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314th Airlift Wing [314th AW]

The 314th Airlift Wing is the largest training fleet of C-130s in the world. It also holds the distinctin of being the largest airlift wing in the US Air Force and being the C-130 aircrew training operation for the whole Department of Defense as well as students from 27 allied nations.

The 314th Airlift Wing comprises four groups -- operations, logistics, support and medical -- and a headquarters element. Two airlift squadrons -- 53rd AS and 62nd AS -- and the 314th Operations Support Squadron, along with the flight simulator contractor, make up the "schoolhouse" and together accomplish the wing's primary mission of training C-130 crew members.

The 53rd and 62nd AS and assigned 44 C-130s train all C-130 aircrews for all services in the Department of Defense, Coast Guard and 27 allied nations.

The wing also hosts an Air Mobility Command group, the 463rd Airlift Group which provides tactical airlift worldwide.

The 314th Airlift Wing traces its origins to the the early days of 1942 with the activation of the 314th Transport Group on March 2, 1942. The group was redesignated as the 314th Troop Carrier Group (TCG) in July of the same year. The group first formed at Drew Field, FL, before moving to Bowman Field, Kentucky, on June 24, 1942. The group then relocated again on November 4, 1942 when it moved to Knob Noster, MO, where it stayed until moving to Lawson Field, GA, on February 24, 1943. Lawson Field was to be the last stateside assignment for the group until the end of World War II (WW II). During its time in the United States, the 314th TCG prepared for overseas duty by conducting training with the Douglas C-47 Skytrain and the Douglas C-53 cargo aircraft. In May 1943, the group transferred overseas and was assigned to the Twelfth Air Force in the Mediterranean theater of operations.

The 314th TCG was quickly involved in combat operations. In July of 1943, they flew two night missions as part of the invasion of Sicily, dropping paratroopers of the 82nd Airborne Division on July 9, 1943 and then dropping reinforcements on July 11, 1943. The group received their first Distinguished Unit Citation for carrying out the second mission despite bad weather and heavy attack by ground and naval forces. Operations continued with the invasion of Italy in September 1943. During the Italian invasion, the 314th TCG was again tasked with dropping troops and supplies, this time near Salerno. In February 1944, the group moved to England where they began training for the Normandy invasion.

The 314th TCG formed part of the initial assualt in the D-Day invasion, dropping paratroopers in Normandy on June 6, 1944. The following day the group flew a resupply and reinforcement mission, earning them their second Distinguished Unit Citation. The group went on to release airborne troops over Holland in September 1944, and again flew follow-up reinforcement and supply missions. The 314th TCG moved to France during February and March of 1945, where they participated in the airborne assualt across the Rhine River into Germany. During the assault, the group released gliders filled with troops and supplies which went on to land in the Wesel area of Germany on March 24, 1945. When not training or participating in combat operations, the 314th TCG flew routine supply missions throughout the European and Mediterranean theaters. After V-E (Victory in Europe) Day, the 314th TCG evacuated allied prisoners from Germany before being transferred back to the United States in February 1946.

Between WW II and the Korean conflict the 314th TCG served in the Canal Zone in Panama, operating air terminals in the Panama and Antilles areas. In October 1948, the group returned to Smyrna Air Force Base (AFB), TN, and transferred to the Tactical Air Command (TAC). The group had been redesignated as the 314th Troop Carrier Group, Heavy in June 1948. In November 1948, the group was redesignated again to the 314th Troop Carrier Group, Medium. At that time, the group began conducting operations and training with the C-47, the Fairchild C-82 Packet, and the Fairchild C-119 Flying Boxcar.

After the 314th TCG relocated to Smyrna AFB, it became part of the newly activated 314th Troop Carrier Wing (TCW). From August 1950 to November 1954, the 314th TCG was detached from the wing and stationed at Ashiya, Japan, for service in the Korean conflict. While stationed at Ashiya, the 314th TCG was attached to the Far East Air Forces and operated primarily with the C-119 aircraft, transporting troops and supplies from Japan to Korea and evacuating wounded personnel. During the Korean conflict the group participated in two major combat operations. In October 1950, the 314th TCG dropped paratroopers over Sunchon in support of the United Nations assault on Pyongyang. The second combat operation took place in March 1951, when the 314th dropped paratroopers over Munsan-ni during the airborne assault over the 38th parallel. The group remained in Japan after the armistice to transport supplies to Korea and evacuate prisoners of war. The group rejoined the 314th TCW in November 1954, returning to Smyrna AFB, recently renamed Sewart AFB.

From 1948 until December 1965, the 314th TCW served as a primary troop carrier unit in the eastern United States and was involved in joint airborne training with the United States Army. On May 19, 1957, the wing received the first of its LockheedC-130 Hercules aircraft, the same airplane it flies today. Together with the US Army, the 314th TCW developed assault airlift operations and participated in aerial demonstrations, exercises, maneuvers, and joint operations. In January 1966, the wing moved to Kung Kuan AB Taiwan. Here the wing provided passenger and cargo airlift throughout the Far East as well as providing combat airlift in Southeast Asia. In August 1967, the wing was redesignated as the 314th Tactical Airlift Wing (TAW).

