701st Airlift Squadron

701st Military Airlift Squadron 

701st Military Airlift Squadron  

701st Airlift Squadron

 701st Airlift Squadron History and Lineage   

The 701st Bombardment Squadron (Heavy) was a "war baby", conceived on 7 Dec 1941 in the offices of the War Department in Washington DC. It would be assigned to the newly formed 445th Bombardment Group (Heavy). It was constituted on 20 March 1943 and born (activated) on 1 April 1943 at Gowen Field, Idaho. The first commanding officer was 1Lt Howard E. Kreidler of Tilden, Nebraska. The assigned aircraft would be the Consolidated B-24 "Liberator". During training, the squadron transited Wendover, Utah and Sioux City, Iowa. They trained hard and were destined to put the USAAF doctrine of precision daylight bombing to the test.

WWII History: On 20 October 1943, after completion of training, the ground echelon of the 701st boarded a train bound for Camp Shanks, New York, a staging area for overseas movement. The party boarded the Queen Mary on 27 October 1943 and six days later landed at Gourock, Scotland. From there, the unit traveled by train to its permanent station at Tibenham, England. The aircraft contingent would be routed to the south for its long journey to England. They first traveled to Lincoln, Nebraska and then on to Morrison Field near Miami, Florida. The next stop was Barrenquin Field in Puerto Rico and then on to Trinidad. There were two stops getting through Brazil and on across the ocean to Dakar and then to Marrakesh, Morrocco. From Marrakesh, they made one last stop at Newquay, England before the aircraft group arrived at the first operational base at Tibenham. It was now the first week of December 1943. The group was assigned to the 2nd Combat Wing of the 2nd Air Division of the legendary 8th Air Force. Significant events in this period are many and include the unit's first combat mission. It was flown on 13 December 1943 with a bombing raid on a U-boat installation at Kiel, Germany. The 701st participated in 280 bombing missions during the war. The squadron lost 20 aircraft and 110 men during those missions. The first fatality occurred in December 1943 when 2Lt Arthur E. Barks, a navigator, was killed during the Osnabruck raid. During the raid to Kassel, Germany on 27 September 1944, the 701st (and 445th Group) suffered the highest single day group loss rate in history. Twenty five B-24's went down in the space of 6 minutes. Six more crashed on the long ride back and only 4 made it to Tibenham. Twenty-nine German fighter aircraft were shot down. Fifty-four aircraft went down within a 15-mile radius of each other. It's considered history's most concentrated air battle. Their last combat mission was flown on 25 April 1945. Following the Victory in Europe, the 701st was inactivated on 12 Sept 1945.

Post WW II: After the war, the 701st was activated as a "Very Heavy" Bombardment Squadron on 12 July 1947 at McChord Field, Washington. Aircraft type is unknown. It became a reserve unit in July 1947 and was inactivated in 1949. On 24 June 1952, the squadron was moved to Niagara Falls Air Force Base, Niagara Falls, New York and re-designated as the 701st Fighter-Bomber Squadron, still a part of the 445th Fighter-Bomber Wing and became a reserve organization one month later. Aircraft type cannot be confirmed but was most likely the North American F-51 "Mustang". Five years later the unit was inactivated and two months after that (Oct 1957) was reactivated as the 701st Troop Carrier Squadron, this time located in Memphis, Tennessee, and still a part of the 445th "Dixie" Troop Carrier Wing (Reserve). The 445th was based at Dobbins AFB, Georgia with the 701st and other units being "geographically separated". Initial aircraft to equip the unit was the Fairchild C-119 "Flying Boxcar". After receiving a handful of aircraft, the mission was changed from "medium" airlift to "assault". The unit was then equipped with the Fairchild C-123 "Provider". Other aircraft assigned to support operations were the C-47. Significant events during this period included the April 1960 Operational Readiness Inspection in which the group placed #1 among all Continental Air Command Wings. CONAC was the predecessor to the Air Force Reserves and National Guard Bureau. Also during 1960, the 445th donated over $2400 for the new football stadium at the Air Force Academy. One-thousand dollars of this came from the 701st. This earned the unit a bronze plaque which is on display at the stadium to this day. In the 1962 Troop Carrier Competition, a 701st TCS crew placed first in the low-level equipment drop mission. On 28 Oct 1962, the unit was "Mobilized" to support anticipated operations during the "Cuban Missile Crisis". Aircraft, crews and support personnel were deployed to Ft. Bragg, NC and were prepared to airlift elements of the 82nd Airborne Division into that island nation. One month later the unit was relieved from active duty. The 701st was inactivated in 1965.

