537th Airlift Squadron

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537th Airlift Squadron
Pacific Air Forces.png
C-130s of 537th Airlift Squadron.JPG
C-130 Hercules aircraft of the 537th Airlift Squadon on an airdrop training mission near Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson
Active 1943–1944; 1952–1953; 1966–1971; 2011–2013
Country  United States
Branch  United States Air Force
Role Airlift
Part of Pacific Air Forces
Motto Gesta non Verba Latin: Deeds, not Words
Decorations Presidential Unit Citation
Air Force Outstanding Unit Award
Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross with Palm
Insignia
537th Airlift Squadron emblem (approved 26 March 1968)[1] 537 Tactical Airlift Squadron emblem.PNG

The 537th Airlift Squadron is an inactive squadron of the United States Air Force. The unit was last active at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson Alaska, where it was inactivated on 13 September 2013.

The squadron was first established during World War II as the 537th Fighter Squadron. It served as a Replacement Training Unit for Republic P-47 Thunderbolt pilots until it was disbanded in a major reorganization of the Army Air Forces in 1944 designed to streamline training organizations.

In 1952, the squadron was redesignated as the 537th Troop Carrier Squadron, and activated at Atterbury Air Force Base to replace elements of the 923d Reserve Training Wing. The following year the squadron was inactivated and replaced at Atterbury by the 73d Troop Carrier Squadron.

The unit was activated again in Viet Nam as a C-7 Caribou squadron assigned to the 483d Tactical Airlift Wing the squadron was awarded three Presidential Unit Citations for its actions during the Viet Nam War.

In 2011, the unit was re-activated and designated the 537th Airlift Squadron.

History[edit]

World War II[edit]

P-47 Thunderbolt as used by the 537th Fighter Squadron for training

The squadron was first established as the 537th Fighter Squadron and was activated in November 1943 at Richmond Army Air Base, Virginia,[2] as one of the four original squadrons of the 87th Fighter Group.[3] The squadron began operations with Republic P-47 Thunderbolts as a Replacement Training Unit (RTU). RTUs were oversized units which trained aircrews prior to their deployment to combat theaters and assignment to an operational group.[4] In January 1944, the squadron and the 546th Fighter Squadron moved to Millville Army Air Field, New Jersey,[2] and the 87th group's headquarters and other squadrons transferred to Camp Springs Army Air Field, Maryland.[3][5]

However, the Army Air Forces found that standard military units, based on relatively inflexible tables of organization were proving less well adapted to the training mission. Accordingly a more functional system was adopted in which each base was organized into a separate numbered unit.[6] while the groups and squadrons acting as RTUs were disbanded or inactivated.[7] This resulted in the squadron being disbanded in the spring of 1944[2] and being replaced by the 135th AAF Base Unit (Fighter), which assumed its mission, personnel, and equipment.[8]

Air Force Reserves[edit]

Main article: 87th Air Base Wing

In 1952 the squadron was redesignated as the 537th Troop Carrier Squadron, became part of the newly constituted 87th Troop Carrier Wing under the wing base organization system, and was activated at Atterbury Air Force Base. The 87th wing replaced the 923d Reserve Training Wing at Atterbury when reserve flying operations resumed there.[9] The squadron operated Curtiss C-46 Commandos to train reservists. In February 1953 the 434th Troop Carrier Group was released from active duty and activated in the reserves, and its 73d Troop Carrier Squadron assumed the mission, personnel and equipment of the 537th.[10]

Vietnam War[edit]

DeHavilland C-7A of the 483d Tactical Airlift Wing at Cam Rahn Bay in 1971

The squadron was activated in 1967, and took over DeHavilland Canada C-7A Caribou aircraft that were formerly operated by the 17th Aviation Company of the U.S. Army in South Vietnam, adopting the tactical airlift mission. The squadron initially maintained a detachment at An Khe, which had been the 17th's base. It operated from Phu Cat Air Base. The 537th earned a Navy Presidential Unit Citation, as well as an Air Force Presidential Unit Citation for airlift support of Khe Sanh and other forward bases from January to May 1968. It earned a second Air Force Presidential Unit Citation for action between April and June 1970[1] when it participated in the aerial resupply of Dak Seang Special Forces Camp, evacuation of over 2000 refugees from Cambodia, and transportation of the Presidential Southeast Asia Investigation Team to various remote locations in South Vietnam.[citation needed]

