The 403d Wing is a unit of the United States Air Force assigned to the Air Force Reserve Command. It is located at Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi and employs a military manning authorization of more than 1,400 reservists, including some 250 full-time air reserve technicians. It also controls an active duty associate airlift squadron consisting of active duty regular Air Force personnel integrated into the operations of its reserve airlift squadron.
403d Wing C-130 Hercules over coastal Georgia
|Branch||United States Air Force|
|Role||Airlift & Weather Reconnaissance|
|Part of||Air Force Reserve Command|
|Garrison/HQ||Keesler Air Force Base|
|Motto(s)||Spectate ad Caelum Latin Look to the Skies|
|Decorations||Air Force Outstanding Unit Award|
Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation
Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross with Palm
|Colonel Frank L. Amodeo|
|403d Wing emblem (approved 19 December 1995)|
|403d Troop Carrier Wing emblem (approved 9 January 1953)|
The 403d Wing provides command and staff supervision to assigned squadrons and flights that support tactical airlift missions. These missions include airlift of personnel, equipment and supplies. Additionally, the wing is the only unit in the Department of Defense tasked to organize, equip, train and perform all hurricane weather reconnaissance in support of the Department of Commerce.
The 403d is gained upon mobilization by the Air Mobility Command and will execute missions in support of the theater commander, such as resupply, employment operations within the combat zone or forward area, and when required, aeromedical, refugee evacuation and augmentation of other airlift forces.
- 403d Operations Group
- 403d Maintenance Group
- 403d Mission Support Group
- 41st Aerial Port Squadron
- 96th Aerial Port Squadron (Little Rock AFB)
Initial activation and Korean mobilizationEdit
The wing was first activated at Portland Airport in June 1949 as the 403d Troop Carrier Wing, a Curtiss C-46 Commando unit when Continental Air Command reorganized its reserve units under the wing base organization system. At Portland, the wing trained under the supervision of the 2343d Air Force Reserve Flying Training Center. The wing was manned at 25% of normal strength but its 403d Troop Carrier Group was authorized four squadrons rather than the three of active duty units.
The wing was mobilized on 1 April 1951 for duty during the Korean War. The 403d was one of six reserve troop carrier wings mobilized for service with Tactical Air Command (TAC). The reserve wings were assigned to Eighteenth Air Force, which was initially composed entirely of reserve troop carrier units., The wing trained at home in its C-46s and participated in Eighteenth Air Force's training exercises until March 1952, when TAC directed it to transfer its C-46s and prepare to move its personnel overseas. The wing departed the United States on 29 March and by 14 April, it was in place at Ashiya Air Base, Japan.
Upon arrival at Ashiya, the 314th Troop Carrier Group, flying Fairchild C-119 Flying Boxcars, and the 21st Troop Carrier Squadron, flying Douglas C-47 Skytrains and Douglas C-54 Skymasters were attached to the wing for operations, bringing wing strength to nine squadrons. The wing's 403d Troop Carrier Group spent its first month at Ashiya training on its new C-119s.
This action finally solved the Far East Air Force's year-old problem of providing the Army with sufficient lift to handle the 187th Regimental Combat Team intact. The new arrangement was soon put to the test. In May 1952, the 403d airlifted the 187th to Pusan in an expedited movement incident to quelling a communist prisoner of war riot at Koje Do Island. It engaged in a number of airborne training missions with the 187th. In October 1952 the wing participated in an airborne feint which was part of a United Nations Command amphibious demonstration off eastern Korea
While on active service, the wing airdropped more than 10,000 personnel, airlifted over 18,000 tons and evacuated almost 14,000 patients. After twenty-one months of active service, the 403d Troop Carrier Wing was inactivated on 1 January 1953 and its mission, personnel and equipment were transferred to the 483d Troop Carrier Wing, which was simultaneously activated.
