62nd Airlift Wing [62nd AW]
The 62nd Airlift Wing is composed of more than 7,200 active duty military and civilian personnel, along with both C-17 "Globemaster III" and C-141 "Starlifter" aircraft. It is tasked with supporting worldwide combat and humanitarian airlift contingencies. The wing also provides base support to the 446th Airlift Wing (Associate) and the Western Air Defense Sector. The 62nd flies around the world, conducts airdrop training out of Pope AFB, North Carolina, continues to carry out the delicate mid-winter Antarctic airdrop successfully, and, almost everyday, flies into and around Grant County Airport, once known as Larson AFB.
The 62nd's aging fleet of C-141s has begun to make its way to the "bone yard" at Davis-Monthan AFB, Arizona. A coin toss on 7 March 1997, won the 7th Airlift Squadron the honor of being the first squadron at McChord AFB to receive the C-17 Globemaster III, which arrived in July 1999. The 62nd AW received in mid-december 2000 its twenty-first C-17 Globemaster III aircraft in a gradual transition scheduled to be completed by 2004 from C-141 Starlifters to C-17s. The 62nd AW is scheduled to receive 48 C-17s.
Few units in the annals of military aviation have as long and proud a history as the 62nd Airlift Wing. Few have its impeccable reputation and even less have a future as bright or secure. Although the world, its political environment, ideologies and alliances have undergone tremendous changes in the last fifty years, the 62nd lives on. Not only has it shined bright in time of war, it plays a vital role as a life-line to our forces around the world in peace. It has deployed whole units to far away lands. The 62nd has airdropped troops, equipment and supplies where they were most needed. It has brought former prisoner's of war (POWs) home, and relief to people coping with natural disasters.
The 62nd Airlift Wing was first constituted as the 62nd Troop Carrier Wing on 28 July 1947, at McChord Field, Washington. It owes its numerical designation, and its first seven years of history prior to 1947, to the present day 62nd Operations Group. First constituted as the 62nd Transport Group on 20 November 1940, the Group activated on 11 December at McClellan Field, California, bringing together three of the oldest, most experienced airlift squadrons in history. The 7th and 8th Transport Squadrons, constituted on 1 October 1933, and the 4th Transport Squadron on 1 March 1935 existed only on paper until the 4th was activated on 8 July 1935, the 7th on 14 October 1939, and the 8th on 1 February 1940.
After almost a year of peaceful existence just outside Sacramento, California's State Capital, the Group found itself at war. After Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor, the United States could no longer stay out of what is now known as World War II. Suddenly, we were fighting a war of unprecedented scale. Roughly divided into a European and Pacific war, American forces concentrated their efforts first in Europe, before shifting its full attention to the Pacific when the war in Europe concluded.
The United Kingdom averted a German invasion of the British Isles by winning the Battle of Britain, thereby becoming a natural staging area for allied forces who planned an invasion of mainland Europe for mid-1943. In the meantime, at the end of May 1942, the 62nd moved from McClellan to Kellogg Field, Michigan. About a month later, the Group moved yet again to Florence Army Air Base, South Carolina. Higher Headquarters earmarked the 62nd for support of the 1943 allied invasion force. They flew 13 C-53s and 39 C-47s to Selfridge Field, Michigan, where Army Air Forces equipped them for the long flight to England.
After intensive training for the Atlantic crossing, the redesignated 62nd Troop Carrier Group (TCG), now composed of the 4th, 7th, 8th, and 51st Troop Carrier Squadrons, arrived at its new home, Keevil, England, on 3 October 1942 (their support personnel followed, arriving in country via the luxury ocean liner Queen Elizabeth). Before long, the 62nd took part in a daring attempt to gain a foothold on the continent by airdropping British troops. However, as the plan unfolded, it became a pure seaborne assault, with the 62nd never seeing action. In the end, the raid failed, and further invasion plans were postponed until mid-1943--at the earliest.
