YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan — The yellow and blue flags of two squadrons here were rolled up and put away as scores of airmen prepared for new assignments.

The 30th Airlift Squadron and 374th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron were deactivated at a ceremony Thursday and relegated to the Air Force history books.

“In the circle of life, there is no end,” said Col. Barbara Johnston, the 374th Aeromedical Evacuation commander. “I just say another chapter.”

And the next one begins immediately for many squadron members.

1st Lt. Michael Lindner, a C-9 pilot, was departing for McChord Air Force Base, Wash., on Friday, where he’ll train to become a C-17 aviator.

“It’s a little sad, but it was a great first assignment,” he said, referring to the 30th Airlift Squadron.

While many of the squadron’s 26 pilots and 11 enlisted personnel prepare for transfers to the United States, about 119 military personnel and family members of the 374th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron are headed to Okinawa’s Kadena Air Base. The squadron will continue to provide in-flight medical care aboard various airframes as the 18th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron, set to stand up Friday.

“What a day, what a month, what a year to go down in the Air Force history books,” Johnston said.

Since 1994, the 374th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron and 30th Airlift Squadron have worked together at Yokota on the C-9A Nightingale — the Air Force’s dedicated air ambulance for 35 years until its retirement earlier this month.

Last year alone, Johnston said, her squadron flew more than 294 urgent and priority missions — 200 of which the 30th Airlift Squadron supported, “saving so many.”

Lt. Col. Jeffrey Mintzlaff, the 30th Airlift Squadron commander, touched on the mission’s highlights, from the first successful evacuation and transfer of a severe acute respiratory syndrome patient to the rescue of the Saipan lieutenant governor’s grandson.

“The 30th Airlift Squadron is not dying,” he said. “It is and will carry on in the heart and spirit of you.”

author picture
Jennifer reports on the U.S. military from Kaiserslautern, Germany, where she writes about the Air Force, Army and DODEA schools. She’s had previous assignments for Stars and Stripes in Japan, reporting from Yokota and Misawa air bases. Before Stripes, she worked for daily newspapers in Wyoming and Colorado. She’s a graduate of the College of William and Mary in Virginia.

Sign Up for Daily Headlines

Sign up to receive a daily email of today's top military news stories from Stars and Stripes and top news outlets from around the world.

Sign Up Now