Reactivation in the reserveEdit
The wing was activated the same day back in Portland, where it replaced the 454th Troop Carrier Wing, which had been activated in the summer of 1952 when the reserves began receiving aircraft again following its mobilization for the Korean War.[note 2] The 403d performed routine airlift training the reserve. During that time, the wing also supported Army airdrop training, ferried aircraft to various parts of the country and the world, took part in training exercises, and performed humanitarian missions as needed.
During the first half of 1955, the Air Force began detaching Air Force Reserve squadrons from their parent wing locations to separate sites. The concept offered several advantages: communities were more likely to accept the smaller squadrons than the large wings and the location of separate squadrons in smaller population centers would facilitate recruiting and manning. As it finally evolved in the spring of 1955, Continental Air Command (ConAC)'s plan called for placing Air Force reserve units at fifty-nine installations located throughout the United States. In one of the first three moves to implement this program, ConAC detached the 65th Troop Carrier Squadron from Portland to Paine Air Force Base, Washington. In time, the detached squadron program proved successful in attracting additional participants
Move to Selfridge Air Force BaseEdit
The Joint Chiefs of Staff were pressuring the Air Force to provide more wartime airlift. At the same time, about 150 C-119s became available from the active force. Consequently, in November 1956 the Air Force directed ConAC to convert three fighter bomber wings to the troop carrier mission by September 1957. In addition, within the Air Staff was a recommendation that the reserve fighter mission given to the Air National Guard and replaced by the troop carrier mission. Cuts in the budget in 1957 also led to a reduction in the number of reserve wings from 24 to 15 and of squadrons from 55 to 45. The reduction impacted the 403d Wing, which was replaced at Portland by a single squadron, the 304th Air Rescue Squadron. The wing was not inactivated, however. Instead, it moved as a paper unit to Selfridge Air Force Base, Michigan, where it replaced one of the inactivating reserve fighter units, the 439th Fighter-Bomber Wing. The 63d Troop Carrier Squadron was located at Selfridge with wing headquarters, but the 64th Troop Carrier Squadron was at Niagara Falls Municipal Airport, where it absorbed the resources of the 445th Troop Carrier Wing,[note 3] while the 65th replaced the 713th Fighter-Bomber Squadron at Davis Field, Oklahoma. The 64th Squadron's stay in New York was short, for in March 1958 it moved to O'Hare International Airport, Illinois, where it replaced the 97th Troop Carrier Squadron, placing it closer to wing headquarters.
After the success of reserve wings in providing airlift in Operation Sixteen Ton,[note 4] the wing began to use inactive duty training periods for Operation Swift Lift, transporting high priority cargo for the air force and Operation Ready Swap, transporting aircraft engines, between Air Materiel Command's depots.
The wing trained with the 2242d Air Reserve Flying Center, but in April 1958, the center was inactivated and some of its personnel were absorbed by the wing. In place of active duty support for reserve units, ConAC adopted the Air Reserve Technician Program, in which a cadre of the unit consisted of full-time personnel who were simultaneously civilian employees of the Air Force and held rank as members of the reserves. One year later, ConAC organized its wings under the Dual Deputate organization.[note 5] The 403d Troop Carrier Group was inactivated and all flying squadrons were directly assigned to the wing.
Activation of groups under the wingEdit
Although the dispersal of flying units was not a problem when the entire wing was called to active service, mobilizing a single flying squadron and elements to support it proved difficult. This weakness was demonstrated in the partial mobilization of reserve units during the Berlin Crisis of 1961 To resolve this, at the start of 1962, ConAC determined to reorganize its reserve wings by establishing groups with support elements for each of its troop carrier squadrons. This reorganization would facilitate mobilization of elements of wings in various combinations when needed. However, as this plan was entering its implementation phase, another partial mobilization, which included the 403d Wing, occurred for the Cuban Missile Crisis, with the units being released on 22 November 1962 after a month of active service. The formation of troop carrier groups was delayed until February 1963 for wings that had been mobilized. The 927th Troop Carrier Group at Selfridge, the 928th Troop Carrier Group at O'Hare and the 929th Troop Carrier Group at Davis Field, were all assigned to the wing on 11 February.
