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24th Wing

The 24th Wing was a part of the 12th Air Force, the SOUTHCOM Air Force component. The 24th Wing stood up in Panama in 1967. Being the focal point for airpower in Central and South America, it was responsible for counterdrug missions and humanitarian missions, and was directly involved with the implementation of the 1977 Carter-Torrijos Panama Canal Transfer and Neutrality treaties. The 24th Wing here was inactivated 31 October 1999 in a final retreat ceremony.

The 24th Wing was established as 24th Composite Wing (Special) on 19 November 1942. It Served in the defense of Iceland, Dec 1942-Jun 1944. From Aug 1946 until replaced by the Antilles Air Division in Jul 1948, supervised large numbers of major and minor bases and Air Force units in the Caribbean area from Puerto Rico to British Guiana.

The 24th Wing was organized once more in Nov 1967 in the Canal Zone, replacing the 5700th Air Base Wing. The wing assumed operation and maintenance responsibilities for Howard and Albrook Air Force Bases and a special operations mission that included air transport, paramilitary operations, exercise participation, civic actions in Central and South America, search and rescue missions, humanitarian operations, mercy missions, aeromedical evacuation, and support of Army Special Forces, US military assistance units, and training of Latin American air forces. From activation in 1967 until mid-1972, the 24th Wing operated the USAF Tropic Survival School at Albrook. It controlled various rotational detachments, 1967-1987. Lost UH-1 helicopters and control of search and rescue missions in the area after 1 Mar 1983.

The Wing inactivated on 31 Jan 1987, its subordinate components reassigned directly to the USAF Southern Air Division. Wing activated on 1 Jan 1989, again assuming responsibilities for Howard AFB and Albrook AFS. The wing flew combat sorties in the invasion of Panama, Dec 1989-Jan 1990. Trained foreign and domestic pilots in forward air control. Flew search and rescue, aeromedical airlift and disaster relief missions in the Latin American region, 1989-1990. Members of the wing deployed to Southwest Asia to provide air liaison support between ground forces and air operations, 1 Oct 1990-c. Feb 1991.

When the 24th Composite Wing inactivated in 1991, its assets were placed under Air Forces in Panama. On 11 Feb 1992 the wing activated, becoming the senior USAF organization in Panama, replacing the previous command and division-level Air Force host units. In June 1992, it began operating the only C-21, CT-43, C-27 and special mission C-130s in ACC. Provided control and support to multi-service units directed by United States Southern Command and United States Southern Air Force, 1992-. Missions included counternarcotics operations, aerial command and control, intratheater airlift, security assistance and defense of the Panama Canal.

The wing operated both Howard AFB and Albrook Air Force Station. On 01 November 1999, Howard AFB was transferred to the country of Panama as part of the 1977 treaty agreements



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Page last modified: 05-07-2011 02:11:29 ZULU