Ramstein C-130s get a makeover

Members of the 86th Maintenance Squadron Aircraft Structural Maintenance Flight pose for a photo before painting a C-130J Super Hercules at Ramstein Air Base, July 31. The team from the 86th MXS ASM flight are painting aircraft to be ready for the upcoming 80th anniversary of the Normandy landings.

U.S. Air Force Airmen from the 86th Maintenance Squadron painted liberation stripes and added decals to six C-130J Super Hercules aircraft in honor of American heritage, which will be displayed during the 80th anniversary of D-Day, June 6, 2024, over Normandy, France.

The stripes and designations were used on aircraft during the storming of the beaches of Normandy, June 6, 1944, also known as D-Day, to provide coordination between the ground parties and the air parties. Letters and numbers were painted on the sides of the aircraft so the paratroopers would know which aircraft to board for the operation. This allowed the prevention of friendly fire. A Douglas C-47 Skytrain aircraft named Whiskey Seven was the first to cross enemy lines to drop paratroopers. It is recognized for its service with the addition of the insignia, W-7, to the liberation stripes on the C-130s at Ramstein AB.

“We get the sole honor in the Air Force of applying liberation stripes to our aircraft in celebration of 80 years of NATO air superiority in Europe,” said Tech. Sgt. Garrett Magnie, 86th Maintenance Squadron aircraft structural maintenance noncommissioned officer in charge. “The 37th Troop Carrier Squadron, now known as the 37th Airlift Squadron, flew Whiskey Seven over enemy airspace. Historically the 37th can lay claim to be a part of the Normandy liberation.”

The painting process includes outlining the borders of the stripes, sanding, using various chemicals to clean the area of debris, and lastly painting the aircraft and applying the decals.

“It’s been an honor to have an opportunity to work on this project,” said Airman 1st Class Christopher Gillis, 86th MXS aircraft structural maintenance apprentice. “I feel lucky to be able to pay homage all these years later to those who have sacrificed their lives and to be able to see our stripes that we painted fly in the sky.”