3rd Herd inactivates with final furling ceremony

During a flag furling ceremony Sept. 30, Col. Matthew Harris, 3rd Combat Communications Group commander, left, and Chief Master Sgt. Brian Dickirson, group superintendent, right, officially inactivate the 3rd Herd. Assisting is Master Sgt. Megan Giacchetta. (Air Force photo by April McDonald)

During a flag furling ceremony Sept. 30, Col. Matthew Harris, 3rd Combat Communications Group commander, left, and Chief Master Sgt. Brian Dickirson, group superintendent, right, officially inactivate the 3rd Herd. Assisting is Master Sgt. Megan Giacchetta. (Air Force photo by April McDonald)

TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. -- Sept. 30 marked the end of an era. After 56 years of faithful service, the 3rd Combat Communications Group was inactivated during a flag furling ceremony presided over by Commander Col. Matthew Harris.

Approximately 50 3rd Herd Airmen, Tinker senior leadership and base community members attended the morning ceremony held in front of the 35th Combat Communications Squadron headquarters building.

"Thanks to our Herdsmen; I could not have asked for anything better over the last year and a half," said Colonel Harris. "You took care of the mission, job and each other. That's all we needed to do and you did it well. Thank you for that. It's been an honor to be your commander, a pleasure to serve with you and I look forward to seeing and serving with you in the future."

In July 1957, the Air Force introduced the 3rd CCG. In July 1964, the unit set up its headquarters at Tinker. In its 56-year history, the group underwent several name changes and has been a part of five major commands. Most recently, it was assigned under Air Force Space Command.

The 3rd Herd held a simple mission but complex tasks, said Colonel Harris.

"Deploy combat-ready Airmen who were trained to provide war-time communications and air traffic control services in austere environments and provide command and control necessary to bring the fight to the enemy," the colonel said. "And, in many cases, we brought humanitarian relief to those in need following natural and manmade disasters."

The 3rd Herd participated in Desert Shield, Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation Uphold Democracy in Haiti, Hurricane Katrina relief, earthquake relief in Haiti and tornado relief in Moore.

"The Air Force and the nation have depended on the Herd over the years. But, it wasn't about the technology, vehicles or the equipment that made the Herd what it was, it was the people," the colonel said. "Buford, the 3rd CCG mascot, represents the qualities -- strength, perseverance and pride -- of the Airmen assigned to the Herd."

While the inactivation ceremony marked a moment in history, Colonel Harris said it is possible that new life will be breathed into the unit. He said in the group's history, there was a year-and-a-half period when the 3rd Herd experienced a temporary drawdown. It is possible that will happen again.

"I won't say this is the end, I'll simply say this is a temporary drawdown as we get through the current challenges of the day and I fully expect at some point to see the 3rd Herd back, performing its mission in the same fashion it always did," he said.

In the meantime, the 3rd Herd closed the ceremony with a final chant of their motto, "3rd Herd: Anytime, Anywhere! Huah!"