403rd Troop Carrier Group (USAAF)

403rd Troop Carrier Group (USAAF)

403rd Troop Carrier Group (USAAF)

History - Books - Aircraft - Time Line - Commanders - Main Bases - Component Units - Assigned To


The 403rd Troop Carrier Group (USAAF) provided cargo and passenger transport services in the south-west Pacific, as well as supporting the campaigns on New Guinea and the Philippines.

The group was activated in the US on 12 December 1942, and moved to the south-west Pacific between July and September 1943, where it joined the Thirteenth Air Force.

For almost a year the group was based at Espiritu Santo, at the eastern end of the Thirteenth Air Force's area of operations. During this period the group ran regular cargo and passenger links to New Zealand, Australia, Fiji and New Caledonia. It was also used to transport Thirteenth AF personnel across the south-west Pacific, playing an important role in keeping the Air Force mobile.

The group also played a more direct role in the New Guinea campaign by flying supplies and reinforcements into the combat zone and evacuating casualties. The group moved forward to Los Negros in the Admiralty Islands in August 1944, then on to recently captured Biak in October 1944, bringing it closer to the front line.

The group supported the invasion of the Philippines from its base at Biak, performing the same tasks as on New Guinea, and also dropping supplies to the sizable guerilla forces fighting on the islands.

In May-June 1945 the group carried out more than fifteen sorties per day to support the troops advancing rapidly across Mindanao. It was awarded a Distinguished Unit Citation for its actions in April-June 1945.

The group finally moved to the Philippines in June 1945, where it remained for the rest of the war. After the war the war the group remained part of the Far East Air Forces, soon moving to Clark Field. It was used to evacuate POWs from Japan, and operated long range cargo and passenger links between Japan and Australia.




1942-1946: Douglas C-47 Skytrain


7 December 1942

Constituted as 403rd Troop Carrier Group

Jul-Sept 1943To South Pacific and Thirteenth Air Force
15 Oct 1946Inactivated

Commanders (with date of appointment)

Col Harry J Sands Jr: 12Dec 1942
Lt Col Norton H Van Sicklen: 24 Aug 1945-unkn
Col Audrin R Walker:c. Jun-15 Oct 1946.

Main Bases

Bowman Field, Ky: 12 Dec1942
Alliance, Neb: 18 Dec 1942
PopeField, NC: 3 May 1943
Baer Field, Ind:20 Jun-c. 15 Jul 1943
Espiritu Santo: 15Sep 1943
Los Negros: 30 Aug 1944
Biak:4 Oct 1944
Leyte: 25 Jun 1945
ClarkField, Luzon: Jan 1946
Manila, c. Jun-15Oct 1946.

Component Units

63rd: 1942-1946
64th: 1942-1946
65th: 1942-1946
66th: 1942-1946

Assigned To

1943-1945: Thirteenth Air Force

World War II Edit

Established in 1940 and activated in 1941 as a long range reconnaissance squadron, assigned to the GHQ Air Force Northeast Air District. Trained and was equipped with both early model B-17C/D Flying Fortress heavy bombers. along with and B-18 Bolo medium bombers and A-29 Hudsons at Langley Field. Primarily flew training missions over the Mid-Atlantic States. After the Pearl Harbor Attack, was deployed to New England and began flying antisubmarine missions from Bangor Airport over the Newfoundland Straits and performing aerial convoy patrols over the North Atlantic shipping lanes.

Deployed to Australia in February 1942, being assigned to the new Fifth Air Force being formed after the withdraw from the Philippines of remaining heavy bombers. The squadron reached Australia in March 1942 and was redesignated as a heavy bombardment squadron in April. Did not enter combat until September, when it finally had a reasonable complement of aircraft. From then until November 1944 the squadron operated in support of the campaign in Papua New Guinea, first from Australia, then from New Guinea and Owi Island, concentrated in particular in attacks on shipping. The unit experimented with low level skip bombing, using this tactic at the Battle of the Bismarck Sea, 2–4 March 1943 with some success.

Between May and September 1943 the squadron's B-17s were replaced with B-24 Liberators, believed to be more suited to the long ranges of many Pacific missions. In November 1944 the squadron moved to the Philippines, helping the ground campaign on Luzon as well as conducting long range strategic bombing missions against targets in China and Formosa. Finally in July 1945 it moved to Le Shima, from where it flew missions over Japan, still attacking shipping, as well as airfields and railways until the Japanese Capitulation in August. Squadron demobilized on Okinawa, aircraft being sent to the Philippines for reclamation. Inactivated as a paper unit in April 1946.

Strategic Air Command Edit

From 1958, the Boeing B-47 Stratojet wings of Strategic Air Command (SAC) began to assume an alert posture at their home bases, reducing the amount of time spent on alert at overseas bases. The SAC alert cycle divided itself into four parts: planning, flying, alert and rest to meet General Thomas S. Power’s initial goal of maintaining one third of SAC’s planes on fifteen minute ground alert, fully fueled and ready for combat to reduce vulnerability to a Soviet missile strike. [3] To implement this new system B-47 wings reorganized from three to four squadrons. [3] [4] The 403d was activated at Carswell Air Force Base as the fourth squadron of the 43d Bombardment Wing. The squadron was inactivated on 1 January 1961.

403rd Wing [403rd WG]

The 403rd Wing is the largest flying organization at Keesler AFB, and the only Air Force Reserve Command wing in Mississippi. With a military manning authorization of more than 1,400 reservists, including some 250 full-time air reserve technicians, the 403rd Wing performs a dual mission: tactical airlift support during peace- and war-time contingencies, and aerial weather reconnaissance in support of the Department of Commerce.

The wing's predecessor -- the 403rd Troop Carrier Group -- whose history and honors it inherited, was activated in 1942. Equipped with C-47 Skytrain (cargo/passenger) aircraft, it participated in seven major campaigns in the South Pacific during World War II. The 403rd was inactivated at the war's end, and reactivated June 27, 1949, as a Reserve unit at Portland, OR. In April 1951, the unit was called to active duty and deployed to Japan to participate in the war effort in Korea. It returned to Portland in 1953 and remained there until 1957, when it moved to Selfridge Air National Guard Base, Mich., and was reequipped with C-119 Packet (Flying Boxcar) aircraft.

The wing was called to active duty again for 31 days during the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962.

In the spring of 1966, the 403rd earmarked the best of its C-119s for duty in Vietnam as gunships. The last C-119 transferred out in July 1969 and the wing was reequipped with U-3A aircraft and given a forward air control mission. Then, in December 1969, the unit was redesignated the 403rd Composite Wing with administrative responsibilities for two tactical airlift groups and a special operations squadron.

On June 29, 1971, the wing was given a tactical airlift mission, redesignated the 403rd Tactical Airlift Wing and reequipped with the C-130A Hercules.

From 1972 to 1975, the wing's participation in humanitarian airlift missions was especially heavy, a result of many natural disasters occurring at home and abroad, such as the floods in New York and Pennsylvania in 1973 and Hurricane Fifi in Honduras in 1974. Also during this period, 403rd aircrews were busy ferrying aircraft supplies and equipment to Southeast Asia. In the spring of 1975, the wing was among the last forces to leave Vietnam.

On March 15, 1976, the 403rd was redesignated the 403rd Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Wing, with operational control of the four rescue squadrons assigned to the Air Force Reserve. On January 1, 1977, the wing assumed a weather reconnaissance mission, and changed its name to the 403rd Rescue and Weather Reconnaissance Wing.

By December 1979, the wing's four rescue squadrons had been credited with saving at least 199 lives and the 815th Weather Reconnaissance Squadron had flown more than 70 percent of the hurricane missions in the Atlantic, Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico.

The new decade placed the wing in the midst of several interesting projects. In 1980, the 403rd supported the XIII Winter Olympics at Plattsburgh, NY. Also that year, the wing was credited with saving 61 lives during the eruption of Mt. St. Helens in May.

In April 1981, the wing provided rescue support for the first flight of the space shuttle "Columbia." The wing continued to support the space shuttle program until February 1984.

In May 1982, the wing conducted the largest combat rescue training exercise in the history of the Air Force Reserve. Over 40 aircraft and 1,100 airmen representing 67 units participated in the simulated combat training exercise. The 403rd was honored as the Air Force Association's Reserve Wing of the Year in September 1982. The wing was cited for its exemplary accomplishments including saving 58 lives that year and providing flawless rescue coverage for the space shuttle program.

In November 1983, the 403rd headquarters moved to Keesler AFB, MS, where it continued its operational control of the Reserve's rescue and weather reconnaissance operations.

In December 1987, the 403rd was redesignated a tactical airlift wing however, the unit continued to maintain a limited weather reconnaissance mission through the 815th Weather Flight and 34th Air Weather Flight. Control of the Reserve's rescue units was transferred to the 939th Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Group at Portland International Airport, Portland, OR.

After a two-year conversion period to tactical airlift, the 403rd began its suppport of U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) by joining the Volant Oak rotation. Volant Oak is a commitment shared by the Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard to fly cargo and passengers within Central and South America for SOUTHCOM and airlift support for U.S. embassies in that region.

In December 1989, during the 403rd's first deployment to Panama, aircrews provided airlift support for Operation Just Cause, the U.S. military effort to restore democracy to that country and oust Panamanian strongman Manuel Noriega. In Operation Just Cause, aircrews and maintenance personnel supported the airlift of combat troops, equipment, humanitarian supplies, detainees and captured weapons. They also evacuated wounded American military personnel from Panama to the United States.

After the Iraqi invasion of neighboring Kuwait in August 1990, and the onset of Operation Desert Shield, members of the 403rd volunteered for and performed duty in the Middle East. Unit members provided airlift support in the multi-national effort to stop Iraq from further expansion in that region. Shortly after the start of Operation Desert Storm in January 1991, all medical personnel assigned to the 403rd were mobilized in support of the wartime effort. The medics were assigned to the Keesler Medical Center for two months to backfill for active-duty personnel deployed to Europe for the contingencies.

In July 1991, 14 members of the 41st Mobile Aerial Port Squadron deployed to Incirlik AB, Turkey, in support of Operation Provide Comfort, the United Nations relief effort to aid Kurdish refugees from Northern Iraq.

The 403rd was redesignated an airlift wing in February 1992 as part of an Air Force-wide structuring. In June 1992, the wing transitioned into the new objective wing structure and was reassigned under 14th Air Force (Reserve). Included in that change was the loss of the 934th Airlift Group as a subordinate unit and the gain of two units: the 908th Airlift Group at Maxwell AFB, AL, and the 913th Airlift Group at Willow Grove, PA.

August 1992 found the wing in the middle of Hurricane Andrew, first by supplying aircraft and crews from the 815th Weather Squadron to perform aerial reconnaissance of the storm, then by supplying aircraft and crews from the 815th Airlift Squadron to provide transportation for emergency relief supplies into the Homestead area in Florida. The 403rd also became the primary ground station for collecting airborne weather data when the National Hurricane Center in Coral Gables, FL, lost its antenna in the storm.

In September, crews from the 815th Airlift Squadron left Keesler for Mombasa, Kenya in support of the United Nations relief effort Operation Provide Relief in neighboring Somalia. The relief effort lasted for several months, and delivered tons of food and medical supplies to people in the drought-stricken area.

The 815th Airlift Squadron was back on the road again in early February 1993, assisting in relief efforts in war-torn Bosnia-Herzegovina. The 815th's involvement in Operation Provide Promise went on until June 1994 - more than a year - and was supported by aircraft from the 815th AS and crews from both flying squadrons.

In May, the 403rd Security Police Flight deployed to Aviano, Italy, for two weeks, supporting Operation Deny Flight by integrating with local security police to provide flightline security and protect the F-15s which flew the Deny Flight missions. On several occasions during the year-long relief effort, the 403rd took on the responsibilities of lead wing, coordinating aircrew and maintenance activities out of Rhein-Main AB, Germany.

In April 1993, wing aircraft underwent a major conversion, changing weather reconnaissance C-130 Super E models into H models. The on-site renovation project was a first-ever effort to convert aircraft at the aircraft's home base.

In October, all C-130s assigned previously to the Air Mobility Command, became assets of Air Combat Command.

In November 1992, the 815th Weather Squadron was replaced with the 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron. The former active-duty weather squadron had been deactivated June 30, 1990. Originally activated in 1944, the 53rd WRS celebrated its 50-year milestone in 1994. It is the only military unit in the world flying weather reconnaissance on a routine basis.

In July 1994, the 403rd Airlift Wing became the 403rd Wing, the third AFRES wing to be designated a composite wing. The change was made to more accurately depict the dual nature of the wing's missions: airlift and weather.

