Delaware Aviation Hall of Fame picks Dover Air Force Base veteran

Retired Senior Master Sgt. Kathleen Lambert, a former 512th Airlift Wing loadmaster, stands in front of a C-17 Globemaster III on the flightline at Dover Air Force Base, Del., March 6, 2018. Lambert was one of the initial aircrew members to be fully trained and qualified on C-17s when they first arrived to Dover AFB in 2007. (U.S Air Force photo by Senior Airman Zachary Cacicia)

DOVER AIR FORCE BASE — A Delaware Aviation Hall of Fame Board member officially notified a former 512th Airlift Wing reservist of her selection into the Delaware Aviation Hall of Fame Aug. 3 during a surprise gathering at Dover Air Force Base.

Kathleen Lambert, a retired senior master sergeant formerly assigned to the 326th Airlift Squadron as a loadmaster, is scheduled for induction into the Delaware Aviation Hall of Fame Nov. 3 at the University of Delaware’s Clayton Hall during an Honors Banquet.

She is one of six honorees including, Thomas Carper, George Hebbel, David Henderson, Gerard Van Dyk and Franklin Wooten. Profiles of each of these individuals will soon join the ranks of the state’s 109 inductees listed on the DAHF website at www.dahf.org.

“We’re exceptionally proud of (retired) Sergeant Lambert’s selection to the Delaware Aviation Hall of Fame,” said Col. William Gutermuth, 512th Operations Group commander. “We are grateful for her years of dedicated service to the Air Force Reserve and the excellence she achieved both when in flight as a loadmaster and every day as a Citizen Airman.”

The 512th Public Affairs Office discreetly nominated Lambert in March after receiving a DAFH press release seeking nominees. Lambert had previously aided the PA office with several visual information productions, including anniversary interviews for the wing and Operation Desert Storm, so most of the information needed to nominate was already available.

Lambert’s last flight as a loadmaster touched down June 27, 2016, culminating a 33-year career in the Air Force Reserve. The Delaware resident logged over 11,407 flight hours throughout 27 years of flying while assigned to Dover Air Force Base.

The retired senior master sergeant initially served the military in an administrative position; but, when the doors opened for her to become a loadmaster in 1989, she jumped at the first opportunity.

Rachel Anderson, a Delaware Aviation Hall of Fame trustee, right, speaks to retired Senior Master Sgt. Kathleen Lambert, a former 512th Airlift Wing loadmaster, left, during a Delaware Aviation Hall of Fame inductee notification at Dover Air Force Base, Del., Aug. 3, 2018. The Delaware Aviation Hall of Fame selected Lambert as an honoree for her accomplishments as a 512th AW flyer. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Damien Taylor)

As a lady loadmaster in the 1990s, Lambert pioneered her way through a male-dominated career field, circling the globe in support of peace and wartime missions. She was responsible for properly loading, securing and caring for cargo and passengers, ensuring proper weight and balance distribution on the aircraft.

Throughout her military career, she flew on two types of cargo aircraft. The first airframe she was assigned to was the C-5 Galaxy, flying both A and B models. This is the largest plane in the Air Force inventory. With a cargo compartment measuring 121 feet long, Lambert’s expertise in filling the C-5 with outsized cargo was critical on missions around the world.

She spent a total of 8,445.7 hours in flight on a C-5. As part of a State Department humanitarian mission, she delivered critical medical equipment and supplies to Armenia in 1998. Lambert was also mobilized in the 1990s for two years in support of operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. She repeatedly flew in and out of war zones with mixed aircrews comprised of both active-duty and reserve members. In all, Lambert has 680.5 combat hours and 191.1 combat support hours. Her experience led to her appointment as a C-5 Evaluator/Instructor Loadmaster.

Over the next two decades, Lambert continued flying, garnering 87 awards and decorations, including three Meritorious Service Medals, two Air Medals and five Aerial Achievement Medals. One of these medals is extremely unique as it was minted from gold and silver. The King of Saudia Arabia established the “Kuwait Liberation Medal” to honor the outstanding performance of those involved in the historic liberation of Kuwait in 1991.

