79th Air Refueling Squadron [79th ARS]
The 79th Air Refueling Squadron is a combat-ready reserve KC-10 flying squadron in the 349th Air Mobility Wing. The 79th ARS provides 18 fully qualified KC-10 crews for worldwide aerial refueling and strategic airlift. It is able to stand up as a fully activated squadron in 72 hours.
The unit supports the President, DoD and allied forces as required for wartime, contingencies, regular channel, joint exercises and humanitarian relief. The unit is selectively manned.
The 79th Air Refueling Squadron's heritage extends back to the World War II when the 79th Troop Carrier Squadron was activated at Baer Field, IN. Back then, the 79th was flying C-47 transports, airlifting passengers and cargo throughout the European and Mediterranean theaters of operations. As a result of their wartime efforts the unit was awarded the Distinguished Unit Citation in 1944. Following the war, the unit was deactivated in November of 1945. Three years later the 79th was reactivated as a Reserve unit, still flying the C-47.
As hostilities increased on the Korean peninsula, the 79th was activated for weeks during the spring of 1951, then completely deactivated. Reactivated once again as a Reserve unit in 1955, the squadron was now flying C-46s and remained in operation until 1958.
In 1966 the 79th was reactivated as the 79th Military Airlift Squadron, flying the C-124, affectionately known as "Old Shaky" by their crews. The 79th flew airlift missions in support of operations in Southeast Asia until 1971 when the squadron was redesignated as the 79th Early Warning and Control Squadron and assigned to fly the EC-121. The aging EC-121s and the 79th were deactivated once again in 1982 as the 79th Air Refueling Squadron, and assigned to fly the Air Force's newest tanker, the KC-10 Extender.
The 79th augments the active-duty's 6th and 9th Air Refueling Squadrons by flying a variety of global aerial refueling and airlift missions. The 79th participated in the air strikes on Libya, the invasions of both Panama and Haiti, operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, and has been enforcing the no-fly zones over Iraq and Bosnia for more than two years. They were the first Reservists to fly United Nations' missions into Mogadishu, Somalia, and were there when the Kurdish and Rwandan refugees needed a hand. Also, when the President sent ground forces to Bosnia, 79th crews were the first at Travis AFB to deploy. In November 1997, the 79th deployed to Pease Air National Guard Base, New Hampshire in support of an Air Expeditionary Force, responding to Saddam Hussein's failure to allow United Nations' inspections of Iraq.
The 79th rotates crews to the Middle East, supporting Operation Southern Watch, enforcing the no-fly zone over Iraq.
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