Meanwhile, in North Africa, the glory days of Rommel's Afrika Korps were coming to an end. Just days after his defeat at El Alamein, in November 1942, the 62nd arrived at its new home in Tafaraoui, Algeria. After resupplying troops for a couple of weeks, the 62nd got its first taste of combat when, on 29 November 1942, it joined the 64th Troop Carrier Group for a combat airdrop of 530 British airborne troops on enemy held airfields at Depienne, Pont-du-Fahs, and Oudena, Tunisia. After months of training, the 62nd was doing what it still does best: flying flawlessly. The British troops captured the airfields, and the men of the 62nd returned to fly another day -- without a single loss.
On Christmas eve, 1942, the 62nd arrived at its new home, Nouvion, also in Algeria. By May, they were in Matemore. By July, in Tunisia. All the while flying over North Africa, ferrying troops, supplies, prisoners, and wounded. At the same time, they trained intensively with newly arrived CG-4A Waco gliders. Shipped from the United States, they were to be part of the 62nd for the remainder of the war. On the night of 9 July 1943, a total of 51 C-47s and C-53s towed the first of these gliders into combat over Sicily. Their key objective was to capture a bridge south of Syracuse, and keep it open for use by allied forces. It took the huge formation 40 minutes to take off. They flew 500 feet above the Mediterranean Sea, at 120 miles per hour. An unforeseen headwind sent some Group planes off course, whereby some gliders were released up to 30 minutes late. Battling against bad weather, darkness, friendly naval fire, flak, and inexperience, the 62nd crews did their best to keep their gliders on target. In the end, 36 gliders went down at sea, 12 made land, 2 were unaccounted for, and 2 never cast off over their landing zones.
In spite of all the factors conspiring against the 62nd that night, there were instances of bravery and professionalism people of the Group exemplify still today. Like the C-53 crew who got lost near Sicily, turned back for Malta, reestablished their route, cast off their glider from 1,500 feet up, just 700 yards from shore, and successfully touched down on the landing zone. Sufficient glider troops landed safely in Sicily to secure the bridge. The Eighth Army rolled over it soon after.
Four days later, the 51 "Gooney Birds" (as the C-47s and 53s were nicknamed), flew into combat one more time, as they dropped British paratroopers near an important highway bridge on the allies' route to Catania, Sicily, capturing it to prevent retreating axis forces from destroying it. A few days after the drop, returning paratroopers delivered the following statement: "Many of your flyers roared through flakridden areas when there was no hole to be found anywhere. Other of your planes, finding themselves over the Catania Plains, where heavy AA [antiaircraft] and searchlights were thrown up, continued around and through them to reach the DZ [drop zone]. Other of your planes literally patrolled the coast waiting for a hole in the wall of fire coming from coastal and naval guns; then, finding one, plowed through. Skilled evasive action was, in other instances, solely responsible for getting the parachutists to the target." All objectives were seized and held by the paratroopers.
On 6 September 1943, the Group moved to Ponte Olivo, Sicily. They didn't fly much at first, enjoying better facilities and living quarters. While they went on to support the Italian Campaign with countless sorties, the men of the 62nd found life in their new home far more tolerable than North Africa. At the end of the year, 29 December, the 62nd carried the 50,000th air-evacuated patient into the Mediterranean Theater of Operations (MTO).
In February 1944, the Group moved to Brindisi, Italy. The next moth they were back at Ponte Olivo. In May, Gaudo Airfield was home. That same month, the 4th Troop Carrier Squadron deployed to the China-India-Burma (CBI) Theater of Operations, along with the 64th Troop Carrier Group. They carried ammunition, arms, troops, food, and supplies to strips in northern Burma. The men of the 4th earned at least 39 Distinguished Flying Crosses flying "The Hump."