In September 1994, a scant two months after the 815th Airlift Squadron support of Operation Provide Promise ended, the squadron was flying out again in support of an overseas operation - Uphold Democracy - in Haiti. Rather than airlifting combat forces to Haiti, as originally planned, the crews transported peacekeepers and supplies to staging areas near the island nation.

In November 1994, crews from the 815th Airlift Squadron found themselves back in Turkey, supporting supply missions between Rhein-Main AB, Germany, and Incirlik AB, Turkey. Many of the supplies flown in were in support of Operation Provide Comfort, a Kurdish relief effort in Northern Iraq.

The 403rd and its "Hurricane Hunters" are responsible for all weather reconnaissance missions flown with the Department of Defense. Upon mobilization, the 403rd Wing gained by the Air Mobility Command, supports the theater commander by flying air land/air drop missions within the combat zone or forward area. When required, the wing performs aeromedical-refugee evacuation and augmentation of strategic airlift forces. To train and perform its missions, the 403rd Wing is authorized eight C-130 Hercules transport aircraft, and 10 WC-130s, specially equipped with weather-gathering instrumentation.

Three groups, 10 squadrons and flights are collocated with the wing - the 403rd Operations Group, 403rd Logistics Group, 403rd Support Group, 403rd Aeromedical Staging Squadron, 41st Aerial Port Squadron, 403rd Civil Engineer Squadron, 403rd Logistics Support Squadron, 403rd Maintenance Squadron, 403rd Mission Support Squadron, 403rd Security Forces Squadron, 815th Airlift Squadron, 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron, 403rd Communications Flight and 403rd Operations Support Flight. The 403rd Wing also oversees the 96th Aerial Port Squadron, Little Rock Air Force Base, AR.

The peacetime mission of the 403rd Wing is to provide command and staff supervision to assigned squadrons and flights which support tactical airlift missions. These missions include airlift of personnel, equipment and supplies. Additionally, the wing is the only unit in the Department of Defense tasked to organize, equip, train and perform all hurricane weather reconnaissance in support of the Department of Commerce.

During wartime, the 403rd is gained upon mobilization by the Air Mobility Command and will execute missions in support of the theater commander, such as resupply, employment operations within the combat zone or forward area, and when required, aeromedical refugee evacuation and augmentation of other airlift forces.

Trained for overseas troop carrier operations from late 1942 to the summer of 1943, when it moved to the South Pacific.

Transported men and supplies to forward areas in the Solomon Islands and flew passenger and cargo routes to New Zealand, Australia, Fiji, and New Caledonia. The group also moved personnel of Thirteenth Air Force units to the Southwest Pacific theater. Supported campaigns in New Guinea and the Philippines by transporting men and cargo to combat areas, evacuating casualties, and landing or dropping supplies for guerrilla forces. On 23 February 1945, dropped paratroops at Laguna de Bay, Luzon, to free civilian internees held by the Japanese.

Earned a Distinguished Unit Citation for transporting ammunition, food, and other supplies to Eighth Army forces in Mindanao and for landing on jungle airstrips to evacuate wounded personnel from Apr to Jun. From the Philippines, ferried occupation troops to Japan, evacuated liberated prisoners, and flew cargo and passenger routes to Japan and Australia.

From June 1949 until 1 April 1951, when it was called the active duty, the group trained as a reserve troop carrier unit in Oregon.

In Mar and April 1952, moved to Japan for operations against communist forces in Korea. Using C-119s, the group dropped paratroops and supplies, transported personnel and equipment, and evacuated casualties. On 1 January 1953, relieved from active duty and inactivated in Japan.

It activated again as a reserve unit, training for airlift, air evacuation, and aeromedical evacuation missions until inactivation in 1959. From 1992, the group flew Air Force Reserve airlift and weather reconnaissance missions, including Hurricane Hunter missions.

403rd Wing celebrates 70 years of service

In Biloxi, Mississippi, it is not uncommon on any given day to be relaxing on the beach or catching a ballgame and look to the skies and experience a C-130J Super Hercules flyover courtesy of the Air Force Reserve 403rd Wing at Keesler Air Force Base.

June marked the wing’s 70th year of operation and to commemorate the milestone, the 403rd’s Chief’s group designed a coin that displays the original 1953 shield, complete with that opportunistic Latin phrase on one side and the present shield on the other encompassed by the number 70.

While physically the coin is but a small object, the history it represents is colossal.

When people think of the 403rd Wing in 2019, they think of the world-renowned Hurricane Hunters and Flying Jennies taking off from or touching down on the base’s flightline in the heart of Biloxi.

What may not come to mind is Portland Airport in Portland, Oregon, the birthplace of the 403rd where it was first designated as the 403rd Troop Carrier Wing in June 1949 and they flew Curtiss C-46 Commandos.

Soon after its conception, the 403rd TCW was mobilized to Ashiya Air Base, Japan in support of the Far East Command and United Nations forces during the Korean War. According to Judy G. Endicott’s The USAF in Korea: Campaigns, Units, and Stations 1950-1953, the wing’s 403rd Troop Carrier Group used C-119 Flying Boxcars to fly over 6,300 flights and dropped nearly 10,000 personnel, 18,000 tons of cargo, and 380 tons of supplies and airlifted almost 14,000 medical patients.

A few years after their 1953 return to Oregon from Japan, the Air Force saw fit to move the wing to Selfridge Air Force Base, Michigan where it was designated as the 403rd Tactical Airlift Wing.

During its 26-year residency at Selfridge, the unit experienced its roles change multiple times going from a tactical airlift wing to a composite wing and back to a tactical airlift wing. It then changed directions becoming an aerospace rescue and recovery wing in 1976 and a rescue and weather reconnaissance wing in 1977.

In May and June 1980 the wing’s 303rd, 304th and 305th Aerospace Rescue and Recovery squadrons were involved in search and rescue operations after the catastrophic volcanic eruption of Mount St. Helens in Washington.

According to a June 1980 Rescue Review article by Staff Sgt. Jim Katzaman, the 304th AARS and seven of their UH-1 Huey helicopters were part of Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Service’s Rescue Coordination Center while the 303rd and 305th provided ground support in the realms of communication and first aid. The joint service operation included Coast Guard, Army, and Civil Air Patrol rescue teams, and was one of the largest conducted by the center at the time compiling 101 saves and meticulously covering 600 square miles from May 18 to June 4.

Thirteen years later, the 403rd packed it up in Michigan and settled here at Keesler where it had a few more name changes in store.

Upon the unit’s arrival here, it housed the 815th Weather Squadron until 1987 when it reverted to a tactical airlift squadron as it had been in the past, and the wing was, for the third time, designated as a tactical airlift wing only to be classified as an airlift wing five years later to highlight the various capabilities the wing and its units possessed.

The 815th AS, responsible for global airlift operations in both combat and humanitarian theaters, supported Operation Provide Promise starting in March 1993, an initiative that provided aid to 2.7 million displaced by civil war in former Yugoslavia and was the longest-running humanitarian airlift in history, surpassing the 1949 efforts of the Berlin Airlift.

The squadron deployed three C-130E Hercules, six crews, and maintenance personnel where they flew daily 14-hour round trip missions in and out of Sarajevo for a year. These drops were round-trip and included a 30-minute time limit to get the medical supplies and food they were providing onto the ground.

By the end of the 403rd’s involvement in Operation Provide Promise, the multitude of airlift capabilities paired with the growing importance and advancement of technology within the wing’s 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron prompted one more name change. In July 1994 the organization became the 403rd Wing as it is known to this day.

While the title was shortened, it was a testament to a litany of missions the unit provided support for and accomplished. The capabilities of the 403rd could no longer fit in one title.

“It is interesting to see how far we have come as a wing and as an Air Force,” said 403rd Wing Command Chief Master Sgt. Amanda Stift. “Where we started to where we have wound up now it’s just amazing to see the technology that has gone into our ever-changing mission. We started off as a troop carrier wing, and now we are doing tactical airlift, aeromedical evacuation, weather reconnaissance, so essentially we are a blend of all the missions we had before.”

Today, the 403rd and its 1,500 Reserve Citizen Airmen are a culmination of the many roles its names have embodied over its seven decades of service. Completing various weather reconnaissance missions year-round in specially equipped WC-130J aircraft, supporting combat and humanitarian operations in the 815th AS Flying Jennies, and providing critical aerial medical support, are just some of the ways the wing saves countless lives and contributes an incalculable amount to the Air Force, the nation, and the world.

For information on how to purchase the 70th Anniversary coin, please contact any chief master sergeant within the unit. The cost is $15 and proceeds benefit wing events being held to celebrate the anniversary.

403rd Troop Carrier Group (USAAF) - History

Former Assignments
43rd BG
65th BS
403rd BS

19th BG
93rd BS
28th BS
435th BS

Wartime History
This B-17 was flown overseas piloted by Captain Algene E. Key of the 19th Bombardment Group, 30th Bombardment Squadron arriving January 30, 1942 on Java.

Assigned to the 19th Bombardment Group, 28th Bombardment Squadron. This B-17 operated from Djogjakarta Airfield on Java. Later, assigned to the 93rd Bombardment Squadron.

On February 19, 1942 took off at roughly 6:00am piloted by Captain Schwanbeck on bombing mission against a Japanese convoy landing troops on the southern coast of Bali. Arriving over the target at 8:35am and bombing through overcast and anti-aircraft fire from 11,000' then returned to base.

At the conclusion of the Java campaign, this B-17 was evacuated to Darwin. Next, assigned to the 435th Bombardment Squadron "Kangaroo Squadron".

On July 31, 1942 assigned on 6th Photographic Reconnaissance Group, 8th Photo Reconnaissance Squadron and had the lower Bendix turret removed and used for non-combat flights to and from Australia.

In November 1942, assigned to the 43rd Bombardment Group, 65th Bombardment Squadron, but not take up into their inventory. In February 1943 transfered to the 403rd Bombardment Squadron but returned to the 65th Bombardment Squadron at the end of the month. During 1943 operated from 7 Mile Drome (Jackson) near Port Moresby. Often flown by pilot Buchanan or Captain George K. Shako.

Nicknamed "Yankee Diddl'er Wouldn't It Root Ya" with a blonde female nude reclining with her hands behind her head wearing red high heel shoes on the right side of the nose. "Yankee Diddl'er" was painted in white bold capital letters while "Wouldn't It Root Ya" was painted in yellow in a cursive style.

On February 25, 1943 this B-17 flew its first bombing mission against Rabaul.

On August 8, 1943 this B-17 a reconnaissance mission over the Bismarck Sea and Solomon Sea. This was its last bombing mission with the 65th Bombardment Squadron having flown approximately sixty bombing missions. Afterwards, transfered to 5th Bomber Command (VBC) replacement pool.

In September 1943, the nose art was modified with white frilly panties were added to the female figure. Reportedly, the panties were added during or after on September 13, 1943 when First Lady Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt landed at Archerfield Airfield near Brisbane Apparently, this B-17 was parked nearby and there were worries the risqué nose art might offend her sensibilities.

In early November 1943, converted to an armed transport by the 4th Air Depot at Garbutt Field at Townsville. The modifications included adding cargo bins inside the bomb bay and changing the engines. The B-17 was also repainted with the new paint job "covering her risqué nude art work and the long row of bombs recording more than 60 missions she had made". Afterwards, assigned to the 54th Troop Carrier Wing, 317th Troop Carrier Group, 39th Troop Carrier Squadron with squadron number 25.

On December 19, 1943 took off piloted by Captain Lee Bird, navigator Lt. Seymour M. Schafer, waist gunner Sgt Lewis K. Scott, tail gunner SSgt Paul Blasewitz and radio operator SSgt George Prezioso on its first air drop mission. Also aboard were four U.S. Army quartermaster soldiers aboard to release the cargo.

On January 29, 1944 this B-17 ground looped at Finschafen Airfield and afterwards repaired.

On March 1, 1944 one of five armed transports that took off from Finschafen Airfield on a mission to air drop supplies to US Army forces and strafe enemy positions on Los Negros. The next day, flew another air drop and ground support mission.

On January 27, 1945 this B-17 was scrapped at Brisbane.

USAF Serial Number Search Results -B-17E Flying Fortress 41-2458
"2458 (43rd BG, 65th BS, *Yankee Diddler*) damaged by air action and crash landed Pasiran Feb 8, 1942. Flew to Sydney on beer run, ground looped Finchafen Jan 27, 1945. Repaired but eventually written off at Brisbane Jan 1945."
Fortress Against The Sun pages 119, 128, 131-132, 369, 385, 412 (notes 19-20), 414 (note 38)
Ken's Men Against The Empire Volume 1 pages 132 (February 25, 1943 mission), 253 (August 8, 1943 mission) 213 (color photo), 328, 331, 342, (photo), 344 (index Yankee Diddl'er)
Thanks to Steve Birdsall for additional information

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History [ edit | edit source ]

Activated in 1949 as a C-46 Commando Troop Carrier Wing. Ordered to Active Service on 1 April 1951 for duty during the Korean War. The 403d was one of the six units initially assigned to the Eighteenth Air Force, Tactical Air Command, was eventually sent to the Far East.