In 1963, the wing moved US troops to the Dominican Republic and airlifted Christmas gifts destined for US servicemen in Vietnam.
After a period of uncertainty from 1969 to 1971, when it served as a composite wing with a variety of missions and aircraft, the 403d returned to tactical airlift missions. From 1971 to 1976, the wing took part in several tactical exercises and humanitarian airlift operations. During that time it also ferried aircraft, supplies, and equipment to US forces in Vietnam and other points in the Far East. In 1976 and 1977, the wing began to perform search and rescue, aeromedical evacuation, and weather reconnaissance missions. Its crews and aircraft flew into hurricanes to determine their intensities and movements. In 1978, after a mass suicide at Jonestown in Guyana, the wing helped recover the bodies of US citizens. After the eruption of Mount St. Helens (Washington) in 1980, the wing participated in search and rescue efforts.
Operations at Keesler Air Force BaseEdit
Its most memorable accomplishments, however, have been while flying reserve-status humanitarian airlift missions such as those flown during Operation Provide Relief, rescue missions supporting the space shuttle program, providing airlift support to United States Southern Command and U.S. embassies within Central and South America, and participating in real-world war contingencies such as Operation Just Cause, the 1989 action to replace Manuel Noriega as ruler of Panama; Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm in Southwest Asia; Operation Provide Promise, the airlift of humanitarian aid to Bosnia and Herzegovina; Operation Provide Comfort, aiding Kurds fleeing Iraqi oppression; Operation Uphold Democracy, the removal of a junta in Haiti; and Operation Provide Relief, the delivery of humanitarian aid during the Somali Civil War.
On 6 August 2010 the wing received operational control of the regular 345th Airlift Squadron "The Golden Eagles," the first C-130 active associate squadron in Air Mobility Command, and began integrating its personnel with the operations of the reserve 815th Airlift Squadron. However, on 21 March 2013, the wing announced that beginning in October 2013 it would be redeploying its 10 C-130J aircraft to Pope Air Force Base, North Carolina, in preparation for inactivation of the 815th under the Force Structure Action Implementation Plan. The associate active 345th was inactivated, while the 53d Weather Reconnaissance Squadron was to be unaffected. The transfer of the aircraft was delayed in early 2014 and the closure of the two airlift squadrons delayed on 28 July 2014 pending final plans in National Defense Authorization Act 2015 to shut down the 440th Airlift Wing at Pope.
- Established as the 403d Troop Carrier Wing, Medium on 10 May 1949
- Activated in the reserve on 27 June 1949
- Ordered to active duty on 1 April 1951
- Inactivated on 1 January 1953
- Activated in the reserve on 1 January 1953
- Ordered to active duty on 28 October 1962
- Relieved from active duty on 28 November 1962
- Redesignated 403d Tactical Airlift Wing on 1 July 1967
- Redesignated 403d Composite Wing on 31 December 1969
- Redesignated 403d Tactical Airlift Wing on 29 July 1971
- Redesignated 403d Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Wing on 15 March 1976
- Redesignated 403d Rescue and Weather Reconnaissance Wing on 1 January 1977
- Redesignated 403d Tactical Airlift Wingon 31 December 1987
- Redesignated 403d Airlift Wing on 1 February 1992
- Redesignated 403d Wing on 1 July 1994
- Fourth Air Force, 27 June 1949
- Tactical Air Command, 2 April 1951
- Eighteenth Air Force, 1 June 1951 – 1 January 1953 (attached to 315th Air Division after 14 April 1952)
- Fourth Air Force, 1 January 1953
- Tenth Air Force, 16 November 1957
- Fifth Air Force Reserve Region, 1 September 1960
- Twelfth Air Force, 28 October 1962
