317th Troop Carrier Group
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|317th Troop Carrier Group|
Emblem of the 317th Troop Carrier Group
|Active||1942–1949; 1952–1957; 1978–1980|
|Branch||United States Air Force|
The 317th Troop Carrier Group is an inactive United States Air Force unit. It was last assigned to the 317th Tactical Airlift Wing, stationed at Pope Air Force Base, North Carolina. It was inactivated on 1 April 1980.
During World War II the group operated primarily in the Southwest Pacific Theater transporting such things as gasoline, ammunition, medicine, rations, communications equipment, construction materials and evacuating wounded personnel during numerous campaigns. Participated in two airborne operations during the 1944–1945 Philippines Campaign. On 3 and 4 February 1945 it dropped paratroops south of Manila to seize highway routes to the city, and on 16 and 17 February dropped the 503rd Infantry Regiment on Corregidor to open Manila Bay to US shipping; received a United States Distinguished Unit Citation for the latter operation, performed at low altitude over small drop zones in a heavily defended area. In addition, the group completed two unusual missions on 12 and 15 April 1945 when the group bombed Carabao Island with drums of Napalm. Dropped part of 511th Parachute Infantry Regiment near Aparri on 23 June 1945 to split Japanese forces in the Cagayen Valley and prevent a retreat to the hills in northern Luzon.
The group remained active in Japan after the war as an occupation unit transporting personnel and supplies within the occupied areas. It was reassigned to Germany during the Berlin Airlift in 1948 using C-54's to transport coal, food, and other supplies to the blockaded city. Later during the 1950s, the group provided intra-theater airlift for USAFE until being inactivated in 1957 and its squadrons being assigned directly to the 317th TCW.
World War II
The group's beginning occurred on 22 February 1942 at Duncan Field near San Antonio, Texas. Eighteen enlisted men and one Captain formed the entire unit. However it wouldn't be long before the 317th tenant squadrons would acquire the venerable Douglas C-47 Skytrain and the familiar drone of rotating props would become forever synonymous with the 317th.
In July 1942, the Army redesignated the unit the 317th Troop Carrier Group. After receiving several months of training in and around the southern United States, the group had grown into a viable component of America's defense machine. In December of that same year, they departed for Australia in support of General Douglas MacArthur's Southwest Pacific campaigns against the Japanese. The Army Air Forces quickly stripped the 317th of their new C-47s upon arrival in the theater, and in turn gave them the battered aircraft of the veteran 347th Troop Carrier Group. With an assortment of damaged C-47s, C-60s, and cargo versions of the B-17, the 317th set about their mission.
As the Japanese pounded the airdrome at Wau, New Guinea, the 317th endured monsoon conditions, flying low level supply drops to the Australian Army engaged on the airfield in hand-to-hand combat. This mission cost the 317th three aircraft and several men, and for their actions the group received their first Distinguished Unit Citation (DUC).
Spearheading a combined airborne-glider offensive in June 1945, the 317th dropped allied paratroopers over northern Luzon in the Philippine Islands. Enemy anti-aircraft fire was intense, forcing the group to make repeated passes over the drop zone. Soon the Japanese forces were weakened to the point of defeat. Once again the 317th was awarded the DUC for their outstanding performance.
In 1948 with the war finally at an end, the 317th participated in one of the most widely known humanitarian efforts in history, the Berlin Airlift. From May through July the group air-dropped food supplies to the citizens of the Soviet blockaded city. Once the blockade had been lifted and their mission was complete, the 317th inactivated at Rhein Main Air Base, Germany in September.
In July 1952, the Air Force reactivated the 317th at Rhein Main as the 317th Troop Carrier Wing. It became the first Air Force unit assigned to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Now flying C-119 "Boxcars", the 317th relocated to Neubiberg Air Base near Munich in 1953. Shortly after their arrival at the Bavarian base, newer C-123 transports arrived to compliment the C-119s.
The 317th continued to fly many humanitarian missions and support NATO airborne units throughout Europe. They airlifted life rafts, tents, and emergency food supplies to flood victims in the Netherlands, and aided thousands of earthquake victims in Italy, Greece, Pakistan and Yugoslavia among many others.
Post Vietnam era
Trained aircrews in adverse weather delivery system AWADS equipment for a C-130 squadron in Europe 1978–1980.
- Constituted as 317th Transport Group on 2 February 1942
- Activated on 22 February 1942
- Redesignated 317th Troop Carrier Group (Heavy) in May 1948.
- Inactivated in Germany on 14 September 1949
- Redesignated 317th Troop Carrier Group (Medium) 14 July 1952
- Activated in Germany on 14 July 1952
- Inactivated on 12 March 1957
- Redesignated 317th Troop Carrier Group and activated on 15 September 1978
- Inactivated on 1 April 1980
- I Troop Carrier Command, 22 February 1942
- Attached to: 52d Troop Carrier Wing, 22 February – 3 December 1942
- Fifth Air Force, 23 January 1943
- 317th Troop Carrier Wing, 18 August 1948 – 14 September 1949; 14 July 1952 – 12 March 1957; 15 September 1978 – 1 April 1980
- Detached 21 September 1948 – 8 January 1949
- Not operational c. 31 August – 14 September 1949; 8 May 1955 – 12 March 1957; 15–30 September 1978
- 39th Troop Carrier Squadron: 22 February 1942 – 14 September 1949; 14 July 1952 – 12 March 1957
- 40th Troop Carrier Squadron: 22 February 1942 – 14 September 1949; 14 July 1952 – 12 March 1957
- 41st Troop Carrier Squadron: 22 February 1942 – 14 September 1949; 14 July 1952 – 12 March 1957
- 46th Troop Carrier Squadron: 22 February 1942 – 14 September 1949
- C-47, 1942–1947
- C-39, C-49, C-60, B-17, LB-30, 1943–1943
- C-46, 1945–1947
- C-54, 1947–1948
- C-119, 1952–1957
- C-130, 1978–1980
- Maurer Maurer (1983), Air Force Combat Units Of World War II, Office of Air Force History. ISBN 978-0-405-12194-4