The 403d mobilized at Portland Municipal Airport, Oregon. The wing trained at home in its C-46s and participated in Eighteenth Air Force’s routine training exercises for the next eleven months. On 11 February 1952, however, the Eighteenth Air Force directed it to transfer its C-46s and prepare to move overseas by 25 March 1952. By 14 April, it was in place at Ashiya AB, Kyushu, Japan. There it acquired a second group and some independent squadrons.

Upon arrival at Ashiya, the 403d immediately converted to C-119s. This action finally solved the Far East Air Force’s year-old problem of providing the Army with sufficient lift to handle the 187th Regimental Combat Team intact. The new arrangement was soon put to the test. In May 1952, the 403d airlifted the 187th Regimnental Combat Team to Pusan in an expedited movement incident to the quelling of a communist prisoner-of-war riot at Koje-do Island. The wing’s subsequent operations encompassed airborne assault training, airdrop resupply, air landed resupply, and air movement of complete units in the Far East. It engaged in a number of airborne training missions with the 137th Regimental Combat Team. In October 1952 the wing participated in an airborne feint which was part of a United Nations Command amphibious demonstration off eastern Korea

After it had served the prescribed twenty-one months on active military service, the 403d Troop Carrier Wing was inactivated on 1 January, and returned to reserve status.

Cold War and after [ edit | edit source ]

403d WG Lockheed Martin WC-130J Hercules 98-5307

Performed routine airlift training the Reserve, 1953-1962. During that time, the wing also supported Army airdrop training, ferried aircraft to various parts of the country and the world, took part in training exercises, and performed humanitarian missions as needed.

Served on active duty during Cuban Missile Crisis, Oct Nov 1962. In 1963, it moved US troops to the Dominican Republic and airlifted Christmas gifts destined for US servicemen in Vietnam.

After a period of uncertainty from 1969 to 1971, when it served as a composite wing with a variety of missions and aircraft, the 403d returned to tactical airlift missions. From 1971 to 1976, the wing took part in several tactical exercises and humanitarian airlift operations. During that time it also ferried aircraft, supplies, and equipment to US forces in Vietnam and other points in the Far East. In 1976 and 1977, the wing began to perform search and rescue, aeromedical evacuation, and weather reconnaissance missions. Its crews and aircraft flew into hurricanes to determine their intensities and movements. In 1978, after a mass suicide at Jonestown in Guyana, the wing helped recover the bodies of US citizens. After the eruption of Mount St. Helens (Washington) in 1980, the wing participated in search and rescue efforts.

Its most memorable accomplishments, however, have been while flying reserve-status humanitarian airlift missions such as those flown during Operation Provide Relief, rescue missions supporting the space shuttle program, providing airlift support to U.S. Southern Command and U.S. embassies within Central and South America, and participating in real-world war contingencies such as Operations Just Cause, Desert Shield, Desert Storm, Provide Promise, Provide Comfort, Uphold Democracy, and Provide Relief.

On 6 August 2010 the wing received operational control of the activated 345th Airlift Squadron "The Golden Eagles," the first C-130 active associate squadron in the Air Mobility Command, and began integrating its personnel with the operations of the AFRC 815th AS. However on 21 March 2013 the wing announced that beginning in October 2013 it would be redeploying its 10 C-130J aircraft to Pope Air Force Base, North Carolina, in preparation for inactivation of the 815th AS under the Force Structure Action Implementation Plan. The status of the 345th AS remained undetermined, and that of the 53d Weather Reconnaissance Squadron was unaffected. ΐ]

USAF Troop Carrier Organizations in Korea

1st Troop Carrier Group (Provisional)
1st TCG was organized at Ashiya AB, Japan on 26 August 1950 under operational control of FEAF through the 1st Troop Carrier Task Force (Provisional). The 1st TCG and its provisional squadrons were based at Tachikawa and supported by the 374th TCW. Personnel from units of Thirteenth and Twentieth Air Forces and the Far East Materiel Command manned the 1st TCG. Using C-46s and briefly C-47s, the group began airlifting freight and passengers between Japan and Korea on September 2, 1950. The group transported a U.S. Marine unit to Pyongyang on November 25 and 26 then flew emergency air evacuations from Sinanju and other forward bases as the Chinese advanced. Leaving Kimpo AB on January 4, the group inactivated effective January 25, with many of its personnel transferring to the 86th TCS of the 437th TCG. In its five months of operation, the group carried over 28,000 passengers, 7,000 air evacuees, and almost 12,000 tons of cargo.

46th Troop Carrier Squadron (P): August 26-October 6, 1950.
47th Troop Carrier Squadron (P): August 26, 1950-January 25, 1951.
48th Troop Carrier Squadron (P): August 26, 1950-January 10, 1951.

Tachikawa AB, Japan, August 26, 1950-January 25, 1951.

Col. Cecil H. Childre, August 1950 Lt. Col. Edward H. Nigro, October 21, 1950-January 1951.

UN Defensive UN Offensive CCF Intervention.

61st Troop Carrier Group, Heavy
From the last week of July until early December 1950, the 61st TCG, equipped with C-54 Skymasters, flew the northern route from McChord AFB, Washington, to Japan, providing airlift of personnel and supplies for UN forces. Flying a total of 253 Pacific trips, it airlifted 368 tons of cargo and transported 5,117 passengers until alerted for movement to Japan. On December 13, three days after the 61st TCG arrived at Ashiya, the squadrons flew their first combat missions, carrying ammunition, supplies and equipment to besieged UN forces fighting their way out of the Hungnam perimeter and returning wounded personnel and evacuees to South Korea and Japan. The 61st TCG often operated from airstrips that were too primitive for larger transports. In November 1952, the U.S. Air Force began to phase C-54s out of the Korean airlift. The 61st had accounted for movement of over 67, 257 air evacuees, 615,195 passengers and 152,500 tons of cargo before returning to the United States on 18 November.

4th Troop Carrier Squadron: attached December 17, 1950-July 25, 1951.
14th Troop Carrier Squadron: -c. December 5 and March 26-c. November 15, 1952.
15th Troop Carrier Squadron: duration.
53rd Troop Carrier Squadron: duration except detached March 26-September 14, 1952.

McChord AFB, WA, - December 5, 1950 Ashiya AB, Japan, December 10, 1950 Tachikawa AB, Japan, March 26-November 1952.

Col. Frank Norwood, -February 14, 1952 Lt. Col. Hal E. Ercanbrack, Jr., February 14, 1952-.

CCF Intervention First UN Counteroffensive CCF Spring Offensive UN Summer-Fall Offensive Second Korean Winter Korea, Summer-Fall 1952.

Distinguished Unit Citation for period December 13, 1950-April 21, 1951.
Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation for period July 1, 1951-November 15, 1952.

314th Troop Carrier Group, Medium
Detached from its parent wing, the 314th TCG with its newly modified C-119 Flying Boxcars, moved from Sewart AFB, Tennesse to arrive at Ashiya AB, Japan in late August 1950. From September through November 1950, it dropped ammunition and rations to UN frontline troops as they engaged the North Korean forces. It airlifted the 187th Airborne Regimental Combat Team to Kimpo AB. On October 20, the 314th TCG furnished the bulk of the aircraft in the airborne phase of the UN assault north of Pyongyang. It received a Distinguished Unit Citation for actions from November 28 through December 10, 1950. During this period the Chinese Communist Army encircled regiments of the 1st U.S. Marine and USA 7th Infantry Divisions near the Changjin Reservoir. The 314th TCG airdropped urgently needed ammunition, gasoline and rations, as well as an eight-span M-2 treadway bridge, allowing the besieged UN forces to extricate themselves along with their equipment. The group maintained an almost constant shuttle to front line troops in Korea, delivering supplies, ammunition, and fuel and, at times, moving and air-dropping troops. It continued to transport personnel and supplies from Japan to Korea for the rest of the war and evacuated UN prisoners of war when they were freed.

37th Troop Carrier Squadron: attached August 21, 1950-May 8, 1952.
50th Troop Carrier Squadron: duration.
53rd Troop Carrier Squadron: attached April 14-c. June 1952.
61st Troop Carrier Squadron: duration.
62nd Troop Carrier Squadron: duration.

Ashiya AB, Japan, September 7, 1950-.

Col. Richard W. Henderson, -August 27, 1951 Col. William H. DeLacey, August 27, 1951 Col. David E. Daniel, September 28, 1951 Lt. Col. Harold L. Sommers, May 1, 1952-.

UN Defensive UN Offensive CCF Intervention First UN Counteroffensive CCF Spring Offensive UN Summer-Fall Offensive 1951 Second Korean Winter Korea, Summer-Fall 1952 Third Korean Winter Korea, Summer 1953.

Distinguished Unit Citation for actions November 28-December 10, 1950.
Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation for period July 1, 1951-July 27, 1953.

315th Troop Carrier Wing, Medium
The 315th TCW activated on June 10, 1952 at Brady AB, Japan, replacing the 437th TCW, which returned to Reserve status. Over the next year, the C-46-equipped 315th TCW transported between Japan and Korea almost 55,500,000 pounds of cargo, along with over 656,000 passengers, paratroopers, and medical evacuees. It also air-dropped gasoline bombs, ammunition, propaganda leaflets, spare engines, flares, rations, fresh vegetables, and other items. It moreover sprayed South Korean cities and installations to fight insect-borne diseases. In all, the 315th TCW flew over one million hours in combat support missions during the Korean War.

315th Troop Carrier Group: June 10, 1952-.

Brady AB, Japan, June 10, 1952-.

Col. Kenneth W. Northammer, June 10, 1952 Col. Robert O. Good, July 26, 1953-.

Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation for period [June 10, 1952]- July 27, 1953.

315th Troop Carrier Group, Medium
The 315th TCG inherited C-46 Commando aircraft from the 437th TCG. Following activation on June 10, 1952, it flew troop and cargo airlift and airdrop, leaflet drops, spray missions, air evacuation, search and rescue, and other aerial missions between Japan and Korea. It transported U.S. Army units during exercises in Japan in 1952 and 1953 and airlifted the 187th Airborne Regimental Combat Team and other XVI Corps units to Korea in a series of major combat support operations in June and July 1953. Beginning in March 1953, when C-119s in the theater were grounded by propeller malfunctions, the C-46s of the 315th TCG moved all personnel between Korea and southern Japan until the end of the war.

19th Troop Carrier Squadron: June 10, 1952-.
34th Troop Carrier Squadron: June 10, 1952-.
43rd Troop Carrier Squadron: June 10, 1952-.
344th Troop Carrier Squadron: June 10-December 14, 1952.

Brady AB, Japan, June 10, 1952-.

Lt. Col. Jack L. Crawford, Jr., June 10, 1952 Lt. Col. Gene I. Martin, December 5, 1952-.

Korea, Summer-Fall 1952 Third Korean Winter Korea, Summer 1953.

Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation for period [June 10, 1952]- July 27, 1953.

374th Troop Carrier Wing, Heavy
In June 1950, the 374th TCW was the only air transport wing assigned to Fifth Air Force. By early September 1950, it was attached to the 1st Troop Carrier Task Force (Provisional), then on September 10 to the FEAF Combat Cargo Command (Provisional). It was reassigned to the 315th Air Division (Combat Cargo) from January 1951 through the end of the war. The Wing's assigned and attached components flew a variety of aircraft, including C-54s, C-46s, C-47s, C-119s, and C-124s, performing combat airlift, airdrops, and aeromedical evacuation in Korea throughout the war.

1st Troop Carrier Group, Provisional: attached August 26, 1950-January 10, 1951.
374th Troop Carrier Group: duration.
21st Troop Carrier Squadron: attached June 29, 1951-March 28, 1952.
47th Troop Carrier Squadron, Provisional: attached January 10-26, 1951.
6142nd Air Transport Unit: attached August 1-October 1, 1950.
6143rd Air Transport Unit: attached July 26-October 1, 1950.
6144th Air Transport Unit: attached July 26-October 1, 1950.

Tachikawa AB, Japan, duration.

Col. Troy W. Crawford, -September 1951 Col. Charles W. Howe, September 1951 Col. James W. Chapman, Jr., August 9, 1952-.

