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315th Airlift Wing History: 1973-1979

315th Airlift Wing

315th Airlift Wing

This massive aircraft is designed for strategic airlift and is capable of transporting anything that the Army operates.  The C-5 Galaxy was only with the 3-1-5 for a very short time in the early 1970s, but it continues to provide crucial airlift capabilities today.  The C-5 can carry 270 troops and has a maximum payload of 240,000 pounds.  (USAF Historical Photo)

This massive aircraft is designed for strategic airlift and is capable of transporting anything that the Army operates. The C-5 Galaxy was only with the 3-1-5 for a very short time in the early 1970s, but it continues to provide crucial airlift capabilities today. The C-5 can carry 270 troops and has a maximum payload of 240,000 pounds. (USAF Historical Photo)

The C-141 Starlifter was this nation’s first jet transport, designed specifically to meet military specifications as a troop and cargo carrier.  The first C-141 arrived in Charleston in 1965 and the 3-1-5 shared in the operation and maintenance of this aircraft with the 437 AW from 1973 to 2000.  The Starlifter has participated in numerous operations, exercises, and relief missions during that time while providing hope and comfort to millions of people globally.  (USAF Photo/John Rossino)

The C-141 Starlifter was this nation’s first jet transport, designed specifically to meet military specifications as a troop and cargo carrier. The first C-141 arrived in Charleston in 1965 and the 3-1-5 shared in the operation and maintenance of this aircraft with the 437 AW from 1973 to 2000. The Starlifter has participated in numerous operations, exercises, and relief missions during that time while providing hope and comfort to millions of people globally. (USAF Photo/John Rossino)

On July 1, 1973, the 3-1-5 was again activated, this time in the Reserve as the 315th Military Airlift Wing, Associate. The 943rd Military Airlift Group, the first associate Wing in the southeastern United States when it was activated at Charleston Air Force Base in September 1969, was deactivated on this same date. 

The 315th MAW inherited the personnel and equipment from the 943rd MAG as well as the three flying Squadrons, the 300th Military Airlift Squadron, Associate, the 701st MAS, A and the 707th MAS, A.  Colonel Richard P. McFarland, the 943rd MAG Commander, became the new Commander of the 315 MAW.  


Right away, the 315th MAW lived up to its rich heritage by garnering the Air Force Association's Outstanding Group Award in November of 1973.  Also, in the fall of 1973, the 315th MAW took part in Operation Nickel Grass, a critical airlift resupply mission for the nation of Israel during the 1973 Arab-Israeli War.

In 1975, the first all Reserve aircrew, commanded by Capt. John E. Tomkins, assisted in the evacuation of refugees from Saigon, South Vietnam. During a 17-day period, a total of five evacuation flights were flown from Saigon to the Philippines and Guam.

On February 21, 1976, the 707th MAS provided an aircrew that delivered supplies and aid to the people of Guatemala.  The Central American nation had been decimated by an earthquake on February 4 that measured 7.6 on the Richter scale.  Over 22,000 people were killed and another 74,000 were injured in this natural disaster.

A 300th MAS aircrew flew to Las Palmas in Spain’s Canary Islands on March 29, 1977 to assist in transporting survivors of a collision between two Boeing 747 jets, Pan American flight1736 (Clipper Victor) and KLM flight 4805 (Rijn).  This incident, which occurred at Tenerife, Canary Islands claimed 583 lives and is the deadliest aircraft disaster to date.

In an operation that began on November 18, 1978, the 31st Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron participated in the treatment and evacuation of personnel from Georgetown, Guyana. These survivors were victims of a mass suicide that had occurred at Jonestown, Guyana on the same date.