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6th Air Mobility Wing: Wikis


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6th Air Mobility Wing
6th Air Mobility Wing.png
Official emblem of the 6th Air Mobility Wing
Active September 30, 1919
Country United States
Branch United States Air Force
Part of Air Mobility Command
Garrison/HQ MacDill AFB, Florida
Motto "Parati Defendere"
Ready to Defend
Equipment KC-135 Stratotanker, Gulfstream C-37A
World War II Victory Medal ribbon.svg American Campaign Medal ribbon.svg Asiatic-Pacific Campaign ribbon.svg
  • World War II
American Campaign (1941–1943)
Asiatic-Pacific Campaign
Decorations Outstanding Unit ribbon.svg AFOUA
Colonel Lawrence M. Martin Jr.

The United States Air Force's 6th Air Mobility Wing (6 AMW) is the host wing for MacDill Air Force Base, Florida. It is part of Air Mobility Command's (AMC) Eighteenth Air Force.

The wing's 6th Operations Group is a successor organization of the 6th Group (Composite), one of the 15 original combat air groups formed by the Army before World War II.



The 6th Air Mobility Wing provides day-to-day mission support to more than 3,000 personnel along with more than 50 Mission Partners, including the United States Central Command and United States Special Operations Command. It is a force capable of rapidly projecting air refueling power anywhere in the world. The Wing is organized into four unique groups and three operational flying squadrons to carry out its mission to be America’s premier mobility team providing world-class air refueling, responsive airlift and airbase support.


The 6th Air Mobility Wing consists of:

  • 6th Maintenance Group
    • 6th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron
    • 6th Maintenance Operations Squadron
    • 6th Maintenance Squadron
  • 6th Medical Group
    • 6th Aerospace Medicine Squadron
    • 6th Dental Squadron
    • 6th Medical Operations Squadron
    • 6th Medical Support Squadron
  • 6th Mission Support Group
    • 6th Civil Engineer Squadron
    • 6th Communications Squadron
    • 6th Contracting Squadron
    • 6th Logistics Readiness Squadron
    • 6th Mission Support Squadron
    • 6th Security Forces Squadron
    • 6th Services Squadron


For additional history and lineage, see 6th Operations Group


The Wing's emblem, approved in 1924, reflects its origins with a ship sailing through the Gaillard Cut and an airplane flying overhead.


  • Established as 6th Bombardment Wing, Medium on December 20, 1950
Activated on January 2, 1951
Redesignated: 6th Bombardment Wing, Heavy on June 16, 1952
Redesignated: 6th Strategic Aerospace Wing on May 1, 1962
Redesignated: 6th Strategic Wing on March 25, 1967
Redesignated: 6th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing on April 1, 1988
Inactivated on September 1, 1992
  • Redesignated 6th Air Base Wing on December 22, 1993
Activated on January 4, 1994
Redesignated: 6th Air Refueling Wing on October 1, 1996
Redesignated: 6th Air Mobility Wing on January 1, 2001


Attached to 3d Air Division, 31 Oct 1955-26 Jan 1956


Operational Components



  • 6 Air Refueling: 3 Jan 1958-25 Jan 1967
  • 24 Bombardment (later, 24 Strategic Reconnaissance): attached 2 Jan 1951-15 Jun 1952, assigned 16 Jun 1952-25 Jan 1967; assigned 25 Mar 1967-7 Jul 1992
  • 39 Bombardment: attached 2 Jan 1951-15 Jun 1952, assigned 16 Jun 1952-15 Sep 1963
  • 40 Bombardment: attached 2 Jan 1951-15 Jun 1952, assigned 16 Jun 1952-25 Jan 1967
  • 307 Air Refueling: attached c. 1 Aug 1951-16 Jun 1952
  • 310 Air Refueling: 25 Jun 1965-25 Jan 1967
  • 579 Strategic Missile: 1 Sep 1961-25 Mar 1965
  • 4129 Combat Crew Training: 1 Aug 1959-15 Sep 1963.