While serving in Southeast Asia, the 314th TAW earned its only Air Force Outstanding Unit Award with a combat "V" device. This important award was given in recognition of their "airlifting an average of 7.9 tons of passengers and cargo for each operational flying hour in Southeast Asia, in addition to performing a wide variety of tactical airlift missions under the most extremely difficult and hazardous conditions".

On May 31, 1971, the 314th TAW transferred to Little Rock AFB, AR. The 314th TAW served as a principle airlift unit involved with worldwide tactical airlift operations and, since August 1971, served as the primary C-130 training unit for all Department of Defense agencies as well as training aircrew members from foreign nations.

With the start of the 1980s, the 314th TAW performed the same types of missions as they previously did, and also began some new types of missions. While the wing still prepared for typical war scenarios in Europe and Korea, it also began humanitarian relief operations in Africa and elsewhere. Additionally, the wing started performing missions in Central America in support of American foreign policy, specifically in Honduras, Nicaragua, and El Salvador, and other missions in support of the declared war on drugs. The most visible anti-drug action was Operation JUST CAUSE in which the 314th TAW dropped troops and equipment over Panama in December 1989.

By the end of the 1980s, the end of East-West tensions had resulted in the emergence of numerous local wars. The first such clash to involve the 314th TAW was the invasion of Kuwait by Saddam Hussiens Iraqi Army in August 1990. As President Bush vowed to remove Husseins occupation forces, the 314th TAW began its participation in Operation DESERT SHIELD. On August 7, 1990, the wing deployed over 1,000 personnel to the Persian Gulf. After a five-month build-up in forces President Bush ordered Operation DESERT STORM, a 40-day war that devastated Iraq. During this time the 314th TAW maintained a constant level of 16 aircraft in the Persian Gulf. By the time the wing had redeployed to Little Rock AFB on March 27, 1991, they had transported over 27,000 passengers and more than 25,000 tons of cargo. On December 1, 1991, the 314th Tactical Airlift Wing was redesignated as the 314th Airlift Wing (AW) as part of an Air Force-wide restructuring. Six months later, the Air Force reorganized again and on June 1, 1992, the 314th AW was aligned under the newly formed Air Mobility Command (AMC), the successor to the Military Airlift Command (MAC). While under AMC, the 314th AW participated in humanitarian airlift operations in Turkey and, most notably, in Somalia. From August 17, 1992, until early December 1992, all food and medicine flown into Somalia by the US Air Force were carried on 314th AW C-130s.

On October 1, 1993, the 314th AW experienced another change as all the C-130s were consolidated under the Air Combat Command. This also changed the operational chain for the wing. During the following years organizational structure would change again. On April 1, 1997, the operational C-130 units would be brought back under the control of the Air Mobility Commands recently activated 463rd Airlift Group while the training C-130 units would fall under the control of the Air Education and Training Command (AETC) and the 314th Airlift Wing.

In its 2005 BRAC Recommendations, DoD recommended to close Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station (ARS), NY. It would distribute the eight C-130H aircraft of the 914th Airlift Wing (AFR) to the 314th Airlift Wing, Little Rock AFB. This recommendation would distribute C-130 force structure to Little Rock (17-airlift), a base with higher military value.

In another Recommendation, DoD recommended to realign Pope AFB, NC. It would distribute the 43d Airlift Wing's C-130E aircraft (25 aircraft) to the 314th Airlift Wing, Little Rock AFB. This recommendation would also transfer four C-130Js from the 314th Airlift Wing (AD) to the 189th Airlift Wing (ANG), Little Rock AFB.

DoD also recommended to close Mansfield-Lahm Municipal Airport Air Guard Station (AGS), OH. It would distribute the eight C-130H aircraft of the 179th Airlift Wing (ANG) to the 314th Airlift Wing, Little Rock AFB, AR (four aircraft) and another installation.

DoD also recommended to realign Dyess AFB, TX. The C-130 aircraft assigned to the 317th Airlift Group would be distributed to the active duty 314th Airlift Wing (22 aircraft) Little Rock AFB, AR. The majority of the 317th's aircraft would go to Little Rock (17-airlift), which would enable consolidation of the active duty C-130 fleet into one stateside location at Little Rock, and would robust the ANG squadron to facilitate an active duty association with the Guard unit.

In another recommendation, DoD recommended to close General Mitchell Air Reserve Station (ARS). This recommendation would distribute the eight C-130H aircraft of the 440th Airlift Wing to the 314th Airlift Wing, Little Rock AFB, AR (four aircraft). Adding aircraft at Little Rock would optimize squadron size, creating a larger, more effective squadron. Additionally, this transfer would move C-130 force structure from the Air Force Reserve to the active duty--addressing a documented imbalance in the active/Air National Guard/Air Force Reserve manning mix for C-130s.



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