By Maj. Linda Pepin, 437th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
Release #: 030326-1
Published: Wednesday, March 26, 2003
CHARLESTON AIR FORCE BASE, S.C. (USTCNS) --- More than just the arrival of Charleston's newest aircraft, the C-17 delivery here March 19 represented a sort of culmination of history for those aboard.
Retired Gen. Duane Cassidy, former commander of U.S. Transportation Command and Military Airlift Command, accompanied delivery official Brig. Gen. Mark Volcheff, Air Mobility Command deputy director of plans and programs.
When he learned he would be delivering the aircraft, Volcheff said he was eager to have Cassidy, who he calls the father of the C-17, along on the flight.
To understand his enthusiasm requires going back in time to 1969, when Gen. Jack Catton, commander of MAC, and his aide, Cassidy, delivered the first C-5 to Charleston AFB. Fast-forward 19 years, and it was Cassidy, now a four-star general, and his aide, Volcheff, delivering the 50th C-5B to Dover AFB, Del.
"When we were delivering that 50th C-5B, I mouthed off to him," Volcheff said. "He was talking about this great aircraft called the C-17. It hadn't even flown yet; it was just a dream still. I told him: 'When they build the 100th C-17, I'm going to deliver it, and you're going to be with me.'"
Though quick to spread credit when it comes to the C-17's origins, Cassidy's history is undeniably intertwined with that of the C-17.
"I started working on the C-17 in 1980," Cassidy said. While commander of MAC, he dedicated the building in Long Beach, Calif., where the aircraft are built.
"I retired in 1989, so I never really got to see it in operation, but my son [Lt. Col. Michael Cassidy, deputy chief of Global Mobility at the Pentagon] flew the flight test on the airplane."
While praising the technology, Cassidy emphasized people as the key to the C-17's reputation.
"A lot of people worked very hard and were very stubborn to make sure we got what we wanted, but it's even better than we dreamed about," Cassidy said. "It's a great airplane. The guys flying it now really know how to use it. They're wizards. It's the biggest Game Boy in town, and they know how to use it."