- Fifth Air Force Reserve Region, 28 November 1962
- Central Air Force Reserve Region, 31 December 1969
- Eastern Air Force Reserve Region, 1 April 1971
- Western Air Force Reserve Region, 15 March 1976
- Fourth Air Force, 8 October 1976
- Fourteenth Air Force, 1 August 1992
- Twenty-Second Air Force, 1 July 1993
- Tenth Air Force, 1 Oct 1994
- Twenty-Second Air Force, 1 April 1997 – present
- 314th Troop Carrier Group: attached 14 April - 31 Dec 1952
- 403d Troop Carrier Group (later 403d OperationsGroup): 27 June 1949 – 1 January 1953; 1 January 1953 – 14 April 1959; 1 August 1992
- 908th Airlift Group: 1 August 1992 – 1 October 1994
- 913th Tactical Airlift Group (later 913th Airlift Group): 21 April 1971 – 8 January 1976; 1 August 1992 – 1 October 1994
- 914th Tactical Airlift Group: 21 April 1971 – 8 January 1976
- 920th Weather Reconnaissance Group: 1 January 1977 – 1 July 1981; 1 March 1983 – 1 November 1983
- 927th Troop Carrier Group (later 927th Tactical Airlift Group, 927th Tactical Air Support Group, 927th Tactical Airlift Group): 11 February 1963 – 31 December 1969; 1 June 1970 – 15 March 1976
- 928th Troop Carrier Group (later 1928th Tactical Airlift Group, 928th Tactical Air Support Group, 928th Tactical Airlift Group): 11 February 1963 – 1 December 1969
- 929th Troop Carrier Group: 11 February 1963 – 1 January 1964
- 930th Special Operations Group: 1 June 1970 – 15 January 1971
- 931st Tactical Air Support Group: 1 June 1970 – 15 January 1971
- 934th Tactical Airlift Group: 31 December 1987 – 1 August 1992
- 939th Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Group: 1 April 1985 – 1 October 1987
- 21st Troop Carrier Squadron: attached 14 April - 1 Dec 1952
- 53d Troop Carrier Squadron: attached 14 April - c. 12 September 1952
- 63d Troop Carrier Squadron: 14 April 1959 – 11 February 1963
- 64th Troop Carrier Squadron: 14 April 1959 – 11 February 1963
- 65th Troop Carrier Squadron: 14 April 1959 – 11 January 1963
- 301st Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Squadron: 15 March 1976 – 1 October 1987
- 303d Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Squadron: 15 March 1976 – 1 April 1985
- 304th Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Squadron: 15 March 1976 – 8 April 1985
- 305th Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Squadron: 15 March 1976 – 1 October 1987
- 815th Weather Reconnaissance Squadron (later 815th Tactical Airlift Squadron, 815th Airlift Squadron): 1 November 1983 – 1 August 1992
- 6461st Troop Carrier Squadron: attached 1 – 31 December 1952
- Portland Airport (later Portland International Airport), Oregon, 27 June 1949 – 29 March 1952
- Ashiya Air Base, Japan, 14 April 1952 – 1 January 1953
- Portland International Airport, Oregon, 1 January 1953
- Selfridge Air Force Base (later Selfridge Air National Guard Base), Michigan, 16 November 1957
- Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi, 1 November 1983 – present
- Beechcraft T-7 Navigator (1949–1951)
- Beechcraft T-11 Kansan (1949–1951)
- Curtiss C-46 Commando (1949–1952, 1953–1957)
- Curtiss TC-46 Commando (1949, 1952)
- Douglas C-47 Skytrain (1952, 1957 - Unknown)
- Douglas C-54 Skymaster (1952)
- Fairchild C-119 Flying Boxcar (1952, 1957–1969, 1970)
- Cessna U-3 Blue Canoe (1969, 1970–1971)
- Cessna O-2 Skymaster (1970–1971)
- Cessna A-37 Dragonfly (1970–1971)
- Lockheed C-130 Hercules (1971–1976, 1977, 1987, 1983–1998)
- Bell HH-1 Huey (1976–1987)
- Sikorsky HH-3 Jolly Green Giant (1976–1987)
- Sikorsky CH-3 Jolly Green Giant (1976–1977)
- Bell UH-1 Huey (1979–1987)
- Lockheed HC-130 Hercules (1976–1987)
- Lockheed C-130J Super Hercules (1998 – present)
- Lockheed WC-130A/B/E/H Hercules, (1965–2005)
- Lockheed WC-130J Super Hercules, (1998–present)
- Aircraft is Fairchild C-119B-10-FA Flying Boxcar serial 49-102 of the 314th Troop Carrier Group. This aircraft was later converted to a C-119C.
