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Histories for 60th Military Airlift Wing, Travis AFB, California




History of 60th Military Airlift Wing
First activated on 1 July 1948, the 60th Troop Carrier Wing, Medium, quickly became involved with Operation Vittles--the Berlin Airlift. Based at Kaufbeuren Air Base, West Germany, the newly created unit joined nu-merous other Allied units at Rhein-Main AB, West Germany, and provided airlift support throughout the operation that eventually brought relief to the citizens of West Berlin and an end to the blockade staged by the Soviet Union. Initially flying the C-47, the 60 TCW converted to the C-54 and Headquarters USAF in Europe redesignated the unit as the 60 TCW, Heavy, on 5 November 1948. Through its subordinate operations group--the 60th Troop Carrier Group, Heavy--the 60 TCW managed three flying squadrons: the 10th, 11th, and 12th Troop Carrier Squadrons. On 20 January 1949, the wing's headquarters element moved to Fassberg Royal Air Force Station, West Germany, and fell under operational control of the 1st Airlift Task Force. With its own aircraft and support units detached to other locations, the 60 TCW gained operational control of the 313 TCG, the 513th Air Base Group, the 513th Maintenance and Supply Group, and the 513th Medical Group. Aircraft assigned to the wing primarily carried coal into West Berlin. In January 1949 alone, the 60 TCW flew 4,058 missions (9,316 flying hours) from Fassberg to Berlin, airlifting 39,459.5 tons of coal and 29 tons of food to the blockaded city. Planes took off from Fassberg at a rate of one every 17 minutes. The Soviets lifted the blockade on 12 May 1949, but the airlift continued. With the airlift scaling down, the 60 TCW's workload decreased and by 1 August, the wing averaged just 44 round trips into Berlin per day. When the Berlin Airlift ended on 26 September 1949, the 60 TCW began moving without its personnel and equipment to Wiesbaden AB, West Germany, where it assumed the resources of the inactivated 7150th Air Force Composite Wing. The 60th became operational at Wiesbaden on 1 October 1949, and USAFE redesignated the wing as the 60 TCW, Medium, on 16 November 1949. On 21 January 1951, Twelfth Air Force became the 60 TCW's new higher headquarters. At this time, the wing had no tactical mission. On 2 June 1951, the wing replaced the 61 TCW at Rhein-Main AB, where the 60 TCG had been stationed on detached ser-vice. At this time, the 60 TCW resumed a tactical role and assumed responsibility for controlling all U.S. tactical airlift resources in Europe. For the first time since November 1948, the wing had operational control of all its components. The 60 TCW provided logistic airlift services to U.S. and Allied forces in Europe while maintaining host unit responsibilities at Rhein-Main. Operating the C-82, C-119, and C-47 aircraft, the wing participated in countless exercises and provided air transportability training to U.S. Army units. With its new assignment to the 322nd Air Division [Combat Cargo] on 1 August 1955, the wing began moving to Dreux AB, France. The 60 TCW completed the move by 14 October when the 60 TCG and all support units became operational. Later that month, the 62 TCS--a Tactical Air Command rotational unit from Sewart AFB, Tennessee--arrived and entered attached status with the 60 TCW. From 22 March to 2 June 1956, the 309 TCG, Assault, (Fixed Wing), deployed to Dreux from Ardmore AFB, Oklahoma. Initially attached to the 60 TCW for logistic support and operational control, the 309th was officially assigned to the wing on 8 August 1956. The 309 TCG introduced the C-123 aircraft to the European theater. In a major reorganization, the 322 AD reduced the headquarters elements of the 60 TCG, 309 TCG, and the 60 M & S Group to one officer and one airmen each on 15 November 1956. In conjunction with this, the 60 TCW's chief of operations gained control of the flying squadrons. All three groups inactivated on 12 March 1957. In mid-1958, the 376, 377, and 378 TCSs--formerly assigned to the 309 TCG--transitioned from the C-123 to the C-119 aircraft. The 60 TCW inactivated on 25 September 1958, ending its first period of service. Except for the 10, 11, and 12 TCSs (which now reported directly to the 322 AD), all units assigned to the 60 TCW also inactivated. As part of an Headquarters USAF directive to restructure the U.S. airlift forces, the Military Air Transport Service became known as the Military Airlift Command on 1 January 1966. In an effort to preserve the heritage of older units, many MATS units either inactivated or saw their service discontinued and were replaced by wings with more