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Former C-130 Crew Chief Visits 182nd

Mr. Christopher Schutz, a former crew chief who served in Vietnam, sits in the flight deck of a C-130E Hercules on display at the Air Park at the 182nd Airlift Wing in Peoria, Ill. on Sep. 26, 2012. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Todd Pendleton/Released.)

Mr. Christopher Schutz, a former crew chief who served in Vietnam, sits in the flight deck of a C-130E Hercules on display at the Air Park at the 182nd Airlift Wing in Peoria, Ill. on Sep. 26, 2012. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Todd Pendleton/Released.)

Mr. Christopher Schutz, a former crew chief who served in Vietnam, signs his name on the interior of a C-130E Hercules on display at the Air Park at the 182nd Airlift Wing in Peoria, Ill. on Sep. 26, 2012. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Todd Pendleton/Released.)

Mr. Christopher Schutz, a former crew chief who served in Vietnam, signs his name on the interior of a C-130E Hercules on display at the Air Park at the 182nd Airlift Wing in Peoria, Ill. on Sep. 26, 2012. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Todd Pendleton/Released.)

PEORIA, Ill. (10/03/12) -- Mr. Christopher Schutz, a former crew chief of the C-130E Hercules that stands in the 182nd Airlift Wing Air Park, visited the base on Wednesday, September 26, 2012, and he had the tremendously rare opportunity to visit the aircraft he helped maintain nearly fifty years ago. The trip which Mr. Schutz made with his wife was emotional for both, and it reminded everyone in attendance of the storied history of the aircraft of our unit.

In 1963, Schutz enlisted in the Air Force as a crew chief, and in 1964 he was assigned to Ching Chuan Kang Air Base in Taiwan. From that assignment, he and the crew of the C-130E, tail number 877, flew frequently into war torn Vietnam for months at a time, earning the group the title of Assault Airlift Airmen.

"From munitions, to fuel and troops, we took everything in and back out of combat to the Army and the Marines who were in country," said Mr. Schutz of his mission. "We would move entire villages, and the plane would be filled with cows, chickens, and other types of livestock."

Schutz served in the Tactical Air Command for four years before separating. The aircraft would eventually be moved around the Air Force a number of times, before it finally made its way to Peoria in 1995 where it served as part of our unit's Airlift mission. After its departure from the 182nd, the aircraft went to Little Rock AFB in Arkansas. It was flown to Peoria for the final time in the fall of 2009. On February 28, 2010 the plane was set up to be permanently displayed in the Air Park.

During his visit to the 182nd Airlift Wing, Mr. Schutz signed the interior of the C-130, becoming a permanent part of the aircraft and the legacy of the airlift mission.

"I knew it would be emotional to go inside," said Schutz. "It was really great to see it again after so many years."

Schutz' experiences are one unique part of the story of that plane, which was built in 1963, that extends to this day whenever our members see it in the Air Park. Emphasis on the historical perspective on our mission is a rewarding and vital to know where we've been which helps define where we are headed going forward.