In August 1944, the 4th rejoined the rest of the Group, now at Galera Air Base, Italy. In the early morning hours of the 15th of that month, the 62nd carried out their biggest and best drop to date during the invasion of France. Sixty-three airplanes took off in pairs, 20 seconds apart. The planes made their way to France at 2,000 feet, cruising at about 140 miles per hour. Prior to dropping the troops and bundles they carried, they descended to 1,500 feet, and slowed to 100-110 miles per hour. Despite ground fog and some malfunctions, the drop was hailed as an immediate success. That same afternoon, 48 airplanes of the Group towed gliders to the front in another successful mission. The invasion kept the Group occupied for several days.
Airborne operations over Sicily and France became the most notorious for the 62nd. They flew many other sorties in support of partisans in Italy, Greece, and the Balkans. The 7th and 51st Squadrons launched missions from Brindisi, between 22 February and 29 March 1944, flying over the Balkans and enemy held Italian positions. They airdropped supplies to guerrilla forces in Albania, Yugoslavia, and Greece. These clandestine missions were typically single-ship or two-ship operations, dropping everything from rifles to gold. The 7th and 51st flew 190 sorties, delivering 374,900 pounds, totaling nearly 843 flying hours. The 8th Troop Carrier Squadron, flying from another location in Italy, flew similar missions, also with a high degree of success. They flew mostly over northern Italy, releasing 56,920 pounds, and 28 personnel, over 101 flying hours. Having grown to like the challenge, the men of the 62nd Troop Carrier Group lamented their rotation away from these missions when they were replaced by crews from the 60th Troop Carrier Group.
As the war progressed, the 62nd moved from Galera to Malignano, to Tarquina, to Rosignano, and finally, to Naples. After the end of the war in Europe, in May 1945, the 62nd shuttled troops, supplies, wounded, and prisoners in the Mediterranean area. On 14 November 1945, Congress inactivated the 62nd Troop Carrier Group, having brought the concept of airlift to a new height, ending the first phase of its proud history.
On 7 September 1946, Congress activated the 62nd, minus the 51st TCS, at Bergstrom Field, Texas. The Group now flew the C-46 Commando, quickly replaced by the C-82 Boxcar. In April 1947, in what would be the first of many humanitarian and disaster relief missions, the 62nd flew to aid victims of an explosion in Texas City, Texas.
On 16 June 1947, the Group moved to McChord Field, Washington. Headquarters Army Air Forces directed each Army Air Force have a tactical group assigned to establish a Wing headquarters. Thus, the 62nd Troop Carrier Wing (TCW), constituted on 28 July 1947, and activated at McChord Field on 15 August, was assigned to 12th Air Force, Tactical Air Command, while the 62nd Troop Carrier Group became one of the Wing's subordinate units; its flying arm.
After overcoming shortages of personnel and aircraft parts, the 62nd began flying in earnest in January 1948 during Project Yukon. One infantry company with full field equipment was airlifted from McChord to Big Delta, Alaska. From Big Delta, the 62nd's C-82s flew to Elmendorf Field, Alaska, for the return of another Army unit to McChord. A relatively simple task today, such deployments and redeployments were quite a feat then, as the piston-engine-powered C-82s required numerous stops for refueling.
During the first half of 1948, the 62nd flew flood relief supplies to several locations in Washington and Oregon. McChord crews flew 100 tons of burlap bags, later to be filled with sand, to flood workers. By Fall, 62nd TCW assets were tapped to support the now famous Berlin Airlift. More than 100 men, primarily mechanics, aerial engineers, and truck drivers were identified for a 90-day temporary tour of duty in Europe, to bolster airlift resources.
In the unusually cruel winter of '48 -'49, the 62nd attracted national attention as it airdropped tons of hay to livestock stranded by extreme blizzards in several western States. Operation Hayride brought all available 62nd assets to Naval Air Station (NAS) Fallon, Nevada. From there the 62nd reached cattle in Nevada, Arizona, Utah, Colorado, Wyoming, Kansas, and Nebraska. With the operation well under way, President Truman called in additional C-82s from other units to assist in the endeavor. In the end, as much as 80 percent of the livestock in these states were saved as a result of the airdrop.
