Oldest airlift unit calls JB MDL home

Post date: Mar 7, 2016 2:13:01 AM

by Airman Ryan Throneberry

Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst Public Affairs

11/21/2011 - JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, N.J. -- Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst is home to the 6th Airlift Squadron which has served with distinction since Oct. 14, 1933, making it the oldest airlift squadron in the Air Force.

The 6th AS is a historic unit, celebrating more than 75 years of service to the U.S. through transporting troops and supplies worldwide.

The current mission for the men and women of the 6th AS is to train and equip C-17 Globemaster III aircrews for global air and land operations for some of the most-demanding missions in Air Mobility Command.

The 6th AS is the only airlift squadron in the Air Force whose nickname harkens back to its historic first mission during World War II.

"The Bully Beef Express" is a nickname which dates back to World War II when the 6th AS became the first personnel transport squadron to fly in the Pacific. The assignment was to transport several tons of boiled beef to allied combat troops in Australia and New Guinea. The French referred to this as "bouilli boef". The American warfighters took a liking to this name and put their own twist on it, thus "The Bully Beef Express" was born. The nickname stuck and the unit patch has largely remained unchanged from the original concept.

"There is pride and heritage that comes with this patch," said Lt. Col. Doug Hall, 6th AS commander. "This is the oldest and arguably the best airlift squadron in the Air Force."

The 6th AS has collected many campaign streamers and distinguished unit citations throughout its long history to include four Presidential Unit Citations for operations in World War II and the Korean War.

"A great thing about this squadron from the enlisted perspective is that it's a unit recognized around the world and everyone here is proud of that," said Senior Master Sgt. Troy Coville, 6th AS superintendant. "Everywhere we go, we leave our mark because we do well."

The 6th AS has taken part in many important operations during the lifespan of the Air Force including missions involving nuclear weapons. The Bully Beef Express participated in the largest nuclear weapons movement in U.S. history in 1991 and 1992. The 6th AS ended its 22-year nuclear airlift mission in December 1993.

The mission and aircraft have changed over the years, but the quality and intensity in which the 6th AS personnel perform their duties has not.

"We are the masters of all trades when it comes to air and land mobility," said Maj. Marc Greene, 6th AS operations officer. "We support the warfighter in combat operations, medical evacuation operations, high level distinguished visitor transport and presidential support. There's really not much we can't do."

The 6th AS unique mission of escorting people of interest on a regular basis set them apart from other airlift squadrons.

Hall said since his tenure with the 6th AS, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden has flown three times to Iraq on the C-17s. Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Leon Panetta, Secretary of Defense, both took their first trip downrange with the 6th AS.

The 6th AS not only transports military leaders, it produces them. Gen. Raymond Johns, AMC commander, was assigned to the 6th AS from 1982 to 1984 as a company grade officer where he served as an executive officer.

Coville mentioned despite the highly-visible nature of the distinguished-visitor mission, every mission undertaken by the 6th AS is completed with the utmost professionalism and dedication. He added that is why the 6th AS will continually be called upon to take on these challenging missions.