Unit Location: Joint Base Charleston, SC
Unit Size: 78 Officers, 56 Enlisted (approximate)
The mission of the 701st Airlift Squadron is to recruit, train and provide combat ready aircrews to support the Air Force mission of defending the United States through control and exploitation of air and space by supporting Global Engagement.
The squadron's responsibility is to maintain well-trained combat-ready aircrews that are prepared to win the war on terrorism and support ever-changing global taskings.
2008 witnessed the 701st Airlift Squadron's second change of command in as many years, with Lt Col Michael Zaccardo taking over on May 18th. The squadron has been performing at a high-ops tempo fulfilling over 1795 hours and 105 combat sorties in support of Operations Enduring and Iraqi Freedom (OEF/OIF) thru the month of August. To date, our members have also volunteered for extended duty service and have logged over 3,060 flight hours, carried 17.1 million pounds of cargo, and transported over 8,500 passengers. Many of these tasks were completed supporting numerous world-wide missions which included Counter-Drug Missions in South America, presidential support, training sorties and numerous exercises. Eleven members volunteered to extend their expertise by volunteering to fulfill TDY taskings at alternate locations around the world to act as tactics officers, stage managers and schedulers running operations supporting OEF/OIF.
The squadron has witnessed numerous members succeed in their AFRC careers. With over 30 promotions in 2008, the leadership potential is boundless in the 701st Airlift Squadron. Lt Col Brent Merritt was the Air Force Reserve Command's nominee for the General Robert "Dutch" Huyser Award. The squadron also had 4 quarterly awards winners at the group and wing level in the first two quarters of 2008.
The squadron continues to live up to its heritage as being at the front of the operations bringing the fight to enemy!
HISTORY OF THE 701st AIRLIFT SQUADRON
Emblem: The emblem is symbolic of the squadron and its mission. The turtle represents the reliable and trustworthy performance of the unit aircraft in safe and sure delivery, the load carried indicates the Airlift Mobility Command's mission of hauling cargo, transporting troops, and the headset symbolizes the constant alertness and attention to duty required of the assigned combat crews. The emblem bears the Air Force colors, ultramarine blue and golden yellow, and the national colors, red, white and blue. Note: The current emblem was selected during a unit competition and authorized in April 1960. The turtle reflected the assigned aircraft at the time, the C-123. The former unit emblem was one of many that were designed by "Disney" and given to the War Department by Walt Disney. It was authorized in 1944.
Beginning: The 701st Bombardment Squadron (Heavy) was a "war baby", conceived on 7 Dec 1941 in the offices of the War Department in Washington DC. It would be assigned to the newly formed 445th Bombardment Group (Heavy). It was constituted on 20 March 1943 and born (activated) on 1 April 1943 at Gowen Field, Idaho. The first commanding officer was 1Lt Howard E. Kreidler of Tilden, Nebraska. The assigned aircraft would be the Consolidated B-24 "Liberator". During training, the squadron transited Wendover, Utah and Sioux City, Iowa. They trained hard and were destined to put the USAAF doctrine of precision daylight bombing to the test.
WWII History: On 20 October 1943, after completion of training, the ground echelon of the 701st boarded a train bound for Camp Shanks, New York, a staging area for overseas movement. The party boarded the Queen Mary on 27 October 1943 and six days later landed at Gourock, Scotland. From there, the unit traveled by train to its permanent station at Tibenham, England. The aircraft contingent would be routed to the south for its long journey to England. They first traveled to Lincoln, Nebraska and then on to Morrison Field near Miami, Florida. The next stop was Barrenquin Field in Puerto Rico and then on to Trinidad. There were two stops getting through Brazil and on across the ocean to Dakar and then to Marrakesh, Morrocco. From Marrakesh, they made one last stop at Newquay, England before the aircraft group arrived at the first operational base at Tibenham. It was now the first week of December 1943. The group was assigned to the 2nd Combat Wing of the 2nd Air Division of the legendary 8th Air Force. Significant events in this period are many and include the unit's first combat mission. It was flown on 13 December 1943 with a bombing raid on a U-boat installation at Kiel, Germany. The 701st participated in 280 bombing missions during the war. The squadron lost 20 aircraft and 110 men during those missions. The first fatality occurred in December 1943 when 2Lt Arthur E. Barks, a navigator, was killed during the Osnabruck raid. During the raid to Kassel, Germany on 27 September 1944, the 701st (and 445th Group) suffered the highest single day group loss rate in history. Twenty five B-24's went down in the space of 6 minutes. Six more crashed on the long ride back and only 4 made it to Tibenham. Twenty-nine German fighter aircraft were shot down. Fifty-four aircraft went down within a 15-mile radius of each other. It's considered history's most concentrated air battle. Their last combat mission was flown on 25 April 1945. Following the Victory in Europe, the 701st was inactivated on 12 Sept 1945.
