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118th Airlift Wing [118th AW]

In 2005, DoD recommended to distribute the 118th's aircraft among several other units as part of a recommendatio to realign Nashville IAP (see below for details). Roots of the 105th Airlift Squadron and the 118th Airlift Wing reach to World War 1 when the 105th Aero Squadron of the American Expeditionary Force was formed at Kelly Field, Texas in 1917. After the war, in 1919, veterans of the 105th Aero Squadron residing in the Nashville area gathered for the purpose of organizing an air element of the Tennessee National Guard.

On October 1, 1920, Adjutant General Baxter Sweeney gave formal recognition to the First Squadron, Air Service, Tennessee National Guard. Tennessee's unit was the first in the entire South. Only two similar units existed in the country at the time, one in California and one in New York.

Veterans began recruiting efforts and conducting drills (without pay). They raised funds ($3,000) and H.O. Blackwood donated a farm adjacent to Andrew Jackson's Hermitage. The farm was converted to a 100 acre flying site complete with a WWI hangar moved from Memphis and was known as Blackwood Field. On December 4, 1921, the unit received federal recognition and was designated the 136th Air Observation Squadron, flying four new Curtiss JN-6HG "Jennys" and one DH-4B DeHavilland aircraft.

On July 20, 1923, the 136th Observation Squadron was redesignated as the 105th Observation Squadron. In the next fifteen years the Squadron developed strength and stature. It received 0-2 observation airplanes in 1926.

Beginning November 29,1927, it occupied McConnell Field, west of downtown Nashville, named after Lt. Brewer McConnell who was killed in a training accident. The old McConnell field is the current home of Nashville's McCabe Municipal Golf Course. The years 1928 - 1938 were characterized by frequent changes in assigned aircraft. The 0-11 Falcon and 0-17 aircraft were received in 1928, 0-38 aircraft in 1931, 0-25 aircraft in 1935 and 0-47 aircraft in 1938.

On November 25,1930, the 105th Observation Squadron was disbanded and the aircraft and equipment were moved to Memphis Municipal Airport, Memphis, TN. This was necessary in order to comply with the requirement by the Militia Bureau for National Guard air units to operate from an A-1 airport. At the time there were only two such airports in the state, Sky Harbor, near Murfreesboro, and Memphis Municipal. The squadron had been using Sky Harbor on a temporary basis for some months, but its distance from Nashville made it a less desirable National Guard port. Memphis did not have facilities at the time of the squadron's transfer and the program for supplying them faltered.

On March 23,1931 the squadron transfered back to Nashville, at Sky Harbor, where it could share hangar space with American Airways (now American Airlines). After relocation to Sky Harbor, the Militia Bureau accepted the recommendations of the inspecting officers and again extended federal recognition to the squadron April 10, 1931.

Finally, on January 1, 1938, the squadron completed its move to its present home on a tract of land purchased by the City of Nashville. With financial assistance from the state and the Works Progress Administration (WPA), a modern airport was constructed and named Berry Field after WPA Administrator Colonel Harry S. Berry, who directed the airport construction. Today this site is known as the Nashville International Airport.

In September of 1940, after summer maneuvers in Louisiana, the squadron was called to active duty. It was sent to Ft. Jackson, SC, and assigned to the newly organized 65th Observation Group which was equipped with 0-52 aircraft. Members of the 105th became a ready source of trained personnel and seasoned pilots as our nation entered World War II. The 105th was inactivated October 18, 1942, but its personnel and aircraft were absorbed into the 521st Bombardment Squadron (Heavy). Then on November 29, 1942, this organization was redesignated the 16th Antisubmarine Squadron. On April 9, 1943, the 105th Observation Squadron (Inactive) was redesignated the 105th Reconnaissance Squadron (Bombardment). The l6th Antisubmarine Squadron was redesignated the 820th Bombardment Squadron (Medium) on September 24, 1943.

Members of the 105th flew a variety of missions - observation, antisubmarine patrol, reconnaissance and bombardment. They found themselves switching organizations frequently and flying different aircraft as follows; the twin engine Martin B-10 Bomber, the Vega Ventura B-34, the B-25G Mitchell Bomber, and the four engine B-24J Liberator Bomber.

