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302d Airlift Wing
302d Airlift Wing.png
Active 28 January 1942 — present
Country United States
Branch Air Force
Type Airlift
Part of Air Force Reserve Command
Garrison/HQ Peterson Air Force Base
Decorations Outstanding Unit ribbon.svg AFOUA
Vietnam gallantry cross unit award-3d.svg RVGC w/ Palm
Commanders
Current
commander
Colonel James Muscatell Jr.
Notable
commanders
Joseph J. Nazzaro

The 302d Airlift Wing (302 AW) is a wing of the United States Air Force Reserve[1] based out of Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Contents

Mission

The mission of the 302d AW is to train, equip, and employ airlift forces in worldwide support of our nation's vital interests.

History

During World War II, the 302d trained bombardment crews for combat duty.

It conducted airlift training as a reserve corollary unit of 62d Troop Carrier Wing from June 1949-May 1950, and of the 325th Fighter-Interceptor Wing from May 1950-June 1951. It trained as a reserve troop carrier wing from June 1952. The 302nd began flying airlift operations in the mid-1950s and was placed on active duty during the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962. By the mid-1960s, wing aircraft and crews performed worldwide airlift missions and participated in numerous tactical exercises.

C-130 training to fight wildfires with the MAFFS system

From April 1968 to March 1973 the wing provided AC-119 gunship training for pilots, navigators, flight engineers, and mechanics of USAF active units and personnel from Jordan, Morocco, Ethiopia, and South Vietnam. The wing assumed a rotational airlift task in support of USAF Southern Command from April 1973 through January 1976. Also in April 1973, the wing assumed an aerial spraying mission with UC-123 aircraft, which frequently took wing crews to Central America, the Caribbean, the Azores, North Africa, islands of the Pacific, and to many U.S. points for insect-spraying missions.

Beginning in April 1985, the wing trained to airlift and airdrop troops, equipment, and supplies in a tactical theater. It took part in training and mobility exercises within the United States and to Britain and Panama. It practiced for aeromedical evacuation missions. During the late 1980s and 1990s, the wing transported fire fighters and their equipment and supplies to fight wildfires in western states, delivered relief supplies to hurricane victims, and participated in other humanitarian airlifts and various global contingency operations. The 302d was most recently activated in support of U.S. Central Command operations in Southwest Asia in 2005-2006. In the summer of 2008, two C-130 aircraft and aircrews deployed to Southwest Asia. Other units within the 302d have also deployed, including the 302d Security Forces Squadron, which deployed Airmen in the summer of 2008. Later in the spring of 2009, members of the 302d Civil Engineer Squadron deployed as well. Both units were deployed to Kirkuk Regional Air Base, Iraq.

The unit also provides training in cooperation with the U.S. Forest Service for flight crews certified to fly MAFFS-equipped C-130s on wildfires.[2]

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Notable Incidents

On Mother's Day, May 14, 1995, aircraft 62-1838, callsign "SUMIT38", with six souls aboard, caught fire approximately 45 miles east of Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho, after ferrying firefighters to Gowen Field at Boise Airport.

The number two engine incorrectly signaled an under-temp reading, causing the flight engineer to enrich the fuel mixture to that engine, leading to an actual over-temp situation. The engine caught fire, and after several attempts by one of the loadmasters to quench the fire, the engine re-ignited and separated from the airframe, causing severe wing and fuselage damage. SUMIT38 spiraled 26,000 feet to the ground, and, according to Col. Chris Joniec, Crash Scene Commander, in a characterization of the severity of the crash, SUMIT38 "...hit the ground going close to the speed of light...". In addition the Flight Engineer Jimmy Vail knew before taking off from the Boise Airport that the number two engine of Summit 38 had an engine problem and decided to fly the aircraft anyway to make it home for Mothers Day. Flight Engineers are trained to recognize engine problems and take precautions prior to flying to make sure they are corrected before taking off.

AC 62-1838 had questionable safety aspects for quite some time before the crash, and a number of civilians and previous crew members of the airplane questioned the Air Force's records and practices before and after the crash. Also, names of the deceased crew members were released to the civilian media before all immediate family members were notified, causing a notable black-eye for the Air Force. The mother of First Lieutenant Lance Dougherty learned of her son's death through the local news.

The six crew members of SUMIT38 were:
Lieutenant Colonel Robert "Bob" Buckout, Aircraft Commander
First Lieutenant Lance Dougherty, Pilot
Captain Geoff Boyd, Navigator
Chief Master Sergent "Jimmy" Vail, Flight Engineer
Master Sergent Jay Kemp, Loadmaster
Staff Sergent Micheal Lynn Scheideman, Loadmaster

A memorial at Peterson AFB, Colorado, was dedicated to the crew on the 10th anniversary of the crash in May, 2005. Several stones, placards and flags are occasionally replaced at the actual crash site, near Bliss, Idaho, by well-wishers, recovery crew, and family members of the crew.

Operations

C-130 preparing to leave on a deployment

Previous designations

  • 302d Bombardment Group (1942–1949)
  • 302d Troop Carrier Wing (1949–1967)
  • 302d Tactical Airlift Wing (1967–1970)
  • 302d Special Operations Wing (1970–1971)
  • 901st Tactical Airlift Group (1971–1992)
  • 302d Airlift Wing (1992 – Present)

Assignments

Major command

Numbered Air Force

C-130 Cockpit

Subordinate organizations

302d Operations Group (302 OG)

302d Maintenance Group (302 MXG)

  • 302d Aircraft Maintenance Squadron (302 AMXS)
  • 302d Maintenance Squadron (302 MXS)
  • 302d Maintenance Operations Flight (302 MOF)

302d Mission Support Group (302 MSG)

  • 39th Aerial Port Squadron (39 APS)
  • 302d Civil Engineer Squadron (302 CES)
  • 302d Communications Flight (302 CF)
  • 302d Logistics Readiness Sqaudron (302 LRS)
  • 302d Mission Support Flight (302 MSF)
  • 302d Security Forces Squadron (302 SFS)
  • 302d Services Flight (302 SVF)

Bases stationed

C-130 with Pikes Peak in the background

Aircraft operated

C-130 at Sather Air Base, Iraq

References

Notes

Bibliography

  • Maguire, Jon A. and the Men of the 27th ATG. Gooney Birds and Ferry Tales: The 27th Air Transport Group in World War II. Atglen, Pennsylvania: Schiffer Publishing, 1998. ISBN 0-7643-0592-1.

External links


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