UN Defensive UN Offensive CCF Intervention First UN Counteroffensive CCF Spring Offensive UN Summer-Fall Offensive Second Korean Winter Korea, Summer-Fall 1952 Third Korean Winter Korea, Summer 1953.

Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation for period July 1, 1951-July 27, 1953.

374th Troop Carrier Group, Heavy
When the Korean War began in June 1950, the 374th TCG controlled the 6th and 22nd Squadrons based in Japan and equipped with C-54s and the 21st Squadron based in the Philippines and equipped with C-47s and C-54s. Within twelve hours of the North Korean attack, the group began transporting cargo to Korea and evacuating personnel on return trips. The 374th TCG moved personnel, equipment, ammunitions, gasoline, rockets, rations, water, medical items, barbed wire, guns, and other materials from Japan to Suwon and Pusan , South Korea, to supply the U.S. Army. The 21st TCS moved to Japan on June 29 to come under control of FEAF Combat Cargo Command. Between mid-September and mid-December 1950, the group operated mostly from Ashiya AB, Japan, then from October 23 to November 12, it operated from bases in Korea, landing war essentials and other cargo at various small forward airstrips near UN fighting forces. A C-47-equipped squadron of the Royal Thailand Air Force operated with the 374th TCG during this period. After moving back to Tachikawa AB, Japan in mid-December, the group continued to airlift supplies and personnel in support of UN action in Korea. The 6th and 22nd TCSs transitioned from C-54s to C-124s in mid-1952. In Operation LITTLE SWITCH, the 374th transported the first group of repatriated prisoners of war from Korea to Japan in April 1953, and after the ceasefire in Operation BIG SWITCH it airlifted UN personnel who had been the enemy's prisoners.

4th Troop Carrier Squadron: attached December 2-17, 1950 and July 25-November 16, 1951.
6th Troop Carrier Squadron: duration.
14th Troop Carrier Squadron: attached November 16, 1951-March 26, 1952 and November 15-30, 1952.
21st Troop Carrier Squadron: duration except detached c. September 10, 1950-June 25, 1951 and June 29, 1951-November 30, 1952.
22nd Troop Carrier Squadron: duration.
344th Troop Carrier Squadron: attached December 14, 1952-.

Tachikawa AB, Japan, duration except deployed at Ashiya AB, Japan, c. September 15-December 17, 1950.

Lt. Col. Benjamin M. Tarver, Jr., -July 22, 1950 Col. Herbert A. Bott, July 22, 1950 Col. Charles W. Howe, July 1951 Col. Edward H. Nigro, September 1951 Lt. Col. James F. Hogan, April 20, 1952 Col. Edward H. Nigro, August 26, 1952 Lt. Col. Frederick C. Johnson, November 11, 1952 Lt. Col. Harold P. Dixon, December 19, 1952 Lt. Col. Frederick C. Johnson, c. January 1953 Col. Francis W. Williams, April 24, 1953-.

UN Defensive UN Offensive CCF Intervention First UN Counteroffensive CCF Spring Offensive UN Summer-Fall Offensive Second Korean Winter Korea, Summer-Fall 1952 Third Korean Winter Korea, Summer 1953.

Distinguished Unit Citation for actions June 27-September 15, 1950.
Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation for period July 1, 1951-July 27, 1953.

403rd Troop Carrier Wing, Medium
The personnel of the Reserve 403rd Troop Carrier Wing moved from Oregon to Japan in April 1952. At Ashiya AB, in addition to its 403rd TCG, the wing gained operational control of the 314th TCG with its three assigned squadrons as well as two separate squadrons. The 314th TCG flew C-119 Flying Boxcars, and the attached squadrons flew C/VC-47s and C-54s. The 403rd TRW supported the Far East Command and UN forces. It inactivated on January 1, 1953, returning to Reserve status.

314th Troop Carrier Group: attached April 14-December 31, 1952.
403rd Troop Carrier Group: -January 1, 1953.
21st Troop Carrier Squadron: attached April 14-c. September 12, 1952 and further attached to the 314th Troop Carrier Group, April 14-c. June 1952.
6461st Troop Carrier Squadron: attached December 1-31, 1952.

Ashiya AB, Japan, April 14, 1952-January 1, 1953.

Col. Philip H. Best, April 14, 1952 Col. Maurice F. Casey, Jr., May 15, 1952-January 1, 1953.

Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation for period [April 14, 1952]-[ January 1,] 1953.

403rd Troop Carrier Group, Medium
The 403rd TCG moved to Ashiya AB, Japan, in April 1952 without aircraft and for the next month trained to fly newly acquired C-119s. From then until the end of 1952, it dropped paratroops and supplies, transported personnel and equipment, and evacuated casualties in support of the Far East Command and UN forces. The group flew over 6,300 flights dropped almost 10,000 personnel, over 18,000 tons of cargo, and 380 tons of supplies and airlifted almost 14,000 medical patients. It returned to Reserve status on January 1, 1953.

63rd Troop Carrier Squadron: -January 1, 1953.
64th Troop Carrier Squadron: -January 1, 1953.
65th Troop Carrier Squadron: -January 1, 1953.

Ashiya AB, Japan, April 14, 1952-January 1, 1953.

Lt. Col. Henry C. Althaus, -April 22, 1952 Maj. Wallace C. Forsythe, April 22, 1952 Lt. Col. Ernest W. Burton, August 1952-January 1, 1953.

Korea, Summer-Fall 1952 Third Korean Winter.

Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation for period [April 14, 1952]-[ January 1,] 1953.

437th Troop Carrier Wing, Medium
The 437th TCW, the first Reserve wing called to active duty in the Korean War, moved from the United States to Japan in three echelons in late October and early November 1950. It absorbed most of the personnel and equipment of the provisional 1st TCG in January 1951. In addition to its combat support missions, the wing assumed responsibility for most scheduled courier flights in Japan and Korea. During seven months of Korean service, the 437th TCW carried almost 66,000 tons of cargo, 6,500 patients, and 240,000 passengers. Inactivated on June 10, 1952, it returned to Reserve status.

437th Troop Carrier Group: -June 10, 1952.

Brady Field, Japan, November 8, 1950-June 10, 1952.

Brig.Gen. John P. Henebry, -January 26, 1951 Col. John W. Lacey, January 26, 1951 Col. John R. Roche, February 26, 1951 Col. Kenneth W. Northamer, May-June 10, 1952.

CCF Intervention First UN Counteroffensive CCF Spring Offensive UN Summer-Fall Offensive Second Korean Winter Korea, Summer-Fall 1952.

Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation for period July 1, 1951-[June 10, 1952].

437th Troop Carrier Group, Medium
The 437th TCG's C-46 aircraft began arriving in Japan in early November1950. Almost immediately the group, in three intensive days, helped to deliver combat materiel to UN ground forces at Pyongyang while evacuating personnel and equipment from forward bases in North Korea. During December, the C-46s continued to deliver combat materiel to the frontline and evacuate ground forces from Sinanju, Pyongyang, and Yonpo, North Korea and from Seoul and Suwon, South Korea. In a five-day period in December, it airlifted almost 2,500 patients from Korea to Japan. When the UN forces regained the initiative in early 1951, the 437th TCG began flying airdrop missions to supply Eighth Army frontline troops. In March, it air-dropped the 187th Regimental Combat Team and two Ranger companies, along with over fifteen tons of ammunition, food, and signal equipment at Munsan-ni. From June to October 1951 and again in the spring of 1952, the 437th TCG flew insecticide spraying missions to hold down disease in South Korea.

83rd Troop Carrier Squadron: -June 10, 1952.
84th Troop Carrier Squadron: -June 10, 1952.
85th Troop Carrier Squadron: -June 10, 1952.
86th Troop Carrier Squadron: January 26, 1951-June 10, 1952.

Brady AB, Japan, November 8, 1950-June 10, 1952.

Col. John R. Roche, -January 1951 Lt. Col. Edward H. Nigro, January 1951 Lt. Col. George W. Sutcliffe, March 5, 1951 Lt. Col. Jack L. Crawford, Jr., September 5, 1951-June 10, 1952.

CCF Intervention First UN Counteroffensive CCF Spring Offensive UN Summer-Fall Offensive Second Korean Winter Korea, Summer-Fall 1952.

Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation for period July 1, 1951-[June 10, 1952].

483rd Troop Carrier Wing, Medium
Activated on January 1, 1953 to replace the 403rd TCW, 483rd TCW controlled the 314th TCG as well as its own 483rd TCG. It assumed responsibility for C-119 troop carrier and air transport operations in a large area of the Far East. Using virtually every pilot and aircraft of both groups, it moved approximately 4,000 paratroopers and their equipment from southern Japan to Korea in June-early July 1953.

314th Troop Carrier Group: attached January 1, 1953-.
483rd Troop Carrier Group: January 1, 1953-.
6461st Troop Carrier Squadron: January 1, 1953-.

Ashiya AB, Japan, January 1, 1953-.

Col. Maurice F. Casey, Jr., January 1, 1953-.

Third Korean Winter Korea, Summer 1953.

Air Force Outstanding Unit Award for period May 6, 1953-September 10, 1954 partly for transporting supplies to UN forces in Korea to the end of the conflict.
Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation for period [January 1,]- July 27, 1953.

483rd Troop Carrier Group, Medium
The 483rd TCG transported personnel and supplies by C-119 s from Japan to Korea. During the final months of the conflict, it alternated with the 314th TCG to airdrop supplies to a detachment of the 502nd Tactical Control Group, located on a five thousand-foot mountain near Chongmong-ni. In late June 1953, the 483rd TCG airlifted reinforcements and cargo to areas behind the western half of the UN line.

815th Troop Carrier Squadron: January 1, 1953-.
816th Troop Carrier Squadron: January 1, 1953-.
817th Troop Carrier Squadron: January 1, 1953-.

Ashiya AB, Japan, January 1, 1953-.

Lt. Col. Ernest W. Burton, January 1, 1953 Col. George M. Foster, March 1, 1953-.

Third Korean Winter Korea, Summer 1953.

Air Force Outstanding Unit Award for period May 6, 1953-September 10, 1954, partly for transporting supplies to UN forces in Korea until the end of the conflict.
Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation for period [January 1]- July 27, 1953.

Class 1944-E

Shirley Grimson, wife
Of Tucson, AZ 2nd Lt.
April 7, 1920 – May 2, 2016.
Wife: Mary Gurley Grisham

He survived the war and ultimately retired from the AF in 1969.

2nd Lt.
Born May 4, 1918 in Detroit, MI
Died Sept. 13, 2000
See Find-A-Grave Born April 24, 1924 in Chicago.
Deceased Feb 20, 2000.

Click here for a larger version that opens in a new window.

Hartsville, TN
Buried Willow Grove Cemetery, Davidson Co., TN

He graduated from Napier Field, AL (Single Engine), S/N: O-832699. He was in the 356th Fighter Group 361st Fighter Sqdn flying P-51s with the 8th AF.

Click here for a picture on a P-51 with John W. Simpson (class 44D) and S/SGT James Gonyo (Jack’s crew chief).

Click here for a picture of Jack’s P-51, Bit O’Heaven, 1st Scouting Force, Bassingbourn, England.


Operational history [ edit | edit source ]

Republic F-84B-21-RE Thunderjets of the 14th Fighter Group, Dow AFB Maine, 1948. Visible serial numbers are 46–548, 46–535 and 46-581.

North American F-51D-30-NA Mustangs from the 82nd Fighter Group (CONAC), Grenier AFB, New Hampshire, 1949. Shown are "Jazz Baby II" and "Elaine M II" (44-74987)

F-80s and F-47s of the 36th Fighter and 86th Composite Groups over Germany, 1948.

World War II showed the effectiveness of tactical air power in supporting army ground forces. However, the rapid demobilization in late 1945 meant that the huge air armada that had brought Germany to her knees and victory in Europe had been downsized to a shadow of its former self.

Headquarters United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) had little money and most of the wartime personnel had returned to civilian life. Many of its aircraft were being sent to storage or the scrapyards, although the increasing tension with the Soviet Union meant that combat military forces were was still needed. The big questions were how much and what kind of forces. Ώ]

A major realignment of the USAAF was undertaken in early 1946. As part of the realignment, three major command divisions within the Continental United States (CONUS) were formed: Strategic Air Command, Tactical Air Command, and Air Defense Command. Each was given a specific responsibility, using assets prescribed to accomplish the assigned mission. Tactical Air Command was formed to command, organize, equip, train and administer assigned or attached forces. It was to plan for and participate in tactics for fighter, light bombardment and other aircraft. These included tactical fighters, tactical bombers, tactical missiles, troop carrier aircraft, assault, reconnaissance and support units. TAC also planned for and developed the capability to deploy tactical striking forces anywhere in the world.

