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434th Air Refueling Wing
KC-135R Stratotankers of the 434th ARW
Active 9 February 1943 (434 OG)
1 July 1949-Present (434 ARW)
Country  United States
Branch  United States Air Force
Type Wing
Role Air Refueling
Part of AFR Shield.svg  Air Force Reserve Command
Garrison/HQ Grissom Air Reserve Base, Indiana
Tail Code "Grisson" tail stripe
Decorations Presidential Unit Citation ribbon.svg DUC
Outstanding Unit ribbon.svg AFOUA
Ruban de la croix de guerre 1939-1945.PNG FCdG w/ Palm
Vietnam gallantry cross unit award-3d.svg RVGC w/ Palm
Colonel Douglas J. Schwartz
434th Air Refueling Wing emblem 434 Air Refueling Wg.jpg
Aircraft flown
Tanker KC-135R Stratotanker

The 434th Air Refueling Wing (434 ARW) is an Air Reserve Component (ARC) of the United States Air Force. It is assigned to the Fourth Air Force, Air Force Reserve Command, stationed at Grissom Air Reserve Base, Indiana. If mobilized, the Wing is gained by the Air Mobility Command.

The unit's World War II predecessor unit, the 434th Troop Carrier Group was a C-47 Skytrain transport unit assigned to Ninth Air Force in Western Europe. The group flew combat paratroopers on airborne assaults on Normandy (Operation Overlord); Southern France (Operation Dragoon); Holland (Operation Market-Garden), and Germany (Operation Varsity). It also flew combat resupply missions in the relief of Bastogne in 1945.


The 434th Air Refueling Wing principal mission is air refueling. The wing enhances the Air Force's capability to accomplish its primary missions of Global Reach and Global Power. It also provides aerial refueling support to Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps aircraft as well as aircraft of allied nations. The wing is also capable of transporting litter and ambulatory patients using patient support pallets during aeromedical evacuations.

It also has special taskings to generate aircraft and crews in support of the Air Mobility Command. Headquarters Air Force Reserve Command, Robins Air Force Base, Ga., and 4th Air Force, March Air Force Base, Ca., provide command and supervisory guidance prior to mobilization.

The 434th Air Refueling Wing regularly participates in exercises and front-line operations to support America's national interests. The Air Force Reserve Command provides a substantial portion of the Department of Defense's total aerial refueling capability. Hence, the 434th receives its share of taskings both during peacetime and times of crisis to support our nation's active duty military forces. It holds the record for most aerial refuelings in a one-week period when the unit performed 290 aerial refuelings, with over one million pounds of fuel offloaded. The unit also set a single day record of refueling 90 aircraft, with over 283,000 pounds of fuel offloaded. These records were established in 1981.

In addition to being a self-contained combat-ready unit, the 434th Air Refueling Wing also has the responsibility to operate and maintain Grissom Air Reserve Base. Grissom is one of only four Air Force Reserve Bases nationwide


The 434th Air Refueling Wing consists of the following major units:

72d Air Refueling Squadron (KC-135R) (Blue tail stripe)
74th Air Refueling Squadron (KC-135R) (Red tail stripe)
  • 434th Maintenance Group
  • 434th Mission Support Group
  • 434th Medical Group

Included in these major organizations are such areas as flight operations, aircraft maintenance, plans and programs, safety, airfield management, security police, communications, medical support, information management, administration, and civil engineering.


for World War II history and lineage, see 434th Operations Group

The 434th Troop Carrier Wing, Medium was established and activated on 1 July 1949 in the Air Force Reserve at the new Atterbury Air Force Base, Indiana. The Indianapolis-based 434th Troop Carrier Group, Medium. was moved to Atterbury on 1 July 1949 and assigned as the wing's operational component. The group had 4 C-47 Skytrain squadrons, the 71st, 72d, 73d and 74th Troop Carrier Squadrons.

Cold War

At Atterbury, the wing served as a training organization for the Air Force Reservists. Most of the training was accomplished on weekends. In August 1949 the group converted to C-46 Commandoes, and training for the most part consisted of transition flying training. Before the transition was completed, the Group spent two weeks in the summer of 1950 (8–22 July) on active duty in a summer encampment.