honored (and older) heritage. In one case, that resulted in the discontinuance of the 1501st Air Transport Wing at Travis AFB. Headquarters MAC redesignated the 60 TCW as the 60th Military Airlift Wing and activated the unit on 27 December 1965. The 60th organized on 8 January 1966, and assumed the mission, personnel, and equipment of the 1501st and became the new host unit at Travis. The newly activated Twenty-Second Air Force (the successor to the Western Transport Air Force of MATS) at Travis became the new parent organization for the 60 MAW. Flying the C-124 "Globemaster," the C-130 "Hercules," the C-141A "Starlifter," and the C-133 "Cargomaster," the 60 MAW entered its current term of service during a period of turmoil for the U.S. Committed to containing the spread of communism, the U.S. began a major buildup of its military forces in Southeast Asia. The 60 MAW quickly became instrumental in establishing a strategic aerial pipeline to the region. As Travis became the focal point for airlift resupply of U.S. forces in Southeast Asia, the next several years were among the most challenging in the wing's history. Major operations supported by the wing during the Vietnam Conflict included Blue Light, which moved the 25th Infantry Division from Hawaii to Pleiku, and Eagle Thrust, which airlifted the 101st Airborne Division from Fort Campbell, Kentucky, to Bien Hoa during November-December 1967. Support of U.S. forces in Vietnam earned the 60 MAW three Air Force Outstanding Unit Awards. In 1966, the wing became the first recipient of the Air Force Logistic Systems Award. Continuation of the war in Vietnam, coupled with demands for increased airlift capacity, led to the development of the Lockheed C-5 "Galaxy"--the free world's largest transport aircraft. With a cargo hold over 144 feet long, and an inflight refueling system giving it almost unlimited range, the "Galaxy" ushered in a new era of airlift history. Assigned to the wing on 8 January 1966, the C-141-equipped 75th Miltary Airlift Squadron transitioned to the C-5, becoming MAC's first operational squadron to fly the new aircraft. The wing added a second C-5 squadron when the 22 MAS activated at Travis AFB on 6 February 1972 and began flying the "Galaxy." In the Spring of 1973, the 60 MAW became a major participant in Operation Homecoming, the repatriation of American prisoners of war from North Vietnam. As C-141s arrived carrying former POWs, the David Grant USAF Medical Center at Travis became a major processing facility for the returnees. Homecoming marked the official termination of U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War. During October-November 1973, the 60 MAW supported Operation Nickel Grass--the support of Israel during the Yom Kippur War in the Middle East. As MAC's prime representative in this operation, the 60th flew 36 C-5 and C-141 missions and delivered over 22,000 tons of supplies and equipment. With the Communist takeover of Cambodia and South Vietnam imminent, MAC diverted a C-5, flown by the 22 MAS, from Clark AB in the Philippines to Tan Son Nhut AB near Saigon to fly the first Operation Babylift mission. Both Babylift and Operation New Life missions transported thousands of refugees to the United States during April-May 1975. Unfortunately, that first C-5 mission was marred by tragedy. Just 14 minutes after takeoff, a massive decompression critically damaged the aircraft's flight controls. The aircraft commander crash-landed the aircraft in a rice field a few miles short of Tan Son Nhut's runway. Although 138 perished, 176 survived. By the end of Babylift MAC carriers airlifted 1,794 Southeast Asian orphans to their new American families. MAC C-141s carried 949 of those babies. Since October 1974, the 60th has supported Operation Deep Freeze, the annual resupply of scientific research teams in the Antarctic. Flying from Christchurch, New Zealand, the wing has logged a near perfect record for reliability. On 4 October 1989, a 60 MAW C-5 became the first "Galaxy" to land on the Antarctic continent. For airlift achievements during the 1970s, the wing earned two more AFOUAs. To upgrade cargo carrying capacity, MAC initiated a major upgrade program for its C-141A fleet beginning in 1979. The project added an inflight refueling system and 23 feet in length to the fuselage. The "stretched" "Starlifter" was designated the C-141B. The 60th sent its first C-141A to the Lockheed-Georgia Company on 13 August 1979. The wing received its last "B" model on 10 May 1982. A highly visible instrument of U.S. foreign policy, the 60 MAW played an important role in maintaining the balance of power in the world during the 1980s. Supporting