In June of 1945, the 105th Reconnaissance Squadron (B) was reconstituted on the inactive list. May 24,1946, the squadron was reorganized at Berry Field and assigned to the 54th Fighter Wing, 14th Air Force. November 26, 1946, the 105th Reconnaissance Squadron (B) was redesignated the 105th Fighter Squadron. February 3, 1947, the 118th Fighter Group and the 105th Fighter Squadron were federally recognized with the 105th Fighter Squadron assigned to the 118th Fighter Group flying the P-47 "Thunderbolt" aircraft.

On September 1, 1950, the 118th Composite Wing was constituted and on November 1, 1950, it was federally recognized. It was assigned to 14th Air Force, Continental Air Command, with Wing Headquarters at Berry Field. The 118th Fighter Group was redesignated the 118th Composite Group and along with the 105th Fighter Squadron was absorbed by the 118th Composite Wing. February 1,1951, the 118th Composite Wing, 118th Composite Group and 105th Fighter Squadron were redesignated the 118th Tactical Reconnaissance Wing, Group and Squadron respectively.

The 118th Tactical Reconnaissance Wing (TRW) and Group were activated for federal service February 1,1951. On April 13, 1951, the 118th TRW was reassigned to Tactical Air Command, (TAC), Langley AFB, VA, and operated from the municipal airport at Memphis, TN. On August 3, 1951, the 118th TRW was released from assignment to TAC and reassigned and transferred to Headquarters Ninth Air Force, Shaw AFB, SC. The 105th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron stayed at Berry Field. It was redesignated as the 105th Fighter Interceptor Squadron and was activated in place March 1, 1951. While on active duty, it operated two geographically separated units; Detachment 1 flying P-47 Thunderbolt aircraft, from McGhee-Tyson Airport at Knoxville, TN, provided air defense for the Atomic Energy Commission at Oak Ridge, and Detachment 2 was the 4674th Ground Observer Squadron, Smyrna, TN.

January 1, 1953, the 118th Tactical Reconnaissance Wing returned to Berry Field with the following assigned units: 118th Tactical Reconnaissance Group, 105th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron, 155th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron at Memphis, and the 154th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron at Little Rock, AR. The units were equipped with the RF-51 Mustang from 1953 - 1954, the Lockheed RF-80C Shooting Star from 1954 - 1956, and the Republic RF-84F Thunderflash from 1956 to early 1961.

In April of 1961 the Wing converted to an airlift mission flying the C-97G "Stratofreighter." On May 12, 1961, the 118th Air Transport Wing (Heavy) was reassigned to Eastern Transport Air Force (EASTAF), Military Air Transport Service (MATS). In January of 1966, MATS was renamed Military Airlift Command (MAC). As a result, the 118th Air Transport Wing, Group and Squadron were redesignated the 118th Military Airlift Wing, Group and Squadron. The 118th MAW converted to the C-124C "Globemaster" transport and received the first of eight of these aircraft April 6, 1967.

Operating from Nashville during the Vietnam War, the 118th MAW supported global airlift requirements of U.S. military forces. The Wing became Executive Agent for ANG Airlift Support in conjunction with the Vietnam effort in 1965. This function now resides at the Air National Guard Readiness Center at Andrews AFB, MD. A well-trained group of officers and airmen at Berry Field operating 24 hours a day, seven days a week, coordinated the airlift of equipment and personnel by 18 Military Airlift Groups in 15 states. Beginning in December of 1965, the 105th MAS flew more than 100 missions to Vietnam in a period of approximately a year and a half.

In March of 1971, the Wing converted to the C-130A Hercules aircraft and became the 118th Tactical Airlift Wing. The Wing was assigned to Ninth Air Force, Tactical Air Command. Ultimately five ANG Tactical Airlift Groups were assigned to the Wing by June 9, 1973: the 145th TAG, Charlotte, NC, the 166th TAG, New Castle, DE, the 167th TAG Martinsburg, WV, the 170th TAG, McGuire AFB, NJ, and the 118th TAG at Nashville. December 1, 1974, the 118th Tactical Airlift Wing was transferred from 9th Air Force, Tactical Air Command (TAC), to 21st Air Force, Military Airlift Command (MAC). On February 9, 1975, the 118th Tactical Airlift Group was deactivated. In June of 1978 the Wing was recognized for its achievements and was awarded the Air Force Outstanding Unit Award. In 1979, the Wing was enlarged from eight to sixteen C-130A Aircraft.

