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302d Airlift Wing
302d Airlift Wing.png
Active 28 January 1942 — present
Country  United States
Branch  United States Air Force
Type Airlift
Part of Air Force Reserve Command
Garrison/HQ Peterson Air Force Base
Decorations Outstanding Unit ribbon.svg AFOUA
Vietnam gallantry cross unit award-3d.svg RVGC w/ Palm
Colonel Jack H. Pittman Jr.
Joseph J. Nazzaro

C-130 with Pikes Peak in the background

The 302d Airlift Wing (302 AW) is an Air Reserve Component (ARC) of the United States Air Force. It is assigned to the Twenty-Second Air Force, Air Force Reserve Command, stationed at Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado.[1]


The mission of the 302d AW is to provide superior global reach. The primary operational mission of the 302d AW is tactical airlift and airdrop. The wing also has the specialized mission of Modular Airborne Fire Fighting System (MAFFS), as well as an aeromedical evacuation mission, which was added in April 2008.[1]


  • 302d Operations Group (302 OG)
731st Airlift Squadron (731 AS)
52nd Airlift Squadron (52 AS - Active Duty)
  • 302d Maintenance Group (302 MXG)
  • 302d Mission Support Group (302 MSG)


During World War II, the 302d trained bombardment crews for combat duty.

C-130 preparing to leave on a deployment

C-130 flightdeck

C-130 at Sather Air Base, Iraq

It conducted airlift training as a reserve corollary unit of 62nd Troop Carrier Wing from June 1949-May 1950, and of the 325th Fighter-Interceptor Wing from May 1950-June 1951. It trained as a reserve troop carrier wing from June 1952. The 302d began flying airlift operations in the mid-1950s and was placed on active duty during the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962. By the mid-1960s, wing aircraft and crews performed worldwide airlift missions and participated in numerous tactical exercises.

C-130 training to fight wildfires with the MAFFS system

From April 1968 to March 1973 the wing provided AC-119 gunship training for pilots, navigators, flight engineers, and mechanics of USAF active units and personnel from Jordan, Morocco, Ethiopia, and South Vietnam. The wing assumed a rotational airlift task in support of USAF Southern Command from April 1973 through January 1976. Also in April 1973, the wing assumed an aerial spraying mission with UC-123 aircraft, which frequently took wing crews to Central America, the Caribbean, the Azores, North Africa, islands of the Pacific, and to many U.S. points for insect-spraying missions.

Beginning in April 1985, the wing trained to airlift and airdrop troops, equipment, and supplies in a tactical theater. It took part in training and mobility exercises within the United States and to Britain and Panama. It practiced for aeromedical evacuation missions. During the late 1980s and 1990s, the wing transported fire fighters and their equipment and supplies to fight wildfires in western states, delivered relief supplies to hurricane victims, and participated in other humanitarian airlifts and various global contingency operations. The 302d was most recently activated in support of U.S. Central Command operations in Southwest Asia in 2005-2006. In the summer of 2008, two C-130 aircraft and aircrews deployed to Southwest Asia. Other units within the 302d have also deployed, including the 302d Security Forces Squadron, which deployed Airmen in the summer of 2008. Later in the spring of 2009, members of the 302d Civil Engineer Squadron deployed as well. Both units were deployed to Kirkuk Regional Air Base, Iraq.

In October 2009, the 52d Airlift Squadron stood up as an Active-Associate unit under the 302d Operations Group. The unit, a regular Air Force squadron consisting of Active-Duty Airmen, is assigned to the 19th Airlift Wing at Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas. Personnel are integrated with reserve members to fly and maintain the wing's assigned aircraft.[2]

The 302d also provides training, crews, and aircraft in cooperation with the U.S. Forest Service to operate MAFFS-equipped C-130s to combat wildfires.[3] It is the only reserve unit that maintains this capability.

Notable Incidents

On 13 May 1995, aircraft 62-1838, callsign "SUMIT38", with six people aboard, caught fire approximately 45 miles east of Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho, after ferrying firefighters to Gowen Field at Boise Airport.[4]

The number two engine incorrectly signaled an under temperature reading, causing the flight engineer to enrich the fuel mixture to that engine, leading to an actual over temperature situation. The engine caught fire, and after two attempts by one of the flight crew to quench the fire, the engine reignited causing SUMIT38 to fall 26,000 feet to the ground, killing its six crew members.[5]

The six crew members of SUMIT38 were:
Lieutenant Colonel Robert "Bob" Buckout, Aircraft Commander
First Lieutenant Lance Dougherty, Pilot
Captain Geoff Boyd, Navigator
Chief Master Sergent "Jimmy" Vail, Flight Engineer
Master Sergent Jay Kemp, Loadmaster
Staff Sergent Micheal Lynn Scheideman, Loadmaster

A memorial at Peterson AFB, Colorado, was dedicated to the crew on the 10th anniversary of the crash in May 2005. Several stones, placards and flags are occasionally replaced at the actual crash site, near Bliss, Idaho, by well-wishers, recovery crew, and family members of the crew.[5][6]


  • Established as 302d Troop Carrier Wing, Medium, on 16 May 1949
Activated in the Reserve on 27 June 1949
Re-designated as 302d Troop Carrier Wing, Heavy on 28 January 1950
Ordered to active service on 1 June 1951
Inactivated on 8 June 1951
  • Re-designated as 302d Troop Carrier Wing, Medium on 26 May 1952
Activated in the Reserve on 14 June 1952
Ordered to active service on 28 October 1962
Relieved from active duty on 28 November 1962
Re-designated as: 302d Tactical Airlift Wing on 1 July 1967
Re-designated as: 302d Special Operations Wing on 1 July 1970
Re-designated as: 302d Tactical Airlift Wing on 2 August 1971
Inactivated on 1 April 1981
  • Activated in the Reserve on 1 April 1985
Re-designated as: 302d Airlift Wing on 1 February 1992.


Attached to: 62d Troop Carrier Wing, 27 June 1949 – 5 May 1950
Attached to: 325th Fighter-All Weather Wing, 6 May 1950-
Remained attached to 325th Fighter-All Weather [later, 325th Fighter-Interceptor] Wing to 8 June 1951






 This article incorporates public domain material from the Air Force Historical Research Agency website

  • Maguire, Jon A. and the Men of the 27th ATG. Gooney Birds and Ferry Tales: The 27th Air Transport Group in World War II. Atglen, Pennsylvania: Schiffer Publishing, 1998. ISBN 0-7643-0592-1.

External links

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