The following editorial appeared in the Fayetteville Observer:
And just like that, it’s over. One last, unheralded mission and the 440th Airlift Wing flies into history.
It happened Wednesday afternoon as about 330 82nd Airborne Division paratroopers climbed aboard one of the 440th’s last functioning C-130s and headed out for a training jump.
Col. Karl Schmitkons, 440th commander, flew the mission, marking a somber occasion: It was the 440th’s final flight for the Army. Between now and the Sept. 30 end of the federal fiscal year, the 440th will be inactivated.
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For all practical purposes, that’s already happened. All that’s left is to clean out desks and lockers, and turn out the lights. From here on, all of the airborne missions flown out of Fort Bragg – training and combat alike – will be flown by Air Force units from as close as Charleston, South Carolina, and as far away as Joint Base Elemdorf-Richardson in Alaska.
The 440th will continue flying for a few more months, Schmitkons said, but it will be for maintaining the training of the unit’s own airmen – a group that now numbers about 550 and will shrink fast.
The Air Force continues to insist it can provide all the airlift capability Fort Bragg needs without any airplanes based here.
Time will tell.
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