Brand New KC-130 Replaces 47-Year-Old Plane
The Marine Corps’ oldest C-130 Hercules departed from
Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 152 on Marine Corps Air
Station Futenma to be retired in the Aerospace Maintenance and
Regeneration Group "Bone Yard" at Davis Monthan Air Force Base in
Tucson, AZ February 23.
The C-130, also known as the '573' by its crew, arrived at what
was VMR-352 in 1961 and has operated since then.
The primary mission for 573 was air refueling and assault
support. It was the oldest naval aircraft in service, according to
Lt. Col. Dwight Neeley, the commanding officer of VMGR-152 Marine
Aircraft Group 36, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing.
The aircraft was used many times for crucial missions in the
last few decades of American history, according to retired Master
Sgt. Nick Decandia, a KC-130 flight engineer with the squadron. It
was involved in the Vietnam War, more specifically Khe Sanh and
"We used the 573 to do air drops to distribute supplies and ammo
over Khe Sanh," Decandia said. "In between those (missions) we
would land, pick up the wounded and dead and bring them back to
Danang. We did this seven or eight times a day."
Neely said the 573 was also essential in recent operations.
"We have used the 573 in every overseas humanitarian assistance
program in the past four years," Neeley said. "The 573 had over
28,000 flight hours recorded. It was a real workhorse."
Despite being the oldest aircraft in the hangar, 573 was one of
the better planes available, according to Staff Sgt. Shelly
Henderson, a flight engineer with VMGR-152. "As time went on, it
took a lot more to keep her running, but she didn't need any more
maintenance than the newer planes. She's got a lot of power."
The 573 was retired to make room for
the Marine Corps' newest C-130 J model. The 573 is scheduled for
preserved status. It could be brought back again for more use or
sold to another country.
"I think it has a very sentimental value," Neeley said. "It
stands as a testament to all of the thousands of Marines who kept
it running for all these years. It has seen four different
generations of Marines."
"It's just like leaving a child behind," said Henderson. "It's
pretty amazing and overwhelming to go through the bone yard seeing
all the old aircraft there. A trip to the bone yard is like a trip
back in American history. It got emotional when we went through
there; even the guys teared up a little."
The plane's crew flew from Okinawa to Tucson, Ariz. to retire
it. Once they arrived, they taxied the plane into the Bone Yard.
Before the plane was sealed up, they each got to sign the 573,
displaying to whom it used to belong
(Aero-News salutes Lance Cpl. Ryan Wicks, MCB Camp