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The 356th Airlift Squadron is a United States Air Force Reserve squadron, assigned to the 433d Operations Group, stationed at Kelly Field Annex, Joint Base San Antonio, Texas.

356th Airlift Squadron
433d Airlift Wing - Lockheed C-5A Galaxy 69-0016.jpg
433d Airlift Wing C-5A Galaxys
Active1942–1944; 1944–1946; 1949–1950; 1952–2006; 2007–present
Country United States
Branch United States Air Force
Part ofAir Force Reserve Command
Garrison/HQKelly Field Annex
Motto(s)Victor Viam Ducat Latin The Victor Leads the Way
EngagementsPacific Ocean Theater of World War II[1]
DecorationsDistinguished Unit Citation
Air Force Outstanding Unit Award
Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross with Palm[1]
356th Airlift Squadron emblem (approved 7 July 1969, modified 29 July 1996)[1]356 Airlift Squadron.jpg
356th Bombardment Squadron emblem (approved 21 March 1945)[2]356th Bombardment Squadron - Emblem.png

The squadron was first activated in 1942 as the 356th Bombardment Squadron, and served as a training unit until the spring of 1944, when it was inactivated in a reorganization of training units by the Army Air Forces. It was activated again as a Boeing B-29 Superfortress unit. It deployed to the Pacific in the spring of 1945 and participated in the strategic bombing campaign against Japan, earning a Distinguished Unit Citation. After V-J Day, the squadron remained in the Pacific until 1946, when it was inactivated.

The squadron was redesignated the 356th Troop Carrier Squadron and activated in the military reserve force in 1949, but was inactivated a few months later. When the reserves resumed flying operations after the Korean War, the squadron was activated again in 1952. It served continuously in the reserve until 2006, being mobilized during the Cuban Missile Crisis. It was activated in its current role in 2007.


The squadron operates the Air Force Reserve's only Formal Training Unit providing initial and advanced C-5 flight qualification for Air Mobility Command, Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve Command aircrews.


World War IIEdit

Bombardment training unitEdit

Activated in early 1942 as a Consolidated B-24 Liberator Operational Training Unit (OTU), later becoming a Replacement Training Unit (RTU) for deployed combat units, assigned to II Bomber Command. Inactivated in April 1944 when heavy bomber training ended.

Combat in the PacificEdit

Redesignated as a Boeing B-29 Superfortress very heavy bombardment Squadron under Second Air Force on 1 April 1944 at Dalhart Army Air Field, Texas. Initially equipped with Boeing B-17 Flying Fortresses for training, due to shortage of B-29 Superfortresses. Moved to McCook Army Air Field, Nebraska, in August 1944 and equipped with B-29B limited production aircraft.

After completion of training deployed to Central Pacific Area, assigned to XXI Bomber Command, Northwest Field (Guam) for operational missions. B-29Bs were standard production aircraft stripped of most defensive guns to increase speed and bomb load, The tail gun was aimed and fired automatically by the new AN/APG-15B radar fire control system that detected the approaching enemy plane and made all the necessary calculations.

Mission of the squadron was the strategic bombardment of the Japanese Home Islands. Entered combat on 16 June 1945 with a bombing raid against an airfield on Moen. Flew first mission against the Japanese home islands on 26 June 1945 and afterwards operated principally against the enemy's petroleum industry. Flew primarily low-level, fast attacks at night using a mixture of high-explosive and incendiary bombs to attack targets.

Flew last combat mission on 15 August 1945, later flew in "Show of Force" mission on 2 September 1945 over Tokyo Bay during formal Japanese Surrender. Inactivated on Guam 15 April 1946, personnel returned to the United States and aircraft sent to storage in Southwest United States.

Reserve operationsEdit

It trained for Douglas C-54 Skymaster airlift operations from 1949–1950 and for troop carrier missions from 1952–1967. The squadron airlifted troops and their equipment during the Cuban Missile Crisis, October–November 1962. From 1970–1971 the squadron trained for special operations.

Between 1971 and 2006 it trained for and flew airlift missions, participating in exercises, supporting unit deployments, taking part in special assignment airlift missions, and rotating periodically to Panama. The 356th supported liberation of Kuwait in 1991. It converted from tactical to strategic aircraft in 1992.

Since 2007 the 356th has conducted air crew training for the Lockheed C-5 Galaxy.

Operations and DecorationsEdit


  • Constituted as the 356 Bombardment Squadron (Heavy) on 28 January 1942
Activated on 1 June 1942
Inactivated on 10 April 1944
  • Redesignated 356 Bombardment Squadron, Very Heavy on 27 June 1944
Activated on 7 July 1944
Inactivated on 15 April 1946
  • Redesignated 356 Troop Carrier Squadron, Medium on 16 May 1949
Activated in the reserve on 27 June 1949
Inactivated on 28 January 1950
  • Activated in the reserve on 14 June 1952
Ordered to active service on 28 Oct 1962
  • Relieved from active service on 28 Nov 1962
Redesignated 356 Tactical Airlift Squadron on 1 July 1967
Redesignated: 356 Special Operations Squadron on 25 June 1970
Redesignated: 356 Tactical Airlift Squadron on 26 July 1971
Redesignated: 356 Airlift Squadron on 1 February 1992
Inactivated on 30 June 2006
  • Activated in the reserve on 9 Jan 2007[1]


Bases stationedEdit




  1. ^ a b c d e f g Bailey, Carl E. (10 December 2007). "Factsheet 356 Airlift Squadron (AFRC)". Air Force Historical Research Agency. Retrieved 3 February 2019.
  2. ^ Maurer, Combat Squadrons, pp. 442-43


  This article incorporates public domain material from the Air Force Historical Research Agency website

External linksEdit