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452d Air Mobility Wing
A 452d AMW C-17 Globemaster III from March ARB

452d Air Mobility Wing - KC-135 Stratotanker.jpg

A March Air Reserve Base KC-135 extends its refueling boom for display during the March Field AirFest 2012, held May 19–20, 2012.
Active 27 June 1949 — present
Country  United States
Branch  United States Air Force
Type Wing
Role Airlift/Air Refueling
Part of AFR Shield.svg  Air Force Reserve Command
Garrison/HQ March Air Reserve Base, California
Tail Code Gold/Red tail stripe "March" in white
World War II Victory Medal ribbon.svg
European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign ribbon.svg KSMRib.svg Vietnam Service Ribbon.svg
  • World War II
European Campaign (1943–1945)
  • Korean Service (1950–1952)
  • Vietnam Service (1968–1971)
Decorations Presidential Unit Citation ribbon.svg DUC
Outstanding Unit ribbon.svg AFOUA
Presidential Unit Citation (Korea).svg ROK PUC
Vietnam gallantry cross unit award-3d.svg RVGC w/ Palm
Colonel Samuel C. Mahaney
452d Air Mobility Wing emblem 452d Air Mobility Wing.png
Aircraft flown
Transport C-17 Globemaster III
Tanker KC-135 Stratotanker

The 452d Air Mobility Wing (452 AMW) 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 March Air Reserve Base, California. If mobilized, the Wing is gained by the Air Mobility Command.

During World War II, its predecessor unit, the 452d Bombardment Group (Heavy) was an Eighth Air Force B-17 Flying Fortress unit in England, stationed at RAF Deopham Green. 1st Lieutenant Donald J. Gott and 2nd Lieutenant William E. Metzger, Jr were both awarded the Medal of Honor for their heroic actions.


The 452d Air Mobility Wing’s mission is to organize, train and equip aircrews to provide air refueling and strategic airlift any time, any place. The wing’s aircraft operate under widely varying situations ranging from small movements in battle to large movements over long distances.


The 452d Air Mobility Wing consists of the following major units:

336th Air Refueling Squadron (KC-135)
912th Air Refueling Squadron (KC-135)
Active Associate corollary units of the 92d Air Refueling Wing, Fairchild Air Force Base, Washington.
729th Airlift Squadron (C-17)
452d Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron
  • 452d Maintenance Group
  • 452d Mission Support Group
  • 452d Medical Group


Trained in the Reserve as a light bombardment wing, 1949–1950. Ordered to active service under the command of Brigadier General Luther W. Sweetser during the Korean War on 10 August 1950, absorbing most of the personnel of the sister 448th Bombardment Wing also training at Long Beach training center at that time to fill vacant positions in the 452nd. Upon mobilization, the 452d Bombardment Wing moved its B-26s and support aircraft to George AFB, California, and began accelerated aircrew training.

Korean War

On 15 October 15, 1950, the first of five echelons of the 452d left George AFB for Itazuke AB, Kyushu, Japan. As projected, now trained in night operations, the 731st Bombardment Squadron was detached to the 3d Bombardment Wing (Light) at Iwakuni AB, Honshu, Japan. The First B-26 of the 452d arrived at Itazuke on 25 October, and two days later the wing flew its initial B-26 interdiction mission to Korea, exactly seventy-seven days after recall. On the last day of the month, the aircrews of the 452d learned they were in a real shooting war, as three Yakovlev fighters jumped one of their B-26s and a Mosquito controller near Yangsi. The B-26 crew shot down one of the Soviet-designed fighters, and the P-51s arrived to destroy the other two.

Upon arrival in the theater, the 452d Bombardment Wing was the only B-26 unit conducting daylight operations. Until June 1951, it gave close support to ground units in Korea and engaged in interdiction of communist-heldairfields, supply lines, and bridges, reaching peak operations in February 1951.

