309th Airlift Squadron

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309th Airlift Squadron
United States Air Forces in Europe.png
Gulfstream Aerospace C-37A Gulfstream V (G-V), USA - Air Force AN0467268.jpg
Active1943–1945; 1949–1953; 1954–1956; 1963–1970; 2002–present
CountryUnited States
Branch United States Air Force
Part ofUnited States Air Forces in Europe
Garrison/HQChièvres Air Base
Motto(s)Modus Perfectus Latin The Perfect Way (2007-present)
Primi Sumus (Latin) We are First (1966-1970)
EngagementsOperation Overlord
Operation Market Garden
Operation Plunder
Vietnam War
DecorationsDistinguished Unit Citation
Presidential Unit Citation
Air Force Outstanding Unit Award
Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross with Palm
309th Airlift Squadron emblem (approved 21 May 2007)[1]309th Airlift Squadron.jpg
309th Air Commando Sq emblem (approved 14 March 1966)[1]309 Air Commando Sq emblem.png

The 309th Airlift Squadron is part of the 86th Airlift Wing at Chièvres Air Base, Belgium. It operates a single C-37 aircraft providing executive airlift for NATO.[2]


World War II[edit]

443d Troop Carrier Group C-47

Established in early 1942 as a Douglas C-47 Skytrain transport squadron under First Air Force, later trained under I Troop Carrier Command in the eastern United States. Deployed to England in December 1942, being assigned to VIII Air Support Command, Eighth Air Force to provide transport and resupply support to the buildup of the heavy bomber force in England.

Was detached to Twelfth Air Force in Algeria in May 1943 to provide air resupply and transport during the North African Campaign in Algeria and Tunisia. Also performed combat casualty evacuation of wounded personnel to rear areas. Remained under jurisdiction of VIII ASC while in North Africa, providing transport between England and North Africa from its base in Algeria. Returned to England in early 1944 to participate in the buildup of forces prior to the Allied landings in France during D-Day in June 1944.

Engaged in combat operations by dropping paratroops into Normandy on D-Day (6 June 1944) and releasing gliders with reinforcements on the following day. The unit received a Distinguished Unit Citation and a French citation for these missions.

After the Normandy invasion the squadron ferried supplies in the United Kingdom. The squadron also hauled food, clothing, medicine, gasoline, ordnance equipment, and other supplies to the front lines and evacuated patients to rear zone hospitals. It dropped paratroops near Nijmegen and towed gliders carrying reinforcements during the airborne attack on the Netherlands. In December, it participated in the Battle of the Bulge by releasing gliders with supplies for the 101st Airborne Division near Bastogne.

Moved to Belgium in early 1945, and participated in the Western Allied invasion of Germany, participating in the air assault across the Rhine River in March 1945, each aircraft towed two gliders with troops of the 17th Airborne Division and released them near Wesel.

In late May 1945, after V-E Day, the squadron was moved to Waller Field, Trinidad and attached to Air Transport Command. From Trinidad, the squadron ferried returning military personnel to Morrison Field, Florida, where they were sent on to other bases or prepared for separation after the war. Inactivated at the end of July 1945.

Reserve troop carrier[edit]

Reactivated in 1949 as a reserve troop carrier squadron as part of Tactical Air Command. Equipped with Curtiss C-46 Commandoes. activated during the Korean War and became a training unit for crews flying Fairchild C-119 Flying Boxcar assault transports in South Korea. Inactivated in 1953 after federalized activation period ended. Reactivated a year later operating variety of rotary wing helicopters. Provided helicopter support for atomic weapons tests on Bikini in the Eniwetok Atoll, February–June 1956.[citation needed] Inactivated and replaced by the 21st Helicopter Squadron, which took over its personnel and Piasecki H-21 Workhorse helicopters.[1][3]

Vietnam War[edit]

Squadron C-123K during the Cambodian Campaign

Reactivated again in 1963 at Pope AFB as a Fairchild C-123 Provider combat resupply squadron, used in remote combat airfield resupply and casualty evacuation of ground forces. Deployed to South Vietnam after training and operated under 2d Air Division, Pacific Air Forces to support advisory units, primarily in Mule Train combat cargo missions in South Vietnam to support special forces (Air Commandos) in the early stages of US Involvement in the Vietnam War. Re-designated an Air Commando squadron in 1965 under Seventh Air Force, engaged in special operations and tactical airlift during 1965–1970 based at Phan Rang Air Base flying intratheater combat cargo and troop carrier missions. Inactivated as part of the Vietnamization withdrawal process in 1970.