The Jet Age: On 16 September 1970, the unit was reactivated. It was now designated the 701st Military Airlift Squadron (Associate) and moved to its current home at Charleston AFB, South Carolina. This period was the beginning of the associate program which saw their active duty counterparts as the owners of the (shared) aircraft. The new weapon system was the Lockheed C-141 "Starlifter" and the mission was now "strategic airlift". Many missions of all types were conducted by the 701st over the next 20 to 30 years. They include supporting DoD operations in Southeast Asia, providing vital airlift to Israel during the 1973 war, conducting airlift operations into Grenada in 1983 and supporting the US invasion of Panama in 1989. Flexibility, range and reliability made the C-141 the first choice for operations all over the globe and the 701st was heavily involved from the start. Additionally, the "Total Force" policy, adopted in 1973, made the guard and reserves an integral part of all US military operations and increased demands and visibility of the "weekend warriors". Significant events during this period include the loss of a C-141 during an airlift mission to LaPaz, Bolivia. On 18 Aug 1974, Technical Sergeant Carl H. Church gave his life while participating in an airlift mission with our active duty counterparts. Building 60 at Charleston Air Force Base is the 'Church building", named in his honor. On 12 July 1984, the 701st Military Airlift Squadron lost a C-141 crew when the aircraft crashed shortly after takeoff from Naval Air Station Sigonella, Sicily. Eight crewmembers from the 701st perished: Maj Alan Wilson; MSgt Refugio (Critter) Rivera; TSgt James Simpson; 1Lt Steven Grapperhaus; TSgt John H. Dasenbrock; SSgt Darnell Gardner; 1Lt Michael Hodge and TSgt James Kightlinger.

On 9 September 1990, the 701st was "Mobilized" to support Operation DESERT SHIELD/DESERT STORM. For 11 months the unit worked hard to support efforts to expel Iraqi forces from Kuwait. During this time, the squadron logged in excess of 19,000 flying hours in direct support of the operation with an additional 5,000+ hours flown in training and operating other missions (highest total in all the allied air forces). For this superb effort, the 701st was awarded the prestigious General Claire Chennault Trophy in September 1991 as the best flying squadron within 22 Air Force.

On 1 August 1992, the 701st Military Airlift Squadron was redesignated the 701st Airlift Squadron. This renaming of organizational units was part of a major reshuffling of the Air Force structure and saw the end of the "Military Airlift Command" and the beginning of the "Air Mobility Command".

On 1 Oct 97, the unit began to transition from the C-141 to the McDonnell Douglas C-17 Globemaster III. The new aircraft had a greater strategic capability than the C-141 as well as tactical capabilities that were far beyond that of any other large transport. Already, the 701st has supported several operations in this new weapon system, including PHOENIX SCORPION in the Persian Gulf and ALLIED FORCE in Kosovo. After four years of hard training on the new system, the citizen soldiers of the 701st were called on again to support US operations following the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon. Initially on a voluntary basis, a large portion of the unit participated in Operation Enduring Freedom airlift missions into Southwest Asia. On 14 Feb 2003, the 701st was mobilized for the third time in its history to bolster forces now directed toward conducting Operation IRAQI FREEDOM. The squadron demobilized one year later, but has continued supporting both of those operations on a voluntary basis. Significant event: There are many significant events during this period. Several 701st AS aircrews participated in humanitarian operations involving airdrops of food in Afghanistan during 2001-02, as well as the historic airdrop of the 173rd Airborne Brigade into Northern Iraq. While the war was raging, crews supported humanitarian operations at home such as providing relief following Hurricanes "Katrina" and "Ike". The 701st Airlift Squadron came to the aid of thousands of refugees after the devastating Southeast Asia Tsunami and the catastrophic earthquake in Iran while also supporting State Department and White House missions all over the globe. The unit airlifted specialized Seismic Trucks following the Crandall Canyon mine disaster in Huntington, Utah. The 701 AS airlifted various space vehicles such as the fragile Mars Odyssey Lander and numerous high-value assets supporting the Strategic Defense Initiative.