On 6 October 1949, the 62nd received its first four-engine Douglas C-54 Skymaster transport. By Thanksgiving of that same year, the Wing was equipped entirely with C-54s, and its designation was changed from 62nd Troop Carrier Wing (Medium), to (Heavy). On 1 June 1950, the Wing was inactivated. The Group, together with the 7th and 8th Troop Carrier Squadrons, moved for a short time to Kelly Air Force Base (AFB), Texas, while the 4th TCS was temporarily transferred to Japan. On 17 September 1951, the Wing was once again activated at McChord AFB. Shortly thereafter, the Group and its three flying squadrons, the 4th, 7th, and 8th, again assigned to the Wing, returned to McChord. Not two years had passed, however, before the Wing was once again on the move. Now flying the Douglas C-124 Globemaster II, which the 62nd had just proven as a viable platform for live paratroop drops, the Wing took command of Larson AFB, at Moses Lake, in central Washington, on 1 April 1952.
On 20 December 1952, one of the 62nd's C-124s took off from Larson on a routine airlift mission. Immediately after takeoff, about one half mile from the runway, the Globemaster II crashed and burned, killing 87, including servicemen on leave, going home for the holidays. At the time, it was the worst air disaster in history.
During 1952 and 1953, the 62nd airlifted troops, blood plasma, aircraft parts, ammunition, medical supplies, and much more, to the Far East, in support of the war in Korea. In May 1953, the 7th TCS, using only 11 C-124s, set a new standard in airdrop, delivering simultaneously 1,008 men, and equipment of the 82nd Airborne Division at Ft. Bragg, North Carolina.
In April 1954, the 62nd transported a replacement French garrison to Dien Bien Phu, French Indochina. Operation Bali Hai saw the Globemasters fly around the world in a period of 8 to 10 days. The C-124s departed the desert of Moses Lake for Germany and France, where French troops were onloaded for a flight through Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), Thailand, and, finally, Vietnam, where the French joined their comrades in the defense of Dien Bien Phu. Not longer after the second and final wave of Globemasters had delivered their French troops, the aircrews learned Dien Bien Phu had fallen to the communists. The mission of the 62nd, however, was complete, and they flew eastward, through the Philippines, Japan, Guam, Kwajelein, Hawaii, and California, before reaching Larson again.
By 1955 the Cold War was well under way, and the North American Defense Command (NORAD) set out to build a chain of radar stations on the northernmost reaches of the continent. This chain of radars, known as the Distant Early Warning (DEW) Line, was to detect incoming Soviet missiles and bombers, and give our forces enough warning to launch a counter attack, and get the National Command Authorities to safety. Between 1955 and 1957, the 62nd began to fly missions to the Alaskan arctic regions, carrying 13 million pounds of supplies and equipment to build the DEW Line. The resupply of the DEW Line stations kept the Wing occupied until 1969.
The 62nd Troop Carrier Wing (Heavy) joined the Continental Division of the Military Air Transport Service (MATS) on 1 July 1957. On 31 December 1959, the Wing relinquished command of Larson AFB and MATS turned that base over toStrategic Air Command (SAC). Meanwhile, the Air Force reorganized the structure of its wings, and the 62nd Troop Carrier Group, along with the other groups under the Wing, inactivated 8 January 1960. The Wing assumed direct control of its flying squadrons and aircraft. On 1 June 1960, the 62nd moved back to McChord as a tenant unit.
The 62nd found itself back in Indochina by April 1962. At a time when overt American participation in the war in Vietnam was minimized, the Wing began carrying Army supplies and equipment from Dover AFB, Delaware, to Saigon, Republic of Vietnam. The next month, the 62nd participated in Operation Spare Bed, airlifting an Army field hospital to a classified location in Thailand.