During its existence, Tactical Air Command deployed personnel, material and/or aircraft to Asia, Africa, North America, South America, Europe and Australia in support of its prescribed mission.

TAC's original authorization was 25,500 officers and enlisted men. Aircraft assets available consisted of propeller-driven North American P-51 Mustangs, Republic P-47 Thunderbolts and a handful of the new jet-powered Lockheed P-80 Shooting Stars. TAC was also given control of the Third Air Force, Ninth Air Force and Twelfth Air Force. Ώ]

Berlin Airlift [ edit | edit source ]

On 18 September 1947 the United States Air Force was established as a separate military force, with TAC as one of its major commands. Just a few months later, in March 1948 the first test of the United States' resolve began with the blockade of Berlin by the Soviet Union, and the need for tactical air power in Europe to underscore the airlift mission was necessary.

At the time there was only one USAFE tactical air unit available in Europe, the 86th Composite Group at Neubiberg Air Base near Munich, flying P-47Ds. TAC was called upon to send additional units and aircraft to Europe to reinforce the 86th FG. The 36th Fighter Group was transferred from Howard AAF in the Panama Canal Zone to Furstenfeldbruck Air Base flying Lockheed F-80B "Shooting Stars".

In addition to the tactical fighter aircraft, TAC also deployed available C-47s to Europe, transferring them to the United States Air Forces, Europe, which was in control of the airlift. As the airlift continued, TAC also transferred available C-54s to Europe, where they were assigned to the troop carrier groups that had been sent to Germany for the airlift.

Consequently, the Soviet Union entered into negotiations which culminated in an agreement, signed on 5 May 1949, that resulted in the lifting of the blockade, but it did not settle the basic issue of freedom of access. Despite the resumption of surface traffic into the city, the airlift continued until 30 September to mass a reserve of food, fuel, and other supplies in the event the Soviets reimposed the blockade.

Continental Air Command [ edit | edit source ]

In December 1948 Air Defense Command and Tactical Air Command were brought together to form Continental Air Command (ConAC). HQ TAC was reduced to the status of an operational headquarters under CONAC. This move reflected an effort to concentrate all fighter forces deployed within the continental United States to strengthen the air defense of the North American continent. Ώ]

The creation of ConAC was largely an administrative convenience: the units assigned to ConAC were dual-trained and expected to revert to their primary strategic or tactical roles after the air defense battle was won.

Two years later, on 1 December 1950, the Air Force reestablished Tactical Air Command as a major command and removed it from assignment to ConAC in large part due to the need to deploy personnel and aircraft to Japan and South Korea due to the Korean War. Ώ]

Korean War [ edit | edit source ]

Lockheed RF-80A-15-LO Shooting Star Serial 44-85260 of the 67th Tactical Reconnaissance Group.

Fairchild C-119B Flying Boxcar Serial 48-352 of the 314th Troop Carrier Group.

On the morning of 25 June 1950, the peace in South Korea was shattered by the clanking of tanks. The North Korean army had crossed the 38th parallel and were driving south towards the South Korean capital of Seoul. The United States Air Force, weakened by demobilization and preoccupied with the threat of the Soviet Union, was thrust into its first war as a separate service when North Korea invaded South Korea.

Air bases in the United States went on mobility alert to prepare for overseas movement in response to the Korean Emergency. Units from SAC and CONAC were deployed to Japan and South Korea. Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard units were also called up to active duty and placed under Federal Service in case they were needed. What started out as an emergency turned into a bona-fide war. The Korean War marked the creation of a professional Air Force that would grow in size and strength for decades to come.

From the start, the deployed tactical fighters and bombers to Japan and South Korea were effective. For example, on 10 July a North Korean armored column was trapped at a bombed-out bridge near Pyongtaek. F-80s, B-26s, and F-82s destroyed 117 trucks, 38 tanks, and seven half-tracks. This attack, along with others, gutted North Korea's single armored division. Had it survived, it could easily have punched through the United Nations (UN) defensive line at Pusan and driven UN Command (UNC) forces into the sea.

By the end of August 1950, the initial North Korean onslaught was reversed and Seoul was retaken. As the United Nations forces advanced into North Korea, forces from the Communist China stepped in to help their North Korean allies. The UN advance ground to a halt in December, then retreated south in early 1951, tactical aircraft continued to support of United Nations forces. Eventually the line stabilized along the 38th Parallel, where a stalemate ensued for the next two years. Ώ]

Known TAC units and aircraft deployed to Far East Air Forces (1950–1953) [ edit | edit source ]

Units and aircraft were stationed both in South Korea and Japan and attached to Fifth Air Force during their deployment to Far East Air Forces (FEAF). This list does not include ConAC Air Force Reserve or Air National Guard tactical air units federalized and deployed to FEAF during the Korean War. ΐ] 0912799129</ref> Α]

United States Air Forces in Europe [ edit | edit source ]

North American F-86F-30-NA Sabres of the 50th FBW flying over West Germany. Serial 52-4656 is in front. The 50th was formed at Cannon Air Force Base, New Mexico in 1953, then transferred to Hahn Air Base, West Germany. The 50th FW was assigned to USAFE for nearly 40 years throughout the Cold War.

F-86F-35-NA Serial 53-1222 of the 49th Fighter-Bomber Wing, 1955

Republic F-84F-50-RE Thunderstreak, Serial 52-6852 of the 81st Fighter-Bomber Wing, 91st Fighter-Bomber Squadron, about 1955.

Even with the active war in Korea raging, in the early 1950s Europe received a higher priority of air power than Korea by the Truman Administration and the Department of Defense. Deterring the threat of a Communist takeover of Western Europe was considered more important to the long-term survival of the United States than a Communist victory in Korea.

In September 1950, NATO’s Military Committee had called for an ambitious buildup of conventional forces to meet the Soviets, subsequently reaffirming this position at the February 1952 meeting of the Atlantic Council in Lisbon which had established a goal of ultimately fielding 96 divisions in the event of a conventional war in 1954. In support of this, the United States Air Forces in Europe (USAFE), which consisted of 16 wings totaling 2,100 aircraft, was programmed to expand to 28 wings, 22 of them in NATO's Central Region alone, backed by deployed Strategic Air Command units sent from CONUS. Ώ]

The USAF reassigned combat wings from TAC to USAFE during the period from April 1951 through December 1954. These were: ΐ]

These wings gave USAFE/NATO approximately 500 fighters, 100 light bombers, 100 tactical reconnaissance aircraft, 100 tactical airlift transports, and 18,000 personnel.

Rotational Deployments to Mediterranean Bases [ edit | edit source ]

With the phase-out of the B-47 Stratojet from SAC in the mid-1960s, the need for Strategic Air Command "Reflex" European bases diminished and the Sixteenth Air Force was turned over to the USAFE on 15 April 1966.

Prior to 1966, TAC routinely deployed CONUS-based North American F-100 Super Sabre wings to Sixteenth Air Force bases in Spain, as well as to Aviano Air Base in Italy. With USAFE taking possession of these bases from SAC, Tactical Air Command reassigned the 401st Tactical Fighter Wing from England Air Force Base, Louisiana to USAFE on a permanent basis to Torrejon Air Base, Spain on 27 April to perform host functions at the base. and to support the rotational TDY duty to Italy and Turkey for NATO alerts.

However, with the 401st's fighter squadrons deployed to South Vietnam, squadrons from Homestead AFB, Florida and Myrtle Beach AFB, South Carolina were utilized to fill the need in Spain. These squadrons remained in Europe until 1970, when the drawdown in Vietnam allowed the squadrons from the 401st, which were deployed to Southest Asia, to rejoin their home unit.

Composite Air Strike Force [ edit | edit source ]

Photograph of the "Century Series" of Tactical Fighters. Starting at the bottom moving clockwise, Lockheed F-104 Starfighter, F-100 Super Sabre, Convair F-102 Delta Dagger, McDonnell F-101 Voodoo, and Republic F-105 Thunderchief. All served in TAC except the F-102, which did serve with ADC, USAFE, PACAF and ADC-gained ANG units.

In the aftermath of the Korean War, TAC developed the Composite Air Strike Force (CASF) concept, a mobile rapid-deployment strike concept designed to respond to "brush fire" conflicts around the world. A CASF included fighter bomber aircraft for both conventional and nuclear attack missions, as well as troop carrier, tanker, and tactical reconnaissance assets. TAC composite air strike forces were intended to augment existing combat units already in place as part of United States Air Forces in Europe (USAFE), the Pacific Air Forces (PACAF), or the Alaskan Air Command (AAC).

In addition, the new Century Series of TAC fighters were making their first flights, designed from the lessons learned in the air over Korea. As these new fighters and new transport aircraft came on line, there were problems with each one. TAC pilots risked life and limb to iron out the problems and make these aircraft fully operational.

Also, with the development of air refueling, TAC could now flex its muscles and demonstrate true global mobility. Deployments to Europe and the Far East became a way of life for TAC units. When Strategic Air Command abandoned its fighter escort force in 1957, those aircraft were transferred to TAC, further augmenting its strength.

The first deployment of the Composite Air Strike Force took place in July 1958 in response to an imminent coup d'état in Lebanon. TAC scrambled forces across the Atlantic to Turkey, where their presence was intended to force an end to the crisis. A similar CASF was deployed in response to conflicts between China and Taiwan in 1958.

CASF received another test in 1961, when the Berlin Crisis resulted in TAC quickly deploying 210 aircraft to Europe, consisting of 144 North American F-100D Super Sabres and 54 Lockheed F-104C Starfighters, but also including 6 McDonnell RF-101 Voodoo and 6 Douglas RB-66C Destroyer reconnaissance aircraft. Also as part of the CASF, the Air National Guard subsequently deployed 36 Lockheed F-104A Starfighters, 54 North American F-86H Sabres, and 90 Republic F-84F Thunderstreaks.

In 1961 Robert McNamara organized the United States Strike Command to integrate CASF efforts with those of the Strategic Army Corps. TAC had gone from a meager postwar force to a force capable of putting the right amount of assets in the right place when they were needed. Ώ]

Tactical Missiles [ edit | edit source ]

Martin TM-61C "Matador" cruise missile of the 585th Tactical Missile Group, 38th Tactical Missile Wing based at Bitburg Air Base, West Germany, 1958.

In 1949 TAC began testing the B-61, later redesignated as TM-61 (Tactical Missile) Martin MGM-1 Matador surface-to-surface cruise missile at Holloman AFB, NM. The initial flight ended in a crash, but the 2nd launch was successful and outran the chase aircraft. Testing continued with launches of 46 missiles at both Holloman AFB and Cape Canaveral, FL, and in March 1954, the first operational missile squadron in the U.S. Air Force was deployed to Bitburg, Germany, the 1st Pilotless Bomber Squadron. Launches at Holloman and Canaveral continued until 1963. In 1954, another model, the TM-76A Martin CGM-13B Mace began development at Holloman AFB, with its first launch in 1956. The ATRAN (Automatic Terrain Recognition and Navigation) Mace "A" was launched from a mobile translauncher while the inertially guided Mace "B" was launched from a hardened bunker. Both used a solid fuel booster rocket for initial acceleration and an Allison J33 turbojet for flight. The TM-76B, redesignated as CGM-13B remained on alert until 30 April 1969 with the 71st TMS at Bitburg, and until October 1969 with the 498th TMG at Kadena, Okinawa. As TAC was responsible for training crews that were assigned to both PACAF and USAFE, the only tactical missiles in TAC's inventory were the training missiles of the 4504th MTW at Orlando AFB, FL.

Ninth Air Force (TAC), while headquartered at Shaw AFB, SC, maintained the USAF Tactical Missile School at Orlando AFB, FL, under command of the 4504th Missile Training Wing, from 1956 until 1966, when the MGM-13A was phased out and the remaining CGM-13B was transferred to Lowry AFB, CO.

The U.S. Army had largely assumed the tactical missile program until the 1980s when the General Dynamics BGM-109G "Tomahawk" GLCM was deployed along with the Army's Pershing II missile to counter the mobile medium- and intermediate- range ballistic nuclear missiles deployed by the Soviet Union in Eastern Bloc countries.

This entire class of weaponry was eliminated by the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF treaty), and thus reducing both the number and the threat of nuclear warheads. Ώ]

Cuban Missile Crisis [ edit | edit source ]

The Cold War took on a frightening phase in October 1962. Routine photo reconnaissance flights over Cuba revealed that the Soviet Union was in the process of placing nuclear missiles on that island. In response the United States let it be known that any use of those missiles against any country in the hemisphere would be considered an attack on the United States and a full nuclear response would be the result. The United States and the Soviet Union stood eyeball to eyeball at the brink of nuclear exchange.