Alaska[edit]

The squadron was redesignated as the 537th Airlift Squadron and activated at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska in 2011 to augment the 144th Airlift Squadron of the Alaska Air National Guard. Its primary mission was to support Army airborne forces training. The squadron was inactivated due to cuts in the Department of Defense budget resulting from sequestration.[11]

Lineage[edit]

  • Constituted as the 537th Fighter Squadron (Single Engine) on 24 September 1943
Activated on 1 October 1943
  • Disbanded on 10 April 1944
  • Reconstituted and redesignated 537th Troop Carrier Squadron (Medium) on 26 May 1952
Activated in the reserve on 15 June 1952
Inactivated on 1 February 1953
  • Redesignated 537th Troop Carrier Squadron and activated on 12 Oct 1966 (not organized)
Organized on 1 January 1967
Redesignated 537th Tactical Airlift Squadron on 1 August 1967
Inactivated on 31 August 1971
  • Redesignated 537th Airlift Squadron on 30 Mar 2011
Activated on 29 April 2011[12]
Inactivated on 11 September 2013

Assignments[edit]

  • 87th Fighter Group: 1 October 1943 – 10 April 1944
  • 87th Troop Carrier Group: 15 June 1952 – 1 February 1953
  • Pacific Air Forces: 12 October 1966 (not organized)
  • 483d Troop Carrier Wing (later 483d Tactical Airlift Wing): 1 January 1967 – 31 August 1971
  • 3d Operations Group: 29 April 2011 – 11 September 2013[12]

Stations[edit]

  • Richmond Army Air Base, Virginia, 1 October 1943
  • Millville Army Air Field, New Jersey, 7 January 1944 – 10 April 1944
  • Atterbury Air Force Base, Indiana, 15 June 1952 – 1 February 1953
  • Phu Cat Air Base, Vietnam, 1 January 1967 – 31 August 1971
  • Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, 29 April 2011 – 11 September 2013[12]

Commanders[edit]

Capt John C. Yancey, 6 Oct 1943 – 10 Apr 1944; Lt Col Charles C. Smith, 1 Jan 1967; Lt Col John F. Yelton, c. Apr 1967; Lt Col Harold J. Zweifel, 22 May 1967; Lt Col Robert C. Olson, c. Jul 1967; Lt Col Gayle C. Wolf, 1 May 1968; Lt Col George C. Marvin, 18 Feb 1969; Lt Col Donald J. MacFarren, 14 Nov 1969; Lt Col Walter H. Perris, c. Jun 1970; Lt Col Ray Barton, 16 Nov 1979 – c. Aug 1971[12][13]

Aircraft[edit]

  • Republic P-47 Thunderbolt, 1943–1944
  • Curtiss C-46 Commando, 1952–1953
  • DeHavilland Canada C-7A Caribou, 1967–1971
  • Lockheed Martin C-130H Hercules, 2011–2013[12]

Awards and Campaigns[edit]