The wing moved to Miho AB at Honshu, Japan, on 10 December, and within a few days it suffered its first combat losses. Four B-26s and all their crews were lost, only one to hostile fire. One aircraft hit a cable on a power line during a low-level attack, a second flew into a mountain on takeoff in a snow squall, and a third dove out of the overcast into water. The fourth was knocked down by ground fire near Sunchon, Korea.The 3 men in that crew parachuted free, but shortly after were captured and executed by unknown North Korean Guerillas. On 25 April 1951, the enemy began a spring offensive, and Fifth Air Force required an extensive effort of the 452d. For the next eight days the wing dispatched thirty to thirty-six sorties a day, getting maximum use from the approximately eighteen aircraft available each day. This required a refuel and rearm turnaround mission for each aircraft each day. The effort placed a heavy flying burden on all combat personnel as each crew was required to fly nine of ten days. As their effort began to exhaust the combat crews, pilots and observers serving in wing staff and support positions were pressed into service. This surge in operations also produced a sharp increase in maintenance activity as the aircraft sustained extensive battle damage. Three B-26s were lost behind enemy lines, and four others, only one of which was salvaged, sustained major battle damage.

The B-26s were effective in low-level attacks with machine guns, rockets, and bombs, but their crews found it difficult to maneuver at low altitudes in the small valleys of Korea, walled by hills rising from 500 to 5,000 feet. The moment of level flying needed to launch bombs and fire rockets made the light bombers vulnerable to ground fire, and combat losses soon forced them to bomb from medium altitudes. For its combat actions between 9 July 1951 - 27 November 1951 and 28 November 1951 - 30 April 1952 the wing received the Distinguished Unit Citation (DUC), now known as the Presidential Unit Citation (PUC) with a bronze star indicating a 2nd award . The only combat wing to be cited twice during the Korean War.Korean President Syngman Rhee personally presented the Wing with the Korean Unit Citation In addition it received credit for 8 campaign participations.

731st Bombardment Squadron

The 452d's separated 731st Squadron completed its move from George AFB to Iwakuni AB, Honshu, on 20 November 1950. Four crews which had left George AFB as an advance echelon on 15 September participated in combat during October, and the unit put up its first complete squadron mission on 14 November 1950. From the beginning of operations in Korea, the Air Force had been unable to attack moving targets at night. On 6 September 1950, General Vandenberg suggested that General Stratemeyer convert the 3d Group completely to night attack and assign the 731st Squadron, especially trained for low-level operations, to the understrength 3d Group. General Stratemeyer quickly implemented this solution to his night-attack problem. During its seven-month Korean tour, the 731st flew more than 9,000 hours of combat on 2,000 combat sorties. Its missions included high-, medium-, and low-level visual and radar bombing, front-line close support, flare drops, and armed reconnaissance-all under conditions of darkness. When the 3d Bombardment Wing was brought up to full strength by the acquisition of the 90th Bombardment Squadron as a third active force unit, the 731st was inactivated at Iwakuni on 25June 1951.

On 10 May 1952, having served its prescribed twenty-one months, the 452d Bombardment Wing was relieved from active military service, and was inactivated at Pusan East (K-9) Air Base. The reservists had accumulated nearly 14,000 combat sorties during its active service. Control of the unit was returned to the control of the Continental Air Command as an Air Force Reserve organization.

Cold War

Activated on 13 June 1952, absorbing the resources of the 921st Reserve Training Wing. Trained as a tactical reconnaissance wing, 1952–1955; as a tactical bombardment wing, 1955–1957; as a troop carrier wing, 1957–1966; as a military airlift wing, 1966–1972; as a tactical airlift wing, 1972–1976. From 1957 to 1976 the 452d participated in troop carrier and airlift joint training exercises with ground forces and performed routing, special transport, and humanitarian missions within the U.S. In the early 1960s began flying missions to Alaska, including airlift support for exercises and humanitarian relief missions for the 1964 Alaska earthquake. Airlifted troops and cargo to the Dominican Republic during the 1965 contingency operation (Power Pack) to restore a stable government there. In 1965 began flying airlift missions worldwide, but especially to the Far East and Southeast Asia. Was the base host organization at Hamilton AFB, 1 October 1973 – December 1975.

