437th Airlift Wing [437th AW]
The 437th Airlift Wing is located at Charleston Air Force Base, SC, where it serves also as the host unit. The 437th AW is part of the Air Mobility Command, headquartered at Scott Air Force Base, IL. The wing is one of the seven airlift units aligned under 21st Air Force at McGuire Air Force Base, NJ.
The 437th AW is responsible for flying and maintaining the C-17 Globemaster III jet cargo aircraft, the newest aircraft in the AMC airlift system. The 315th AW, an Air Force Reserve Associate unit, also located at Charleston AFB, shares the responsibilities of flying and maintaining these aircraft.
The 437th AW consists of four groups and a special staff. Groups assigned to the wing include: 437th Operations Group, 437th Logistics Group, 437th Support Group, and 437th Medical Group. The Special Staff Directorate consists of unique organizations that provide specialized support to the Wing Commander and other base units. The flying units of the 437th AW are the 14th AS, the 15th AS, and the 17th AS. The 16th AS was inactivated on 15 July 2000 as a result of the retirement of the C-141 aircraft.
The 437th Airlift Wing's namesake, the 437th Troop Carrier Group (TCG), was activated in May 1943 at Baer Field, Indiana, and remained on active duty until November 1945. During the unit's two years of active service in World War II, 437th TCG crews participated in the D-Day invasion of Normandy by towing GC4A and Horsa Gliders to landing zones in France. Follow-up missions June 6-7, 1944, included carrying reinforcements, ammunition, rations and other supplies primarily for the 82nd Airborne Division.
The group, as part of the 1st Allied Airborne Army, participated in Operation Market Garden. The 437th TCG sustained heavy losses, but despite this, the paratroopers and glider-borne troops accomplished their mission. The 437th TCG was the first group of the 53rd Troop Carrier Wing to fly a resupply airdrop mission to the Bastogne garrison during the Battle of the Bulge.
In August 1945, the group returned to the United States and was inactivated in November. In June 1949, the group was reactivated in the Reserve as the 437th Military Airlift Wing (MAW). The unit was activated and moved to Japan in 1950 where it flew combat missions into Korea. These missions consisted of troop evacuations; hauling fuel, napalm and other explosives; airdropping troops and supplies; and courier and insecticide spraying missions. These missions continued until June 1952 when another unit took over the job. The 437th MAW again was placed in the Reserve.
The 437th MAW remained in Reserve status until 1966 when it was reactivated and assigned to active duty at Charleston AFB, assuming the personnel, equipment and heritage of the 1608th ATW. In October 1991, the 437th MAW was redesignated the 437th Airlift Wing as part of an Air Force-wide reorganization effort.
Over the years, the base has supported such military aircraft as the C-119, B-17, B-24, C-54, C-121, C-124, C-130, C-5 and C-141. On June 14, 1993, the 437th Airlift Wing and Charleston Air Force Base received the first C-17 Globemaster III airlifter, which is expected to serve well into the 21st century.
The mission of the 437th Airlift Wing is to command assigned airlift and supporting units; provide for the airlift of troops and military passengers, military equipment, mail and aeromedical airlift and to participate in operations involving the airland or airdrop of troops, equipment and supplies when required. The 437th also is the only strategic wing in the Air Mobility Command with special operations missions. AMC special operations training prepares select crews to avoid detection using low-level flight techniques. The 437th AW is the only strategic wing in the Air Force to fly this mission.
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