U.S. Naval forces in the Indian Ocean and Arabia Gulf, the wing continues to fly frequent missions to Diego Garcia and other installations in the region. When underwater mines--suspected to have been placed by Iran--threatened the Red Sea shipping lanes in 1984, the 60 MAW airlifted minesweeping helicopters from Naval Air Station Norfolk, Virginia, to Rota, Spain, where the Navy assembled and carried them into action via surface vessel. In 1987, a similar situation in the Arabian Gulf resulted in the deployment of the same helicopter minesweepers. Throughout the 1980s and into the 1990s, the wing supported several important troop deployments to Central America. The deployments demonstrated U.S. resolve to oppose corrupt dictatorships and Soviet-backed governments. Operation Urgent Fury in 1983 took the Caribbean island-nation of Grenada out of the hands of Soviet-backed Cubans; Operation Golden Pheasant in 1988 projected U.S. strength to counter Nicaraguan incursions into Honduras; Operation Nimrod Dancer in May 1989 showed U.S. opposition to Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega; and Operation Just Cause in December 1989 and January 1990, toppled Noriega from power and led to his arrest and trial in the U.S. For its participation in Just Cause, the 60th earned another AFOUA. On 2 August 1990, the armies of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein invaded the tiny, oil-rich nation of Kuwait. Responding to a request for assistance from King Fahd Ibn Abdul Aziz of Saudi Arabia, U.S. President George Bush ordered troops to the region as part Operation Desert Shield. A coalition of 27 allied nations supported the effort with troops, money, medical teams, supplies, and equipment. MAC nicknamed the airlift portion of the operation Volant Wind. Operation Desert Storm--the coalition move to remove the Iraqi troops from Kuwait--began on 17 January 1990. The 60th played a vital airlift role throughout the contingency by flying 1,280 C-5 and 954 C-141 missions from Travis AFB. Driven by economic factors and a smaller perceived threat to its security, the U.S. completely reorganized the Department of Defense and significantly reduced its military forces, beginning in 1989. During 1991 and 1992, the Air Force underwent the most massive restructuring since its establishment as a separate service in 1947. With the restructuring, MAC became the Air Mobility Command and absorbed the tanker airlift resources of the former Strategic Air Command. As the "objective wing" became the hallmark of the new Air Force, AMC redesignated the 60 MAW as the 60th Airlift Wing on 1 November 1991. Members of the 60th have participated in countless humanitarian airlift missions over the years. When earthquakes devastated Mexico City in 1985, a 60 MAW C-5 was one of MAC's first aircraft to deliver relief equipment. In December 1988 and early 1989, personnel as-signed to the 60th Aerial Port Squadron helped load Soviet IL-62 aircraft with medical supplies and relief equipment for shipment to earthquake victims in Armenia. In 1989, the wing carried relief supplies to Charleston, South Carolina and the U.S. Virgin Islands to assist victims of Hurricane Hugo. Later that year, crews also flew relief equipment and personnel to San Francisco's south bay are to assist victims of the 13 October Loma Prieta earthquake. During June and July 1991, repeated eruptions of Mt. Pinatubo in the Philippines, buried Clark AB with tons of volcanic ash, thus forcing an emergency evacuation of U.S. military dependents and non-essential military personnel. The 60 MAW played a key role in Operation Fiery Vigil. Relief efforts kept the 60th busy throughout 1992. By September of that year, the wing simultaneously supported eight humanitarian operations. These included Provide Comfort--airlift aid to Kurdish refugees in northwestern Iraq; Provide Hope--airlift of medical supplies and food to impoverished areas if the former Soviet Union; Provide Promise--relief of noncombatants in Sarajevo, Bosnia; Provide Relief--airlift of medical supplies and food to drought, famine, and anarchy-stricken Somalia; and Phoenix UFFO--airlift support of Haitian refugees awaiting transport to their homeland from a camp at Guantanamo Naval Base, Cuba. Operations also included relief missions to victims of three major storms: Hurricane Andrew in Florida; Hurricane Iniki in Hawaii; and Typhoon Omar on Guam. Beginning in May 1994, the 60 AW joined an AMC rotation of C-141 squadrons to Rhein-Main AB, Germany, to assist more directly in Provide Promise. Still on-going throughout 1994, the airlift of supplies into Sarajevo far surpassed the Berlin Airlift in terms of time and tonnage flown into the besieged capital of Bosnia. On 3 December 1992, the United Nations Security Council unanimously authorized a U.S.