A Boeing C-17 Globemaster III was delivered to the Kuwaiti Air Force Thursday in Long Beach. With just a few C-17 orders left to be filled at the plant slated for closure, more than 2,000 jobs are at risk. Hetty Chang reports from Long Beach for the NBC4 News at 6 p.m. on Feb. 13, 2014.
Boeing's C-17 plant fulfilled one of its last remaining orders as it delivered a Globemaster III to the Kuwait Air Force in a ceremony Thursday.
Due to lack of demand, Boeing announced last September that it would be ending production on the C-17, and effectively closing Long Beach's plant in 2015.
The plant closure would impact 2,200 jobs in Long Beach and Huntington Beach and 20,000 people nationally.
But despite knowing their days are numbered at Boeing, workers like Steve Henkhaus still feel extreme gratitude toward the company that has kept him employed for nearly 30 years.
He beamed with pride at the paint job he and his colleagues did on the C-17 for the Kuwair Air Force, and talked about the bond at Boeing that can never be replaced.
"We break bread together every day," Henkaus said.
It takes about 600 pounds of paint cover the entire C-17 aircraft and paint job manager Tony Giamberdino has worked on every single one.
"I've touched every C-17 in the fleet, the T1 all the way up to the Kuwait that's being delivered tomorrow," he said.
"If you go home, you got food on the table, nice cars, good clothes," Giamberdino added. "It's all because of what … Boeing has given us."
While Boeing said the closure of Long Beach's plant is certain, Long Beach leaders are not giving up hope.
Gerri Schipske, a Long Beach councilwoman, has collected several hundred postcards to be mailed to Boeing to encourage the company to repurpose the plant somehow, and stay in Long Beach.
"We (are) going to give them to Boeing, that says to Boeing, 'Stay here. Pick Long Beach," Schipske said. "There's other technology I know Boeing's been engaged in. Why not consider bringing those here?"
The company did not receive enough orders to keep production of the C-17 beyond 2015.
But one thing is certain here: "We will finish with pride," Giamberdino said. "That I promise you."