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315th Airlift Wing History: 1990-1999

315th Airlift Wing

315th Airlift Wing

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)

The C-17 Globemaster III is the heir apparent to the airlift legacy established by the C-141.  The C-17 has performed masterfully in several conflicts since coming to Charleston in 1993, most recently in the Global War on Terrorism.  The holder of 33-world aviation records recently achieved another remarkable milestone by flying its one millionth hour.  (USAF Historical Photo)

The C-17 Globemaster III is the heir apparent to the airlift legacy established by the C-141. The C-17 has performed masterfully in several conflicts since coming to Charleston in 1993, most recently in the Global War on Terrorism. The holder of 33-world aviation records recently achieved another remarkable milestone by flying its one millionth hour. (USAF Historical Photo)

The new decade began well enough for the 3-1-5. On January 31, 1990, the Wing received another AFOUA, this one for exceptionally meritorious service for the period July 1, 1988 to June 30, 1989. The 315th MAW garnered a second AFOUA, this one for outstanding achievement from September 21, 1989 to October 31, 1989, six months later, on June 9, 1990.

The Wing also helped to mark an important milestone at CAFB on April 23, 1990.  On this date, in 1965, CAFB took delivery of its very first operational C-141 Starlifter.  The C-141 was the first all jet transport in the Air Force arsenal and has been the go to aircraft when it comes to filling Americas airlift needs.

The 315th MAW was honored with a Flying Safety Milestone award from Headquarters, Air Force Reserve on July 2, 1990.  This award recognizes the significant accomplishment that the aircrews of the 315th MAW achieved by flying accident free for the past 20 years.

1990 would not end on a quiet note either. On August 2, the Republic of Iraq invaded its neighbor, the nation of Kuwait. Many units of the 315th MAW began the process of contacting their personnel in order to solicit volunteers to help support the increase in the expected operations tempo.  Our aircrews that participated in Operation Volant Wind on August 6 answered the call to duty.  Volant Wind was the code name for the operation that airlifted the initial troops and equipment into the southwest Asia area of operations.  Just slightly over a month after Volant Wind kicked off, the 701st MAS became the first unit of the 315th MAW to be called up to active duty in support of Operation Desert Shield.

With the start of the new fiscal year on October 1, 1990, an Air Force wide restructuring plan involving maintenance units meant a series of redesignations for several of our units: the 315th Avionics Maintenance Squadron became the 315th Component Repair Squadron, the 315th Field Maintenance Squadron is now the 315th Equipment Maintenance Squadron, and the 315th Organizational Maintenance Squadron became the 315th Aircraft Generation Squadron.

The 315th MAW captured another AFOUA on March 1, 1991.  This award recognized the accomplishments and achievements of the Wing during the period July 1, 1989 to June 30, 1990.  The 3-1-5 would also be honored again on May 5 with another AFOUA, this one for exceptionally meritorious service from January 1, 1989 to June 30, 1990.  During April, aircrews of the 315th MAW flew missions supporting Operation Provide Comfort.  The Provide Comfort missions helped to bring various forms of relief and aid to the Kurdish refugees from northern Iraq.

The 315 Military Airlift Wing, Associate, evolved again on February 1, 1992 as several redesignations took effect, including the new designation of the Wing, now known as the 315th Airlift Wing, Associate.  In addition, the three flying squadrons of the 315th AW, A also dropped the “Military” from their designations. Two more changes authorized the re-designations of the 315th Combat Support Group as the 315th Support Group and the 315th Security Police Flight as the 315th Security Police Squadron.  

On April 1, the 315th AW welcomed another flying Squadron to the fold with the activation of the 317th AS.

Several more major re-structuring events take place on August 1.  Both the 315th Operations Group and the 315th Operations Support Squadron were activated.  Along with the activation of the 315th OG, the following units were realigned under the 315th OG: the 300th AS, the 317th AS, the 701st AS and the 707th AS.  Also reassigned to the OG was the 315th Airlift Control Flight and three Aerial Port Squadrons, the 38th APS, the 81st APS, and the 84th APS.

The first day of August also saw the deactivation of two of our other Aerial Port Squadrons, the 51st APS and the 90th APS. The 90th APS was one of our Geographically Separated Units located at Homestead AFB, Florida.  A couple of the Wing’s other units, both a GSU, are also reassigned. The 53rd Mobile Aerial Support Squadron was reassigned to the 512th OG located at Dover AFB, Delaware and the 70th APS fell under the control of the 482nd OG at Homestead AFB in Fla.

The 315th Mission Support Squadron was activated on August 1 and the 315th Communications Squadron was redesignated as the 315th Communications Flight on this day as well. Finally, the 915th Civil Engineering Squadron, another of the Wing’s units located away from CAFB, was reassigned to the 512th SG at Dover AFB, Del.  On August 17, the 707th AS, A took command of the Scheduled Theater Airlift Route (STAR) mission, a first for a unit in the Air Force Reserve Command.  Members of the 315th LG helped with relief efforts at Homestead AFB after Hurricane Andrew slammed in to south Florida on August 24.  The powerful hurricane left behind widespread damage to the surrounding areas and to Homestead AFB.