During Easter weekend 1964, residents of Alaska suffered the most devastating earthquake and tidal waves ever recorded on the American continent. The 62nd responded with 23 C-124 sorties, bringing one million pounds of supplies, including 115 beds, 667 mattresses, 250 crates of infant formula, more than a ton of charcoal briquettes, 5,400 pounds of canned soup, and about a ton of blankets and bedding for displaced Alaskans.
By 1 January 1965, the Wing had been redesignated 62nd Air Transport Wing (Heavy). The redesignation brought more flying hours, more missions, and more personnel, making the 62nd one of the largest wings in MATS. With the increasing commitments in the ever growing conflict in Southeast Asia, the 62nd continued to grow. On 1 January 1966, MATS became the Military Airlift Command (MAC). By 8 January of the same year, the Wing became the 62nd Military Airlift Wing (MAW). On 9 August 1966, a new era began for the 62nd, and McChord AFB, when the first Lockheed C-141 Starlifter to be delivered to the Wing was accepted in an official ceremony and christened "Tacoma Starlifter." The war in Vietnam kept the 62nd busy, flying troops and supplies regularly. On 22 March and 12 April 1967, two 62nd MAW Starlifters were destroyed in crashes at busy military airfields in Vietnam.
The Wing gained two additional flying squadrons in 1967. The 19th Military Airlift Squadron (MAS), from Kelly AFB, Texas, was assigned on 1 July. The 28th MAS from Hill AFB, Utah, assigned 7 July (these squadrons did not remain with the 62nd very long, as the 28th inactivated on 8 April 1969, and the 19th on 22 December 1969). During the first half of 1967, the Air Force coped with the phaseout of C-124s and the influx of C-141s by assigning the new Starlifters to the 4th and 8th Military Airlift Squadrons, while leaving the C-124s for Alaskan duties in the able hands of the 7th MAS.
Following the seizure of the USS Pueblo by North Korean forces in early 1968, the 62nd airlifted the entire 318th Fighter Interceptor Squadron (FIS) to Osan Air Base, South Korea, during the buildup of American forces. The Wing flew numerous missions in support of this endeavor.
There were numerous instances of civil unrest in our country during the 1960s, and the 62nd flew numerous missions in support of Garden Plot. Garden Plot was a series of operations moving federal troops where actual or anticipated civil disturbances might get out of hand, like the racial unrest in Watts, and antiwar protesters at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago. Troops were used to contain riots and enforce curfews where needed.
The last of the 62nd's C-124 Globemaster IIs were transferred to the Alaskan Air Command (AAC) in early December 1969, when AAC took over the responsibility for resupplying the stations along the DEW Line. The 62nd became an all-Starlifter Wing. By 5 December all Globemasters of the 7th MAS had been reassigned to other users, and the squadron was inactivated at McChord that month.
On 1 February 1972, the first MAC aircraft to land in the Peoples' Republic of China was 62 MAW C-141A number 60141, supporting President Nixon's trip to communist China. One year later, from 12 February to 1 April 1973, the 62nd flew missions in support of Operation Homecoming, the return of our prisoners of war from Vietnam. Six missions were flown to Hanoi, while another four Starlifters served as airborne back-ups. Twelve missions from Clark Air Base, Philippines to the United States, plus several stateside missions, returned brave men to their waiting families. The Wing logged about 754 hours in support of Homecoming.
In the Fall of 1973, Syria and Egypt launched an invasion of territory occupied by Israel, igniting the Yom Kippur war. From 13 October to 12 November, the 62nd supplied 23 C-141s and 48 aircrews to fly missions in support of Operation Nickel Grass, airlifting emergency supplies to Israel. Flying was intense, and accommodations away from home were sometimes out of the ordinary, as a hospital, and even a morgue were used to billet crews. The Wing logged well over 3,000 hours flying Nickel Grass.
