|19th Airlift Wing
|Branch||United States Air Force|
|Part of||Air Mobility Command|
|Garrison/HQ||Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas|
|Nickname(s)||"Black Knights"|
|Motto(s)||In Alis Vincimus Latin (On Wings We Conquer)|
|Decorations||Air Force Outstanding Unit Award|
Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation
|19th Airlift Wing emblem (approved 9 May 1952, modified 19 September 1983)[note 1]|
The 19th Airlift Wing is a United States Air Force unit assigned to the Air Mobility Command's Eighteenth Air Force. It is stationed at Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas. The wing is also the host unit at Little Rock.
The Wing provides the Department of Defense its largest Lockheed C-130 Hercules transport fleet, supplying humanitarian airlift relief to victims of disasters, to airdropping supplies and troops into the heart of contingency operations in hostile areas.
Active for over 60 years, the 19th was a component wing of Strategic Air Command's deterrent force during the Cold War. The wing served in the Korean War and Operation Desert Storm. Its component units are currently engaged in combat operations as part of the Global War on Terrorism.
The 19th Airlift Wing is commanded by Colonel Gerald A. Donohue. Its Command Chief Master Sergeant is Chief Master Sergeant David Morse.
The 19th Airlift Wing is organized into a quad-group structure:
The 19th Airlift Wing staff includes a variety of agencies that directly support the wing commander, group commanders and the base population.
The 19th Bombardment Wing was formed in 1948 from resources of the former North Guam Air Force Base Command (Provisional). The 19th, with the 19th Bombardment Group as its operational flying unit, operated Andersen Air Force Base and maintained proficiency in Boeing B-29 Superfortresses. In May 1949, headquarters Twentieth Air Force moved from Guam to Kadena Air Base, Okinawa and its former staff was assigned to the 19th Bomb Wing.
At Andersen, the wing assumed responsibility for administering two active and one semi-active bases plus an assortment of communication, weather, radar, rescue and other facilities and units including the Marianas Air Materiel Area, a wing size unit. Many of the units and facilities were inactivated with a few months.
In October 1949, the 19th Wing again became subordinated to Twentieth Air Force and the remaining units in the Marianas and Bonin Islands were transferred to other organizations. From 17 October 1949 until 28 June 1950, the wing continued B-29 training, operation of Anderson and some rescue and reconnaissance missions.
When the Korean War broke out in late June 1950, the 19th Bombardment Group was immediately detached from the wing for combat operations from Kadena. From Kadena, the wing's operational squadrons (28th, 30th, 93d) attacked North Korean invasion forces. The first Superfortress unit in the war, the group on 28 June attacked North Korean storage tanks, marshalling yards, and armor. In the first two months, it flew more than six hundred sorties, supporting United Nations ground forces by bombing enemy troops, vehicles, and such communications points as the Han River bridges.
At Kadena, the group was initially under the operational control of Twentieth Air Force. After 8 July 1950, it was attached to Far East Air Forces Bomber Command (Provisional). Many of the aircraft flown by the 19th Bomb Group squadrons in combat were refurbished B-29s that were placed in storage after World War II, then brought back into operational service.
In the north, its targets included an oil refinery and port facilities at Wonsan, a railroad bridge at Pyongyang, and Yonpo Airfield. After United Nations ground forces pushed the communists out of South Korea, the 19th Group turned to strategic objectives in North Korea, including industrial and hydroelectric facilities. It also continued to attack bridges, marshalling yards, supply centers, artillery and troop positions, barracks, port facilities, and airfields.
In accordance with organizational change within the Strategic Air Command (SAC) and later throughout the entire Air Force, the 19th Bomb Group was inactivated on 1 June 1953 and its squadrons assigned directly to the 19th Bomb Wing, which moved its headquarters to Kadena.
In May 1954, the Wing was reassigned from Far East Air Forces to SAC and moved to Pinecastle Air Force Base, Florida, turning in its war-weary and obsolete B-29s at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona, en route.
In 1954 the propeller-driven B-29s were replaced with new Boeing B-47E Stratojet swept-wing medium bombers capable of flying at high subsonic speeds and primarily designed for penetrating the airspace of the Soviet Union. They were assigned to the 28th, 30th, and 93rd Bombardment Squadrons.