-led force to safeguard relief work in Somalia. Operation Restore Hope began that same day when a 60 AW C-5 flew additional crews and airlift control personnel to March AFB, California. Restore Hope continued into the early months of 1994. For its service during Desert Shield, Desert Storm, and its heavy humanitarian schedule of 1991 and 1992, the 60 AW received yet another AFOUA. Force restructuring continued during late 1993 and into 1994. In an effort to maintain the operational squadrons with the longest, most honored heritage, the Air Force moved or inactivated several flying units throughout the service on 1 October 1993. That effected three of the 60 AW's squadrons. The 7th and 75th Airlift Squadrons transferred to other locations, while the 86 AS inactivated. In their place, the wing received the 19, 20, and 21 Airlift Squadrons. When civil war broke out in the African nation of Rwanda in the Spring of 1994, the 60 AW again responded with troops and airlift support. Using Entebbe, Uganda as their hub of operations, Travis AFB airlifters joined other AMC units as part of Operation Support Hope. The joint American and United Nations effort eventually moved nearly 25,000 tons of relief equipment and supplies into the Central African region. Mission changes continued within the wing during the last half of 1994. On 1 September 1994, the wing received its first KC-10 squadron, when the 9th Air Refueling Squadron transferred from March AFB, thus giving the wing five operational squadrons. A month later, the 60th Medical Group activated four new squadrons: the 60th Aerospace Medicine Squadron, the 60th Dental Squadron, the 60th Medical Ops Squadron, and the 60th Medical Support Squadron. With its combined mission of airlift and tanker operations, AMC redesignated the 60 AW as the 60th Air Mobility Wing on 1 October 1994. Before the wing could even catch its breath from Support Hope, personnel and aircraft responded to two other crisis locations before the close of 1994. In an effort to restore the democratically elected leadership to the Caribbean nation of Haiti, the 60 AMW flew some of the first missions into Haiti, carrying combat troops and equipment. While assisting with the build-up during Operation Phoenix Shark, the wing also received taskings to move troops and equipment into Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and other Middle Eastern nations in response to an apparent offensive military move by Iraq. Operation Phoenix Jackal provided the needed deterrent to turn Saddam Hussein's attention away from the Kuwaiti border. A full range of activities during 1995 kept every facet of the 60 AMW busy. From February until early August, nearly 150 members of the 60 MDG operated the UN hospital in Zagreb, Croatia. Twenty members of the 60 SVS deployed to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in March and provided support to all five American services and to refugees from Cuba and Haiti. During its three-month tour of duty, the 60 SVS team served a daily average of 3,500 meals while working 12-hour shifts, six days a week. In response to a terrorist bombing of the Alfred Murrow Federal Building in Oklahoma City, a C-141 aircraft transported a 63-member team from the Sacramento Urban Search and Rescue Unit, five dogs, and 16.5 tons of equipment to the capital of Oklahoma. In June, a KC-10 and crew from Travis AFB assisted in the around-the-world flight by two B-1 "Lancers" from the 7th Bomb Wing, Dyess AFB, Texas. The Travis AFB tanker provided aerial refueling during the fourth track of the trip--east of Singapore, Thailand. The 36-hour, 13-minute Coronet Bat mission set several flight records, including fastest time around the world non-stop. During the last two weeks in July, the 60 AMW participated in the first-ever joint Operational Readiness Inspection between the Air Mobility Command and the Air Combat Command. For its efforts, the 60th earned an overall "Outstanding" rating. The wing also earned its eighth AFOUA for the period of 1 November 1993 to 31 July 1995. Standing as AMC's major west coast hub of operations, the 60 AMW continues to provide the nation with people and resources that stand ready to perform any task. The challenges of future years will be met with skill and dedication--two qualities that have contributed to making the 60 AMW "America's First Choice." Like most present day wings, the 60 AMW also maintains an important link to a similarly numbered group prior to 1948. When the USAF transitioned to the wing concept, the