To the C-130, With Love

  • Published
  • By Gen. Mike Minihan
  • Air Mobility Command

Don’t be faint of heart or insecure in reading this. If you are either, please turn back now. This is a love letter to my tribe. The Herk Tribe. It comes at no expense to other tribes. I truly love, admire, and respect them all.



The Herk defines me…as an American…as an Airman…as a Warrior. 

It defines my Service and my Family.

I used to make my kids hug and smell me after flying…in my white-crusted sweat-stained bag. Cruel and intense life lessons of blue-collar work…blissfully throwing chains, running straps, rigging seats, pushing pallets, and running locks. Then savagely attacking mission low and slow and hot…together.    

I don’t care how you abbreviate Hercules…Herc or Herk…as long as you do it with respect.

Respect for the greatest aircraft ever built.  Respect for greatest crews ever to Fly, Fix, and Support.

She is a lady…beautiful and strong.

I’ve expended blood, sweat and tears in executing her sacred missions. I’ve seen the best of America and Americans. 

I’ve witnessed and participated in the most heartbreaking scenes that nature and humanity can offer. And also, the best.

I’ve had intimate involvement with real sacrifice…I’m both scarred and better…better American, better Airman, better Husband, better Father…and still far from perfect.

Thank you Hawgs, Yacht Club, Green Hornets, Black Cats, Outlaws, Black Knights, and Cheaters…you are all phenomenal. 7-Ship 229 River Tour and the honor to end where it all started…embraced by the Teams it all started with…I truly saved the best for last.      

For my Final Final Fini…hopefully decades away…I desire a divine mix of mission, aircraft and people that travels time in honor of all the Teams that have surrounded me:

My attire will be black boots, white T-Shirt, and a vintage flight suit with a Screaming Eagle patch on my right shoulder. 

I want to fly 70-1274…an AWADS bird…and I want Billy Ouber as my Crew Chief. I want it adorned with a Texas tail flash.

I want Mark Fritzsche to sign off on my flight orders and CRM. I want Doug Kruelen to tell me, "don't suck," as I board the crew bus.

I want my Co to be BigNo Oviedo…and my Nav to be Marco Martinez. Sign me up for Kevin Johnson as my Eng and please do pamper me with Tommy G and Kevin Letz as my Loadies. 

Let’s drop personnel please…the 173rd. Combat loaded.  Make it night. In formation…as lead. Count me in as Mission Commander too.

Let’s sweat and reek of the Herk beast. 

I want the checklists to be crisp…the warnings on-time. I want the TP at the IP and a soothing AWADS run-in cadence.

Let’s do it old school…no NVGs…600’ A…visual. Mark the DZ with block letter A. Let’s be in-line with 4L drift.  

I want to feel and hear the pitter patter of airborne boots shuffling to the doors. I want to anticipate then feel the CG shifting aft as they depart. I want to feel on the yoke the ever so subtle and comforting “pops” of static lines doing their job.

Combat escape with no alibis. Let me see chute silhouettes in line appropriately as I peer with strain at the DZ departing.

Let’s be busy and brusque in recovery. Overhead please. At the perch, let’s pull the throttles to idle just shy of NTS and not touch them till…Flight Idle at 3, Brakes and Reverse at 2, exit at the end. 

Let’s taxi to park majestically with the inboards shut down and the outboards in low speed. Pop the forward hatch…open ramp & door. Let’s purposefully make the outboards sing that spiritual biting groan all the way in. .

I want to be greeted by Tater, Binjo, and El Shirto…and so many more. 

Let’s debrief with gusto, respect and several frosty beverages. 

Let’s aggressively adjourn the debrief to the EGUN Bravo Bar…as a crew. Where we shall frolic and howl in shocking intensity and longevity in rejoice of our gratefulness of the moment at hand. 

Grateful for the Herk. For the Crew.

Grateful for the Fly, Fix, Support Team.

Grateful for our Mindset…our Mission…our Heritage. 

Grateful for Green Hornets, Roo’s, Blue Tail Flies, and Black Knights.

Satisfied. Content. Grateful.

Thank you, Herk Nation…all squadrons…all generations.

Cheering you and your assured successes…always.

Clear #3…LFG!