Take a load off, Archie

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Beth Kobily
  • 911th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

Since Operation Desert Shield became Operation Desert Storm on January 16, 1991, the 758th Airlift Squadron has participated in 11 deployments. While the squadron will go on to participate in many more deployments over the years to come something will be distinctly different about them; they’ll be missing the face of Chief Master Sgt. Archie Branton.

After 36 years of dedicated service in the Air Force, Branton, chief loadmaster with the 758th AS, effectively retired on June 20, 2017.

Branton, a Crafton-Ingram native, began his military career in May 1981. After completing Air Force Basic Training and Basic Loadmaster School, he was briefly assigned to Altus Air Force Base as a C-5 Galaxy loadmaster. In December 1981 he was assigned to Dover AFB working for the 3rd AS as a C-5A loadmaster.

In 1985, Branton left active duty and began his traditional reservist career with the 911th Airlift Wing as a C-130A loadmaster. Later that year he became an instructor loadmaster and would eventually assume the role of evaluator loadmaster. As for his civilian career, in 2012 Branton took an air reserve technician position as chief loadmaster of the 758th AS, the job he held until his retirement.

Branton ended his career with a total of 4,406 sorties, 1,207.7 combat hours, nine air medals, four aerial achievement medals and 10,300 flying hours, 8,755 of which were in a C-130.

According to Branton, the highlight of his career at the 911th AW was his squadron’s many deployments, specifically its activation period between 2003 and 2005. He said he has learned something on every one of them which he hoped he has passed onto those he has worked alongside.

 “When I'm over at the commissary and they ask me, 'What'd you do?'" said Branton at his retirement ceremony. "I’ll say, ‘I was a C-130 loadmaster.’ Thank you."