302nd Airlift Wing [302nd AW]
The 302nd Airlift Wing, the only Air Force Reserve flying unit in Colorado, is the largest tenant organization at Peterson AFB. Approximately 1,300 reservists and 200 full-time personnel are assigned to the 302nd AW, which is one of 17 C-130 Reserve units located throughout the nation.
The 302nd AW is assigned to 22nd Air Force, Dobbins ARB, GA. The 302nd AW comes under the operational control of Air Force Reserve Command, Robins AFB, GA. In the event the unit is called to active duty through presidential order, the 302nd AW is currently gained by 15th Air Force, Travis AFB, CA, and would become an active-duty unit under Air Mobility Command, headquartered at Scott AFB, IL.
Established as the 302nd Troop Carrier Wing on May 16, 1949, the 302nd AW was first activated by the Reserve on June 27, 1949. In the mid-1950s, the wing flew airlift operations in the U.S. and overseas. The 302nd AW was called to active duty during the Cuban missile crisis of 1962. During the 1960s, wing aircraft and crews performed world-wide airlift missions and participated in numerous tactical exercises. The unit was deactivated on April 1, 1981. In mid-1983, the unit, then designated the 901st Tactical Airlift Group, located to newly-constructed facilities on Peterson AFB. It was reactivated on April 1, 1985.
The wing received one of its biggest tests in 1990-91 with Operations Desert Shield and Storm. More than 600 wing members, including flying, air cargo, medical and maintenance personnel, were deployed to the Persian Gulf, England and stateside locations to support active duty operations. At the end of the Gulf War, the 302nd AW supported Operation Provide Comfort by air-dropping food and supplies to the Kurdish refugees. The wing supported Operations Provide Relief and Restore Hope in Somalia, Coronet Oak in Panama, Operation Provide Promise's humanitarian airlift to Bosnia, and hurricane relief to Homestead AFB, FL. In addition, the 302nd AW provided support for Operation Restore Democracy in Haiti. The 302nd AW has also participated in large-scale exercises, such as Red Flag. Its support units deployed all over the world to train and augment active duty-units.
The mission of the 302nd AW is to train, equip, and employ airlift forces in world-wide support of our nation's vital interests. In wartime, the applicable military theater commander uses the aircrews and C-130s to conduct those same operations. Airlift is critical to today's Defense, since units are increasingly based in the United States instead of pre-deployed as in the past. With the high quality airlift forces available to the Total Force, a unit can be activated and deployed from the U.S. to any location in the world within 72 hours.
Other 302nd AW missions include the Modular Airborne Firefighting System (MAFFS), which supports the U.S. Forest Service; support of aeromedical evacuations; and humanitarian flights. The 302nd AW is the only Air Force Reserve unit trained and equipped for the MAFFS mission. The unit's C-130s are loaded with a system designed to air-drop fire-retardant chemicals used in fighting forest fires and fertilizing the forest to generate quick regrowth. The 302nd AW has conducted firefighting response in Colorado, California, Oregon and Idaho.
The 302nd AW also provides support to 310th Space Group, the Air Force Reserve's only space operations group. Operating out of facilities at Schriever AFB, CO, in support of active duty operations, activities include: satellite emergencies, launch and early orbit, day-to-day routine operations, support of the Global Positioning System and Defense Support Program satellites, and the monitoring, directing and integrating space unit systems.
The 302nd AW is organized under the Objective Wing structure, with three groups, the 302nd Operations, Logistics and Support Groups, which in turn, have various squadrons assigned. Assigned unit functions include flying operations, maintenance, human resources and other wing support services. The 302nd Aeromedical Staging Squadron is also assigned to the wing. Upon activation, they deploy world-wide and operate from prepositioned facilities to provide medical care of transient patients, along with transport of patients to and from aircraft.
The unit is assigned 16 C-130H3 Hercules aircraft. These aircraft are flown by the 731st Airlift Squadron.
More than 50 reservists, with two aircraft and four aircrews from the 302nd AW, departed September 9, 2000, to support humanitarian relief and joint airlift operations into Honduras, Peru, San Salvador, Brazil and Argentina. All missions were in support of and controlled by the United States Southern Command. At the same time, personnel from the 302nd AW provided support of Coronet Oak missions.
Fifteen C-130 Hercules from the 302nd Airlift Wing returned Oct 1, 2002. Coming home were more than 250 Air Force Reserve members who were deployed in support of operations Joint Forge, Enduring Freedom and Noble Eagle. A ceremony afterward signified the demobilization of the wing, which was called to duty Dec. 4. This was the largest single unit aerial assembly since the 302nd AW returned from Operation Desert Storm in 1991.
In its 2005 BRAC Recommendations, DoD recommended to realign Dyess AFB, TX. The C-130 aircraft assigned to the 317th Airlift Group would be distributed to the 302d Airlift Wing (AFR), Peterson AFB, CO (four aircraft) and 2 other installations. Peterson AFB would have an active duty/Air Force Reserve association in the C-130 mission. The C-130s at Dyess would be distributed to Peterson (30-airlift) to facilitate active duty associations with the Guard and Reserve units.
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