resupply of the DYE sites. From May 13 to June 7, 1963, Capt. Donald T. Glen's crew set a 64th Troop Carrier Squadron record by hauling more than one million pounds of cargo in 90 sorties, while accumulating 95 flying hours. The 17th is currently occupied with the 1966 edition of this major project.
The scoreboard for the DYE site resupply mission over the past five years is impressive. More than 11,000 flying hours, often under adverse weather conditions, have been racked up. Approximately 4,100 sorties involving 3,200 ski landings, have been required to airlift 12,655 passengers from Sondy to the DEW line sites.
In addition, firebird crews have participated in many search and rescue, aeromedical evacuation and other special missions since their operations in the northern hinterlands began. Many of these missions involved long non-stop flights with little or no crew rest. As adopted members of the Sondrestrom family, the 17th also shares in the frequent humanitarian and public relations projects conducted in behalf of the indigenous population of Greenland. Many Greenlandic youngsters have been delighted by C-130 airdrops of Christmas candy and in March of this year, the 17th cooperated with a Protestant Men of the Chapel campaign to provide a new stove for an orphanage in Lichtenau.
The professional and social cooperation between the military and civilian personnel here and the 17th TCS is a showcase example of inter-command amity and mission accomplishment under unusual conditions.
Vol. 4 No. 8
May 13, 1964
The amicable relationship established between the men of the 17th TCS and all military and civilian personnel assigned to Sondrestrom Air Base has paid tremendous dividends in morale and mission accomplishment. I would like to express my appreciation to everyone at Sondrestrom who has been assisting us in the POL lift now under way. The operation is well ahead of schedule and this would not have been possible except for the splendid support we have received.
Our thanks to you for making Sondrestrom a "second home base" for us. We feel, with some pride, that we perform one of the most unusual missions in the Air Force today. We hope that the 17th and Sondy can continue sharing the joys and burdens of a job well done. (Col. John H. Statts)
May 13, 1964
It is a genuine pleasure to host a unit with the
genuine professionalism and esprit of the 17th Troop Carrier Squadron.
We value highly their infectious enthusiasm for their work and
count them as solid contributors to the Sondrestrom mission. The
Alaskan Air Command can truly be proud of their ambassadors to
Greenland, and I personally wish Colonel Statts and his men the
very best in the future. (Col. Leo J. Moffat.)
Vol. 4 No. 8
May 13, 1964
Articles courtesy of :
William E. "Bill" Bless
17th Troop Carrier Squadron