Special airlift[edit]

Reactivated in 2002 as a support transport squadron providing executive airlift support for Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR), Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE), and Commander United States Air Forces in Europe (COMUSAFE).

Operations and Decorations[edit]

  • Combat Operations. Aerial transportation in European Theater of Operations (ETO) of materiel, equipment, and troops, including airborne assaults on Normandy, the Netherlands, and Germany, 6 Jun 1944 – May 1945. Flew intratheater combat cargo and troop carrier missions in Southeast Asia, 1 Jul 1963 – 26 Jun 1970.
  • Campaigns. World War II: Normandy; Northern France; Rhineland; Central Europe. Vietnam: Vietnam Advisory; Vietnam Defensive; Vietnam Air; Vietnam Air Offensive; Vietnam Air Offensive, Phase II; Vietnam Air Offensive, Phase III; Vietnam Air/Ground; Vietnam Air Offensive, Phase IV; TET 69/Counteroffensive; Vietnam Summer-Fall; Vietnam Winter-Spring; Sanctuary Counteroffensive.
  • Decorations. Distinguished Unit Citations: France [6] Jun 1944. Presidential Unit Citations: Southeast Asia, 21 Jan-12 May 1968; Southeast Asia, 1 Apr-30 Jun 1970. Navy Presidential Unit Citation: Vietnam, 20 Jan-31 Mar 1968. Air Force Outstanding Unit Awards with Combat "V" Device: 1 May 1963 – 30 Apr 1965; 30 Jun-9 Jul 1965; 15 Oct 1966 – 30 Apr 1967; 10 Jun-31 Dec 1967; 15 Jul 1968 – 30 Jun 1969; 15 Jan 2004 – 31 Oct 2005. Air Force Outstanding Unit Awards: [12 Mar]-31 Dec 2002; 1 Nov 2005 – 31 Dec 2006; 1 Jan-31 Dec 2007. Vietnam Gallantry Cross with Palm: 29 Jun 1966 – 31 Jul 1970.


  • Constituted as the 309th Troop Carrier Squadron on 25 May 1943
Activated on 1 October 1943
Inactivated on 31 July 1945
  • Redesignated 309th Troop Carrier Squadron, Medium on 10 May 1949
Activated in the reserve on 27 June 1949
Ordered to active service on 1 May 1951
Inactivated on 1 February 1953
  • Redesignated 309th Troop Carrier Squadron, Assault, Rotary Wing on 12 August 1954
Activated on 8 October 1954
Inactivated on 9 July 1956
  • Redesignated 309th Troop Carrier Squadron, Assault
Activated on 18 March 1963 (not organized)
Organized on 1 April 1963
  • Redesignated 309th Air Commando Squadron, Troop Carrier on 8 March 1965
  • Redesignated 309th Air Commando Squadron, Tactical Airlift on 1 August 1967
  • Redesignated 309th Special Operations Squadron on 1 August 1968
  • Redesignated 309th Tactical Airlift Squadron on 1 January 1970
Inactivated on 31 July 1970
  • Redesignated 309th Airlift Squadron on 10 February 2002
Activated on 12 March 2002[1]
  • Redesignated 424th Air Base Squadron on 12 October 2012[4]





  1. ^ a b c d e f g Robertson, Patsy (April 1, 2014). "Factsheet 309 Airlift Squadron (USAFE)". Air Force Historical Research Agency. Archived from the original on September 27, 2015. Retrieved May 26, 2017.
  2. ^ "About Us: Fact Sheets: C-37A". U.S. Air Force. May 12, 2003. Retrieved August 19, 2017.
  3. ^ "Factsheet 21 Special Operations Squadron". Air Force Historical Research Agency. January 7, 2008. Retrieved June 6, 2016.
  4. ^ "424th ABS activates under new mission". Kaiserslautern American. October 19, 2012. Retrieved May 11, 2018.


 This article incorporates public domain material from the Air Force Historical Research Agency website http://www.afhra.af.mil/.