446th Airlift Wing [446th AW]
The history of the 446th Airlift Wing dates back to World War II as the active-duty 446th Bombardment Group. The 446th BG was activated in 1943 with squadrons at Davis-Monthan Field, AZ; Lowry Field, CO; Flixton, England; and Sioux Falls Army Air Field, SD; before being deactivated in 1945. The 446th was first activated in the Air Force Reserve in 1948 as the 446th Troop Carrier Group at Carswell AFB, TX, and later deactivated in 1951. In 1955, the 446th Troop Carrier Group was reactivated in the Reserve at Ellington AFB, TX.
Wing reservists called to active duty during the Pueblo Crisis in 1968.
The wing was again deactivated in 1972. One year later the 446th was reactivated and redesignated the 446th Military Airlift Wing (Associate) at McChord.
Wing personnel also took part in Operation Babylift and the evacuation of Saigon in 1975, and in the evacuation of American dependents from Tehran, Iran, in 1979. In 1983, in support of the Grenada Operation, the 446th flew the 82nd Airborne Division back to Ft. Bragg, N.C. In 1986, crew from the 446th repatriated remains of American missing in action from Southeast Asia. The following year, the 40th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron (now 446th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron) and the 313th Airlift Squadron evacuated burn victims from a San Juan, Puerto Rico, hotel fire.
December 1989 saw several 446th crews called to participate in Operation Just Cause in Panama, while in 1990, hundreds of 446th reservists were activated for Operation Desert Shield. In 1991, nearly 1,000 446th reservists were called to active duty in support of Operation Desert Storm. Hundreds more wing reservists were activated for duty at McChord. Wing reservists pitched into to assist survivors of Mount Pinatubo eruption in Operation Fiery Vigil. Then came Operation Provide Comfort where aircrews airlifted humanitarian aid to Iraqi Kurds.
In 1992, the wing flew humanitarian relief missions to the former Soviet Union and also provided support to Operation Provide Hope. The wing also flew humanitarian relief supplies in for victims of Hurricane Andrew. In February 1992, the wing was redesignated again, this time as the 446th Airlift Wing.
In 1993, Reservists from the 446th flew into war-torn Croatia as part of a huge relief effort. Two members of the 40th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron (now 446th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron) assisted in airlifting Army Warrant Officer Michael Durant out of Mogadishu, Somalia, after he was released from being held captive when his helicopter was shot down. An aircrew from the 97th Airlift Squadron flew into Kathmandu, Nepal, to provide humanitarian aid after two weeks of flooding cuts off supplies.
As part of 1994's Operation Uphold Democracy, wing aircrews flew in support of Haitian intervention. Twenty-three medical professionals from the 446th Airlift Wing also spent their two-week annual tour in an isolated, Honduras village and provided medical and dental care while receiving training in the management of tropical diseases. The 446th also took part in Operation Support Hope, ferrying in supplies and food for Rwandan refugees.
In 1995, the wing took part in Operation Safe Passage, in which Cuban refugees were repatriated from Panama to Cuba, and Operation Joint Endeavor where wing aircrews joined the effort to bring peace to war torn Bosnia. An aircrew from the 313th Airlift Squadron flew a 62-member Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) team into Oklahoma City four hours after the bombing of the federal building. Three days later, an aircrew from the 97th Airlift Squadron flew four badly needed special burn beds, and a box full of stuffed animals, to the Children's Hospital of Oklahoma City. That same year, the 728th Airlift Squadron flew into Hanoi, Vietnam, to repatriate the remains of 10 Americans who were listed as missing in action.
In 1996, aircrews from the 446th Airlift Wing elect to stay on for extra duty flying out of Germany to allow active-duty aircrews to return to the United States as part of Operation Joint Endeavor. The 728th Airlift Squadron flew humanitarian aid to Chad in Africa as part of the Denton Amendment. The 728th also flew a team from the Puget Sound Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) to Atlanta to support the Olympic Games.
In 1997, the 728th AS flew into Beijing, China, to repatriate what is believed to be five service members listed as missing in action from World War II. Nearly 70 medical professionals from the 446th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron and 446th Aeromedical Staging Squadron were among 2,000 people participated in the massive medical exercise Patriot Medstar at Westover Air Reserve Base, MA. Aircrew members from the 313th AS and 728th AS airlifted four victims from the Korean Air jetliner crash in Guam to hospitals at Kelley AFB, TX. Aircrews from all three flying squadrons flew supplies and equipment to Antarctica in Operation Deep Freeze, a presidential mandated mission to support the National Science Foundation's experiments at the South Pole. Aeromedical crews from the 446th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron flew their first C-17 aerovac mission airlifting an 8-month-old baby. One aeromedical aircrew from the 446th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron was called up to deploy to Southwest Asia in support of the military buildup in the Middle East.
In 1998, an aeromedical aircrew from the 446th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron was called up to deploy to Southwest Asia in support of the military buildup in the Middle East.
In 1999, a combined Air Force Reserve and active-duty C-141 aircrew from McChord scrambled to airdrop emergency medical supplies to the South Pole for a doctor who discovered a lump in her breast. The 97th Airlift Wing aircrew gained international attention as it airdropped six bundles of medical supplies as well as fresh fruit in outside temperatures of close to 100 below zero in the back of the C-141 with the doors open.
On July 30, 1999, the first C-17 Globemaster III was delivered to McChord. The first plane that was accepted was production model P-52. The 728th Airlift Squadron is the first squadron to fly the C-17s. The first operational C-17 mission flown by the 728th was an historic repatriation flight to Hanoi, Vietnam, in November. The McChord reservists transported 11 sets of what are believed to be American servicemen from the Korean and Vietnam wars. It was the first time remains from two separate wars were repatriated at the same time. A news crew from CNN flew on the historic mission.
In 2000, two C-17 pilots from the 728th Airlift Squadron flew U.S. military aircraft into Mozambique delivering critically needed aid to the flood victims in Southern Africa March 1. They delivered 85,000 pounds of supplies. That same year, Eight Air Force Reservists from the 446th Airlift Wing assisted in identifying the remains of the 19 Marines killed in April's MV-22 plane crash in Arizona. Aircrews from the 728th Airlift Squadron and 313th Airlift Squadrons also flew Army firefighters to Idaho and Montana to help battle the Western wildfires in the worst wildfire season to hit the United States in 50 years. Two members from the 446th Airlift Control Flight performed ground support for aircrews battling the wildfires in the West.
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