Following the Bay of Pigs fiasco, Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev increased Soviet aid to Cuba, including military supplies. In August 1962, the Soviet Union, with Cuban cooperation, began to build Intermediate-range ballistic missile IRBM) and Medium-range ballistic missile (MRBM) sites on the island. The American intelligence community, suspicious of the construction on the island, needed tangible proof and called for photographic reconnaissance. Β]

Photographic Reconnaissance [ edit | edit source ]

McDonnell RF-101C-65-MC Voodoo AF Serial No. 56-0068 of the 363d Tactical Reconnaissance Wing. This aircraft is currently on static display at the Keesler AFB, Mississippi Air Park.

On 11 October 1962, Headquarters Strategic Air Command (SAC) notified the 4080th Strategic Wing at Laughlin Air Force Base, Texas, to "freeze" two officers, Maj. Richard S. Heyser and Maj. Rudolf Anderson Jr., for a special project. They reported to Edwards AFB, California, where they received orders to conduct strategic reconnaissance flights over Cuba. On 13 October, Major Anderson deployed to McCoy AFB, Florida, to join a U-2 aircraft ferried in for the special mission. Meantime, Major Heyser launched from Edwards AFB in a U-2 equipped to photograph suspect sites on the island. He arrived over the island during daylight on 14 October. The next day, Major Anderson made his flight from McCoy. Photographs obtained on these flights confirmed that Soviet/Cuban crews had launch pads under construction that, when completed, could fire nuclear-armed IRBMs with a range of approximately 5,000 miles and MRBMs with a range of approximately 3,000 miles. Β]

While the SAC U-2s flew high-altitude reconnaissance missions, the staff of the 363d Tactical Reconnaissance Wing at Shaw AFB, South Carolina, was made aware of the potential need for low-level flights over Cuba. Mission planners at Shaw began planning such flights and preparing target folders. On 21 October, HQ Tactical Air Command ordered the 363d to deploy to MacDill AFB, Florida. The wing began immediately to move RF-101 Voodoo and RB-66 Destroyer aircraft, personnel, and photographic equipment to Florida. By the next morning, the aircraft were at MacDill, cameras cocked, ready to carry out any reconnaissance missions. Β]

Douglas RB-66B 53-475 of the 39th Tactical Electronics Warfare Training Squadron, now at the National Museum of the United States Air Force

While aircrews went on alert, support personnel expanded the base photo-laboratory facilities and installed photo vans and darkrooms. Because of a shortage of adequate facilities, aircrews and other airmen occupied temporary, inadequate, wooden barracks that hampered crew rest. After trying off-base housing, the aircrews moved to permanent airmen's quarters on the base for the remainder of the deployment. Β]

On 26 October, the wing launched the first flight of two low-level reconnaissance aircraft. For the next three weeks, wing aircraft, by photographic and visual reconnaissance, gathered vital data, including prestrike intelligence, air-surveillance verification of Cuban buildup, and subsequent dismantling of the IRBM and MRBM sites and Soviet Ilyushin Il-28 jet tactical bombers. Because of the possibility of alternate sites and concealed storage facilities, the wing initiated intensive low-level aerial search efforts. Other flights returned with highly significant photographs of missiles and related equipment on docks at Cuban ports, the loading of Soviet freighters, and the deck cargo of Soviet ships entering and leaving Cuban ports. Consequently, the President of the United States was constantly aware of Soviet actions regarding the withdrawal of the missiles from Cuba. Β]

Analysis of the 363d photographs provided a wide range of essential intelligence concerning Cuba. Frequent sorties over major Cuban airfields provided daily information on the number, type, and specific location of Cuban aircraft. Photos also revealed the number and location of assembled, partially assembled, or unassembled IL-28 Soviet twin-engine tactical bombers with a range of 1,500 miles. This information was vital to establish immediate air superiority if strike forces went into action. On one of these missions, the 363d discovered the first evidence of the existence of infrared homing air-to-air missiles (Soviet AA-2s). Surface-to-air missile (SAM) sites proved to be prime targets for low-level reconnaissance missions. The wing also garnered extensive intelligence concerning Cuban ground equipment, military encampments, cruise-missile sites, and possible landing beaches. Β]

Tactical combat aircraft deployment to Florida bases [ edit | edit source ]

SAC ordered continual U-2 reconnaissance flights over Cuba, and at the same time, in order to make room for fighter aircraft, ordered the deployment of medium and heavy bombers and tanker aircraft from MacDill, McCoy, and Homestead AFBs in Florida. In mid-October, the Nineteenth Air Force moved from its home base, Seymour Johnson AFB, North Carolina, to Homestead AFB, Florida. Once at Homestead, the Nineteenth spearheaded the deployment of TAC units at the beginning of the Cuban missile crisis. TAC began deploying F-84, F-100, F-105, RB-66, and KB-50 units and aircraft to bases in Florida. Β] Γ] Δ]

The Nineteenth's commander headed the main air operations center, the Air Force Atlantic Advanced Operational Nucleus (ADVON). Augmented by airmen and officers from other TAC air forces, Air Force Atlantic ADVON soon controlled nearly 1,000 aircraft and 7,000 men and women. During the Cuban Missile Crisis four primary Air Elements were organized and postured in Florida. Air Force record cards and historical records contain the following information:

12th Tactical Fighter Wing F-84F Thunderstreaks

Republic F-105D-5-RE Thunderchief Serial 58-1158 deployed to McCoy AFB, FL by the 4th TFW during the Cuban Missile Crisis.

North American F-100F-10-NA Super Sabre serial 56-3869 of the 354th Tactical Fighter Wing, deployed to McCoy AFB. The aircraft is marked as the Wing Commander's aircraft.

  • Hq, Air Force Provisional 33 (Fighter Recon). It was organized at Homestead AFB, FL, and assigned to Tactical Air Command, with attachment to Air Force Atlantic (Main). The Air Division Provisional 1, 2, and 3 were assigned as elements at the same time.
  • HQ, Air Division Provisional 1 was organized at Homestead AFB, Florida, and assigned to the Air Force Provisional 33 (Fighter Reconnaissance). On 29 Oct 1962, the division was relieved from assignment to Air Force Provisional 33 and assigned directly to Tactical Air Command. At the same time, it was attached to the Air Force Atlantic (ADVON). Serving in the division were deployed elements of the following Wings: Ε]
  • HQ, Air Division Provisional 2 was also organized at McCoy AFB, Florida, and assigned to AF Prov 33 (Ftr Recon). On 29 Oct 1962, the division was relieved from assignment to 33 AF Prov 33 (Ftr Recon) and assigned directly to Tactical Air Command, with attachment to AF Atlantic (ADVON).
  • Hq, Air Division Provisional 3 was organized at MacDill AFB, Florida, and assigned to AF Prov 33 (Ftr Recon). On 29 Oct 1962, the division was relieved from assignment to 33 AF Prov 33 (Ftr Recon) and assigned directly to Tactical Air Command, with attachment to AF Atlantic (ADVON).

Civilian airports in Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach also received TAC Units. TAC recon RF-101 "Voodo" aircraft from Shaw AFB were flying over Cuba on a daily basis photographing suspected missile sites and Cuban military bases to keep an eye on what was going on. In some cases the films were flown directly to Washington, D.C. and onto President John F. Kennedy's desk within hours of being taken. Β]

General Walter C. Sweeney, Jr., Commander of Tactical Air Command, proposed an operational plan which called first for an air attack on the surface-to-air missile (SAM) sites in the vicinity of known medium range (MRBM) and intermediate range ballistics missile (IRBM) launchers by eight fighter-bombers per SAM site. Concurrently, each of the Cuban MiG airfields thought to be protecting MRBM/IRBM sites were to be struck by at least twelve fighters. Following the air-strikes on SAM sites and MiG airfields, each MRBM and IRBM launch site was to be attacked by at least twelve aircraft. General Sweeney's plan was accepted and, additionally, Cuban Ilyushin Il-28 "Beagle" Bombers were added to the target list. Ζ]

Crisis resolution [ edit | edit source ]

President Kennedy presents AFOUA to the 363 TRW in 1962 in recognition of the unit's actions associated with the Cuban Missile Crisis.

While the invasion forces gathered in Florida, Kennedy ordered the state department to develop a plan for civil government in Cuba. Former Secretary of State Dean Acheson and the Joint Chiefs favored an invasion, but Attorney General Robert Kennedy vehemently opposed that plan and instead advocated a blockade. The President listened to his brother, and on 22 October 1962, appeared on television to explain to America and the world that the United States was imposing a strict quarantine on offensive military equipment being shipped to Cuba. Kennedy also warned Khrushchev that the United States would regard any missile attack from Cuba as an attack from the Soviet Union and would retaliate against the Soviet Union. Β] The quarantine began on 24 October. Tension mounted as the Soviets continued to work on the missile sites and their ships continued moving toward Cuba. Then on 26 October, Khrushchev sent another message in which he offered to withdraw or destroy the weapons in Cuba, provided the United States would lift the blockade and promise not to invade the island. The increasing tempo in the military, however, continued unabated. SAC ordered over sixty B-52 bombers to continue on airborne alert. TAC forces in Florida assumed a one-hour alert and prepared to go to a fifteen-minute alert, which involved pilots waiting in aircraft for launch orders. Β]

After a heated debate Robert Kennedy met with the Soviet Ambassador, Anatoly Dobrynin, and in effect, promised to remove the American missiles from Turkey. This promise was sufficient. The next day the Soviet Union informed the United States that the missiles in Cuba would be withdrawn. The Soviets began turning their ships around, packing up the missiles in Cuba, and dismantling the launch pads. As the work progressed, the Air Force started to deploy aircraft back to home bases and lower the alert status. Β]

The United States and Soviet Union stepped back from the brink, and the crisis was resolved without armed conflict. Never in the history of the Cold War had we come so very close to mutual nuclear destruction. Ώ]

Vietnam War [ edit | edit source ]

North American F-100D-85-NH Super Sabre Serial 56-3460 of the 27th TFW, deployed on TDY to Takhli Royal Thai Air Force Base in 1964 from Cannon AFB, New Mexico.

RF-101C serial 56–176 of the 460th Tactical Recon Squadron – Ton Son Nhut Air Base – 1969

F-105s with an EB-66 from the 355th TFW based at Takhli Royal Thai Air Force Base.

McDonnell F-4D-29-MC Phantom Serial Number 66-0234 of the 8th Tactical Fighter Wing at Ubon Royal Thai Air Force Base with laser-guided bombs on a mission north. The 8th TFW deployed to Thailand from George AFB, California in 1965.

A-7D-10-CV Serial 71-0309 from the 388th TFW, Korat RTAFB Thailand, 1973. After the end of Vietnam War, the 388th TFW returned to Hill AFB, Utah.

With the Kennedy Administration, there was the onset of low intensity guerrilla wars, and wars of insurgency. During 1963, the situation in South Vietnam was heating up on a daily basis. More and more "advisors" were being sent to that small country in Southeast Asia. Η]

Special Operations Units [ edit | edit source ]

Air Force Special Forces units became part of the command in 1961 when a counter-insurgency force was activated at Eglin AFB, Florida. Aircraft of these units consisted of a combination of propeller-driven World War II-vintage fighters, modified trainers, Douglas B-26 attack bombers and transports. ⎖] Originally activated as a Combat Crew Training Squadron, the unit was upgraded to a wing and designated as the 1st Air Commando Wing. In 1964 TAC ordered a squadron of specially modified C-130Es to support US Army Special Forces and Central Intelligence Agency teams operating deep inside enemy territory. As the war in Vietnam intensified, additional air commando units were organized in Southeast Asia. In 1968 these units were redesignated as "Special Operations."

Tactical Fighters [ edit | edit source ]

In response to what has become known as the Gulf of Tonkin incident in 1964, Tactical Air Command pilots and support personnel found themselves deployed to places like Da Nang, Takhli, Korat and Phan Rang. Initially TAC began deploying squadrons of F-100 Super Sabre, RF-101 Voodoo and F-105 Thunderchief aircraft to Pacific Air Forces (PACAF) bases in South Vietnam and Thailand

As the American effort in Southeast Asia increased, TAC used a process of deploying squadrons to PACAF operated bases in South Vietnam and Thailand, with the squadrons being attached temporarily on rotational deployments, or being permanently reassigned to the PACAF wing.