Post WWII: After the war, the 701st was activated as a "Very Heavy" Bombardment Squadron on 12 July 1947 at McChord Field, Washington. Aircraft type is unknown. It became a reserve unit in July 1947 and was inactivated in 1949.
On 24 June 1952, the squadron was moved to Niagara Falls Air Force Base, Niagara Falls, New York and re-designated as the 701st Fighter-Bomber Squadron, still a part of the 445th Fighter-Bomber Wing and became a reserve organization one month later. Aircraft type cannot be confirmed but was most likely the North American F-51 "Mustang".
Five years later the unit was inactivated and two months after that (Oct 1957) was reactivated as the 701st Troop Carrier Squadron, this time located in Memphis, Tennessee, and still a part of the 445th "Dixie" Troop Carrier Wing (Reserve). The 445th was based at Dobbins AFB, Georgia with the 701st and other units being "geographically separated". Initial aircraft to equip the unit was the Fairchild C-119 "Flying Boxcar". After receiving a handful of aircraft, the mission was changed from "medium" airlift to "assault". The unit was then equipped with the Fairchild C-123 "Provider". Other aircraft assigned to support operations were the C-47.
Significant events during this period included the April 1960 Operational Readiness Inspection in which the group placed #1 among all Continental Air Command Wings. CONAC was the predecessor to the Air Force Reserves and National Guard Bureau. Also during 1960, the 445th donated over $2400 for the new football stadium at the Air Force Academy. One-thousand dollars of this came from the 701st. This earned the unit a bronze plaque which is on display at the stadium to this day. In the 1962 Troop Carrier Competition, a 701st TCS crew placed first in the low-level equipment drop mission. On 28 Oct 1962, the unit was "Mobilized" to support anticipated operations during the "Cuban Missile Crisis". Aircraft, crews and support personnel were deployed to Ft. Bragg, NC and were prepared to airlift elements of the 82nd Airborne Division into that island nation. One month later the unit was relieved from active duty. The 701st was inactivated in 1965.
The Jet Age: On 16 September 1970, the unit was reactivated. It was now designated the 701st Military Airlift Squadron (Associate) and moved to its current home at Charleston AFB, South Carolina. This period was the beginning of the associate program which saw their active duty counterparts as the owners of the (shared) aircraft. The new weapon system was the Lockheed C-141 "Starlifter" and the mission was now "strategic airlift". Many missions of all types were conducted by the 701st over the next 20 to 30 years. They include supporting DoD operations in Southeast Asia, providing vital airlift to Israel during the 1973 war, conducting airlift operations into Grenada in 1983 and supporting the US invasion of Panama in 1989. Flexibility, range and reliability made the C-141 the first choice for operations all over the globe and the 701st was heavily involved from the start. Additionally, the "Total Force" policy, adopted in 1973, made the guard and reserves an integral part of all US military operations and increased demands and visibility of the "weekend warriors". Significant events during this period include the loss of a C-141 during an airlift mission to LaPaz, Bolivia. On 18 Aug 1974, Technical Sergeant Carl H. Church gave his life while participating in an airlift mission with our active duty counterparts. Building 60 at Charleston Air Force Base is the 'Church building", named in his honor. On 12 July 1984, the 701st Military Airlift Squadron lost a C-141 crew when the aircraft crashed shortly after takeoff from Naval Air Station Sigonella, Sicily. Eight crewmembers from the 701st perished:
Maj Alan Wilson MSgt Refugio (Critter) Rivera TSgt James Simpson
1Lt Steven Grapperhaus TSgt John H. Dasenbrock SSgt Darnell Gardner
1Lt Michael Hodge TSgt James Kightlinger
On 9 September 1990, the 701st was "Mobilized" to support Operation DESERT SHIELD/DESERT STORM. For 11 months the unit worked hard to support efforts to expel Iraqi forces from Kuwait. During this time, the squadron logged in excess of 19,000 flying hours in direct support of the operation with an additional 5,000+ hours flown in training and operating other missions (highest total in all the allied air forces). For this superb effort, the 701st was awarded the prestigious General Claire Chennault Trophy in September 1991 as the best flying squadron within 22 AF.
