17th Airlift Squadron

The 17th Airlift Squadron was one of four active duty C-17A Globemaster III units at Charleston AFB, South Carolina.

17th Airlift Squadron
17 AS.jpg
17th Airlift Squadron Patch
Active18 February 1942 – 25 June 2015
CountryUnited States
BranchUnited States Air Force
Part ofAir Mobility Command
18th Air Force
437th Airlift Wing
437th Operations Group
Garrison/HQCharleston Air Force Base
Nickname(s)AAA Moving, Hands of Cheese
Motto(s)Anything, Anywhere, Anytime
DecorationsOutstanding Unit ribbon.svg AFOUA
Vietnam gallantry cross unit award-3d.svg RVGC w/ Palm

The 17th Airlift Squadron is commanded by a lieutenant colonel, who serves as head of the squadron and the pilots. The chief loadmaster is in charge of the loadmasters, the first sergeant takes charge of the few support military personnel and civilians working in the squadron.

The 17th was responsible for being the first unit to set up forward deployed C-17 staging operations, at the start of Operation Enduring Freedom, creating the 817th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron (EAS) .

The 17th Airlift Squadron recently stepped up to the plate once more and created another EAS. For the first time, two C-17 Squadrons became deployed in forward theater locations, supporting Operations Iraqi Freedom, and Enduring Freedom. The 817th Area of Responsibility split. On 1 June 2006, the 816th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron was created and launched its first crew 15 minutes later.

Unlike previous C-17 deployments, this one actually had the squadron itself doing all the flying from "an undisclosed location in Southwest Asia." The 17th helped initiate a whole new concept in C-17 operations in that this was the first time that the airframe was employed like traditional intratheater airlift assets such as the C-12, C-20, C-21 or the C-130. However, unlike traditional tactical airlift assets that are under the direct command of the theater commander, the 817th EAS is headquartered out of theater.


Constituted 17th Air Corps Ferrying Squadron on 18 Feb 1942. Activated on 27 Apr 1942 at Hamilton Field, California flying C-46 transporters. Redesignated 17th Transport Squadron on 19 Mar 1943. Disbanded on 31 Oct 1943. Reconstituted, and redesignated 17th Air Transport Squadron, Medium, on 22 Mar 1954. Activated on 18 Jul 1954 with C-54s at Charleston AFB, South Carolina.[1]

Redesignated: 17th Air Transport Squadron, Heavy, on 18 Jun 1958 with C-124; 17th Military Airlift Squadron on 8 Jan 1966. Inactivated on 8 Apr 1969. Activated on 1 Aug 1987. Redesignated 17th Airlift Squadron on 1 Oct 1991, flying C-141s.[1]

On January 17 1995, the 17th Airlift Squadron was declared the first operationally ready C-17 squadron.[2] The 17th Airlift Squadron was officially inactivated on June 25 2015 at Joint Base Charleston, S.C.[3]


  • Constituted as the 17th Air Corps Ferrying Squadron on 18 February 1942
Activated on 27 April 1942
Redesignated the 17th Transport Squadron on 19 March 1943
Disbanded on 31 October 1943
  • Reconstituted, and redesignated the 17th Air Transport Squadron, Medium on 22 March 1954
Activated on 18 July 1954
Redesignated the 17th Air Transport Squadron, Heavy on 18 June 1958
Redesignated the 17th Military Airlift Squadron on 8 January 1966
Inactivated on 8 April 1969
  • Activated on 1 August 1987
Redesignated the 17th Airlift Squadron on 1 October 1991
Inactivated on 25 June 2015

Note: the 17th Airlift Squadron already existed at the time of redesignation as a C-130 squadron based at Elmendorf AFB, Alaska. This unit originated from the 17th Troop Carrier Squadron under Alaskan Air Command in 1964. The squadron was redesignated the 17th Tactical Airlift Squadron in 1966. It was redesignated the 517th Airlift Squadron upon activation of the C-17 unit that took its name. In January 2006 the 517th Airlift Squadron began its own transition from C-130s to C-17s with the final C-130 leaving the unit on 26 March 2007.[4]



Hamilton Field, California, 27 April 1942 – 31 October 1943

  • Charleston AFB, South Carolina, 18 July 1954 – 8 April 1969; 1 August 1987 – 25 June 2015



World War II:
Air Transport and aircraft delivery to the Pacific Theater

  • Worldwide Airlift beginning 1954
  • Missions to Southeast Asia, 1964–1969
  • Supported operations in Panama, 18–29 December 1989, and Southwest Asia, August 1990 – December 1991
  • Supported operations in Afghanistan, September 2001 – June 2015
  • Supported operations in Iraq, 2003 – June 2015
  • Supported Tsunami Relief in India and Sri Lanka
  • Supported Pakistan earthquake relief
  • Supported Katrina Relief in United States
  • Supported the evacuation of American Citizens from Lebanon

Awards and decorationsEdit

Service StreamersEdit

World War II American Theater

Campaign StreamersEdit

Southwest Asia: Defense of Saudi Arabia; Liberation and Defense of Kuwait

Armed Forces Expeditionary StreamersEdit

Panama, 1989–1990


Air Force Outstanding Unit Awards:

  • 1 January 1963 – 1 February 1964
  • 11 July 1966 – 10 July 1967
  • 11 July 1967 – 10 July 1968
  • 11 July 1968 – 8 April 1969
  • 1 July 1988 – 30 June 1989
  • 1 July 1989 – 30 June 1990
  • 21 September 1989 – 31 October 1989

Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross with Palm: 1 April 1966 – 8 April 1969


On an Air Force Blue globe, grid lines White, issuing from the top of a White scroll, two hands flesh tone, winged at the wrists White, bearing supplies or cargo Air Force golden Yellow; outlines and details Air Force Blue throughout. MOTTO: ANYTHING, ANYWHERE, ANYTIME. Approved 27 October 1959 (K 11458).


  1. ^ a b "17 Airlift Squadron". Retrieved 19 March 2020.
  2. ^ "C-17 Globemaster III". Retrieved 19 March 2020.
  3. ^ "17th Airlift Squadron officially inactivated". Retrieved 19 March 2020.
  4. ^ Fact Sheets : 517th Airlift Squadron : 517th Airlift Squadron

External linksEdit