In 1975, Operation Babylift carried hundreds of Vietnamese orphans to the United States, where adoptive parents awaited their arrival. On 29 April 1975, the first planeload of 65 children to arrive at McChord landed in C-141 number 50243. Two weeks later, the 62nd flew Marines from Kadena AB, Okinawa, to U Tapao, Thailand, to help recover the pirated ship USS Mayaguez, and its crew. In July of that same year, the 36th Tactical Airlift Squadron (TAS) and its C-130 Hercules, left Langley AFB, Virginia, and TAC, to become a part of the 62nd.
Following the mass murder-suicide of more than 900 people at the Jonestown religious compound in Guyana, South America, the 62nd airlifted more than 160 bodies to a morgue at Dover AFB, Delaware (most of the victims were U.S. Citizens). Crewmembers reported using their oxygen masks during the flight, in an effort to stifle the stench of decaying bodies in the cargo compartment.
In May of 1980, Mt. St. Helens erupted. A 36th TAS C-130 provided airborne communications support to the search for survivors and victims in the area devastated by the volcano. Another eruption followed on the 25th, threatening McChord aircraft with potentially damaging ash. In just over four hours all of McChord's flyable aircraft evacuated the area. Just a few days later, the first two "stretched" Starlifters arrived at McChord. This new version of the aircraft was designated C-141B, and was achieved by inserting two fuselage plugs, one forward, one aft of the wings, totaling just over 23 feet in length. Also of note in the B series, an air refueling receptacle, lending yet longer range to the already proven C-141. Eventually, all of the Wing's aircraft were stretched.
The Antarctic winter is marked by almost constant darkness and extremely cold temperatures. Such conditions, often aggravated by blowing storms of ice crystals, made winter landings at the Antarctic stations of McCmurdo and the South Pole impossible. Beginning in June 1983, the 62nd took full advantage of the longer, air-refuelable C-141B to carry out the perilous mid-winter (June is the beginning of winter in the Southern Hemisphere) airdrop over Antarctica. Air refueling made possible the trip from Christchurch, New Zealand, to the South Pole and back.
In October 1983, the US government identified a threat to its interests, in the form of Cuban and Soviet-backed forces in the tiny island of Grenada, in the Caribbean. America's response included the delivery of the 82nd Airborne Division by C-141s. Eight 62nd MAW C-141Bs participated in Operation Urgent Fury. The first Starlifter on the ground at Grenada was a 62nd aircraft. On the way out of Grenada, the C-141s carried damaged equipment from the battlefield.
The 36th TAS became the 36th MAS on 28 August 1989, when the last of its propeller-driven C-130s departed McChord, and the 36th became a C-141 squadron. The 62nd was, once again, an all-jet Wing. In December of that same year, President George Bush ordered an invasion of Panama, in order to depose its dictator, Manuel Noriega, who faced charges of drug trafficking and election fraud. Making use of their experience during the invasion of Grenada, 62nd MAW crews airdropped troops of the 82nd Airborne Division, as well as heavy Army equipment. There were 10 62nd Starlifters in the 51-aircraft formation over Panama, during the night of 20-21 December 1989. In spite of icing problems at one of the departure bases, and small-arms fire, the 62nd reached its objective, and Operation Just Cause was a success.
In August of 1990, totalitarian Iraq invaded Kuwait, on the shores of the Persian Gulf. Within days the 62nd poured a stream of C-141s, aircrews, and support crews into Operation Desert Shield, the effort to deter further aggression from Iraq. The 97th MAS, a reserve squadron at McChord, was called to active duty and became, temporarily, part of the 62nd MAW. The operations tempo was unprecedented. By October, the United States had over 210,000 troops in Saudi Arabia, with more coming every day. USAF airlift, including the 62nd, made it all possible. This was a mobilization of troops and materiel like the world had never seen.
