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446th Airlift Wing
446th Airlift Wing - Boeing C-17A Lot XIV Globemaster III 02-1103.jpg
446th/62d Airlift Wing - C-17 Globemaster III 02-1103
Active 1 April 1943 (446 OG)
11 April 1955 — present (446 AW)
Country  United States
Branch  United States Air Force
Type Wing
Role Airlift
Part of AFR Shield.svg  Air Force Reserve Command
Garrison/HQ Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington
Tail Code Green tail stripe "McChord" in white
Decorations Outstanding Unit ribbon.svg AFOUA
Vietnam gallantry cross unit award-3d.svg RVGC w/ Palm
Colonel Bruce A. Bowers Jr.
446th Airlift Wing emblem 446th Airlift Wing.png
Aircraft flown
Transport C-17 Globemaster III

The 446th Airlift Wing (446 AW) 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 McChord Field, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington.

The 446th AW is an associate unit of the 62d Airlift Wing, Air Mobility Command (AMC) and if mobilized the wing is gained by AMC.

During World War II, its predecessor unit, the 446th Bombardment Group was an Eighth Air Force B-24 Liberator unit in England. Assigned to RAF Bungay in late 1943, the group led the Eighth Air Force and the 2d Bombardment Division on the first heavy bomber mission of D-Day. The group's 706th Bomb Squadron flew 62 consecutive missions and 707th Bomb Squadron had 68 missions without loss.


The 446th Airlift Wing is Washington State's only Air Force Reserve flying unit and is headquartered at Joint Base Lewis-McChord (McChord Field), Wash. The mission of the wing is to provide citizen warriors and maintain equipment to meet America's global airlift requirements.

The nearly 2,400 men and women assigned to the 446th AW support the Air Mobility Command mission around the world on a daily basis, performing 44 percent of all C-17 missions leaving McChord Field. The 446th AW is an associate unit of the 62d Airlift Wing at JBLM, and blends seamlessly into active-duty operations when called upon.[1]


The 446th Airlift Wing consists of the following major units:

97th Airlift Squadron
313th Airlift Squadron
728th Airlift Squadron
446th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron
  • 446th Mission Support Group
  • 446th Maintenance Group
  • 446th Aerospace Medicine Squadron
  • 446th Aeromedical Staging Squadron


For additional history and lineage, see 446th Operations Group

The 446th Airlift Wing was first activated in the Air Force Reserve in 1955 at Ellington Air Force Base, Texas as the 446th Troop Carrier Wing, Medium under the wing-base (Hobson Plan) organization. The 446th Troop Carrier Group was assigned as its operational component, equipped with C-46 Commando transports. The wing was assigned to Fourteenth Air Force and operationally gained by Tactical Air Command (TAC).

Cold War

The 446th TCW trained in troop carrier and tactical airlift operations, 1955-1972. The 446th was the first Air Force Reserve organization to implement the Air Reserve Technician (ART) plan, in 1958. By 1959, the wing transported and airdropped troops and supplies during training exercises. Wing reservists called to active duty during the 1968 Pueblo Crisis.[2]

The 446th flew experimental drop missions in support of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) from 1962-1967. They ferried C-130 Hercules transports to Taiwan in 1966 and to Southeast Asia, 1968-1970. The wing was inactivated in 1972.[2]

One year later the 446th was reactivated and redesignated the 446th Military Airlift Wing (Associate) at McChord AFB, Washington, being co-located with 62d Airlift Wing and used its aircraft. The wing flew special assignment, channel, and humanitarian airlift missions worldwide, and took part in joint and combined training exercises involving airlift of troops and cargo. Wing personnel also took part in Operation Babylift and the evacuation of Saigon in 1975, and in the evacuation of American dependents from Tehran, Iran, in 1979.[2]

In 1983, in support of the Grenada Operation, the 446th flew the 82d Airborne Division back to Fort Bragg, North Carolina. In 1986, crew from the 446th repatriated remains of American missing in action from Southeast Asia. The following year, the 40th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron (now 446th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron) and the 313th Airlift Squadron evacuated burn victims from a San Juan, Puerto Rico, hotel fire.[2]

December 1989 saw several 446th crews called to participate in Operation Just Cause in Panama, while in 1990, hundreds of 446th reservists were activated for Operation Desert Shield. In 1991, nearly 1,000 446th reservists were called to active duty in support of Operation Desert Storm. Hundreds more wing reservists were activated for duty at McChord. Wing reservists pitched into to assist survivors of Mount Pinatubo eruption in Operation Fiery Vigil. Then came Operation Provide Comfort where aircrews airlifted humanitarian aid to Iraqi Kurds.[2]

Post Cold War era

In 1992, the wing flew humanitarian relief missions to the former Soviet Union and also provided support to Operation Provide Hope. The wing also flew humanitarian relief supplies in for victims of Hurricane Andrew. In February 1992, the wing was re-designated again, this time as the 446th Airlift Wing.[2]

In 1993, Reservists from the 446th flew into war-torn Croatia as part of a huge relief effort. Two members of the 40th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron (now 446th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron) assisted in airlifting Army Warrant Officer Michael Durant out of Mogadishu, Somalia, after he was released from being held captive when his helicopter was shot down. An aircrew from the 97th Airlift Squadron flew into Kathmandu, Nepal, to provide humanitarian aid after two weeks of flooding cuts off supplies.[2]

