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440th Airlift Wing
440th Airlift Wing.png
440th Airlift Wing Insignia
Active 1949–1951; 1952–present
Country United States
Branch United States Air Force
Role Airlift
Part of USAF Reserve
Garrison/HQ Pope AFB, North Carolina
Decorations Presidential Unit Citation ribbon.svg DUC
Outstanding Unit ribbon.svg AFOUA
Vietnam gallantry cross unit award-3d.svg RVGC w/ Palm

The 440th Airlift Wing is a United States Air Force Reserve unit assigned to Twenty-Second Air Force. It is stationed at Pope Field, part of Fort Bragg in North Carolina.

The 440th Airlift Wing's mission in peacetime is to maintain readiness for its wartime mission of personnel and cargo movement and of combat formation airdrop of cargo and personnel. The unit is very active with Operation Iraqi Freedom, with its mission extending to the Middle East into Europe and the Pacific. Often its Airmen are deployed throughout the world to support Air Mobility Command's global reach mission. It works with the 43rd Airlift Group in this capacity.[1]


The 440th has one senior officer in charge of the wing and three group commanders (operations, maintenance and mission support) and 1 medical squadron commander who oversee the 19 units that make up the 440th. The units that make up the 440th are manned by about 1,400 reservists and civilians. About 220 of the civilians employed by the 440th are "ARTs", or Air Reserve Technicians. An ART's civilian job requires the man or woman to be a member of the Reserve.

The majority of Reserve training is completed during unit training assemblies or "UTA" weekends. Each reservist must complete one weekend a month of training each year. Besides two days of training each month Reservists must schedule and complete a minimum of 15 days of training during a calendar year. Reservists may also opt for additional training to attend schools, maintain flying proficiency or to support special projects.

Major components of the wing are:

36th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron
95th Airlift Squadron
  • 440th Maintenance Group
  • 440th Mission Support Group
  • 440th Medical Squadron


For additional lineage and history, see 440th Operations Group

The wing was activated as a Reserve Flying Training Group in 1947 at Minneapolis, Minn. Two years later, the unit’s mission changed and it was renamed the 440th Troop Carrier Wing. The wing’s remained in Minneapolis until November 1957 when it was transferred to the new Air Reserve Station in Milwaukee. After the move to Milwaukee, the 440th Troop Carrier Wing had the Fairchild C-119 Flying Boxcar aircraft assigned to the wing.

The 440th Troop Carrier Wing was called to active duty for one month (October–November 1962) during the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962. Milwaukee was a temporary home to some deployed nuclear capable B-47 Stratojets in during the crisis. Volunteer aircrews also supported military operations in the Dominican Republic in May 1965. Tragedy struck the wing on 5 June 1965 when a C-119 (Flight Number 680) under the command of Maj. Louis Giuntoli was lost without a trace in the infamous Bermuda Triangle area. Nine other wing members were on the plane.

Milwaukee reservists flew emergency supplies to snowbound Indian reservations in the western U.S. in December 1967. The 440th Troop Carrier Wing went through another name change in 1967 when it became the reserve 440th Tactical Airlift Wing. Wing personnel also flew equipment and supplies to Gulfport, Miss., in August 1969, after Hurricane Camille devastated the Gulf Coast. Wisconsin reservists efforts did not go unnoticed. The Air Force Association named the 440th as its Outstanding Reserve unit in 1963, 1964, 1966 and 1968.

The 440th in the 1970s

The decade began with a new unit being assigned to the 440th, the 928th Tactical Airlift Group in 1970. The relatively new name (Tactical Airlift Wing) and new unit (928th) were followed up with some more up-to-date equipment. The wing’s C-119s were replaced with C-130A Hercules transport planes in 1971.

Weather emergencies along the eastern U.S. coastline brought the 440th into action in February 1978. The wing flew more than 145 tons of equipment and supplies into several areas after severe blizzards brought life on the coast to a standstill.

The Air Force Reserve took on a new mission in 1979. In January of that year the 440th started a regular rotation with other Reserve and National Guard units that took them to Panama to support the operations of the U.S. Southern Command. Rotations to the Central American country lasted 2–3 weeks at a time.

The low point of the 1980s occurred on 22 January 1985 when C-130A (#56501) commanded by Maj. Mike Durante crashed in the sea off the northern coast of Honduras while trying to land at Trujillo, Honduras. The plane carried a seven-man crew and 14 passengers. There were no survivors.

The highlight of the 1980s was the arrival of factory fresh C-130H Hercules aircraft. The local Reserve Officers Association, the 440th Community Council and numerous civic leaders led the efforts to convince Washington authorities to equip the 440th with eight new C-130s. The appropriation was approved and the aircraft were delivered in 1989. The C-130As the wing had been flying were apparently not just old, but unique. One of the 440th’s C-130s was flown to Washington, D.C. and is now part of the Smithsonian’s aircraft collection. The first C-130H was dubbed “The Spirit of Wisconsin.”

The wing’s continuing record of outstanding performance was recognized in 1987 with the award of the Air Force Outstanding Unit Award.