groups came under command of the wings. Eventually, the USAF removed the groups and assigned the flying squadrons directly to the parent wing. A committee appointed by Headquarters USAF in 1954 recommended that groups and wings be maintained as separate and distinct organizations, and that the histories and honors of the groups be temporarily bestowed upon the similarly designated wings. Thus, the 60 AMW, whenever it serves on active status, carries with it the history and honors of the 60th Troop Carrier Group--now known as the 60th Operations Group. (Should the 60 OG serve under another wing, the group maintains its history and honors--not the 60 AMW.) Constituted on 20 November 1940 as the 60th Transport Group, the new unit activated at Olmsted Field, Pennsylvania, on 1 December 1940. Under the leadership of Lieutenant Colonel Samuel C. Eaton, Jr., the group flew the C-47 aircraft. After a brief stay at Westover Field, Massachusetts (May 1941-June 1942), the 60th moved to Chelveston, England, and then to Aldermaston, England, in August 1942. The group was redesignated as the 60th Troop Carrier Group on 1 July 1942. Upon its next move to Tafaraoui, Algeria, and its new assignment under Twelfth Air Force, the 60 TCG flew its first combat mission of World War II on 8 November 1942, when it transported paratroops from England and dropped them at Oran during the early hours of the invasion of North Africa. During the war in Europe, the 60 TCG also served from bases in Tunisia, Sicily, and Italy before moving to Waller Field, Trinidad, in June 1945. During World War II, the group participated in the battle for Tunisia; towed gliders and dropped paratroops behind enemy lines when the Allies invaded Sicily; and dropped paratroops at Megava during the airborne invasion of Greece in October 1944. When not engaged in airborne operations, the group transported troops and supplies and evacuated wounded personnel. In October 1943, for instance, the 60th dropped supplies to men who had escaped from prisoner-of-war camps. For its performance in the Mediterranean Theater of Operations from 28 March to 15 September 1944, the 60 TCG received the Distinguished Unit Citation. While attempting to organize effective fighting forces in Yugoslavia, Greece, and Albania, the Allies tasked the 60th for an immediate, substantial, and steady flow of desperately needed supplies. The group flew all of these missions at night in unarmed C-47s over unfamiliar enemy-occupied areas where hostile anti-aircraft fire and night fighters were expected and frequently encountered. The DUC narrative stated, Guided night after night by skillful navigators to drop zones pinpointed amidst towering mountains and ridges, alert and proficient crews, flying at dangerously low altitudes, released packages containing carefully apportioned supplies of arms, food, and medicine. Displaying unfailing courage and superior flying ability, group pilots landed skillfully on and took off in hours of darkness, often by instruments, from small hastily improvised landing strips hidden in deep valleys and under constant threat of enemy ground action....[Aircrews] unloaded quantities of critically needed supplies too bulky for parachuting, including jeeps and mules, evacuating on the return trip many Allied airmen, wounded partisans, and civilian refugees. Despite poor weather, terrain, enemy night fighters, anti-aircraft fire, and hostile ground action, the 60th flew nearly 3,000 missions, including 600 hazardous landings, delivered more than 7,000 tons of supplies and equipment, and evacuated thousands of military and civilian personnel. The group lost 10 aircraft and 34 members of the 60th were either killed or listed as missing. In June 1945, the 60 TCG moved to Trinidad and came under the command of the Air Transport Command. The group inactivated on 31 July 1945. After just 15 months on the inactive list, the 60th activated again on 30 September 1946, this time at Munich, Germany. Shortly after moving to Kaufbeuren Air Base, Germany, on 14 May 1948, the 60 TCG and its three squadrons--the 10th, 11th, and 12th Troop Carriers Squadrons--began supporting the Berlin Airlift. From 26 June 1948 to 30 September 1949, the C-47 and C-54-equipped squadrons flew from both Kaufbeuren AB and Wiesbaden AB, Germany, and contributed to the U.S. total of nearly 1.8 million tons of supplies delivered on 189,963 flights. During the Berlin Airlift, the 60th Troop Carrier Wing, Medium, was activated at Kaufbeuren AB on 1 July 1948. At that time the 60 TCG became a subordinate unit assigned to the new wing.


Oct 01 2000 10:49:42:000PM




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