Since acquiring the C-130 airframe, the unit has supported a worldwide tactical airlift mission. Participation in exercises such as Brave Shield, Brim Frost and Red Flag were accomplished with some of the oldest aircraft in the inventory (1954-1957 A models). Rotations to Panama in support of Volant Oak beginning in 1977 became routine.

1990 was the start of another conversion process. The 118th received a total of sixteen new C-130H2 aircraft from Lockheed at Marietta, GA. The Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in August 1990, placed the largest demand upon 118th personnel in almost 40 years. The Wing mobilized 462 personnel during 21 deployments for Operations Desert Shield/Desert Storm in southwest Asia and flew a record 7,500 flying hours.

From October 91 - September 92 was to be another year with a stepped up operational tempo. The 118th flew 7,523 flying hours, another record. It was a year of historic change in the United States Air Force. An Air Force wide reorganization saw the demise of Strategic Air Command, Military Airlift Command and Tactical Air Command into a more streamlined and functional command structure. In June of 1992, Military Airlift Command (MAC) reorganized as Air Mobility Command (AMC). The 118th Tactical Airlift Wing became the 118th Airlift Wing. On January 1, 1993, the Wing implemented an internal reorganization to the new Air Force directed objective wing structure.

The period from October 92 - September 93 dramatically outpaced the ops tempo and records established by the 118th AW in during 91 and 92. The 118th was deployed for two months to Somalia in support of Operation Restore Hope, three months to Germany in support of Operation Provide Promise in Bosnia-Herzegovina, deployed to Panama for seven two-week rotations and flew a new record 8,618.6 flying hours. Approximately twenty-five to thirty percent of Wing personnel were deployed for six months, half of FY 93.

October 93 started with another reorganization. Effective October 1, 1993, the 118th Airlift Wing was relieved from assignment to 21st Air Force, Air Mobility Command (AMC) and assigned to 8th Air Force, Air Combat Command (ACC). FY 94 has continued the high ops tempo pace established in FY 93. The 118th Airlift Wing deployed three aircraft, six air crews and 65 maintenance and support personnel to Rhein-Main Air Base Germany from December 27,1993 to May 7,1994 in support of Operation Provide Promise in Bosnia-Herzegovina. The 118 AW was deployed in support of this operation for seven of thirteen consecutive months. This commitment was in addition to six two-week CORONET OAK rotations to Panama and a normal schedule of local training, guardlift and AMC week-long floater missions.

118th Airlift Wing personnel have been called upon to participate in the following operations since 1990: DISTANT HAVEN, a humanitarian operation for Haitian refugees in Surinam, PROVIDE PROMISE with airlifts of food and supplies into Sarajevo and airdrops over Bosnia, SUPPORT HOPE another humanitarian mission in or near Rwanda Uphold Democracy, a mission supporting military forces in Haiti, SOUTHERN WATCH involved enforcing the no-fly zone over southern Iraq and Join Endeavor, a mission supporting peacekeeping operations on Bosnia.

In its 2005 BRAC Recommendations, DoD recommended to realign Nashville International Airport (IAP) AGS, TN. This recommendation would distribute the C-130H aircraft of the 118th Airlift Wing (ANG) to the 182d Airlift Wing (ANG), Greater Peoria Airport AGS, IL (four aircraft), and the 123d Airlift Wing (ANG), Louisville IAP AGS, KY (four aircraft). Flying related ECS (aerial port and fire fighters) would move to Memphis IAP AGS. The Aeromedical Squadron from Nashville would moves to NAS JRB Fort Worth. Other ECS would remain in place at Nashville. Nashville (104) had a low military value ranking and was near other ANG bases keeping or gaining aircraft.

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Page last modified: 05-07-2011 02:08:57 ZULU