Cold War

Established as 6 Bombardment Wing, Medium on 20 Dec 1950. Activated on 2 Jan 1951 as a result of the Korean War, being equipped with the Convair B-36D (later B-36J) Peacemaker at Walker AFB, New Mexico. The B-36 was flown by men of the 24th, 39th and 40th Bombardment Squadrons. At Walker, the wing was bestowed the history and honors of the USAAF 6th Bombardment Group in 1952. Operations consisted of strategic bombardment training with air refueling as additional mission in 1951–1952, and again from April 1958. The Boeing B-52E Stratofortress replaced the wing's B-36 in September 1957.

In September 1959, the 24th and 30th Bombardment Squadrons joined the newly assigned 4129th Combat Crew Training Squadron to train B-52 and KC-135 crews.

As the Soviet missile threat increased, so did the 6th's mission. On May 1, 1962, with the arrival of the wing's first Atlas-F SM65 intercontinental ballistic missile, came another name change—the 6th Strategic Aerospace Wing. The missiles lasted until 1965, when Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara announced base closure of Walker AFB and wing inactivation of the 6th.

"Rivet Amber" (#62-4137) RC-135E of the 6th SRW at Eielson

The inactivation never happened as the 6th transferred to Eielson AFB, Alaska, without equipment and personnel on March 25, 1967, to become the 6th Strategic Wing. The 6th had gone full circle and was back in reconnaissance as it had been in 1919, only with modern, state-of-the-art RC-135S jet aircraft.

Notable events during the 6th SRW's tenure were:

  • June 5, 1969 – Rivet Amber, an RC-135E assigned to Eielson, crashed in the Bering Sea minutes after leaving Shemya Air Force Base. Nineteen crewmembers died. Amber Hall, the headquarters building at Eielson, was named for the crew a year later.
  • February 1, 1959 – Captain Perry Amidon, suspecting the aircraft he was in to be out of control, ejected from the B-58 Hustler at 24,000 feet. The aircraft’s pilot thought otherwise, however, and landed the plane at Eielson a few minutes later. The uninjured Captain Amidon, flew back to base about an hour later in a helicopter.
  • April 21, 1964 – A WB-47 belonging to Detachment 1 of the 55th Weather Reconnaissance Squadron crashed on takeoff. Three of the five crewmembers died in the accident.
  • September 30, 1965 – An Eielson helicopter crew rescued two Baptist ministers after their light plane crashed between Nome and Moses Point. Throughout the 1960s, Eielson crews averaged several rescues each year.
  • November 17, 1967 – The quick response of the 5010th Combat Support Group to the Chena River flood (August 12 – August 21, 1967) and the subsequent help provided to Fairbanks and other communities led to the 5010th’s third Air Force Outstanding Unit Award.
  • July 8, 1971 – When Lieutenant Colonel James O. Swanson became commander of the reincarnated 25th Tactical Air Support Squadron, he had a borrowed desk, a telephone, and a promise for nine aircraft and accompanying personnel. It took two months to get the first O-2A "Mosquito," and the unit’s complement of 14 officers and eight NCOs would not be complete until June 1972.
  • December 9, 1974 – An O-2A, assigned to the 25th Tactical Air Support Squadron at Eielson, crashed while on a routine training mission on the Fort Greely training area near Delta Junction. The pilot and co-pilot were both killed.
  • December 7, 1975 – All crewmembers died when a KC-135 assigned to Plattsburgh AFB in New York crashed after takeoff from Eielson.
  • February 1977 - Cold weather testing of the A-10 aircraft took place through the end of the month. As part of the test, the aircraft participated in the "Jack Frost" exercise also hosted by the base.
  • January 12, 1979 – Five-hundred Eielsonites braved sub-zero temperatures to view the Air Force's newest aircraft, the as yet unnamed F-16, present for cold weather testing.

