144th Airlift Squadron [144th AS]
The 144th operates nine medium range C-130 Hercules aircraft capable of flying both passengers and heavy cargo loads anywhere in the world.
The Alaska Air National Guard was organized 15 September 1952 as the 8144th Air Base Squadron and upon Federal recognition the following July, was re-designated the 144th Fighter-Bomber Squadron. The unit training assemblies were conducted at Elmendorf Air Force Base and the first aircraft, a T-6 trainer, arrived in February 1953, Ultimately, five T-6G trainers were assigned and everyone was busy getting ready to transition into jet aircraft. The first jet, the T-33, arrived in October 1953 and in the Spring of 1954, the unit received its first operational aircraft, the F-80 Shooting Star jet fighter. By the first annual training period, unit strength has increased to 15 officers and 49 enlisted men.
In 1955, the unit moved from Elmendorf to its own base by the Anchorage Airport. Kulis Air National Guard Base was named after First Lieutenant Albert Kulis, an Air Guard pilot who lost his life while flying a training mission. In July 1955, the unit exchanged the F-80 aircraft for the F-86E Sabrejets, and the unit was re-designated the 144th Fighter Interceptor Squadron.
The mission of the 144th was changed to airlift in 1957. With the arrival of the C-47 Skytrain (nickname Gooney Bird), the unit was re-designated the 144th Air Transport Squadron (Light) on 1 July 1957. The 144th is the only Air Guard unit ever to be assigned C-47's as the mission aircraft. In 1960, the aging Gooneys were replaced by the larger C-123 Providers--a tactical airlift transport--and the unit was again re-designated as the 144th Air Transport Squadron (Medium). The unit operated the only ski-equipped C-123Js in the Air Force system.
In July of 1969, the was reorganized and designated as a Group level and renamed the 176th Tactical Airlift Group. Concurrently, the squadron was re-designated as the 144th Tactical Airlift Squadron and became the Group's primary mission unit. There were more than 700 positions authorized in the Group. In 1975, the 144th gaining command was changed from the Alaskan Air Command (AAC) to the Military Airlift Command (MAC). After 16 years operating C-123's, the squadron converted to the C-130E Hercules aircraft. The first of eight four-engine Vietnam veteran turboprops was received in early 1976, and the 144th became equipped for a truly global mission. Their range, speed, and airlift capabilities were more than double those of the C-123's they replaced.
In July of 1983, the 144th again updated aircraft, this time converting to brand new C-130H aircraft directly from the factory. The new aircraft has even longer range and more speed than the "E" model, essential to the unit's growing worldwide mission commitment. In mid 1992, the squadron was re-designated as the 144th Airlift Squadron and gained by the Pacific Air Forces (PACAF). Shortly thereafter, the unit upgraded in the Enhanced Station Keeping System (E-SKE) to enable it to fly formation in the weather.
The 144th's mission is to provide trained aircrews and support personnel for airlift and airdrop during all contingencies in the Pacific Theater. The state mission is to provide emergency and humanitarian support when called on by the governor.
The 144th Airlift Squadron performed humanitarian airlift missions for famine relief in Somalia and Rwanda, supported Operation Southern Watch in Saudi Arabia, achieved an Excellent rating in its first Operational Readiness Inspection from PACAF. On 1 October 1996, the squadron entered a one year conversion to deployment tasking from its previous in-place generation tasking.
Aircrews of the 144th, have flown to the far reaches of the globe, performing missions in Panama, Thailand, Japan, Australia and Germany. The unit also participated in OPERATION FULL ACCOUNTING, an effort to bring back remains of Americans from Viet Nam, Laos and Cambodia.
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