With the start of the Korean War, the 434th was called to active duty on 2 May 1951, being assigned to Tactical Air Command. When activated, its four troop-carrier squadrons were reduced to three, the 74th TCS being inactivated upon activation. After receiving its initial training at Atterbury AFB, the Wing was moved to Lawson AFB, Georgia to support Army Airborne Forces training at Fort Benning. The Wing was assigned to the Eighteenth Air Force and served on active duty for 21 months before returning to Reserve status and once again coming back to Indiana.

The 434th returned to its previous training role upon its return. On 13 November 1954, the base was renamed Bakalar Air Force Base in a formal dedication ceremony in honor of First Lieutenant John Edmond Bakalar. Throughout the 1950s, the 434th TCW performed routine reserve training at Bakalar. In 1957, the wing transitioned from C-46 Commandos to the Fairchild C-119 Flying Boxcar. C-119's were flown by the 434th until the base was closed in 1970. 1959 saw the 434th Troop Carrier Group being inactivated on 14 April, its squadrons being assigned directly to the wing under the tri-deputate organization adopted by the wing. The 2466th Air Force Reserve Combat Training Center was inactivated on 1 July 1959 due to budget reductions, its mission being folded into that of the 434th TCW. During the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, the 434th TCW was activated and brought under the operational control of Nineteenth Air Force, Tactical Air Command. The wing's C-119 squadrons began transporting supplies, equipment and Army personnel to Homestead Air Force Base, Florida. The 73d Troop Carrier Squadron was deployed to Scott Air Force Base, Illinois, where it operated from during the crisis. In December 1962, the wing was returned to control of the Fifth Air Force Reserve Region and resumed reserve training. In 1963, the 434th TCW was reorganized with the addition of three new reserve troop carrier groups being placed under its control. The 930th, 931st and 932d Troop Carrier Groups were activated and assigned on 11 February. The Wing's squadrons were divided between the three new groups, the 71st TCS being reassigned to the 930th TCG; the 72d to the 931st TGG, and the 73d to the 932d TCG. All were equipped with Wing's former C-119 Boxcars. On 1 October 1966, the 932d TCG was released from assignment to the 434th TCW and reassigned to the 442d Military Airlift Wing at Richards-Gebaur AFB, Missouri, in preparation for heavy cargo operations. On 1 July 1967, the 434th was re-designated the 434th Tactical Airlift Wing, its subordinate groups and squadrons also being re-designated as Tactical Airlift units. On 13 May 1968, the 930th Tactical Airlift Group was activated for combat duty in the Vietnam War, the 71st TAS's C-119 aircraft were selected for modification to the AC-119G Gunship configuration with powerful searchlights and rapid-fire machine guns. The group and its Bakalar Reservists were reassigned to Lockbourne AFB, Ohio on 11 June. The 71st was subsequently re-designated as the 71st Air Commando Squadron (ACS) on 15 June and eventually was deployed to Nha Trang Air Base, South Vietnam on 5 December where it was assigned to the 14th Special Operations Wing. Subsequently re-designated as a Special Operations Squadron, the 71st flew combat operations in South Vietnam until 5 June 1969 when its reservists were returned to the United States. The 71st SOS was the only USAF reserve unit to serve in Vietnam; its AC-119s remained in South Vietnam, being transferred to the 17th Special Operations Squadron.

The major command at Bakalar was changed from Continental Air Command (ConAc) to the Air Force Reserve (AFRES) on 1 August 1968, at the time a field operating agency. The 434th TAW, however, remained as part of the Fifth Air Force Reserve Region.

In 25 June 1969, the 931st Tactical Airlift Group was re-designated as the 931st Tactical Air Support Group, its 72d Tactical Airlift Squadron being re-designated and re-equipped with U-3A "Blue Canoe" light utility aircraft. The 931st TASG mission was charged with tactical air support. The group's C-119s being reassigned to the 71st Special Operations Squadron and modified to the AC-119G configuration.

Due to funding reductions in 1969, Bakalar Air Force Base was selected for closure. The 434th Tactical Airlift Wing was inactivated on 31 December 1969 with the closure of Bakalar AFB.