For the next decade, TAC would be consumed by operations in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. On a daily basis, flight crews trained by TAC would hurl themselves and their planes at targets across the area of operations, over the skies of North Vietnam. As the command responsible for training aircrews for overseas duty, TAC maintained Readiness Training Units in the United States to train pilots and other aircrew members for fighters, reconnaissance and troop carrier (redesignated tactical airlift after 1 July 1966) squadrons in the Pacific.

Troop Carrier [ edit | edit source ]

In December 1964, TAC deployed a squadron of C-123 Provider assault transports from the 464th Troop Carrier Wing at Pope AFB, North Carolina to Clark Air Base, Philippines, then on to Tan Son Nhut Air Base, South Vietnam to set up a tactical air cargo transportation system. Η]

To support the increased military strength in Southeast Asia, TAC also began deploying its C-130 equipped troop carrier (later re-designated tactical airlift) squadrons to bases in Okinawa and the Philippines. In late 1965, TAC transferred two C-130 wings and two additional squadrons, a total of eight squadrons, to PACAF's 315th Air Division for operations in Southeast Asia.

1972 Spring Invasion [ edit | edit source ]

In 1970, the war was winding down as the conflict was being Vietnamized. Units from the South Vietnamese Air Force (VNAF) took on more and more combat to defend their nation and USAF tactical air strength was being reduced as several air bases were turned over to the VNAF. Η]

Bombing of North Vietnam (Operation Rolling Thunder) had ended in 1968, and as a result North Vietnamese forces had built up their air defenses and continued to pour men and equipment into the South via the Ho Chi Minh Trail. By the beginning of 1972 there were only about 235 USAF tactical combat aircraft in Southeast Asia. Η]

Vietnamization was severely tested by the Easter Offensive of 1972, a massive conventional invasion of South Vietnam by North Vietnamese Army forces in spring 1972. On 30 March 1972 the People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN) launched an all out invasion of South Vietnam with over 13 divisions, pushing South Vietnamese units aside with little difficulty. President Nixon stepped up air strikes to turn back the invasion, or at least to slow it down. Η]

In response to the invasion, TAC deployed both squadrons and wings to air bases in Thailand. Known units deployed were: ΐ]

  • Udorn Royal Thai Air Force Base
  • Ubon Royal Thai Air Force Base
  • Takhli Royal Thai Air Force Base

By October 1972, the effect of the air campaign was being felt in North Vietnam. North Vietnamese delegates returned to the bargaining table in Paris to engage in peace talks in a serious manner. Besides the pressure from USAF, USN and USMC tactical fighters, fighter-bombers and fighter aircraft, as well as USAF B-52 bombers, the political climate in Moscow and Peking had changed to encourage the North Vietnamese to agree to a settlement. Η]

Uneasy Peace 1973 [ edit | edit source ]

On 27 January 1973, the Paris Peace Accords were signed with an effective date of 28 January 1973. For TAC the war in SEA was almost over. With the official end of hostilities came the long awaited release of American Prisoners of War from inside North Vietnam. The last USAF aircraft left South Vietnam at the end of January 1973, and the final group of Americans was released from North Vietnam on 29 March 1973. ⎗]

TAC A-7Ds of the deployed 354th Tactical Fighter Wing deployed at Korat Royal Thai Air Force Base, 1972. An A-7D from the 354th fired the last shot in anger of the Vietnam War on 15 August 1973. A-7Ds from Korat RTAFB maintained an alert status in Thailand and participated in the 1975 SS Mayaguez Rescue.

The accords effectively ended United States military operations in North and South Vietnam. Laos and Cambodia, however, were not signatories to the Paris agreement and remained in states of war with their internal rebel forces. ⎗]

The United States was helping the Royal Laotian government achieve whatever advantage possible before working out a settlement with the Laotian communists and their allies. The USAF flew combat sorties over Laos during January and February 1973. On 17 April, the USAF flew its last mission over Laos, working a handful of targets requested by the Laotian government. ⎗]

In Cambodia there was no peace in 1973. Local communist insurgents of the Khmer Rouge kept up their attacks on the Cambodian capital, Phnom Penh, so the Cambodian Government urgently called upon the U.S. for help and the USAF in Thailand was ordered to carry out a massive bombing campaign against the insurgents on the outskirts of the city.

The Cambodian Army would attempt to attack Khmer Rouge forces, however the rebels would simply slip away and move somewhere else. This tactic effectively succeeded in wearing down the government forces. In July and August 1973, the Khmer Rouge focused on taking Phanom Penh and other major cities.In addition, it was reported that the Khmer Rouge was utilizing tear gas in its attacks. ⎗]

Congressional pressure in Washington grew against these bombings, and on 30 June 1973, the United States Congress passed public law PL 93-50 and 93-52, which cut off all funds for combat in Cambodia and all of Indochina effective 15 August 1973. Air strikes by the USAF peaked just before the deadline, as the Cambodian Army engaged a force of about 10,000 Khmer Rouge rebels that encircled Phnom Penh. ⎗]

The last shot fired in anger in Southeast Asia was by at Tactical Air command A-7D Corsair II of the TAC deployed 354th Tactical Fighter Wing, based at Korat Royal Thai Air Force Base over the suburbs of Phnom Penh. By the end of 1975 all Tactical Air Command units were withdrawn from Southeast Asia.

Known TAC units and aircraft deployed to Southeast Asia (1964–1975) [ edit | edit source ]

  • 3rd Tactical Fighter Wing (F-100) England AFB, LA
  • 4th Tactical Fighter Wing (F-105, F-4) Seymour Johnson AFB, NC
  • 8th Tactical Fighter Wing (F-4) George AFB, CA
  • 12th Tactical Fighter Wing (F-4) MacDill Air Force Base, FL
  • 23d Tactical Fighter Wing (F-105, A-7D) McConnell AFB, KS England AFB, LA
  • 27th Tactical Fighter Wing (F-100) Cannon AFB, NM
  • 31st Tactical Fighter Wing (F-100, F-4) Homestead AFB, FL
  • 33d Tactical Fighter Wing (F-4) Eglin AFB, FL
  • 35th Tactical Fighter Wing (F-4) George AFB, CA
  • 49th Tactical Fighter Wing (F-4) Holloman AFB, NM
  • 314th Troop Carrier Wing (C-130E) Sewart AFB, Tennessee
  • 347th Tactical Fighter Wing (F-111) Cannon AFB, NM
  • 354th Tactical Fighter Wing (F-100, A-7D), Myrtle Beach, AFB SC
  • 355th Tactical Fighter Wing (F-105, A-7D) McConnell AFB KS Davis-Monthan AFB, AZ
  • 366th Tactical Fighter Wing (F-100, F-4) Cannon AFB, NM
  • 388th Tactical Fighter Wing (F-100, F-4) McConnell AFB, KS
  • 463rd Troop Carrier Wing (C-130B) Langley AFB, VA
  • 474th Tactical Fighter Wing (F-100, F-111) Cannon AFB, NM
  • 479th Tactical Fighter Wing (F-4) George AFB, CA (EC-121) Olmsted AFB, PA
  • 363d Tactical Reconnaissance Wing (RB/EB-66) Shaw AFB, SC
  • 432nd Tactical Reconnaissance Wing (RF-101, RF-4C) Shaw AFB, SC
  • 315th Tactical Airlift Wing (C-130) Smyrna/Sewart AFB, TN
  • 507th Tactical Control Group (O-2) Shaw AFB, SC (EC-121D) McClellan AFB, CA
  • 553rd Reconnaissance Wing (EC-121R) Korat Royal Thai Air Force Base, Thailand
  • 29th Troop Carrier Squadron (C-130B) Forbes AFB, KS
  • 41st Troop Carrier Squadron (C-130A) Lockbourne AFB, OH
  • 345th Troop Carrier Squadron (C-130E) Dyess AFB, TX
  • 776th Troop Carrier Squadron (C-130E) Pope AFB, NC

Post-Vietnam era [ edit | edit source ]

Hard lessons had been learned during the Vietnam War. New methods of projecting global air power had been perfected, and several new types of aircraft were developed as a result of some of the lessons and shortcomings that had been learned in the skies over Hanoi. The first F-15A was delivered to TAC's 1st Tactical Fighter Wing at Langley AFB, Virginia in November 1974. Training on the new type began at once. The close air support tank busting A-10 began arriving in March 1977 at Myrtle Beach AFB, South Carolina, equipping the 354th Tactical Fighter Wing, while the first F-16As were assigned to the 388th Tactical Fighter Wing at Hill AFB, Utah in January 1979.

Red Flag Aggressor training [ edit | edit source ]

F-16C aggressor aircraft during Red Flag 06-1

The 57th Fighter Weapons Wing at Nellis AFB Nevada began giving regular units some of the most intense combat training ever achieved through the Red Flag program, beginning in 1976.

The origin of Red Flag was the unacceptable performance of U.S. Air Force pilots in air combat maneuvering (ACM) (air-to-air combat) during the Vietnam War in comparison to previous wars. Air combat over North Vietnam between 1965 and 1973 led to an overall exchange ratio (ratio of enemy aircraft shot down to the number of own aircraft lost to enemy fighters) of 2.2:1 (for a period of time in June and July 1972 during Operation Linebacker the ratio was less than 1:1).

The Aggressors were originally equipped with readily available T-38 Talon aircraft loaned from the Air Training Command to simulate the Soviet Union's MiG-21. Northrop F-5 Tiger II fighters, painted in color schemes commonly found on Soviet aircraft, were added shortly thereafter and became the mainstay until the F-16 was introduced in the mid/late 1980s.

The Red Flag exercises, conducted in four-to-six cycles a year by the 414th Combat Training Squadron are very realistic aerial war games. The purpose is to train pilots from the U.S., NATO and other allied countries for real combat situations. This includes the use of "enemy" hardware and live ammunition for bombing exercises within the Nellis Air Force Range. Ώ]

Operation Eagle Claw [ edit | edit source ]

MC-130E "Combat Talon" Special Operations aircraft from Hurlburt Field, Florida.

Photo of "Dragon 2" crew just before departing for Desert One. MC-130E 64-0564

In 1978, the unrest in Iran against the monarch Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi and his autocratic rule boiled over into a revolution. In January 1979, the Shah fled Iran to exile in Egypt and Iran was turned into an "Islamic Republic". On 22 October 1979 the Shah was allowed to travel to the United States for medical treatment. This caused widespread anger in Iran. Furious at what was called "evidence of American plotting" by Iranian revolutionaries, the American Embassy in Tehran was taken over with the entire staff became hostages. While the situation was trying to be resolved through diplomatic means no real ground was gained for the release of the hostages. In a bold plan, U.S. military forces were instructed to come up with a plan to go into Iran and get the hostages by force of arms. ⎖]

In April 1980, TAC air assets were deployed to areas close to Iran to be ready if and when Washington gave the "go". Operation Eagle Claw got underway on 24 April 1980 when USAF special operations MC-130 Hercules transport planes and Navy RH-53D Sea Stallion helicopters with Marine Corps crews deployed to Desert One, a small staging site inside Iran itself. ⎖]

From the start it appeared that the operation was running into problems. After launching from the USS NIMITZ (CVN-68), an unforeseen low-level sandstorm, also known as a haboob, caused two of eight helicopters to lose their way en route to Desert One, but only after men and equipment had been assembled there. A third helicopter suffered a mechanical failure and was incapable of continuing with the mission. Without enough helicopters to transport men and equipment to Desert Two, the mission was aborted. After the decision to abort the mission was made, one of the helicopters lost control while taking off and crashed into an MC-130. In the ensuing explosion and fire, eight US servicemen were killed: five USAF aircrew in the MC-130, and three USMC aircrew in the RH-53. During the evacuation, six RH-53 helicopters were left behind intact. ⎖]

The failure of the various services to work together with cohesion forced the establishment of a new multi-service organization. The United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) was born and finally established as a joint-service force to coordinate the special operations forces for the Army, Navy and Air Force. In 1987, the USAF established a separate Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC) from assets that TAC had transferred to Air Mobility Command (AMC) under AMC's 23rd Air Force in 1984. AFSOC then assumed responsibilities for worldwide deployment of special operations forces and assignment within USSOCOM. ⎖]

USAF Thunderbirds [ edit | edit source ]

In January 1982, a devastating accident during a training flight claimed the lives of four pilots from the USAF Air Demonstration Squadron (USAF ADS), better known as the Thunderbirds. The Thunderbirds have been part of TAC since they moved to Nellis AFB in the mid-1950s.

