Following the Flying Tigers

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Nicholas Benroth
  • 23rd Wing Public Affairs
The Flying Tigers have a long and historic tale beginning with the days of Lt. Gen. Claire Chennault in China and this legendary unit now rests at Moody under the 23rd Wing.

Over the past 20 years, Master Sgt. William Godwin has followed the Flying Tigers as they moved from base to base and deployed countless times in support of missions all across the world.

"My first love was the A-10 so being with them for half my career has been a real treat," said the 41st Rescue Squadron acting first sergeant. "I have stuck with the Flying Tigers over the years and now I'm back with them at their third base since I have joined the military."

Godwin joined the military in 1989 as a load crew member. Even as a young boy, he grew up with a love for the A-10. Whether it was fate or just luck as he began his technical training he didn't realize the aircraft he would load bombs for was the aircraft that filled his childhood dreams.

Godwin's first base was England Air Force Base, La., home of the Flying Tigers from 1972 through 1992. During this time the 74th, 75th and the 76th were all active fighter squadrons and shortly after Godwin had arrived there, he deployed with the 76th Tactical Fighter Squadron in support of operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm.
After he returned from his deployment, the Defense Base Closure and Realignment Commission closed England and he was transferred to Pope Air Force Base, S.C.

"I remember trying to in process at Pope right after the BRAC movement and when they asked who we were with," said Godwin, "we responded '23rd Wing' and they looked at us with a confused look like, 'who is that.'"

Godwin's time there lasted until 1999, during which he went on a few deployments with both the 75th and 74th.

"I have been stationed with Godwin since England, seeing his love for his job and the A-10," said Chief Master Sgt. Norman Callahan, 41st RQS director of operations. "It's great seeing him back with the Flying Tigers once more."

After Godwin left Pope, he spent the next 10 years away from the Flying Tigers before making the decision to become an aerial gunner.

"My father told me that if you love doing what you do, then stick with that," said Godwin. "I really loved the military but I wanted a change of pace so I decided to cross train into something different."

After becoming an aerial gunner Godwin, made his way back to the Flying Tigers, but now is he with the HH-60G Pave Hawks instead of the A-10's.

"Working here at Moody, I see old planes that I once loaded bombs on, which brings back memories," said Godwin. "I have been with the Flying Tigers for a good portion of my career and I have loved every minute of it.

"I really want to reach senior master sergeant before I retire just like my father when he was in the military," said Godwin "If I can't reach that goal, then I will serve my time till I reach 24 years because I love what I do and I would do it for the rest of my life."