- All reserve combat and corollary units were mobilized for the Korean war. Cantwell, p. 87. The reserve mobilization for the Korean war, however, left the reserve without aircraft, and reserve units did not receive aircraft until July of 1952. Cantwell, p. 139
- The 445th Wing, which had been a Fighter-Bomber unit itself, was not inactivated, but moved to another station to replace an inactivating fighter bomber unit. Ravenstein, pp. 241-242
- The 403d Wing was the only reserve airlift wing that did not participate in this operation. Cantwell, pp. 149-150.
- Under this plan flying squadrons reported to the wing Deputy Commander for Operations and maintenance squadrons reported to the wing Deputy Commander for Maintenance
- Haulman, Daniel L. (3 December 2008). "Factsheet 403 Wing (AFRC)". Air Force Historical Research Agency. Archived from the original on 13 September 2016. Retrieved 29 August 2016.
- Ravenstein, pp. 215-216
- Cantwell, p. 74
- Cantwell, p. 97
- Endicott, pp. 98-99
- Endicott, p. 100
- Ravenstein, p. 250
- Cantwell, p. 156
- Cantwell, p. 168
- Cantwell, pp. 168-169
- Robertson, Patsy (29 January 2015). "Factsheet 304 Rescue Squadron (AFRC)". Air Force Historical Research Agency. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 30 August 2016.
- Ravenstein, pp. 236-236
- Maurer, pp. 242-243
- Maurer, p. 245
- Maurer, pp. 247-248
- Maurer, pp. 713-714
- Maurer, pp. 325-326
- Cantwell, pp. 149-150
- Cantwell, p. 163
- Haulman, Daniel L. (28 December 2007). "Factsheet 403 Operations Group (AFRC)". Air Force Historical Research Agency. Archived from the original on 3 March 2016. Retrieved 31 August 2016.
- Cantwell, pp. 189-191
- Losurdo, Maj Marnee A. C. (29 July 2014). "Air Force Reserve Command delays inactivation of 815th Airlift Squadron". 403rd Wing Public Affairs. Archived from the original on 28 January 2016. Retrieved 29 August 2016.
- Cantwell, Gerald T. (1997). Citizen Airmen: a History of the Air Force Reserve, 1946-1994 (PDF). Washington, D.C.: Air Force History and Museums Program. ISBN 0-16049-269-6. Retrieved 1 October 2014.
- Endicott, Judy G., ed. (2001). The USAF in Korea, Campaigns, Units and Stations 1950-1953 (PDF). Maxwell AFB, AL: Air Force Historical Research Agency. ISBN 0-16-050901-7.
- Maurer, Maurer, ed. (1982) . Combat Squadrons of the Air Force, World War II (PDF) (reprint ed.). Washington, DC: Office of Air Force History. ISBN 0-405-12194-6. LCCN 70605402. OCLC 72556.
- Ravenstein, Charles A. (1984). Air Force Combat Wings, Lineage & Honors Histories 1947-1977 (PDF). Washington, DC: Office of Air Force History. ISBN 0-912799-12-9.
- Further reading