916th Air Refueling Wing [916th ARW]
The 916th Air Refueling Wing supports routine refueling missions for other Air Force, Navy and Marine and allied aircraft under the direction of the 4th Air Force and Headquarters, Air Force Reserve Command. If recalled to active duty, the wing would integrate the 22nd Air Force and fall under the direction of Air Mobility Command, Scott Air Force Base, IL.
The unit, North Carolina's only Reserve wing joined the 4th Wing at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base in October 1985. It was a small advance team, Air Refueling Group Provisional, 9100, until October 1986. During that first year reservists worked with active duty units flying Strategic Air Command's new tanker, the KC-10A Extender, in an associate program. The first exclusively Reserve crew flew out of Seymour Johnson AFB October 29, 1985.
The designation, 916th Air Refueling Group, became official Oct. 1, 1986. The number had been inactivated as the 916th Troop Carrier Group, Heavy, assigned to Carswell AFB, TX, in 1972. They were one of the last Reserve units to fly the C-124 for humanitarian missions and operations in South Korea, Vietnam and in the continental United States.
The group was formed 17 January 1963. The squadron had been assigned to another group until the 916th was formed. The flying squadron can trace it's designation back to 1943 and became an original Air Force Reserve unit when the Air Force first became a separate service in 1947.
Since 1985, the people of the 916th worked along side active-duty counterparts for the KC-10 mission. More than 450 airmen were recalled to active duty to support Operations Desert Shield, Storm and Proud Return, deploying around the globe. As a group, they off loaded more fuel than any other unit during the period.
In 1995 the 4th Fighter Wing gave up the refueling mission and the KC-10s. The Reserve unit gained their own refueling aircraft, KC-135R Stratotankers, becoming the 916th Air Refueling Wing. In early 1997 the new Reserve unit underwent a radical restructuring to support their exclusive operation on base to become a fully mission-ready wing.
The Air Force has continued to rely on Seymour Johnson citizen airmen even during their conversion year, 1996. Crews and maintenance experts have rallied to support Bosnian airlift, they stood alert over Labor Day for operations in the Middle East and supported search and rescue efforts off the coast of Cuba. Airmen of the 916th have continued to provide aerial refueling support for Air Force training, exercises and routine global operations.
The peacetime mission of the Reserve wing is to train and support competent citizen airmen, flying and maintaining a fleet of KC-135R Stratotankers, to be ready to respond at a moment's notice to world-wide operations. Tankers make it possible for airlift, fighter and bomber components of America's air power equation to operate efficiently in any theater of operations. They provide an air bridge for agile response and facility to maintain air superiority. Nearly 200 full-time airmen provide continuity and training support for more than 550 traditional reservists from all over the state and places beyond. Three groups, Operations, Logistics and Mission Support, and a medical squadron and communications flight round out the team dedicated to the refueling mission.
In its 2005 BRAC Recommendations, DoD recommended to realign Grand Forks Air Force Base (AFB), ND. It would distribute the 319th Air Refueling Wing's KC-135R aircraft to the 916th Air Refueling Wing (AFR), Seymour-Johnson AFB (eight aircraft) and several other installations. The 916th would host an active duty associate unit. The additional aircraft at Seymour Johnson would optimize the squadron, increase the wing's capability, and establish another new active duty/Air Force Reserve unit association.
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