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728th Airlift Squadron [728th AS]

The 728th Airlift Squadron is an Air Force Reserve Command C-17 Globemaster III unit located at McChord AFB near Tacoma, WA. As a member of the 446th Airlift Wing, the 728th AS is one of three combat-ready Reserve squadrons at McChord supporting Air Mobility Command's global reach commitments.

The mission of the 728th AS is to train Air Force Reserve personnel to the highest level of mission readiness and provide operational aircrews for strategic airlift, combat airdrop and aeromedical evacuation in support of AFRC and gaining major command objectives.

The 728th was initially activated June 1, 1943, as the 728th Bombardment Squadron at Geiger Field located near Spokane, WA. The 728th, equipped with B-17s, flew its first combat mission to France in 1944 in support of Allied Forces during World War II. The squadron flew numerous bombardment missions during the Battle of the Bulge and supported the airborne assault across the Rhine in March 1945. Following several European post-war missions, the 728th was deactivated in the United States in August 1945.

In April 1947, the 728th was reactivated as a Reserve unit at Long Beach, CA. The squadron began transition training in the B-26 aircraft in February 1949. Ordered to active duty in August 1950, the squadron left its training station at George AFB, CA, and headed for Japan Oct. 12, 1950. The 728th flew its first combat mission of the Korean War on November 12, 1950. The squadron later moved to South Korea in May 1951 to fly close air support, interdiction and reconnaissance missions against North Korea. These combat missions continued until May 1952 when the squadron returned to the United States.

Designated as a tactical reconnaissance squadron in June 1952, 728th aircrews began transition training to T-33 and F-80 aircraft. In May 1955, the 728th was re-designated as a tactical bombardment squadron and again flew the B-26. In July 1957, the squadron was again re-designated as a troop carrier unit and began to fly C-46 aircraft. One year later the squadron transitioned to fly C- 119s.

During the Cuban Missile Crisis from October to November 1962, the 728th provided airlift support for the Continental Air Command and the Strategic Air Command. In August 1965, the squadron received its first C-124 and four months later was designated the 728th Military Airlift Squadron in January 1966. The 728th MAS flew regular missions in the Pacific and Far East theaters.

After seven years as a C- 124 unit, the 728th MAS was relocated at Norton AFB, CA, and became an associate Reserve squadron in the 445th Military Airlift Wing. In January 1972, the 728th MAS began transition training to fly the C-141 Starlifter. The 728th participated in Operation Homecoming, bringing home the POWs from Southeast Asia, and Operation New Life which supported the evacuation of orphans and other refugees from Vietnam to the United States.

In 1989 the 728th flew many missions in support of Operation Just Cause in Panama and, as a Reserve squadron, voluntarily flew numerous airlift missions into Southwest Asia in support of Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm in 1991.

On January 1, 1992 the 728th MAS was officially transferred from the 445th MAW at Norton AFB, CA, to the 446th MAW at McChord AFB, WA. The relocation of the squadron was a result of the closure of Norton AFB as part of the DOD's base closure and realignment program. The 728th was renamed the 728th Airlift Squadron (AS) on February 1, 1992 following the reorganization of the 446th AW and was joined by its two sister squadrons within the newly formed 446 Operations Group.

Because of its service throughout its history, the 728th has earned numerous awards and decorations. The squadron received 13 campaign streamers and six decorations for its service during World War II and the Korean War. The squadron earned three Distinguished Presidential Unit Citations for 1945, 1951, and 1952. The Republic of Korea Presidential and the Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross with Palm are also key awards highlighting the 728th's dedicated service. The 728th also received the Air Force Outstanding Unit Award for its contributions from September 1, 1985 to August 31, 1987.

Since arriving at McChord AFB in January of 1992, the 728th has participated in numerous real world contingency, peacekeeping, and humanitarian relief missions.

In addition, the 728th provides active support for Phoenix Banner, Copper and Silver missions. The 728th's highest priority missions assist in the support of the president and vice president as well as secret service operations. These frequent missions are ongoing in nature. In January 1997, a 728th AS crew repatriated the remains of five U.S. service members form Beijing, China, members of the B-24J Liberator bomber crew that crashed near Liuchouw, China in August 1944 after returning from a bombing mission.

A new chapter began at the 728th with the squadron's selection as the first of three Associate Reserve squadrons to transition to the newest aircraft in the Air Mobility Command Fleet, the C-17 Globemaster III. The first C-17 was delivered McChord July 30, 1999. The squadron's first operational C-17 mission in November of 1999 was a repatriation mission to Hanoi, Vietnam, where 11 American servicemen, from the Korean War and the Vietnam War, were repatriated at the same time -- the first time remains from two separate wars were repatriated on the same mission.

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