The Air Force’s newest airlifter, the Spirit of Charleston (89-1192), lands at Charleston AFB on June 14.  Officially known as P-6, this is the first C-17 Globemaster III to enter operational service with the Air Force.  On board the flight is the Air Force Chief of Staff, General Merrill A. McPeak.  Seven months later, on February 5, 1994, the 317th AS flew the very first, all Reserve, C-17 mission.

Further re-structuring of the Wing took place on July 1 with the re assignment of the 3-1-5 to the 22nd AF at Dobbins Air Reserve Base, Georgia.

On April 3, 1994, an aircrew from the 300th AS proceeded to Bujumbura, the capitol of the African nation of Burundi.  Their mission was to evacuate 79 Americans and a number of foreign nationals to Nairobi, Kenya who had fled warring tribal factions in neighboring Rwanda.

The 315th AW responded to trouble in southwest Asia once again on July 11.  The 317th AS airlift troops and equipment to Kuwait and Saudi Arabia as part of a response to Iraqi forces moving to the border of Kuwait. The aircrew from the 317th AS is part of a two-ship C-17 mission that also marked the first deployment of the C-17 to the Middle East.

The Rooks Defense Squadron (707th AS) provided airlift support for Peacekeeper 1994 on August 28.  This weeklong exercise involved elements of the Third Infantry Division, Mechanized and Russia’s 27th Guards Motorized Rifle Division with the goal of having the two divisions set up and patrol a buffer zone between belligerents in an internal conflict.  Peacekeeper 1994 was the first joint exercise ever conducted between the United States and Russia.

The new fiscal year ushered in several more wing-wide organizational changes on October 1.  The first change was a redesignation of the 315th AW and its four flying Squadrons.  The term “Associate” was dropped from the official designations of the Wing and the 300th AS, the 317th AS, the 701st AS, and the 707th AS.  In addition, the 31st AES was inactivated and in its place, a newly constituted 315th AES was activated and then assigned to the 315th OG.

The first of three Readiness Reviews for the C-17 Globemaster III were conducted beginning on November 3, 1994.  This is the first time that a Reserve unit actively participated in the concurrent development and validation of a new aircraft.

A couple of more changes in the Wing’s structure took place over the winter.  On New Year’s Day 1995, the 84th APS was reassigned from the 315th OG to the 622nd Regional Support Group located at Dobbins ARB, Ga.  A little over three months later, on March 15, the 315th Communications Flight was inactivated.

The 3-1-5 was awarded the AFOUA on June 30, 1995.  This award is in recognition for the outstanding performance of the 315th AW for a two year period that began on July 1, 1993 and ended on June 30, 1995.

On September 18, 1995, Capt. David J. Kratzer of the 300th AS accepted the Air Force Association’s President Award for the Outstanding Reserve Aircrew on behalf of his crews efforts in evacuating American citizens and foreign nationals from Bujumbura, Burundi back on April 3, 1994.

Also in September, and for the first time in the unit’s history, the 315th ALCF was tasked to provide support on the heels of a natural disaster.  The unit sent a Mission Support Team to the island of St.Thomas in the Virgin Islands in the aftermath of Hurricane Marilyn.  This category three storm left most of the buildings on St. Thomas damaged and over 10,000 people were left homeless.

The dawn of a new year witnessed the men and women of the 315th AW taking part in a vital peacekeeping mission in Eastern Europe.  In January 1996, as part of operation Joint Endeavor, aircrews from the 315th AW helped to transport cargo and troops on board a pair of C-17’s and a C-141B to Taszar, Hungary for the build up of military forces in Tuzla, Bosnia. In the first three months of operations, Air Force mobility forces flew 3,000 missions, carried over 15,600 troops and delivered more than 30,100 short tons of cargo.  These numbers also reflect the importance of the C-17, which was employed in a major contingency for the first time. During the first month of operations, the Air Force’s newest airlifter flew slightly more than 20 percent of the missions into Tuzla but delivered over 50 percent of the cargo. 

The service of the 38th APS in southwest Asia was recognized and acknowledged in an awards ceremony on August 10. The unit was honored with two Campaign Streamers, the Defense of Saudi Arabia for the period August 2, 1990 to January 16, 1991, and the Liberation and Defense of Kuwait, for service from January 17, 1991 to April 11, 1991.

Our 315th Security Police Squadron is redesignated as the 315 Security Forces Squadron on July 1, 1997.  Along with the new designation, the mission of the 315th SFS also expanded to include law enforcement duties.

The month of September was both a happy and a sad time for the 315th AW.  The 707th AS flew their last mission in the venerable C-141B Starlifter.  The C-141 had been a part of CAFB since 1965.  All of the flying Squadrons will soon convert to the new C-17 Globemaster III. However, our 315th AES participated in the first all Reserve, C-17, aeromedical evacuation training flight to Bermuda on September 6.  This was also the first training mission of this type involving the C-17 in the Air Force.

The 315th AW was honored on November 25 with an AFOUA for exceptionally meritorious service by the Wing for the period July 1, 1995 to June 30, 1997.