317th Airlift Group [317th AG]
The 317th Airlift Group is comprised of the 39th and 40th Airlift Squadrons, 317th Airlift Control Squadron, 317th Maintenance Squadron and the 317th Operations Support Squadron. The group comes under the operational control of 15th Air Force, Travis Air Force Base, CA, and Air Mobility Command, Scott Air Force Base, IL. In 2005, DoD recommended to realign the 317th's aircraft to various installations as part of a recommendation to realign Dyess AFB (see below for details).
The unit got its start February 22, 1942, as an Army Air Transport Group at Duncan Field near San Antonio, TX. In July of the same year it was moved to Bowman Field, KY, and given the name 317th Troop Carrier Group.
Its mission was to transport people and equipment into combat zones. During World War II the 317th served in the Pacific, operating first out of Australia, then several Pacific Islands, including the Philippines as the war progressed.
The close of the war brought the group to Japan for occupational duty. Based at Tachikawa, Japan, the unit was restructured soon after the U.S. Air Force was born in 1947. The 317th Field Maintenance Squadron was formed out of this group and in the fall of 1948 the squadron was reassigned to Germany. There it took part in the Berlin Airlift. From May through July the group air-dropped food supplies to the citizens of the Soviet blockaded city. Once the blockade had been lifted and their mission was complete, the 317th inactivated at Rhein Main Air Base, Germany, in September.
In July of 1952, the Air force reactivated the 317th at Rhein Main as the 317th Troop Carrier Wing. It became the first Air Force unit assigned to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Now flying C-119 "Boxcars" the 317th relocated to Neubiberg Air Base near Munich in 1953. Shortly after their arrival at the Bavarian base, newer C-123 transports arrived to compliment the C-119's.
The 317th continued to fly many humanitarian missions and support NATO airborne units throughout Europe. They airlifted life rafts, tents, and emergency food supplies to flood victims in the Netherlands, and aided thousands of earthquake victims in Italy, Greece, Pakistan and Yugoslavia among many others.
On March 17, 1957, the 317th FMS was renamed the 317th Consolidated Aircraft Maintenance Squadron and on July 8 of that year transferred to Evreux-Fauville Air Base, France.
At Evreux the C-119s were replaced with the newer C-130A turbo-prop aircraft. Several operations kept the 317th occupied in the Middle East throughout the late 1950's. However in 1960, in the midst of a civil war in the Belgian Congo, the 317th flew several peacekeeping contingents into some of the worlds most primitive airfields. Congolese rebels often fired upon the C-130's from the dense jungle further complicating each mission. Before the blood letting had ended, the 317th had airlifted a large portion of the 20,000 peacekeepers used.
Having returned to America after more than 20 years abroad, the 317th became Tactical Air Command's C-130 operations representative. They provided most of the training to the "C-130 world". On June 21, 1964, the squadron was transferred to Lockboune Air Force Base, OH, and became part of the Tactical Air Command. The unit remained at Lockboune. Between 1965 and 1971, they provided vital support operations in training and deployment during the Vietnam conflict. They also developed and perfected the use of the Adverse Weather Delivery System (AWADS) becoming the Air Forces pioneer group behind this method of cargo delivery. In May 1967 the unit became the 317th Tactical Airlift Wing and not long after on Aug. 31, 1971, was transferred to Pope Air Force Base, NC. In that year they provided emergency food and equipment to flood victims in Virginia, and Pennsylvania.
In 1983, 317th C-130's led the airborne assault during the U.S. invasion of Grenada dropping Army rangers sent to rescue seven hundred American students threatened by communist forces on the island. Six years later in 1989, the 317th again led the way in operation Just Cause, the U.S. invasion of Panama.
In 1990 the unit showcased its abilities by deploying elements of the XVIII Airborne Corps to Saudi Arabia during the first days of Desert Shield. The 317th became the first tactical airlift unit from the states to deploy. Early in 1992 during the final days of desert Storm, the 317th airlifted U.S. and allied combat troops deep inside Iraq territory. This was in support of General Norman Schwartzkopf's "Hail Mary" flanking maneuver that led to the surrender of Iraq's elite Republican Guard.
Early in 1992 the 317th reorganized under the Air Forces Composite Wing structure. The unit transferred all of its combat support personnel and equipment to Pope's 23rd Wing.
Shortly after the restructuring, the 317th provided the initial U.S. relief to the war torn nation of Bosnia. The unit air-dropped food supplies while under enemy fire, in harsh weather conditions over rocky terrain where non-combative civilians could find them. The unit was deactivated July 16, 1993.
Four years after the inactivation, on April 1 of 1997, a transfer of all U.S. based C-130 aircraft to Air Mobility Command (AMC) resulted in the reactivation of the 317th. Now known as the 317th Airlift Group, the unit operates out of Dyess AFB, TX, as a tenant unit to the 7th Bomb Wing, Air Combat Command (ACC). Made up of the 39th and 40th airlift squadrons, 317th Operations Support Squadron, 317th Airlift Control Squadron and the 317th Maintenance Squadron, the group flies and maintains 24 C-130 Hercules intra-theater tactical transports.
In its 2005 BRAC Recommendations, DoD 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) and ANG 189th Airlift Wing (two aircraft), Little Rock AFB, AR; the 176th Wing (ANG), Elmendorf AFB, AK (four aircraft); and the 302d Airlift Wing (AFR), Peterson AFB, CO (four aircraft). To create an efficient, single-mission operation at Dyess, the Air Force recommended to realign the tenant C-130s from Dyess to other Air Force installations.
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