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Commander shares history of 167th

By Staff | Oct 23, 2015

Col. Shaun Perkowski, 167th Wing Commander, spoke to the Shepherdstown Community Club’s monthly dinner gathering Tuesday, sharing some of the history of the 167th Tactical Airlift Group based in Martinsburg.

Perkowski explained that he attended the U.S. Air Force Academy, then served nine years active duty in the Air Force before coming to Martinsburg in 1998. Since that time, he has seen many changes.

The Airlift Group was established in July 1972 where the base initially had one hangar, a motor pool and a supply building. The aircraft flown from the location was the model C-130.

The 167th Airlift Group was redesignated the 167th Airlift Wing on Oct. 1, 1995. In March 2002, West Virginia Senator Robert Byrd announced that the unit would transition to the C-5 Galaxy aircraft. Dec. 4, 2006, the first C-5 aircraft assigned to the unit landed at Shepherd Field. Ten more aircraft were assigned to the 167th Airlift Wing throughout the following two years.

The facility, Perkowski said, has received a state-of-the-art facelift since its beginning, thanks to the funds secured by Sen. Byrd.

“Sen. Byrd put $300 million into that facility to house the C-5s,” Perkowski said.

Those C-5s have slowing been retired and relocated to Arizona where retired planes are taken. The Wing now houses the C-17 “Globemaster III” transport aircraft.

The 167th Wing has been active in numerous exercises such as Sentry Storm, Volant Oak, Rodeos, and various overseas deployments; for example, 1981, and again in 1988, all aircraft deployed to Europe a first for any unit. In 1990, members of the Aeromedical Evacuation Flight, Mobile Aerial Port Squadron, Tactical Airlift Squadron and Consolidated Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, along with support personnel from other areas were the first called to volunteer to take part in Operation Desert Shield. They did so, with many leaving on only a few hours’ notice.