LITTLE ROCK AIR FORCE BASE, Ark. --
Air Force Reserve Chief Master Sgt. Donald Tarrance, 327th Airlift Squadron superintendent, retired June 5, 2020, after his final flying mission with 40 years of service.
Tarrance’s career comes to a close with over 9,450 flying hours in the C-9A, C-130E/H/J model aircraft. A unique chapter in his career considering he started his career in 1980 as part of the 20th Special Force Group, Airborne, as an operations analyst in the Army National Guard, Alabama.
“I was attending the University of Alabama and money was running low,” Tarrance said. “There was a Special Forces Group in Birmingham and I wanted a challenge. Joining that group provided a signing bonus.”
By joining the group, Tarrance received a signing bonus that helped with the costs associated with college.
“I always said that I would quit when it stopped being fun; it never did!”
As an aeromedical evacuation technician, he provided enroute care to patients as they were transported to medical facilities. From that opportunity, he discovered a passion for flying and pursued options to become a loadmaster.
“To me, being a chief in the loadmaster career field is the ultimate honor. I get to do everyday what the youngest and newest Airmen do. I’ve traveled to every continent except Antarctica,” said Tarrance. “I enjoy the challenge of getting the mission accomplished with limited resources, and I get to fly with great people.”
As a loadmaster, he ensured the safety of the cargo and passengers for each flight. Over his career he supported over 18 deployed operations and several humanitarian relief missions.
“My most memorable missions was while deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan, I was part of a mission that repatriated battlefield casualties,” said Tarrance. “I remember every name, location and circumstance of those who gave the ultimate sacrifice.”
“He truly cares for each person in the unit, regardless of rank,” said Capt. Jonathan Leslie, 327 AS pilot. “He has no problem stopping what he is doing to help someone in need. Also, he has a depth of military history knowledge that cannot be rivaled.”
His career will come full circle as he will mold the next generation of Airmen as an Air Force Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps instructor in his home state of Alabama.