TOP STORY >>Blackcats arrive
By HEATHER HARTSELL
Leader staff writer
A brand new Air Force legacy in the C-130 world stood up Thursday when the 41st Airlift Squadron was activated at Little Rock Air Force Base, becoming the first combat-ready C-130J squadron in the nation.
Lt. Col. Daniel H. Tulley as-sumed command of the Black-cats with four little words – “Sir, I assume command” – during the formal ceremony held at Hangar 228, continuing the squadron’s legacy of answering the call anytime, anywhere.
The 41st was reassigned to the 463rd Airlift Group at LRAFB following the base realignment and closure (BRAC); the squadron had called the 43rd Airlift Wing at Pope Air Force Base, N.C., home for 36 years.
The squadron’s guidon (unit colors) from Pope was replaced Thursday with a new guidon symbolizing the realignment and the future of the squadron at LRAFB.
The 41st is the third oldest and one of the most highly decorated airlift squadrons in U.S. military history, and has been deactivated and activated many times since its conception in 1942.
“The 41st AS has a long record of accomplishments in just about every major military operation for the past 65 years. One glance at the campaign streamers and it’s obvious – when our nation calls, the 41st answers,” Tulley said.
Tulley joined a long list of past commanders when he took the reins of Little Rock’s newest squadron, which is currently sharing space with the Blackjacks of the 53rd Airlift Squadron.
The 53rd, part of the 314th Operations Group, will be consolidated into the 463rd Airlift Group in December, leaving their building to the Blackcats.
“Dan Tulley is certainly the ideal choice for this position,” Col. John J. Gomez, 463rd AG commander, said. “You need someone who can come in and make their mark,” he said speaking of Tulley’s character and accomplishments during his 15-year career.
Tulley’s new command in-cludes 150 new aircrew and their families, most of whom are currently deployed in theater, and 16 C-130J combat aircraft, making his command the largest J model squadron.
“We will continue the great legacy of this organization, carrying forward the traditions and history and leveraging them as we built the first active-duty C-130J combat squadron,” Tulley said.
He envisions the 41st transitioning in the next six months from basic operations to an intense focus on training and readiness, and come 2008, the first active duty C-130J will be ready to join the fight and sustain operations indefinitely.
“When our nation calls, we will stand with the rest of the 463rd, ready to fight – anywhere, anytime,” Tulley said.
Tulley was assigned to the 61st Airlift Squadron at LRAFB in 2000 where he not only cross-trained on the C-130E as an aircraft commander, executive officer, instructor pilot and flight commander, but also met his wife Holly. They now have two daughters, 3–year-old Emma and 11-month-old Anelise.