Converted to an air refueling mission in 1976, the first reserve wing to directly support Strategic Air Command (SAC) bombers. From 1977 participated in tanker task forces worldwide. On 1 October 1977 a wing squadron (336th) began standing permanent alert duty with the active duty bombardment wing at March AFB, a duty which continued until cancellation of SAC alert on 27 September 1991. Won the wing navigation trophy at the SAC Bombing and Navigation Competitions in 1983 and 1985 and the Saunders Trophy in 1985.

Deployed aircraft and volunteer aircrews and other personnel to Saudi Arabia in support of Desert Shield, beginning August 1990. The 336th ARS went on active duty in December 1990 and two squadron aircrews were among the first refuelers to launch on the first day of the Southwest Asia War (Desert Storm) against Iraq. Also, the Security Police Flight went on active duty and deployed to Saudi Arabia, February–June 1991

Modern era

On 1 April 1993, the 445th Military Airlift Wing located at Norton AFB, California, became the first Associate Wing to transition to a "unit-equipped" wing by taking ownership of its own aircraft and resources. The wing's two flying squadrons, 729th Airlift Squadron and 730th Airlift Squadron trace their lineage directly to the 729th and 730th Bombardment Squadrons under the 452d Bombardment Wing during World War II.

In 1993, March AFB was selected for realignment. The 445th MAW was transferred from Norton AFB, to March AFB. As part of the Air Force's realignment, March's two reserve units, the 445th MAW was inactivated and and its personnel and equipment transferred to the 452d ARW, which was redesignated the 452d Air Mobility Wing on 1 April 1994. On 1 April 1996, March officially became March Air Reserve Base. In 2005, the wing retired its C-141 fleet.


Emblem of the 452d Bombardment Wing

Emblem of the 452d Air Refueling Wing

  • Established as 452d Bombardment Wing, Light on 10 May 1949
Activated in the Reserve on 27 June 1949
452d Bombardment Group, Light assigned as subordinate unit
Ordered to Active Service on 10 August 1950
Inactivated on 10 May 1952
  • Re-designated: 452d Tactical Reconnaissance Wing on 6 June 1952
Activated in the Reserve on 13 June 1952
Re-designated: 452d Bombardment Wing, Tactical on 22 May 1955
Re-designated: 452d Troop Carrier Wing, Medium on 1 July 1957
Group element inactivated 14 April 1959
Re-designated: 452d Military Airlift Wing on 1 July 1966
Re-designated: 452d Tactical Airlift Wing on 1 April 1972
Re-designated: 452d Air Refueling Wing on 1 October 1976
Re-designated: 452d Air Refueling Wing, Heavy on 8 March 1978
Group element re-designated 452d Air Refueling Group, Heavy on 31 July 1985 (Remained inactive)
Re-designated: 452d Air Refueling Wing on 1 February 1992
Group element re-designated 452d Operations Group and re-activated in the Reserve on 1 August 1992
Re-designated: 452d Air Mobility Wing on 1 May 1994.


Attached to: 8th Fighter-Bomber Wing, 15–30 November 1950
Attached to: 314th Air Division, 1 December 1950 – 25 May 1951
  • Forth Air Reserve District, 13 June 1952
  • Fourth Air Force, 1 December 1952
  • Sixth Air Force Reserve Region, 1 September 1960
  • Western Air Force Reserve Region, 31 December 1969
  • Tenth Air Force, 8 October 1976
  • Fourth Air Force, since 1 October 1993




  • Long Beach AAF (later, Long Beach Muni Aprt), California, 27 June 1949
  • George AFB, California, 10 August – October 1950
  • Itazuke AB, Japan, 26 October 1950
  • Miho AB, Japan, c. 10 December 1950
  • Pusan East (K-9) Air Base, South Korea, 23 May 1951 – 10 May 1952



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

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