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315th Airlift Wing History: Vietnam

Forty different models have been produced of this legendary aircraft.  In 1963, a C-130 Hercules landed on an aircraft carrier without using the arresting gear, thus becoming the heaviest aircraft to have ever accomplished this feat.  As a transport airplane, the H model of the C-130 can carry 64 troops, 92 patients, or 45,000 pounds of cargo.  (USAF Historical Photo)

Forty different models have been produced of this legendary aircraft. In 1963, a C-130 Hercules landed on an aircraft carrier without using the arresting gear, thus becoming the heaviest aircraft to have ever accomplished this feat. As a transport airplane, the H model of the C-130 can carry 64 troops, 92 patients, or 45,000 pounds of cargo. (USAF Historical Photo)

This the emblem that the 315 Air Commando Wing used from 1967 to 1968,  The 315 ACW was stationed at Phan Rang Air Base, South Vietnam from 1967 until the deactivation of the 3-1-5 in 1972.

This the emblem that the 315 Air Commando Wing used from 1967 to 1968, The 315 ACW was stationed at Phan Rang Air Base, South Vietnam from 1967 until the deactivation of the 3-1-5 in 1972.

The C-123 Provider was a tactical airlifter that saw a lot of action during the Vietnam War.  Although designed and primarily used as a troop and cargo transport, some Providers, known as the UC-123, were outfitted with special nozzles that would disperse defoliant or insecticides.  The C-123 could carry 61 troops and transport 15,000 pounds of cargo.  (USAF Historical Photo)

The C-123 Provider was a tactical airlifter that saw a lot of action during the Vietnam War. Although designed and primarily used as a troop and cargo transport, some Providers, known as the UC-123, were outfitted with special nozzles that would disperse defoliant or insecticides. The C-123 could carry 61 troops and transport 15,000 pounds of cargo. (USAF Historical Photo)

The 315 Special Operations Wing used this emblem from 1968 until 1970, when the 315 SOW was redesignated as the 315 Tactical Airlift Wing.  The emblem is identical to the one used by the 315 ACW.

The 315 Special Operations Wing used this emblem from 1968 until 1970, when the 315 SOW was redesignated as the 315 Tactical Airlift Wing. The emblem is identical to the one used by the 315 ACW.

The CV-2 Caribou was an airplane operated by the Army to initially re-supply their Special Forces troops.  The Caribou played an important role during the conflict in Vietnam because it was able to operate on airfields not accessible to the C-123 or C-130.  In 1967, the CV-2 was transferred to the Air Force inventory and became known as the C-7.  (Photo courtesy of theaviationzone.com)

The CV-2 Caribou was an airplane operated by the Army to initially re-supply their Special Forces troops. The Caribou played an important role during the conflict in Vietnam because it was able to operate on airfields not accessible to the C-123 or C-130. In 1967, the CV-2 was transferred to the Air Force inventory and became known as the C-7. (Photo courtesy of theaviationzone.com)

The 311 Air Commando Squadron was a unit of the 315 Air Commando Wing during the Vietnam War.  Lieutenant Colonel Joe M. Jackson earned the Medal of Honor for his actions during a mission he flew on 12 May 1968 as a member if the 311 Air Commando Squadron.  (USAF Historical Emblem)

The 311 Air Commando Squadron was a unit of the 315 Air Commando Wing during the Vietnam War. Lieutenant Colonel Joe M. Jackson earned the Medal of Honor for his actions during a mission he flew on 12 May 1968 as a member if the 311 Air Commando Squadron. (USAF Historical Emblem)

The A-37 Dragonfly was developed to encounter insurgencies and guerilla warfare and Vietnam became the ideal proving ground for this aircraft.  The 7.62 MM mini gun mounted in its nose could deliver 6,000 rounds per minute.  The Dragonfly was a modified T-37 designed to be flown by a crew of two but was normally operated by a single pilot in the left seat.  (USAF Historical Photo)

The A-37 Dragonfly was developed to encounter insurgencies and guerilla warfare and Vietnam became the ideal proving ground for this aircraft. The 7.62 MM mini gun mounted in its nose could deliver 6,000 rounds per minute. The Dragonfly was a modified T-37 designed to be flown by a crew of two but was normally operated by a single pilot in the left seat. (USAF Historical Photo)

The C-47 Skytrain was one of the most durable and versatile of our aircraft, having served in three different wars with the 3-1-5.  General Dwight Eisenhower credited the C-47 as one of the four machines that won WWII, along with the bulldozer, landing craft, and the 6 by 6 truck.  (USAF Historical Photo)

The C-47 Skytrain was one of the most durable and versatile of our aircraft, having served in three different wars with the 3-1-5. General Dwight Eisenhower credited the C-47 as one of the four machines that won WWII, along with the bulldozer, landing craft, and the 6 by 6 truck. (USAF Historical Photo)

