172nd Airlift Wing [172nd AW]
A significant portion of America's military strength is vested in its reserve forces. Coupled with its federal mission to provide the U.S. Air Force and Department of Defense with a trained combat-ready strategic military airlift force, the 172d Airlift Wing provides the State of Mississippi support in the event of national emergency, maintains peace and order and supports civil defense and pre-attack planning.
The 172d is based at Allen C. Thompson Field in Jackson, Mississippi. The Air Guard facility is named after Charles L. Sullivan, the former Lieutenant Governor of Mississippi and long-time member and pilot in this unit. The 172nd Airlift Wing based in Jackson operates C-141 and C-17 transport planes. There are 1,200 Air Guard personnel attached to the unit.
The current assigned aircraft is the C-141B Starlifter. The 172d was the first Air National Guard unit to be assigned this aircraft. Growth of the unit from a strength of 102 officers and airmen in July 1953 to 1140 by 2000 is testimony to the success the unit has had in recruiting and retaining qualified people. The 172d contributes significantly to the economic posture of the city and surrounding communities.
In March 1988 the 172d took part in the airlift of approximately 3200 troops and almost 1000 tons of cargo on an exercise to Palmerola Air Base, Honduras. The 172d had the distinction of being the only Air National Guard unit in the United States which participated in the airlift of troops to Honduras. On 6 December 1988 the Soviet Republic of Armenia suffered a powerful earthquake. The first Air Guard aircraft to fly to Armenia was a C-141B from the 172d. Before relief missions ended, the 172d would fly six missions with its planes and crew and additionally would furnish a crew to fly a U.S. Air Force C-141 whose crew had reached maximum flying hours. In September 1989 a devastating hurricane struck the tiny island of St. Croix, leaving the island crippled, the 172d flew eleven emergency relief missions, hauling 465 tons of cargo and 472 passengers and encompassing 165 hours of flying time.
From 20 December 1989 to 12 January 1990 the 172d flew 21 sorties in support of Operation Just Cause in Panama. The total amount of cargo transported during the support of Operation Just Cause was 403.6 tons Total number of passengers was 1,274. On 7 August 1990 the 172d's support of Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm began when aircrew members began voluntary missions. Approximately 98 aircrew members flew missions on a volunteer basis. On 24 August 1990 the 183d Airlift Squadron was activated by Presidential Directive. From August 1990 to May 1991 the 148 members of the 183d flew 2,880 sorties which transported 15,837 passengers and 25,949.2 tons of cargo.
On 1 September 1995 the 172d amassed 175,000 accident free flying hours, proving the ability of the Air National Guard to fulfill its role in the Total Force concept.
On 20 November 1995 Congressman G. V. "Sonny" Montgomery announced that six operational C-17 aircraft will be assigned to the 172d Airlift Wing, Jackson, Mississippi. When asked about the C-17 announcement, Major Richard B. Howard, Commander, 172 Aircraft Generation Squadron, responded "We're excited. The depth of our maintenance folks' experience in supporting cargo aircraft -- the C-124, the C-130, the C-141 -- [shows that] now we're ready for the next challenge."
Six C-17 Globemaster IIIs will be assigned to the Mississippi Air National Guard to replace their eight C-141s. These six airlifters will be assigned to support the Strategic Brigade Airdrop mission of the XVIIIth Airborne Corps. They will be expected to train with this unit and be ready to support the 24-hour wheels-up requirement of the nation's contingency corps.
In its 2005 BRAC Recommendations, DoD recommended to realign Key Field Air Guard Station, MS. It would move the 186th Air Refueling Wing's fire fighter positions to the 172d Air Wing at Jackson International Airport.
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