On 1 August 1992, the 701st Military Airlift Squadron was redesignated the 701st Airlift Squadron. This renaming of organizational units was part of a major reshuffling of the Air Force structure and saw the end of the "Military Airlift Command" and the beginning of the "Air Mobility Command".
Current Era: On 1 Oct 97, the unit began to transition from the C-141 to the McDonnell Douglas C-17 Globemaster III. The new aircraft had a greater strategic capability than the C-141 as well as tactical capabilities that were far beyond that of any other large transport. Already, the 701st has supported several operations in this new weapon system, including PHOENIX SCORPION in the Persian Gulf and ALLIED FORCE in Kosovo. After four years of hard training on the new system, the citizen soldiers of the 701st were called on again to support US operations following the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon. Initially on a voluntary basis, a large portion of the unit participated in Operation Enduring Freedom airlift missions into Southwest Asia. On 14 Feb 2003, the 701st was mobilized for the third time in its history to bolster forces now directed toward conducting Operation IRAQI FREEDOM. The squadron demobilized one year later, but has continued supporting both of those operations on a voluntary basis. Significant event: There are many significant events during this period. Several 701st AS aircrews participated in humanitarian operations involving airdrops of food in Afghanistan during 2001-02, as well as the historic airdrop of the 173rd Airborne Brigade into Northern Iraq. While the war was raging, crews supported humanitarian operations at home such as providing relief following Hurricanes "Katrina" and "Ike". The 701st Airlift Squadron came to the aid of thousands of refugees after the devastating Southeast Asia Tsunami and the catastrophic earthquake in Iran while also supporting State Department and White House missions all over the globe. The unit airlifted specialized Seismic Trucks following the Crandall Canyon mine disaster in Huntington, Utah. The 701 AS airlifted various space vehicles such as the fragile Mars Odyssey Lander and numerous high-value assets supporting the Strategic Defense Initiative.
The squadron was honored to be invited to participate in numerous historical commemorations including the 60th anniversary ceremonies of the 6 June 1944 landings in Normandy, France. In March 2007, we performed a ceremonial fly-over of Arlington National Cemetery during the internment of Brigadier General Howard E. Kreidler, who, as mentioned before was the first commander of the 701st back in 1943.
From moving USO troupes around the world to delivering forensic teams aiding the recovery and repatriation of fallen American warriors, the mission of the 701st Airlift Squadron continues on and on.
Campaign Streamers: Air Offensive Europe 1942-44; Normandy 1944; Northern France 1944; Rhineland 1944-45; Ardennes-Alsace 1944-45; Central Europe 1945;
Armed Forces Expeditionary Streamers: Panama 1989-90; Defense of Saudi Arabia 1990-91; Liberation and Defense of Kuwait 1991; Southwest Asia Ceasefire 1991
Unit Decorations: Distinguished Unit Citation: Gotha Germany 1944; Air Force Outstanding Unit Awards: 1972, 1973, 1982, 1983, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1995, 1996, 1997; French Croix de Guerre with Palm 1943-45; Republic of Vietnam Gallantry 1970-73