As part of 1994's Operation Uphold Democracy, wing aircrews flew in support of Haitian intervention. Twenty-three medical professionals from the 446th Airlift Wing also spent their two-week annual tour in an isolated, Honduras village and provided medical and dental care while receiving training in the management of tropical diseases. The 446th also took part in Operation Support Hope, ferrying in supplies and food for Rwandan refugees.[2]

In 1995, the wing took part in Operation Safe Passage, in which Cuban refugees were repatriated from Panama to Cuba, and Operation Joint Endeavor where wing aircrews joined the effort to bring peace to war torn Bosnia. An aircrew from the 313th Airlift Squadron flew a 62-member Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) team into Oklahoma City four hours after the bombing of the federal building. Three days later, an aircrew from the 97th Airlift Squadron flew four badly needed special burn beds, and a box full of stuffed animals, to the Children's Hospital of Oklahoma City. That same year, the 728th Airlift Squadron flew into Hanoi, Vietnam, to repatriate the remains of 10 Americans who were listed as missing in action.[2]

In 1996, aircrews from the 446th Airlift Wing elect to stay on for extra duty flying out of Germany to allow active-duty aircrews to return to the United States as part of Operation Joint Endeavor. The 728th Airlift Squadron flew humanitarian aid to Chad in Africa as part of the Denton Amendment. The 728th also flew a team from the Puget Sound Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) to Atlanta to support the 1996 Summer Olympic Games.[2]

In 1997, the 728th AS flew into Beijing, China, to repatriate what is believed to be five service members listed as missing in action from World War II. Nearly 70 medical professionals from the 446th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron and 446th Aeromedical Staging Squadron were among 2,000 people participated in the massive medical exercise Patriot Medstar at Westover Air Reserve Base, MA. Aircrew members from the 313th AS and 728th AS airlifted four victims from the Korean Air jetliner crash in Guam to hospitals at Kelley AFB, Texas. Aircrews from all three flying squadrons flew supplies and equipment to Antarctica in Operation Deep Freeze, a presidential mandated mission to support the National Science Foundation's experiments at the South Pole. Aeromedical crews from the 446th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron flew their first C-17 aerovac mission airlifting an 8-month-old baby. One aeromedical aircrew from the 446th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron was called up to deploy to Southwest Asia in support of the military buildup in the Middle East.[2]

In 1999, a combined Air Force Reserve and active-duty C-141 aircrew from McChord scrambled to airdrop emergency medical supplies to the South Pole for a doctor who discovered a lump in her breast. The 97th Airlift Wing aircrew gained international attention as it airdropped six bundles of medical supplies as well as fresh fruit in outside temperatures of close to 100 below zero in the back of the C-141 with the doors open.[2]

On July 30, 1999, the first C-17 Globemaster III was delivered to McChord. The first plane that was accepted was production model P-52. The 728th Airlift Squadron is the first squadron to fly the C-17s. The first operational C-17 mission flown by the 728th was an historic repatriation flight to Hanoi, Vietnam, in November. The McChord reservists transported 11 sets of what are believed to be American servicemen from the Korean and Vietnam wars. It was the first time remains from two separate wars were repatriated at the same time. A news crew from CNN flew on the historic mission.[2]

In 2000, two C-17 pilots from the 728th Airlift Squadron flew U.S. military aircraft into Mozambique delivering critically needed aid to the flood victims in Southern Africa March 1. They delivered 85,000 pounds of supplies. That same year, Eight Air Force Reservists from the 446th Airlift Wing assisted in identifying the remains of the 19 Marines killed in April's MV-22 plane crash in Arizona. Aircrews from the 728th Airlift Squadron and 313th Airlift Squadrons also flew Army firefighters to Idaho and Montana to help battle the Western wildfires in the worst wildfire season to hit the United States in 50 years. Two members from the 446th Airlift Control Flight performed ground support for aircrews battling the wildfires in the West.[2]


  • Established as 446th Troop Carrier Wing, Medium on 11 April 1955
Activated in the Reserve on 25 May 1955
446th Troop Carrier Group, Medium assigned as subordinate unit
Group element inactivated 14 April 1959
Re-designated 446th Tactical Airlift Wing on 1 July 1967
Inactivated on 1 July 1972
  • Re-designated 446th Military Airlift Wing (Associate) on 29 January 1973
Activated in the Reserve on 1 July 1973
Re-designated: 446th Airlift Wing (Associate) on 1 February 1992
Group element re-designated 446th Military Airlift Group on 31 July 1985 (Remained inactive)
Re-designated: 446th Airlift Wing on 1 October 1994
Group element re-designated 446th Operations Group and re-activated in the Reserve on 1 August 1992


  • Fourteenth Air Force, 25 May 1955
  • Tenth Air Force, 25 March 1958
  • Fourth Air Force Reserve Region, 1 September 1960
  • Central Air Force Reserve Region, 31 December 1969 – 1 July 1972
  • Western Air Force Reserve Region, 1 July 1973
  • Fourth Air Force, 8 October 1976–present






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

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