Award streamer Award Dates Notes
Streamer PUC Army.PNG Presidential Unit Citation 21 January 1968 – 12 May 1968 537th Tactical Airlift Squadron, Viet Nam[1]
Streamer PUC Army.PNG Presidential Unit Citation 1 April 1970 – 30 June 1970 537th Tactical Airlift Squadron, Viet Nam[1]
Streamer PUC Navy.PNG Navy Presidential Unit Citation 20 January 1968 – 1 April 1968 537th Tactical Airlift Squadron, Viet Nam[1]
AFOUA with Valor.jpg Air Force Outstanding Unit Award w/Combat "V" Device 1 January 1967 – 30 April 1967 537th Troop Carrier Squadron[1]
AFOUA with Valor.jpg Air Force Outstanding Unit Award w/Combat "V" Device 1 May 1967 – 30 April 1968 537th Troop Carrier Squadron (later Tactical Airlift Squadron)[1]
AFOUA with Valor.jpg Air Force Outstanding Unit Award w/Combat "V" Device 1 July 1970 – 28 August 1971 537th Tactical Airlift Squadron[1]
VGCP Streamer.jpg Vietnamese Gallantry Cross with Palm 1 January 1967 – 31 August 1971 537th Troop Carrier Squadron (later Tactical Airlift Squadron)[1]
Campaign Streamer Campaign Dates Notes
Streamer VS.PNG Vietnam Air Offensive 1 January 1967 – 8 March 1967 537th Troop Carrier Squadron[1]
Streamer VS.PNG Vietnam Air Offensive, Phase II 9 March 1967 – 31 March 1968 537th Troop Carrier Squadron (later Tactical Airlift Squadron)[1]
Streamer VS.PNG Vietnam Air/Ground 22 January 1968 – 7 July 1968 537th Tactical Airlift Carrier Squadron[1]
Streamer VS.PNG Vietnam Air Offensive, Phase III 1 April 1968 – 31 October 1968 537th Tactical Airlift Carrier Squadron[1]
Streamer VS.PNG Vietnam Air Offensive, Phase IV 1 November 1968 – 22 February 1969 537th Tactical Airlift Carrier Squadron[1]
Streamer VS.PNG Tet 1969/Counteroffensive 23 February 1969 – 8 June 1969 537th Tactical Airlift Carrier Squadron[1]
Streamer VS.PNG Vietnam Summer-Fall 1969 9 June 1969 – 31 October 1969 537th Tactical Airlift Carrier Squadron[1]
Streamer VS.PNG Vietnam Winter-Spring 1970 3 November 1969 – 30 April 1970 537th Tactical Airlift Carrier Squadron[1]
Streamer VS.PNG Sanctuary Counteroffensive 1 May 1970 – 30 June 1970 537th Tactical Airlift Carrier Squadron[1]
Streamer VS.PNG Southwest Monsoon 1 July 1970 – 30 November 1970 537th Tactical Airlift Carrier Squadron[1]
Streamer VS.PNG Commando Hunt V 1 December 1970 – 14 May 1971 537th Tactical Airlift Carrier Squadron[1]
Streamer VS.PNG Commando Hunt VI 15 May 1971 – 31 July 1971 537th Tactical Airlift Carrier Squadron[1]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u Robertson, Patsy, AFHRA Factsheet 537 Airlift Squadron 8/22/2011 Retrieved December 20, 2013
  2. ^ a b c Maurer, Maurer, ed. (1982) [1969]. Combat Squadrons of the Air Force, World War II (reprint ed.). Washington, DC: Office of Air Force History. p. 644. ISBN 0-405-12194-6. LCCN 70605402. OCLC 72556. 
  3. ^ a b Maurer, Maurer, ed. (1983) [1961]. Air Force Combat Units of World War II (reprint ed.). Washington, DC: Office of Air Force History. pp. 153–154. ISBN 0-912799-02-1. LCCN 61060979. 
  4. ^ Craven, Wesley F; Cate, James L, eds. (1955). "Introduction". The Army Air Forces in World War II. Vol. VI, Men & Planes. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press. p. xxxvi. LCCN 48003657. 
  5. ^ Maurer, Combat Squadrons, pp. 643–644
  6. ^ Craven & Cate, The Organization and its Responsibilities, Chapter 2: The AAF p. 75
  7. ^ Maurer, Combat Units, p. 7
  8. ^ See Abstract, History of Millville AAF 1940–1944 Retrieved December 16, 2013
  9. ^ The 923d had been activated in 1951 when the reserve 434th Troop Carrier Wing was called to active duty for the Korean War.
  10. ^ Ravenstein, Charles A. (1984). Air Force Combat Wings, Lineage & Honors Histories 1947–1977. Washington, DC: Office of Air Force History. p. 122. ISBN 0-912799-12-9. 
  11. ^ Pacific Air Forces, 537th Airlift Squadron inactivates Retrieved December 20, 2013
  12. ^ a b c d e Lineage, including assignments, stations, commanders, aircraft through 2011 in AFHRA Factsheet,
  13. ^ unknown 1–5 October 1943, 15 June 1952 – 1 February 1953

Bibliography[edit]

 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the Air Force Historical Research Agency.

External links[edit]