The wing also gained an air refueling unit with the 100th Air Refueling Squadron which was attached to the wing from 2 February 1955 until 16 August 1956. In February 1956, the 19th Air Refueling Squadron was permanently assigned to the wing. Both units flew Boeing KC-97 Stratotankers.
Early in 1955, the wing deployed to Sidi Slimane Air Base, French Morocco, January – April 1956, and to Ben Guerir Air Base, Morocco, May – July 1957. From July 1957 to April 1961, the wing maintained a portion of its tactical resources on overseas alert. Its B-47s were phased out of the SAC inventory beginning in 1960, sending the wing's last Stratojet to Davis-Monthan in 1961.
The 19th moved to Homestead Air Force Base, Florida on 1 June 1956 from Pinecastle. At Homestead, the wing consisted of one squadron in Florida (28th BS), and four squadrons:
The wing converted to the Boeing B-52H Stratofortress and Boeing KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft in 1961–1962. However, most of its aircraft were reassigned. SAC was then in the process of establishing strategic wings and the 19th lost four squadrons to them. This left the 19th with one squadron of B-52Hs (28th BS).
On 7 June 1962, a wing B-52H broke the world record for distance flown on a closed course without landing or refueling. The mission was flown from Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, North Carolina. The flight covered 11,336.92 miles and broke a record set two years earlier by a B-52G of the 5th Bombardment Wing.
At Homestead, the wing won the Fairchild Trophy in the SAC bombing and navigation competition for 1966.
The 19th moved without personnel or equipment to Robins Air Force Base, Georgia in mid-1968, it absorbed resources of the 465th Bombardment Wing and converted to the B-52G. At Robins, the 19th furnished B–52 Operation Arc Light crews and KC–135 aircraft and crews supporting Yankee Team, Foreign Legion & Young Tiger Tanker Task Forces and crews to other SAC organizations. In the spring & summer of 1972, all assigned B-52Gs aircraft & crews deployed to the provisional strategic wing at Andersen Air Force Base and its KC-135A aircraft and crews deployed to the 376th Strategic Wing, at Kadena Air Base, Okinawa, involved in combat operations in Southeast Asia. In 1972, the wing deployed virtually all its aircraft and crews for combat operations, leaving headquarters at Robins minimally staffed. In November 1973, the wing returned from deployment and resumed normal operations. The 19th Bombardment Wing won the Omaha Trophy as the Outstanding Wing in SAC for 1981.
The wing lost its B-52s and was redesignated as the 19th Air Refueling Wing on 1 October 1983. The wing undertook worldwide aerial refueling missions for various operations and exercises and supported the Eielson (Alaskan); Andersen (Pacific); & Spanish (European) Tanker Task Forces. It flew air refueling missions supporting Operation Urgent Fury, the overthrow of the Stalinist regime in Grenada 23 – 24 October 1983. Beginning in 1984, it provided two EC-135 aircraft and crews to support the United States Central Command in Southwest Asia.
With conversion to KC-135R aircraft, the wing continued supporting the Alaska and, Pacific Tanker Task Forces in 1988 and the Caribbean Tanker Task Force in March 1990. It flew air refueling missions for the Operation Just Cause, the overthrow of the regime of Manuel Noriega in Panama 18 – 21 December 1989 and deployed resources to Southwest Asia, August 1990 – March 1991, providing air refueling, cargo, and command, control and communications support.
It was redesignated the 19th Air Refueling Wing on 1 September 1991. The 19th Operations Group was activated at the same time as the flying component of the wing.
From January 1992, it provided a Boeing EC-137 Stratoliner and crews to support the United States Special Operations Command, and from August 1992 the wing supported the Saudi Tanker Task Force. It provided air refueling support to NATO fighters in Bosnia in September – October 1995. Several KC-135R tankers deployed to Southwest Asia to support Operation Southern Watch, January – March 1996 and to Turkey for Operation Provide Comfort, April – June 1996.
On 1 July 1996, the 19th Air Refueling Wing was inactivated, and its functions turned over to its operations group, redesignated the 19th Air Refueling Group.