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908th Airlift Wing Mission

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The 908th is composed of the following units plus a small headquarters element: the 908th Aeromedical Staging Squadron; 908th Operations Group and its associated units 357th Airlift Squadron, 908th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron and 908th Operations Support Flight; 908th Maintenance Group and its associated units 908th Maintenance Squadron, 908th Maintenance Operations Flight and 908th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron; and 908th Mission Support Group and its associated units 908th Mission Support Squadron, 908th Logistics Readiness Squadron, 908th Civil Engineering Squadron, 908th Security Forces Squadron, 25th Aerial Port Squadron, 908th Communications Flight and 908th Services Flight. In carrying out their training, these units provide direct support to the active-duty components of the Army and Air Force.

The 908th operates a fleet of eight C-130H Hercules cargo aircraft. Known as the "workhorse of the Air Force," this plane can carry 42,000 pounds of cargo, 92 troops, 64 paratroops or 74 litter patients. It can fly up to 386 mph with a range of 5,200 miles.

The wing has approximately 1,200 officers and Airmen who serve the unit as reservists, normally spending one weekend a month and two weeks of annual tour per year with the unit. The day-to-day operations of the 908th are handled by a group of 175 civil servants known as Air Reserve Technicians, who also serve as reservists, and a small number of civilian employees who do not have Reserve status.

Recent Operational Activities

Every day 908th reservists are training and performing missions in support of U.S. humanitarian and peacekeeping efforts worldwide.

In February 2008, the 908th deployed aircraft, operations and maintenance people to Operation Iraqi Freedom, becoming the first AFRC C-130 unit to rotate on shorter more Reserve friendly tours, providing airlift support for U.S. Central Command using volunteers serving tours lasting approximately one month.

From February to September 2008, about 50 security forces members participated in a six-month deployment to Kirkuk Regional Air Base, Iraq, serving with distinction in a large expeditionary security forces unit comprised of Airmen from throughout the Air Force responsible for protecting Kirkuk and its 5,000 personnel.

Similarly, 25th Aerial Port Squadron, 908th Aeromedical Staging Squadron and the 908th Services Flight members completed 120-day deployments from May to September 2008 supporting Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom.

About 25 aerial porters -- 20 at Kirkuk at 5 at Bagram AB, Afghanistan-- moved people and cargo in and out of the war zone while 13 medical practitioners worked areas such as supply, intensive care unit, nursing administration, contingency aeromedical staging facility (CASF) or as a civilian/military liaisons at Joint Base Balad, Iraq. The Balad hospital was the busiest trauma center in the world and served as the coalition medical hub for all of Iraq. Fifteen Services Airmen supported the Joint Base Balad populace by delivering superior quality of life programs during their 120-day deployment.

From the war-ravaged mountains and deserts of Afghanistan and Iraq to the U.S. Gulf Coast decimated by Hurricane Katrina, the men of women of the 908th Airlift Wing served with remarkable distinction, dedication, and superb ability to accomplish the mission under the most adverse conditions, earning an Air Force Outstanding Unit Award for the two year period from October 2003 to September 2005.

Since the events of Sept. 11, 2001, more than 500 wing reservists have participated in the nation's Global War on Terror, serving at stateside and overseas locations. The largest contingent of reservists, nearly 250 unit personnel, were called to active duty in December 2003 to support combat operations in Afghanistan, with more than 180 aircrew members and maintenance and support personnel deploying to Central Asia.

Subsequently, the 908th Airmen relocated to provide airlift support to Operation Iraqi Freedom. The call up lasted nearly two years, ending in November 2005. During that period, wing aircrews flew more than 10,000 hours, including 7,000 hours in and around Afghanistan and Iraq.

In addition to the two-year activation, the 908th AW reached unparalleled heights in hurricane disaster relief, new facility construction, manning and mentoring, and community involvement; received its best report to date for a Unit Compliance Inspection (UCI) from the Air Force Reserve Command (AFRC) Inspector General in October 2007; demonstrated flawless combat readiness to the Air Mobility Command Inspector General in its first Expeditionary Operational Readiness Inspection (IGX) in October 2004 and fulfilled all Air Force Air Expeditionary Force (AEF) requirements.

Each year, normally in June and September, the 908th supports the Coronet Oak mission. Coronet Oak is the continuing operation in which Reserve and Air National Guard C-130 aircraft, aircrews and related support personnel deploy from the United States to provide theater airlift support for the U.S. Southern Command. Coronet Oak has given Southern Command a quick response force of airlift planes since the late 1970's, first out of Howard AFB, Panama, and since 1999 when Howard closed, out of Muniz Air National Guard Base, Puerto Rico. The Guard and Reserve support the Coronet Oak mission year round. Units rotate in and out of Muniz ANGB every two weeks.

Similarly, each year, usually in April and December, about 60 908th AW Reservists and two aircraft are dispatched to Ramstein Air Base, Germany three weeks to support the Joint Enterprise mission, spending three weeks operating out of Ramstein Air Base, Germany. Joint Enterprise (formerly called Joint Endeavour and/or Operation Joint Forge), is the humanitarian and peacekeeping effort in the former Yugoslavian Republics. Air Force Reserve Command's C-130 units regularly support airlift requirements for Joint Enterprise and others within the European theater.