The squadron was honored to be invited to participate in numerous historical commemorations including the 60th anniversary ceremonies of the 6 June 1944 landings in Normandy, France. In March 2007, we performed a ceremonial fly-over of Arlington National Cemetery during the internment of Brigadier General Howard E. Kreidler, who, as mentioned before was the first commander of the 701st back in 1943.

From moving USO troupes around the world to delivering forensic teams aiding the recovery and repatriation of fallen American warriors, the mission of the 701st Airlift Squadron continues on and on.

Commanders: Lt Col Howard E. Kreidler, by 25 Apr 1943; Maj Augustus C. Tracy, 11 Jan 1945; Maj Richard E. Critchfield, 6 Mar 1945; unkn, Apr-Sep 1945. Unkn, 12 Jul 1947-27 Jun 1949. Unkn, 8 Jul 1952-1954; Lt Col Douglas D. Beers, by Mar 1954-unkn. Lt Col Thomas L. Campbell, Jr, by Apr 1958-unkn; Lt Col Jimmy R. White, by Feb 1963; unkn, Jul 1963-15 Dec 1965. Unkn, 25 Sep 1970-1973; Col David Guminski, by Jul 1973; Lt Col Kenneth O. Mann, by Mar 1974; Lt Col Robert B. Devlin, by Jun 1978; Lt Col John B. Beason, by Jun 1981; Maj James M. McCormick, by Sep 1981; Lt Col Craig R. Smith, by Dec 1981; Col Douglas G. Riffey Jr., by Dec 1985; Lt Col Clark W. Schadle, 16 Oct 1986; Lt Col Stephen E. Holbert, 1 Dec 1988; Lt Col Richard C. Davis, 5 Aug 1990; Col Paul A. Ray, 15 Jul 1991; Lt Col John W. Matthews Jr., 16 Aug 1992; Lt Col James J. Emma, 28 Jan 1994; Lt Col Edward S. Stokes II, 30 Nov 1996; Lt Col Dale A. Wolfe, 13 Sep 1998; Lt Col Steven L. Lesniewski, 12 Aug 2000; Col David E. Wallis, 4 May 2002; Col Michael Speer, 12 Feb 2005; Col Michael Major, 5 Jan 2007; Lt Col Michael A. Zaccardo, 18 May 2008; Lt Col Richard J Bennett, 2012; Lt Col Thomas J McNamara, 2014; Lt Col Rick A Chadwick, 2016; - -                                                        (Help me to complete CC names ............send names).

Aircraft: B-24 Liberator 1943–1945; T-6 Texan 1952–1954; P-51 Mustang 1953–1954; T-33 Shooting Star 1954–1957; F-80 Shooting Star 1954–1956; T-28 Trojan 1955–1956; F-84 Thunderjet 1956–1957; C-119 Flying Boxcar 1957–1958; C-123 Provider 1958–1965; C-47 Skytrain 1962; C-141 Starlifter 1970–1997; C-17 Globemaster III 1997 – Present.


Campaign Streamers: Air Offensive Europe 1942-44; Normandy 1944; Northern France 1944; Rhineland 1944-45; Ardennes-Alsace 1944-45; Central Europe 1945;

Armed Forces Expeditionary Streamers: Panama 1989-90; Defense of Saudi Arabia 1990-91; Liberation and Defense of Kuwait 1991; Southwest Asia Ceasefire 1991

Unit Decorations: Distinguished Unit Citation: Gotha Germany 1944; Air Force Outstanding Unit Awards: 1972, 1973, 1982, 1983, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1995, 1996, 1997; French Croix de Guerre with Palm 1943-45; Republic of Vietnam Gallantry 1970-73

Emblem: The emblem is symbolic of the squadron and its mission. The turtle represents the reliable and trustworthy performance of the unit aircraft in safe and sure delivery, the load carried indicates the Airlift Mobility Command's mission of hauling cargo, transporting troops, and the headset symbolizes the constant alertness and attention to duty required of the assigned combat crews. The emblem bears the Air Force colors, ultramarine blue and golden yellow, and the national colors, red, white and blue. Note: The current emblem was selected during a unit competition and authorized in April 1960. The turtle reflected the assigned aircraft at the time, the C-123. The former unit emblem was one of many that were designed by "Disney" and given to the War Department by Walt Disney. It was authorized in 1944.