By January 1991, Desert Shield became Desert Storm, as allied air power was unleashed upon the invaders with irresistible force. The 62nd joined the rest of the Military Airlift Command in providing round-the-clock airlift to the Middle East, keeping the air war supplied, and aiding the build up of ground forces for the highly successful, though brief ground war in February. Before long, Kuwait was free, although the tremendous effort put forth by the 62nd had accelerated the aging process of its C-141s. The increased payloads and almost incessant flying would have lasting negative effects on the fleet.
After the war, the 62nd found itself involved, once again, in the business of saving lives. In June 1991, Mt. Pinatubo, in the Philippines, erupted. Within days Americans in that country were ordered to evacuate, and the 62nd plunged head first into Operation Fiery Vigil, bringing most of them to McChord. On 1 December, the 62nd Military Airlift Wing became the 62nd Airlift Wing, made up of the 4th, 8th, and 36th Airlift Squadrons.
In early 1992, 62nd AW crews and aircraft began participating in Operation Provide Hope, helping to deliver hundreds of tons of food and medicine to the former Soviet Union. By August, Operation Provide Relief (later known as Restore Hope), rushing food supplies to the starving people of Somalia, the relief of victims of hurricane Andrew in our own country, and relief efforts for the Guamanian victims of typhoon Omar kept our crews and aircraft on the move.
Tragedy struck the 62nd on 30 November 1992. Four C-141s were taking part in what was supposed to be a routine local air refueling/airdrop mission. The four Starlifters were refueling with two KC-135 Stratotankers of the 141st Air Refueling Wing (Air National Guard) over north central Montana. Two of the C-141s -- tail numbers 65-255 and 66-142 -- collided in mid-air, killing all 13 crewmembers. Ten of the men were from the 36th AS, two from the 8th, and one from the 4th.
On 1 October, 1993, the 62nd lost one of its squadrons, the 36th, as that designation moved to Yokota Air Base, Japan, where it went back to flying C-130s. However, the men and women who made up the 36th received the designation 7th Airlift Squadron, from Travis AFB. The 7th had come home, and the flying arm of the 62nd AW, the 62nd Operations Group (the former 62nd Transport Group, and later 62nd Troop Carrier Group), was once again made up of its three original squadrons, the 4th, 7th, and 8th.
A strong earthquake hit Los Angeles, California, in January of 1993. Within hours an 8th AS crew was on its way to that area with a 60-person Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) team, plus 37,937 pounds of search and rescue gear, tents, generators, and other equipment.
Ongoing relief efforts kept the 62nd busy throughout 1993 and 1994. In July 1994, a 4th AS crew was fired upon while flying a Provide Promise mission into Sarajevo, in the former Yugoslavia. The very next day, four 62nd aircrews and C-141s, along with approximately 140 airmen and 70,000 pounds of supplies, left for Operation Support Hope, the Rwandan humanitarian relief effort. Just flying Provide Relief / Restore Hope, the 62nd off-loaded more than 8,000 tons of cargo between December 1992 and August 1994.
Following the terrorist bombing of the Oklahoma City Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in May of 1995, a 4th AS aircrew left Andrews AFB, Maryland, carrying 56 members of the Montgomery County, Maryland, Urban Search and Rescue team (including four dogs and 16 tons of equipment). Eventually, more than 26 tons of equipment were delivered by 62nd AW crews.
In late 1995, President Bill Clinton ordered the deployment of 20,000 U.S. troops to the former Yugoslav Republic of Bosnia, as part of a multinational peacekeeping force. Eighteen crews and six aircraft from the 62nd were in place at Rhein Main Air Base, Germany, by 18 December, ready to do their part. In spite of severe weather conditions, McChord crews and aircraft were soon flying troops and equipment into Tazsar, Hungary, for Operation Joint Endeavor.
In January 1996 nearly 170 McChord members, operating under a provisional wing located at Rhein Main Air Base Germany, continued supporting airlift missions into Tuzla and Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzogovina. and Taszar, Hungary in support of Operation Joint Endeavor. Six aircrews and five prepositioned McChord C-141 Starlifters received aid from 122 ground support augmentees. Led by the 62nd Operations Group Commander, Colonel Thomas R. Madson, support personnel from McChord serviced C-5 Galaxy, C-17 Globemaster and C-141 Starlifter aircraft, delivering more than 9,480 troops and 21,600 tons of cargo.
