The Fighting Doves celebrate 80 years of history and heritage

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Regan Spinner
  • 86th Airlift Wing/Public Affairs

RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany – The 76th Airlift Squadron, also known as the Fighting Doves, celebrated the 80th anniversary of its establishment and honored those who came before them during multiple events hosted at Ramstein Air Base, Germany.

“This has been an incredible week, and I am humbled by what my team accomplishes every day,” said Lt. Col. John Field, 76th Airlift Wing commander. “As we honor the last 80 years of exceptional service, and exemplify what it means to be a Fighting Dove, I feel privileged to lead this team.”

The 76th AS was created as a part of the U.S. Army Air Corps, On Feb. 8, 1943, moving several locations from its original assignment at Homestead Army Air Field, Florida, before eventually being assigned to Ramstein AB.

“The 76th Airlift Squadron has served in any capacity it has been called to,” said U.S. Air Force 1st Lt. Issac Giefer, C-21A aircraft pilot assigned to the 76th Airlift Wing. “Today, the World's Fastest Airlift Squadron's [C-21A aircraft] sit alert 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, ready to launch within 2 hours to do aeromedical evacuation if called.”

Alongside the C-21A aircraft, the C-37A aircraft transports politicians, diplomats, and military personnel to wherever duty calls, allowing them to carry out crucial missions around the world.

Since its inception, the 76th AS has been an integral part of many missions, including but not limited to, aiding the transportation of U.N. troops to the Suez Canal in 1956, participating in the evacuation of Saigon in 1975, evacuating Americans from Panama during Operation Just Cause in 1989, participating in Operation Desert Shield in 1990, and Operation Desert Storm in 1991.

Celebrating 80 years of service gave service members the opportunity to remember the sacrifices of all those who have been a part of the squadron, and honor those who paid the ultimate sacrifice for their country.
The celebration consisted of several family events, a history presentation, and a piano burning event.

Piano burning, although the origin is still uncertain, is said to have began as a tribute to a fallen soldier during World War II. They are used today to mark special occasions and to honor pilots who have lost their lives.

Members of the 76th AS showcase their dedication to their mission day in and day out and conducted 10 different missions during their week of celebration.