This little airplane had a dual role mission during the Vietnam War.  The O2 Skymaster, flown by a pilot and an observer, was tasked with forward air control and reconnaissance missions that involved target marking and battle damage assessment.  In its other role, the O2 provided propaganda broadcasting and leaflet drop capabilities.  (USAF Historical Photo)

This little airplane had a dual role mission during the Vietnam War. The O2 Skymaster, flown by a pilot and an observer, was tasked with forward air control and reconnaissance missions that involved target marking and battle damage assessment. In its other role, the O2 provided propaganda broadcasting and leaflet drop capabilities. (USAF Historical Photo)

This is a photograph of the 315th Combat Support Group Headquarters Building at Phan Rang Air Base (PRAB), Republic of Vietnam.  PRAB was home to 3-1-5 from 1 August 1967 to 31 March 1972.  (Photograph courtesy of Mike Vogel, 315 SOW/CAMS)
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This is a photograph of the 315th Combat Support Group Headquarters Building at Phan Rang Air Base (PRAB), Republic of Vietnam. PRAB was home to 3-1-5 from 1 August 1967 to 31 March 1972. (Photograph courtesy of Mike Vogel, 315 SOW/CAMS)

The emblem of the 315th Consolidated Aircraft Maintenance Squadron (CAMS) pictured above one of the workhorses of the Vietnam War, Fairchild's C-123 Provider.  The Latin motto "Ut Viri Volent", located below the spinning three bladed propellor, translates to "That Men May Fly".  (Photograph courtesy of Mike Vogel, 315 SOW/CAMS)
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The emblem of the 315th Consolidated Aircraft Maintenance Squadron (CAMS) pictured above one of the workhorses of the Vietnam War, Fairchild's C-123 Provider. The Latin motto "Ut Viri Volent", located below the spinning three bladed propellor, translates to "That Men May Fly". (Photograph courtesy of Mike Vogel, 315 SOW/CAMS)

This is an aerial photograph of Phan Rang Air Base (PRAB), Republic of Vietnam (RVN) taken from a Fairchild C-123 Provider shortly after take off.  (Photograph courtesy of Jim Alvis, 71 SOS)
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This is an aerial photograph of Phan Rang Air Base (PRAB), Republic of Vietnam (RVN) taken from a Fairchild C-123 Provider shortly after take off. (Photograph courtesy of Jim Alvis, 71 SOS)

On February 21, 1966, the 3-1-5 was reactivated and redesignated, this time as the 315th Air Commando Wing, Troop Carrier. The 315th ACW, TC was assigned to the 315th Air Division (Combat Cargo), just as it had been when the 315 TCW was deactivated back in 1955.  On March 8, 1966, the 315th ACW, TC was organized and stationed at Tan Son Nhut Air Base, South Vietnam.  Subsequently, the Wing was attached to the 2nd Air Division throughout the remainder of March and then was further reassigned to the 7th Air Force on April 1, 1966 until October 15, 1966.

From March 8, 1966 up until October 15, 1966, the 315th ACW, TC maintained responsibility for all of the airlift requirements that were needed in the Republic of Vietnam (South Vietnam).  These missions included the control over all United States Air Force airlift assets, Aerial Port Squadrons, an Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron, and a special air transport flight of the Royal Australian Air Force.

After October 15, 1966, the 315th ACW, TC engaged in C-123 airlift operations throughout Vietnam.  These operations included the aerial movement of troops and cargo, flare drops, Aeromedical Evacuation, and airdrops of crucial supplies and paratroops. One other noteworthy mission the Wing was tasked with was Ranch Hand, the systematic defoliation of the thick jungles and forests that the Viet Cong used for concealment and cover.  The herbicide was delivered with specially modified versions of the Fairchild C-123 Provider, known as the UC-123.  Ranch Hand UC-123s were also used to spray insecticides on crops in Thailand to help combat a plague of locusts.

On August 1, 1967, the 315th ACW, TC was redesignated as the 315th ACW and exactly one year later, the Wing was redesignated again, this time as the 315th Special Operations Wing.

The 315th ACW, TC moved to Phan Rang AB, South Vietnam on June 15, 1967 and remained there until the deactivation of the 3-1-5 in 1972.  From PRAB, the 3-1-5 helped to train C-123 aircrews for the South Vietnamese Air Force and the Wing gained control over close air support missions flown by Cessna A-37 Dragonfly aircrews.  In 1971, as the 315th Tactical Airlift Wing, the Wing expanded its mission with the added responsibility of the control of the interdiction operations being conducted by the 8th Special Operations Squadron and the psychological warfare and visual reconnaissance operations of the 9th SOS.

On 1 January 1970, effective with a new re-designation, the 315th SOW became the 315th TAW and remained that way until the Wing’s deactivation on March 31, 1972.