On the night of 15 May 1996, aircrews from the 4th, 7th, and 8th Airlift Squadrons took part in Big Drop III, the largest airdrop since World War II. The 62nd was one of 28 participating units flying a total of 144 airlifters to simultaneously deploy 6,000 U.S. Army 82nd Airborne Division, U.K. 5th Airborne Brigade personnel, and their heavy equipment onto three drop zones on Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
In April 1996, aircrews from the 4th, 7th, and 8th Airlift Squadrons provided equipment and personnel transportation in support of an Air Power Expeditionary Force in the Middle Eastern Kingdom of Jordan. A four-ship contingency from McChord flew missions into the region as part of Operation Southern Watch.
In July 1996, a 4th Airlift Squadron crew evacuated 68 injured troops from Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, following a bomb blast that killed 19 airmen. The crew diverted to Dhahran from Rhein Main Air Base, Germany, flying a C-141 configured for aeromedical operations. A 17 hour flight, with one refueling stop completed the transport of passengers to Eglin AFB, Florida.
McChord Air Force base achieved another environmental first by having a cleanup site delisted from the National Priorities List (NPL). The site was a 22 acre stretch of land where aircraft used to be cleaned and drained of fuel. After nearly 10 years of self-repair, the site met the requirements for delistment from the NPL.
Throughout 1997, the 62 AW provided airlift support for numerous joint and combined training exercises such as Cobra Gold, Tandem Thrust, Northern Edge, Green Flag, Cooperative Nugget and Joint Task Force Six. The wing also participated in several accident response exercises, in addition to sustaining high operations tempos.
In January 1997, the 62nd Airlift Wing received the tasking to be the primary airlift for the re-supply of the US Antarctic Program, commonly referred to as Operation Deep Freeze. From 16-30 August 1997, Lt Col Ray Phillips and crew flew the first WINFLY 97 missions to Pegasus Airfield in preparation for the Annual Operation Deep Freeze missions. During the annual mission, 30 September-15 November 1997, the 62 AW along with crews from the 446 AW, delivered 1,039,001 pounds of cargo and 1,478 passengers to McMurdo Air Station, Antarctica.
On 27 March 1997, Major Randy Woodward and crew, 4th Airlift Squadron, flew through the reduced vertical separation minimum (RVSM) airspace over the North Atlantic. This flight represented one of the most significant changes in oceanic air traffic management in the last 40 years.
The 62nd Airlift Wing provided humanitarian relief throughout 1997 as well. On 21 April 1997, three C-141s and crews flew missions in support of the relief efforts at Grand Forks, North Dakota. These missions included delivering Federal Emergency Management Administration personnel, more than 20,000 pounds of equipment and cargo to Grand Forks Air Force Base to assist the city of Grand Forks just 13 miles from the base. On 23 April 1997, a crew from the 8th Airlift Squadron flew an additional relief mission to Grand Forks to deliver equipment and 32 Civil Engineering personnel from McConnell AFB, Kansas.
During a regular channel mission, Captain Brian J. Mullin and crew, 7th Airlift Squadron, volunteered and flew a 120 flight hour, 21 day augmented air refueling mission. While dodging Typhoon Tina and Super Typhoon Winnie the crew airlifted an emergency burn and trauma team to Guam after a Korean Airline 747 crashed, performed an emergency evacuation of a two day old infant and flew 16 missions moving elements of III MEF, a Navy Special Warfare Unit.
An additional humanitarian mission included the deliverance of relief supplies from Kadena AB, Japan to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam after Typhoon Linda devastated the area in early November 1997. The typhoon unleashed torrential rains and winds that wiped out coastal villages, killed hundreds of people and left thousands homeless.
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