Within two days of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, 26 908th Security Forces Squadron members were called to active duty primarily augmenting the security forces at Maxwell and Gunter in their heightened security efforts. On Nov. 8, 52 908th SFS personnel joined the legions of reservists and Guard members called to active duty in support of the homeland defense effort, Operation Noble Eagle.

In May 2001, 65 members of the 908th Airlift Wing deployed to Puerto Rico in support of Consequence Island - a weapons of mass destruction training exercise designed to test U.S. military units and federal agencies on their ability to care for and relocate hundreds of patients. As lead wing for Air Force Reserve Command, the 908th organized and managed airlift operations and coordinated much of the Air Force involvement in the exercise

In November 2000, the 908th Airlift Wing hosted four other AFRC units for Super Tac 2000, the command's second C-130 airdrop training exercise. The first, AFRC's largest, was held here in November 1997. In August 2000 the 908th and other Reserve C-130 units participated in Operation Joint Guard. Aircrews provided airlift support to peacekeeping troops in the Balkans.

In May 2000 during Air Mobility Expeditionary Rodeo 2000, the Air Mobility Command sponsored airlift and tanker competition, a 908th aircrew competed against reserve, active duty, Air National Guard and international teams and came away with the Best C-130/160 title.

Nearly one fourth of the wing (255 personnel) deployed in support of Aerospace Expeditionary Force Cycle 1 taskings Oct. 1, 1999 through Nov. 30, 2000.

During April through August 1999, Air Force Reserve Command C-130 units, alongside their active duty and Air National Guard counterparts, supported North Atlantic Treaty Organization efforts to provide humanitarian aid for Kosovo refugees. Based out of Rhein-Main Air Base, Germany, the Air Force Reserve aircrews airlifted more than 7,550 passengers, 3,865 tons of cargo and flew 756 sorties and 2,127 hours.

During March through June 1999, Reservists supported Operation Allied Force, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization air campaign to halt ethnic fighting in Kosovo. Under Presidential Selective Recall Authority issued in April 1999, 2,098 reservists were authorized for active duty service; 1,291 were mobilized and 875 deployed overseas. The mobilized reservists came from air refueling, rescue, and airborne warning and air control units. Reserve volunteers, plus individual mobilization augmentees recalled to active duty also provided invaluable support.

November 1998 through January 1999, 908th Airlift Wing and other AFRC volunteers assisted in relief and recovery efforts following the destruction wrought by Hurricane Mitch throughout Central America in late October. Reservists airlifted food, water, clothing, and medical and building supplies. During this period, the Reservists delivered more than 10.2 million pounds of cargo.

Airlifters from Way Back (908AW History)

The 908th Airlift Wing has airlifted everything from a battleship bell to the U.S. mail, from a bagpipe band to screw worm flies.

The 908th has survived relocations, mission changes, aircraft changes and even an aircraft crash back in the unit's C-119 transport days. These challenges, though they took their toll at the time, produced more than their share of success stories -- and, yes, even a hero or two.

Established as the 908th Troop Carrier Group at Bates Field, Mobile, Ala., on Feb. 11, 1963, the unit flew C-119 "Flying Boxcars," a two-engine transport aircraft that could fly as slowly as 85 mph.

In October 1964, the unit moved to Brookley Air Force Base, also in Mobile. There, the 908th built a substantial record of humanitarian airlifts, as well as taking care of regular cargo and mail missions to free Military Airlift Command aircraft committed to Southeast Asia.

On July 16, 1966, a 908th C-119 crashed near Jacksonville, Fla., after losing an engine in a fire. The four crewmen and all 30 Florida National Guard members on board bailed out safely, thanks to the pilot, Maj. Robert C. Coyle of Biloxi, Miss. Before ditching the aircraft, Major Coyle saw to it that every passenger and his three crewmen had jumped. For his heroism, he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Florida Cross.

In February 1969, another move was announced. The 908th would move to Maxwell Air Force Base, Montgomery, Ala., the following spring and fly the small, twin-engine U-3H, a forward control aircraft. The 800-member unit dropped down to a mere 275 people. However, another change was planned: to switch from the U-3H to the O-2A, another twin-engine forward air control aircraft.

A year after the March 1970 conversion to O-2As, word arrived that the unit would convert to A-37 jets. Amidst plans for receiving the jets, there was yet another change: the 908th would return to the airlift business flying the C-7A Caribou, a twin-engine utility transport. In December 1971, the 908th was renamed a tactical airlift group, and the first "Bou" came on board in March 1972.

As though making up for lost time, the 908th declared itself combat ready in February 1973 - the first C-7 unit in the Reserve to achieve that status. A golden period for the unit was in full swing. In its nearly 10 years in the C-7, the 908th won three Air Force Outstanding Unit Awards and dozens of other unit and individual honors. Most important, however, was the unit's outstanding safety record. To date, the unit has accumulated more than 133,000 accident-free flying hours at Maxwell.

In October 1983, the 908th converted to C-130E Hercules aircraft. In less than three years, the unit received the brand new C-130H, beginning in June 1986. The busy learning period in the new aircraft culminated in May 1987 at the international Airlift Rodeo competition at Pope Air Force Base, N.C., where the 908th placed as first overall C-130 unit in the world, and fourth place overall among all aircraft competing. This winning tradition has continued in recent years with 908th people and units bringing home many top honors.

908th Airlift Wing, Air Force Reserve Command
401 W. Maxwell Blvd., Maxwell AFB, Ala. 36112-6501
(334) 953-6804

(Current as of May 2016)