463rd Airlift Group [463rd AG]
The 463rd Airlift Group provides warfighting commanders-in-chief with theater combat delivery of personnel and their resupply. Employing 1,100 personnel and 28 C-130E and H3 model aircraft, the group executes an annual flying-hour program of 21,000 hours and an operating budget of more than $43 million.
The 463rd Airlift Group falls under the command of 21st Air Force (Air Mobility Command), located at McGuire Air Force Base, NJ. The group is composed of a command staff element and five reporting squadrons - 50th Airlift Squadron, 61st Airlift Squadron, 463rd Airlift Control Squadron, 463rd Logistics Support Squadron and 463rd Operations Support Squadron.
The 463rd AG takes its bestowed honors from the 463rd Bombardment Group (Heavy). The US Army activated the 463rd Bombardment Group (Heavy) at Geiger Field, WA, on August 1, 1943. The group trained with B-17 Flying Fortresses at Rapid City Army Base, SD and at MacDill and Lakeland fields, FL, before moving overseas to Celone Airfield, Italy, in March 1944.
The 463rd BG, assigned to 15th Air Force, entered combat on March 30, 1944, and operated mostly against targets in Italy, Germany, Austria, Rumania, Yugoslavia and Greece. The 463rd BG operated with four squadrons: 772nd, 773rd, 774th and the 775th bombardment squadrons (heavy).
The group received two Distinguished Unit Citations (now called the Presidential Unit Citation) for its role in World War II. The first citation was for a bombing mission to Berlin, Germany, on March 24, 1945. The 463rd BG led the wing through three crippling enemy attacks to successfully bomb the Daimler Benz Tank Works. The second citation was awarded after the group bombed oil refineries at Ploesti, Rumania, on May 18, 1944. Even though clouds cut visibility to the point that other bomb groups turned back, the 463rd proceeded on to Ploesti and rendered destructive blows to both the target and enemy aircraft, despite being severely crippled by enemy interceptors and flack.
During mid-1944, the 463rd BG aircraft attacked lines of communication in the campaign for the liberation of Rome. Then, in August 1944, it participated in the invasion of southern France by striking many targets, including bridges and gun positions. The bomb group flew other missions against railroad bridges, marshaling yards and airdromes in the Balkans. After Victory in Europe Day, the 463rd BG transported troops from Italy to Casablanca and French Morocco for return to the United States. The 463rd BG was then inactivated in Italy on September 25, 1945.
The 463rd Airlift Group traces its origin to December 1, 1952, when it was established as the 463rd Troop Carrier Wing. On January 16, 1953, the Air Force activated the wing at Memphis Municipal Airport, Memphis, TN. Over the years the wing airlifted and airdropped troops and cargo to support operations and exercises worldwide. The wing supported deployments during many crises, including Lebanon (July 1958), Taiwan (August 1958), Berlin (September 1961), Cuba (October-November 1962), the Gulf of Tonkin (August-December 1964), Southeast Asia (February and April-November 1965) and the Dominican Republic (April-September 1965).
In November 1965, the wing moved to the Far East and participated in the Vietnam Conflict until the wing's inactivation on December 31, 1971. The wing reactivated on June 1, 1972, at Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, and again participated in numerous operations and exercises worldwide until it inactivated on December 31, 1993. On March 31, 1997, the 463rd Airlift Wing was redesignated as the 463rd Airlift Group. The group reactivated at Little Rock Air Force Base, AR, on April 1, 1997.
During its many years, the 463rd has received numerous decorations including four Air Force Outstanding Unit Awards, three Air Force Outstanding Unit Awards with Combat "V" Device and the Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross with Palm. The group also received two Air Force Expeditionary Streamers. The first for Grenada in 1983 and the second for Panama in 1989-1990.
The 463rd has been stationed many places over the years. Its patch has rested on aircraft stationed in Tennessee, Oklahoma, Virginia, the Philippines and Texas. In December 1956, the 463rd became the first unit to receive the new Lockheed C-130A Hercules aircraft. Currently, the 50th Airlift Squadron operates the C-130H3 and the 61st Airlift Squadron operates the C-130E model.
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