The 95th TAS began the decade with honors when it was named the Best in AFRES with the award of the Grover Loening Trophy in 1990. Elements of the 440th were part of Operations Desert Shield in 1990 and Desert Storm in 1991. Aircraft, flight crews, maintenance specialists and a variety of support specialists deployed to operating locations in several Persian Gulf States where they provided airlift support to U.S. and coalition military forces. The aircraft and personnel were drawn from the wing’s units at Selfridge ANGB, Mich. (927th TAG), General Mitchell IAP-ARS (95th TAS) and O’Hare IAP, Chicago (928th TAG). The 927th performed the wing’s first tactical re-supply mission as part of Operation Desert Storm. The 440th Medical Squadron was activated in January 1991 and was deployed to Germany in anticipation of large numbers of casualties, which thankfully never occurred.

Post Cold War

The 440th Airlift Wing was one of many Reserve and Guard C-130 units that provided airlift support to NATO and U.S. operations in the Balkan region as part of Operation Provide Promise in 1993. The 440th swept almost all the C-130 honors at the 1993 Air Mobility Command rodeo. The wing was recognized as the Best of the Best in the competition.

The next two years were a busy operational period for the wing. The 440th took part in Operation Uphold Democracy (Haiti) and Operation Safe Borders (support of U.S. Army forces in Honduras while preparing a defense of the unit before the congressionally mandated Base Realignment and Closure Commission).

Operation Joint Endeavor took elements of the unit back to the Balkans in 1995 and 1996. Wing aircrews flew people and supplies into and out of embattled Bosnia. The 11,005 sq ft (1,022.4 m2). Aircraft Maintenance Shop (building 222) was also finished in 1996.

Tragedy came to the wing again in 1997 when a 440th C-130H (AF Ser. No. 88-4408) crashed while attempting to land at Tegucigalpa Airport in Honduras. Three members of the wing were killed in the accident.

The post Vietnam War reorganization of the armed services brought more change to the 440th. Tactical Air Command came to an end and the 440th became an Air Mobility Command gained unit on 1 April 1997.

Tragedies and operational changes did not dull the unit’s sharp operational edge. The 440th went through an operation readiness inspection at the Savannah Ga., Combat Readiness Training Center, and received the highest score of any Reserve unit in the previous two years.

The wing went on to show off its operational capabilities in the real during the next calendar year (1999) when the 440th provided 13 percent of the total Reserve and Air National Guard tactical airlift that flew relief supplies into Kosovo as part of Operation Shining Hope. The wing Balkan efforts were complemented by continued support of the Coronet Oak mission throughout 1999–2000. Flying operations had been moved from Panama to Puerto Rico but the mission continued.

The 11 September 2001 assault on America hurt the 440th as much as it did the rest of the country. The 440th Security Forces Squadron recalled almost the entire unit and was the first wing unit to deploy members on anti-terror operations. Security Forces Ravens were the first to deploy, but other members of the unit helped conduct prisoner transports from Afghanistan to Guantanamo Naval Station Cuba after Taliban resistance collapsed in Afghanistan. Security specialists were also heavily involved in providing base and personal security measures and anti-terror measures in Afghanistan and Iraq.

On 26 November 2003, two days before Thanksgiving, the wing received a mobilization order for more than 300 aircrew members, aircraft maintenance specialists and general support specialists. By 15 December, the wing had six aircraft and about 200 people in Kuwait with more than a dozen operation missions accomplished by that date. The Flying Badgers are still on the job in the Central Command area providing airlift support, superb aircraft maintenance and security training and support from the Horn of Africa to the high desert of Afghanistan. Since 2001, the 440th has deployed aircraft, crew and support personnel in support of Operations Noble Eagle, Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom.

In 2005, the 440th Airlift Wing was based at General Mitchell Air Reserve Station located at General Mitchell International Airport. Pursuant to a BRAC 2005 decision, General Mitchell ARS was realigned as General Mitchell Air National Guard Station, leaving the Wisconsin Air National Guard's 128th Air Refueling Wing and their KC-135 aircraft in place, and moving the 440th Airlift Wing and its C-130 aircraft to Pope Air Force Base, North Carolina. The wing started operations at Pope Air Force Base in 2006 and completed the move to Pope by October 2007. The first unit assembly at the new location was 1 October 2007. At the start of 2010 the 440th Airlift Wing has 16 C-130H models supporting world wide missions and providing training missions for the XVIII Airborne Corps and 82nd Airborne Division from Fort Bragg.

BRAC made the 440th Airlift Wing the first active associate unit in Air Force history. The Regular Air Force's 2nd Airlift Squadron and elements of the 43rd Airlift Wing's maintenance units, also based at Pope, are receiving operational direction from the 440th while flying and helping maintain the 16 C-130H2 Air Force Reserve Hercules aircraft.


  • Established as 440th Troop Carrier Wing, Medium on 10 May 1949
Activated in the Reserve on 27 June 1949
Ordered to active service on 1 May 1951
Inactivated on 4 May 1951
  • Redesignated 440th Fighter-Bomber Wing on 26 May 1952
Activated in the Reserve on 15 June 1952
Redesignated 440th Troop Carrier Wing, Medium on 8 September 1957
Ordered to Active Service on 28 October 1962
Relieved from Active Duty on 28 November 1962
Redesignated: 440th Tactical Airlift Wing on 1 July 1967
Redesignated: 440th Airlift Wing on 1 February 1992.








Much of this text in an early version of this article was taken from pages on the 440th Airlift Wing website, which as a work of the U.S. Government is presumed to be a public domain resource. That information was supplemented by:

  • 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.

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

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