Flying Squadron Four stands down, TCA dismissed
Lt. Col. Andrés Gamboa (left), Flying Squadron Four commander, hands the unit's flag to Col. John Backstrom (right), Operations Wing commander, during the squadron's stand-down ceremony Dec. 9, 2011, at the E3A Club on Geilenkirchen NATO Air Base.
(Photo by Andrea Hohenforst)
(Story by Staff Sgt. R. Michael Longoria)
Flying Squadron Four was officially dismissed by Col. John Backstrom, Operations Wing commander, during a stand-down Ceremony at the E-3A Club on Dec. 9, 2011.
Squadron Four operated the E-3A Component's Trainer Cargo Aircraft, which was selected for retirement in 2008.
The more than 60 people in attendance at the ceremony listened as the TCA's impressive history was read aloud.
"Although in the early days the TCAs were task to fly both training and cargo sorties, world events and the needs of the Component dictated new emphases on TCA operations and the aircraft flew more and more cargo and passenger sorties in support of operations and exercises around the world," said Lt. Col. Andrés Gamboa, the squadron's last commander.
Since 1988, the TCA has conducted thousands of training and cargo mission with a success rate of close to 100 percent.
"Transport and cargo mission are not easy," Lieutenant Colonel Gamboa said. "On the contrary, they are special and challenging. Behind every mission is a tough job to get it all in place at the proper time."
Lieutenant Colonel Gamboa added that the squadron's success was due to the hard work of all the air crewmembers, cargo movers, flying booking and administrative personal as well as the people from SABENA and IAMCO that have been a part of the unit during the past 23 years.
"You have heard the legacy of the TCA squadron," said Maj. Gen. Stephen D. Schmidt, NATO Airborne Early Warning and Control Force commander. "They have faithfully served as the workhorse of the E-3A Component and NAEW&C Force. I have never seen such a small operational unit go so far, do so much or deliver for so many."
Major General Schmidt continued to explain that no AWACS operation was ever flown without the TCA leading the way.
"It's all over now, this is a sad moment for all of us," said Brig. Gen. Burkhard Pototzky, Component commander. "Thank you very much for a job very well done."