While flying T-38As and practicing the 4 plane diamond loop, the formation impacted the ground at high speed, instantly killing all four pilots. The cause of the crash was officially listed by the USAF as the result of pilot error by the Leader, as he misjudged the proper altitude to execute the loop. The other 3 aircraft, following proper procedure, were looking at Lead's aircraft, rather than the ground, and followed Lead into the ground. The airshow season for that year was canceled and it was also decided to equip the group with the Block 15 F-16B Fighting Falcon and start over for 1983. In 1992 the squadron was upgraded to the Block 32 F-16C. Ώ]

Fifth generation jet aircraft [ edit | edit source ]

General Dynamics F-16A Block 10D Fighting Falcon Serial No: 80-537 of the 363 TFW at Shaw AFB. This aircraft was static display at Lockheed-Martin, Fort Worth, TX. On 19 March 2004 it was noted to be in use as a ground instructional airframe at NAS Fort Worth JRB (former Carswell AFB), TX.

Fairchild Republic A-10A Thunderbolt II Serial 79-0206 of the 21st Fighter Squadron, Shaw AFB, SC, 29 September 1993.

McDonnell Douglas F-15E-48-MC Strike Eagle, Serial 89-0490 of the 4th Tactical Fighter Wing, Seymour Johnson AFB, NC.

General Dynamics EF-111A Serial 67-035 of the 429th/430th Electronic Combat Squadron, Cannon AFB, NM.

Lockheed F-117A of the 49 FW at Holloman AFB, NM.

The early 1980s were a transition era for most TAC fighter wings, replacing their fourth generation (McDonnell Douglas F-4, General Dynamics F-111, LTV A-7D) Vietnam-Era aircraft for a new fifth generation (McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagle, General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon and Fairchild Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II). The F-15A/B and subsequent F-15C/D were designed for the air superiority role, which was not really filled since the North American F-86 Sabre in the 1950s. The F-16 was designed for the fighter-bomber role, replacing the F-4D/Es, while the A-10 was designed to fill the close air support mission of the A-7D.

Although developed and initially deployed in the late 1970s, budgetary constraints limited their deployment into the active-duty forces. The Reagan Administration embarked on a massive overhaul of the United States armed forces and large numbers of these aircraft were ordered and deployed to front line active duty Air Force wings beginning in 1983.

The upgrade was not limited to first line units, as beginning in 1985, Air National Guard (ANG) and Air Force Reserve (AFRES) units also began trading in their Vietnam Era aircraft for newer and more sophisticated weapons systems with F-16A/Bs being allocated to Guard and Reserve units as active-duty Air Force units upgraded to the F-16C/Ds models. F-15A/B models of the 1970s were also provided to ANG squadrons when newer F-15C/D models reached front-line wings. As A-10s replaced A-7Ds, these close air support aircraft, along with newly produced twin-seat A-7Ks were flown many ANG squadrons, training with Army National Guard units in ground support operations. The last A-7D/Ks not being retired until 1993, being replaced in the ANG by F-16C/Ds.

In 1984, a new version of the 1960s General Dynamics F-111 began equipping TAC units. This version was known as the EF-111A Raven. Loaded with electronic jamming units, the sole purpose of this aircraft was to fly into enemy airspace and confuse enemy radar so that the strike package could follow and get the mission accomplished, replacing the venerable Douglas RB/EB-66 of the 1950s and 1960s that served in the Vietnam War.

A new version of the F-15, the F-15E Strike Eagle was also developed to replace the F-111E/F tactical strike aircraft in TAC's arsenal. Developed from the twin-seat F-15B, the Strike Eagle was designed for long-range interdiction of enemy ground targets deep behind enemy lines while concurrently retaining air-to-air combat capability. The first F-15Es were deployed to the 4th Tactical Fighter Wing at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base North Carolina on 29 December 1988.

Across the Nevada desert skies, there were reports of strange lights in the night skies. Most of these reports were explained as possible UFOs. Most of these reports seem to come from the area around Tonopah, and an area identified on maps as Nellis AFB's Area 51. The UFO story seemed to hold water, as the USAF radars at Nellis and FAA radars at Las Vegas could not see any aircraft in the area of question.

The strange lights over the Nevada desert were officially recognized in November 1988 when the Department of Defense unveiled the F-117 Nighthawk stealth bomber. It is interesting to note that this was a well-kept secret. The first prototype aircraft had first flown in 1981 and one had crashed in June 1984 in the Nevada desert. It took another crash of this aircraft in California in 1988 to finally lift the veil of secrecy. On 9 May 1992, four Lockheed F-117A Nighthawk stealth bombers from the Tonopah Test Range Airport Nevada, arrived at Holloman AFB, NM and were assigned to the 49th Fighter Wing. Ώ]

Collapse of the Warsaw Pact [ edit | edit source ]

One of the effects of this massive buildup of American military might during the 1980s was pressure inside of the Soviet Union to match the United States. However, internal pressures inside the Soviet Union for increased freedoms, along with economic pressures led to the loosening of their control in Eastern Europe. In 1989, one by one of these nations in Eastern Europe began to rebel against their Communist governments, leading to the opening of the Berlin Wall in November. The mighty Warsaw Pact as well as the Soviet Union was crumbling from within.

It was clear that the threat the western democracies faced in Europe was coming to an end as the Soviet Union imploded from within. As a result of the end of Cold War tensions the United States began a period of downsizing the military. The Base Realignment and Closure (or BRAC) process was developed in an attempt to achieve the government's goal of closing and realigning military installations.

Through the BRAC process, numerous active duty, Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve bases and stations were marked for closing and units were inactivated. Some units became what were called "Super Wings", comprising more than one unit and aircraft type, along with several different missions. With all of the cutbacks it seemed that any type of major armed conflict was a thing of the past. Ώ]

Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm [ edit | edit source ]

In 1980, Tactical Air Command units of TAC's Ninth Air Force were allocated to President Jimmy Carter's Rapid Deployment Force, formally known as the Rapid Deployment Joint Task Force (RDJTF). In 1983, the RDJTF became a separate unified command known as the United States Central Command (CENTCOM), focusing on the Middle East. Ninth Air Force provided the aircraft, personnel and materiel to form United States Central Command Air Forces (CENTAF), the air power of CENTCOM, which is also headquartered at Shaw AFB as a combined organization with 9th Air Force. Starting in 1981, Ninth Air Force aircraft and personnel were deployed to Egypt for BRIGHT STAR exercises.

Without warning, ground forces of Iraq invaded Kuwait on 2 August 1990. President George H. W. Bush proclaimed that the situation was not tolerable. With that he drew a "line in the sand". The United States took their case to the United Nations. The United Nations in turn condemned the actions or Iraq and proclaimed that they must withdraw. Iraq refused to withdraw from the small country. The United States, now backed by United Nations mandates again told Iraq to withdraw or suffer the results of continued aggression.

In response to the invasion, the largest military buildup since the Vietnam War got underway. By 15 August 1 TFW had deployed F-15Cs in a fifteen-hour non-stop flight from Langley AFB to Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. They were standing alert within hours of their arrival. Operation Desert Shield was underway.

By January 1991, numerous of Tactical Air Command combat squadrons had been deployed as part of Desert Shield. Diplomacy had failed to resolve the situation and Iraq had been given the ultimatum, "get out of Kuwait or suffer the wrath of the United Nations Coalition". Leaders from Iraq proclaimed that if the UN forces crossed into Iraqi territory they would surfer the "Mother or all wars." As the deadline came and passed, there was no movement of Iraqi forces that indicated a pullback.

In the early morning hours of 17 January 1991 anti-aircraft batteries in Baghdad erupted as the first strikes by F-117A Nighthawks hit critical command and control targets in the Iraqi capital. Operation Desert Storm had begun.

During the next few hours, USAF tactical air assets, along with U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps, Royal Air Force, French Air Force, Royal Saudi Air Force and Free Kuwait Air Force tactical aircraft, pounded command and control facilities bridges, and other lines of communication. USAF Wild Weasel F-4Gs went after SAM sites like they had in Vietnam, while USAF A-10s hunted Iraqi tanks and troops. In the first three days of the air war, eleven Iraqi aircraft were shot down by F-15Cs.

During the six-week air war any and all Iraqi military assets were targeted by Coalition attack aircraft. The Iraqis responded by launching Soviet-built SCUD missies. With no accurate guidance system the SCUD missies were very similar to the German V-2 rocket when it came to hitting a specific target. The SCUD went up and returned to earth with a chance of hitting something in the general area that it was pointed at. Classified as a terror weapon, the SCUDs became a top priority for Tactical Air Command aircraft to find the mobile launching sites and destroy them.

The ground war began in late February 1991 and lasted about 100 hours. Tactical Air Command close air support A-10 aircraft supported the ground forces as they had trained in the United States for well over a decade. Military planners and Washington Officials were correct when they proclaimed that the war in the desert would "not be another Viet Nam". Desert Storm would go into the history hooks as one of Tactical Air Command's most shining moments. Ώ] ⎘]

Known TAC units and aircraft deployed in Operation Desert Shield/Storm (1990–1991) [ edit | edit source ]

Group photo of the 355th Tactical Fighter Squadron Personnel from Myrtle Beach AFB South Carolina in March 1991 at King Fahd International Airport Saudi Arabia after the Coalition victory in Operation Desert Storm.

  • 4th Tactical Fighter Squadron/388 TFW (F-16C/D) Hill AFB, UT
  • 41st Electronic Combat Squadron /28th Air Division (EC-130H Compass Call) Davis-Monthan AFB, AZ
  • 17th Tactical Fighter Squadron/363 TFW (F-16C/D) Shaw AFB, SC
  • 27th Tactical Fighter Squadron/1 TFW (F-15C/D) Langley AFB, VA
  • 33d Tactical Fighter Squadron/363 TFW (F-16C/D) Shaw AFB, SC
  • 58th Tactical Fighter Squadron/33 TFW (F-15C/D) Eglin AFB, FL
  • 71st Tactical Fighter Squadron/1 TFW (F-15C/D) Langley AFB, VA
  • 74th Tactical Fighter Squadron/23 TFW (A-10A) England AFB, LA
  • 76th Tactical Fighter Squadron/23 TFW (A-10A) England AFB, LA
  • 335th Tactical Fighter Squadron/4 TFW (F-15E) Seymour Johnson AFB, NC
  • 336th Tactical Fighter Squadron/4 TFW (F-15E) Seymour Johnson AFB, NC
  • 353d Tactical Fighter Squadron/354 TFW (A-10A) Myrtle Beach AFB, SC
  • 355th Tactical Fighter Squadron/354 TFW (A-10A) Myrtle Beach AFB, SC
  • 390th Electronic Combat Squadron/366 TFW (EF-111A) Mountain Home AFB, ID
  • 415th Tactical Fighter Squadron/37 TFW (F-117A) Tonopah AP, NV
  • 416th Tactical Fighter Squadron/37 TFW (F-117A) Tonopah AP, NV
  • 421st Tactical Fighter Squadron/388 TFW (F-16C/D) Hill AFB, UT
  • 561st Tactical Fighter Squadron/35 TFW (F-4G) George AFB, CA /552 ACW (E-3B/C) Tinker AFB, OK
  • 964th Airborne Warning and Control Squadron/552 ACW (E-3B/C) Tinker AFB, OK
  • 965th Airborne Warning and Control Squadron/552 ACW (E-3B/C) Tinker AFB, OK
  • 12th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron/67 TRW (RF-4C) Bergstrom AFB, TX

(Does not include USAF tactical flying units deployed from United States Air Forces in Europe) ΐ]

Air Combat Command [ edit | edit source ]

Desert Storm was also the swan song for Tactical Air Command. The planning and execution of the mission was the result of 45 years of TAC being honed into one of the most effective military organizations in history. Following the 1991 Gulf War and the end of the Cold War, U.S. military planners perceived a serious blurring between the responsibilities of TAC and SAC. The collapse of the former Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War led senior defense planners to conclude that the structure of the military establishment which had evolved during the Cold War years was not suited to the new world situation. As shown by Desert Shield/Storm, U.S. military forces would increasingly be called upon to participate in smaller-scale regional contingencies and humanitarian operations.

Gen Merrill A. McPeak, Air Force Chief of Staff, envisioned a streamlined Air Force, eliminating superfluous organizational layers. General John M. Loh, who served as USAF Vice Chief of Staff before becoming TAC commander on 26 March 1991, was heavily involved in the restructuring decisions. As a result, in the spring of 1992 the decision was made to merge most SAC and TAC resources, while simultaneously reorganizing the Military Airlift Command (MAC). On 1 June 1992 Tactical Air Command, Strategic Air Command and Military Airlift Command were inactivated, being replaced by two new major commands, Air Combat Command (ACC) and Air Mobility Command (AMC). A brief ceremony at Langley Air Force Base marked the inactivation of TAC and the activation of ACC. General Loh, who had commanded TAC until its inactivation, became the first commander of ACC. ⎘]