In the mid-2000s, Lambert once again leaped toward unchartered territory and became part of the initial cadre of aircrew members from Dover AFB to be trained and fully qualified and combat-ready prior to the delivery of Dover AFB’s first C-17 Globemaster III aircraft.

On behalf of the 512th Airlift Wing commander, Col. Arthur Rodi, 512th Mission Support Group commander, coins retired Senior Master Sgt. Kathleen Lambert, a former 512th AW loadmaster, during a Delaware Aviation Hall of Fame inductee notification at Dover Air Force Base Del., Aug. 3, 2018. Lambert’s official induction is scheduled to take place at the Delaware Aviation Hall of Fame Honors Banquet Nov. 3, 2018. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Damien Taylor)

While her squadron’s elite eight-member team learned all facets of the C-17 airframe, her military unit, the 326th Airlift Squadron, and the base realigned to accommodate the delivery of 13 C-17 aircraft. The first of Dover’s 13 C-17 airframes is named, “The Spirit of the Constitution,” which honors Delaware and its position as the first of the 13 original states to ratify the U.S. Constitution. Lambert was part of the flight crew, who delivered the second C-17 straight from the manufacturer in California to Delaware June 4, 2007.

During this period of transition, many seasoned aircrew remained with the C-5 and several retired, but Lambert’s commitment and willingness to evolve, fostered the base’s ability to enter a new era and meet the future needs of the Air Force.

Lambert remained committed to the C-17 conversion, despite not having enough C-17 aircraft or missions at Dover AFB to maintain aircrew currency. She did so by flying with another unit based out of Charleston, South Carolina, for six months until more C-17s arrived at Dover AFB.

Her mastery of the new weapon system was critical in training the rest of her squadron, later becoming a C-17 Evaluator/Instructor Loadmaster. In all, she amassed 3,148.9 flight hours in the C-17.

Some of those hours were spent transporting the U.S. Navy’s newest submarine from Hawaii to the East Coast; and, during Operation Unified Response, she provided airlift for 92 thousand pounds of much needed cargo and safe transport of 66 refugees for Haitian earthquake relief efforts. Lambert has also helped demonstrate the Air Force’s capabilities by showcasing the C-17 at air shows for both stateside and overseas locations, including the Netherlands.

As a third generation service member, Lambert has flown in support of every major military operation from 1989 to 2016, including operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom. Throughout her aviation career, she has traveled to 66 countries and territories.

A 512th Airlift Wing coin and an official Delaware Aviation Hall of Fame inductee letter are photographed at Dover Air Force Base, Del., Aug. 3, 2018. The Delaware Aviation Hall of Fame was established to honor aviation greats and promote recognition to flyers in Delaware and flyers who defended the United States. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Damien Taylor)

In 2012, Lambert received recognition from Air Force Reserve Command for sustaining 10,000 mishap-free flying hours, an accomplishment bestowed to very few aircrew. When she reached this milestone, she was the only flyer on base, from both the active-duty and reserve flying wings, to wear this prestigious patch on her flightsuit. At the time of her retirement in 2016, she was one of only six 512th Airlift Wing members who had logged 10,000 flying hours since 2002 (when the wing’s record keeping for this feat began). Many times, the flyers who make this milestone, have combined flying time from active-duty’s daily operations and traditional reserve’s one weekend a month, two-weeks-a-year commitment, which is what makes Lambert’s aviation career even more remarkable.

She flew every hour as a reservist and every mission while assigned to Dover Air Force Base, bringing exceptional credit to the state of Delaware.

“She crossed the globe proudly, representing the partnership we call Team Dover, said Gutermuth. “She spent much of her career safely moving cargo and people in the C-5 and C-17 under the blue and gold tail stripe that represents the 512th (AW), 436th (AW), the city of Dover and the First State.”

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