On 15 January 1971, the 434th was reactivated at Grissom AFB, Indiana, as the 434th Special Operations Wing. Its operational squadron was the 71st Special Operations Squadron, with the AC-119s transferred from Bakalar AFB. The 434th SOW conducted routine reserve training until 30 September 1973 when its 71st SOS was inactivated and its AC-119s retired. The wing was redesignated as the 434th Tactical Fighter Wing with a new tactical air operation mission. The 45th and 46th Tactical Fighter Squadron were equipped with A-37 Dragonfly aircraft for close air support missions. The 46th TFW was inactivated on 1 July 1978. The 434th TFW provided combat crew training for USAF and friendly foreign nations until June 1980. The A-37s were then transferred to other units.

In April 1981, the 434th received the A-10 Thunderbolt II aircraft and the wing's mission changed to training forward air controllers (FACs). The 45th TFS provided A-10 tactical fighter training for reserve and guard pilots until June 1987 when the squadron was reassigned to the 930th Tactical Fighter Group at Grissom, which was assigned to the 434th as a subordinate unit until 30 September 1994 when it was inactivated.

Post Cold War era

Reflecting the 434th's composite mission, the 434th TRW was re-designated as the 434th Wing on 1 August 1992 and also implemented the Objective Organization Plan. The 434th Operations Group and activated that date. This new unit, the 434th Wing, consisted of KC-135 Stratotanker and A-10 Thunderbolt II aircraft and was responsible for aerial refueling and close air support missions. Changes in the Air Force mission led to the unit being reorganized once again. The 1993 Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) directed realignment of Grissom AFB to the Air Force Reserve. It the assumed KC-135s of the active-duty 305th Air Refueling Wing, which was moved to McGuire AFB, New Jersey as a KC-10 Extender wing. The 74th Air Refueling Squadron being reactivated and assigned to the 424th OG With the transfer of the A-10 equipped 930th TFG on 30 September 1994, the wing was again re-designated as the 434th Air Refueling Wing on 1 October 1994. During the December 1993 to February 1997 time period, the wing staged four separate deployments to Europe to support Operation Decisive Endeavor, the United Nation's enforcement of the no-fly zone over war-torn Bosnia. In May 1999, the 434th ARW was called upon to provide aerial refueling support to Operation Allied Force as personnel and aircraft were deployed to various European locations. In 1997 Grissom AFB was reassigned to the newly established Air Force Reserve Command.

Global War on Terrorism

Today the 434th. Today, the 434th ARW is one of the Air Force's busiest Air Refueling reorganizations, frequently deploying its aircraft around the world to support combat forces as part of the Global War on Terrorism. Most recently, the wing was mobilized in support of Operations Noble Eagle, Enduring Freedom, and Iraqi Freedom.


  • Established as 434th Troop Carrier Wing, Medium, and activated in the Reserve, on 1 July 1949
434th Troop Carrier Group, Medium assigned as subordinate unit
Ordered to Active Service on 1 May 1951
Inactivated on 1 February 1953
  • Activated in the Reserve on 1 February 1953
Group element inactivated 14 April 1959
Ordered to Active Service on 28 October 1962
Relieved from Active Duty on 28 November 1962
Re-designated 434th Tactical Airlift Wing on 1 July 1967
Inactivated on 31 December 1969
  • Re-designated 434th Special Operations Wing on 12 January 1971
Activated in the Reserve on 15 January 1971
Re-designated: 434th Tactical Fighter Wing on 1 October 1973
Group element re-designated 434th Tactical Fighter Group on 31 July 1985 (Remained inactive)
Re-designated: 434th Air Refueling Wing, Heavy on 1 July 1987
Re-designated: 434th Air Refueling Wing on 1 February 1992
Re-designated: 434th Wing on 1 August 1992
Group element re-designated 434th Operations Group and re-activated in the Reserve on 1 August 1992
Re-designated: 434th Air Refueling Wing on 1 October 1994.







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

  • Ravenstein, Charles A. (1984). Air Force Combat Wings Lineage and Honors Histories 1947–1977. Maxwell AFB, Alabama: Office of Air Force History. ISBN 0-912799-12-9.
  • Rogers, Brian (2005). United States Air Force Unit Designations Since 1978. Hinkley, England: Midland Publications. ISBN 1-85780-197-0.
  • Maurer, Maurer (1983). Air Force Combat Units Of World War II. Maxwell AFB, Alabama: Office of Air Force History. ISBN 0-89201-092-4

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