UNITED24 - Make a charitable donation in support of Ukraine!


Naming the new numbered Air Force

Air Mobility Command News

Release Date: 7/29/2003

By Cynthia Bauer Air Mobility Command Public Affairs

SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. (AMCNS) - When Air Mobility Command sought a name for the new numbered Air Force to be activated here, it went back through the Service's history to find a name to be used for the future.

"We went through the agony and all the discussions of what we'd call the new organization," said Gen. John W. Handy, commander of U.S. Transportation Command and AMC. "Do you take the 15th, with its traditional air refueling role and bring it here, or do you bring in the 21st, the air mobility NAF? Then it dawned on us that what we were describing in the Expeditionary Mobility Task Forces is the historical role of the earlier NAFs, so it was best to leave them right where they are."

Command Historian Tom Cossaboom took on the task, with the help of the Air Force Historical Research Agency, to find an appropriate designation for the new numbered Air Force. He examined the history of all NAFs that had deactivated, and the history of the 15th and the 21st. The answer--the 18th Air Force.

"The Air Force created the Eighteenth Air Force to manage troop carrier aircraft for Tactical Air Command," said Mr. Cossaboom. The 18th AF activated March 1951 with 16 troop carrier wings. The organization inactivated in 1958.

"As a historian, I'm deeply interested in making sure that we do what's right," said General Handy, who holds a bachelor's degree in history from Methodist College in Fayetteville, N.C. "And from this research, 18th Air Force just jumped off the page. It's part of our heritage, part of Air Force history."

General Handy was also intrigued with the organization's motto. "You have to love this, the Latin word at the bottom of the patch is 'Expedite.' You couldn't have asked for a better word for the 18th Air Force," he said. The historical records on the original activation of 18th AF defines expedite as "with dispatch." Among modern definitions is "accomplish with speed and efficiency."

The historic 18th AF emblem displays a chevron and wings, which are ancient military symbols of strength and protection. There are parachutes on the shield to represent the equipment used by the organization in carrying out its mission with speed, safety and success.

When the 18th AF activates on Oct. 1, the historic shield will again represent the organization. According to Mr. Cossaboom, several present-day active and air reserve component units were assigned to the original 18th, including the 62nd Airlift Wing at McChord AFB, Wash.; 375th Airlift Wing, Scott AFB; 433rd Airlift Wing, Lackland AFB. Texas; 514th Air Mobility Wing, McGuire AFB, N.J.; 314th Airlift Wing, Little Rock AFB, Ark.; and the 434th Air Refueling Wing, Grissom Air Reserve Base, Ind.

Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list