On December 22, 1993 the 6th was redesignated the 6th Air Base Wing and activated on January 4, 1994 at MacDill AFB Florida with a primary mission of supporting two unified commands, U.S. Special Operations Command and U.S. Central Command. On October 1, 1996 the wing returned to its flying mission and was renamed the 6th Air Refueling Wing. On January 1, 2001 the 6th ARW reorganized and became the 6th Air Mobility Wing (6th AMW).

The 6th Strategic Wing also maintained a detachment at Shemya AFB, Alaska, in addition to maintaining the Alaskan Tanker Task Force to support strategic reconnaissance and the NORAD Alaskan ballistic missile early warning station. On April 1, 1988, SAC renamed the wing the 6th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing. During this time it flew the RC–135S and TC-135.

The Wing won the P.T. Cullen Award for greatest contributions to the photo and signal intelligence efforts of Strategic Air Command, 1973, 1978, and 1983.

The 24th Strategic Reconnaissance Squadron left Eielson AFB on July 7, 1992. The wing has lost its operational mission and was inactivated on September 1, 1992 and the mission of the 6th SRW and assigned aircraft were transferred to the 55th Wing at Offutt AFB, Nebraska.

Modern era

Announcement of the 6th's most recent inactivation came in December 1991, as the reconnaissance mission of the 6th was transferred to the 55th Wing at Offutt AFB, Nebraska, and the mission of the Alaskan Tanker Task force was terminated.

Following the 1991 Defense Base Closure and Realignment Commission's decision to terminate the 56th Fighter Wing's mission at MacDill AFB Florida by the end of 1993, on January 1, 1994, the Air Mobility Command 6th Air Base Wing was activated at MacDill with a mission to operate the base and provide support services for CENTCOM, SOCOM, and the large and growing number of other tenant units, as well as to provide services for transient air units.

Efforts of the wing to highlight MacDill's airfield capabilities and in-place support units resulted in a redirect of the 1991 and 1993 DBCRC laws regarding the closure and transfer of MacDill's airfield. 1995 DBCRC laws called for the retention of the airfield as part of MacDill AFB (to be operated by the Air Force), and directed the relocation of the 43d Air Refueling Group's mission to transfer from Malmstrom AFB, Montana, to MacDill beginning in October 1996.

With the arrival of KC-135R aircraft, the 6th Air Base Wing was redesignated the 6th Air Refueling Wing. The wing also assumed support responsibility for EC-135 command post aircraft supporting the CENTCOM and SOCOM commanders at MacDill and a CT-43 aircraft supporting the SOUTHCOM commander in Miami. Both non-tanker aircraft types were later replaced by the C-37. On October 1, 1996 the wing again changed names, this time to 6th Air Mobility Wing, assigned to Air Mobility Command's Eighteenth Air Force.

The 6th has twice won the Air Mobility Rodeo Best Air Mobility Wing Award; in 2000 and 2005.


PD-icon.svg This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the Air Force Historical Research Agency. This article contains information from the 6th Air Mobility Wing history factsheet which is an official document of the United States Government and is presumed to be in the public domain.

  • Ravenstein, C. (1984). Air Force Combat Wings: Lineage and Honors Histories 1947–1977. Office of Air Force History: Washington, D.C. ISBN 0-912799-12-9
  • Dorr, R. & Peacock, L. (2000). B-52 Stratofortress: Boeing's Cold War Warrior. Osprey Aviation: Great Britain. ISBN 1-84176-097-8
  • Lloyd, A. (1999). A Cold War Legacy: A Tribute to the Strategic Air Command 1946–1992. Pictorial Histories Publishing Co: Missoula, Montana. ISBN 1-57510-052-5
  • Active Air Force Bases Within the United States of America on September 17, 1982 USAF Reference Series, Office of Air Force History, United States Air Force, Washington, D.C., 1989
  • Air Force Historical Research Agency, 6th Air Mobility Wing [1]

External links


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