438th Air Expeditionary Wing

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438th Air Expeditionary Wing
438th Air Expeditionary Wing.PNG
438th Air Expeditionary Wing emblem
Active 1949–1951; 1952–1957; 1965–1994; 2001—present
Country United States
Branch United States Air Force
Type Air Expeditionary
Motto(s) None

The 438th Air Expeditionary Wing (438 AEW) is an active United States Air Force unit operating in Afghanistan and assigned to United States Air Forces Central. The wing trains Afghan Air Force members, including pilots.

Subordinate units[edit]

438th Air Expeditionary Advisory Group.png
738th Air Expeditionary Advisory Group.png

There was formerly a third group active at Shindand Airfield:


For additional history and lineage, see 438th Air Expeditionary Group

Air Force Reserve[edit]

C-46D of the AF Reserve

In 1949 Continental Air Command reorganized its reserve units under the wing base organization, which placed support units under the same headquarters as the combat group they supported. As part of this reorganization, the 438th Troop Carrier Wing was activated at Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska. The wing absorbed the resources of the 381st Bombardment Group, which was simultaneously inactivated at Offutt.[11] Although the wing's manning, along with that of its component squadrons, was limited to 25% of active duty organization authorizations, it was assigned four squadrons, rather than three.[12] The wing trained under the 2473d Air Force Reserve Training Center for troop carrier operations with the C-46, but also flew the North American T-6 Texan trainer.[11][13]

All combat units of the Air Force Reserve were ordered to active service for the Korean War.[14] The 438th was called up in the second wave of mobilizations on 10 March 1951. Its personnel were used to man other organizations, primarily those of Strategic Air Command, and it was inactivated on 14 March 1951.[11][15] Its aircraft were distributed to other organizations as well.[16]

F-80 as flown by the group

Little more than a year later the wing was redesignated the 438th Fighter-Bomber Wing and activated at Billy Mitchell Field, Wisconsin, replacing the 924th Reserve Training Wing there. The reserve mobilization for the Korean War, however, had left the Reserve without airplanes, and the unit did not receive aircraft until July 1952.[17] When it finally began to receive its planes, they were World War II era North American F-51 Mustangs, which would serve until the group's Lockheed F-80 Shooting Stars arrived.[11] Once more, the 2473d Air Force Reserve Training Center was responsible for the training of the 438th Wing and other units at the station. Despite its designation as a fighter bomber unit, the group initially trained in the air defense role.[18]

In 1957 the group began to upgrade to the North American F-86 Sabre. However, its time with this plane would be short. By 1956, the Joint Chiefs of Staff were pressuring the Air Force to provide more wartime airlift. At the same time, about 150 Fairchild C-119 Flying Boxcars became available from the active force. Consequently, in November 1956 the Air Force directed Continental Air Command to convert three fighter bomber wings to the troop carrier mission by September 1957.[19] The wing inactivated one of its squadrons on in July and completed its inactivation on16 November 1957, when most of its personnel transferred to the 440th Troop Carrier Group, which was simultaneously activated.[11][20]

Strategic Airlift[edit]

Lockheed C-141A Starlifter of 438 MAW in 1970

The 438th Military Airlift Wing replaced the 1611th Air Transport Wing at McGuire Air Force Base, New Jersey in January 1966, equipped with Lockheed C-141 Starlifters. For the next 30 years, the 438th MAW and transported military cargo, mail and passengers worldwide, particularly in the Eastern United States, Atlantic, European and Mediterranean areas, with frequent special missions to the Arctic, the Antarctic, South America, the Far East, and to Southeast Asia combat areas during the Vietnam War.

On 1 December 1991, the wing was redesignated as the 438th Airlift Wing and implemented objective wing. On 1 June 1992, it was assigned to the new Air Mobility Command.

Post Cold War[edit]

On 1 October 1993, the 30th AS was moved without personnel or equipment (w/o/p/e) to the 374th Operations Group, Yokota AB, Japan, replacing the 20th AS as part of the Air Force illustrious units realignment. It was replaced by the 13th Airlift Squadron at McGuire which was transferred without personnel or equipment from the 18th Operations Group, Kadena AB, Okinawa.

A KC-10 air refueling squadron, the 2d ARS, was assigned to the wing from the former 2d Bomb Wing at Barksdale AFB, Louisiana as part of a major Air Force realignment on 1 October 1994 to have KC-10 bases with two squadrons of 10 aircraft each.

On 1 October 1994, the 438th Airlift Wing was inactivated, being replaced at McGuire by the 305th Air Mobility Wing which was transferred from Grissom AFB, Indiana when Grissom was realigned via a Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) action to the Air Force Reserve Command as Grissom ARB.

The 438th Air Expeditionary Group was activated after the September 11 terror attacks in 2001. Its people fought in Iraq and trained Iraqis and then moved to Afghanistan to train Afghan airmen at bases around the country.

In 2014 the wing won the Secretary of Defense Award for Excellence in Maintenance Training, Advice, and Assistance of Foreign Security Forces Award in the operational (large) category.[21]


  • Established as the 438th Troop Carrier Wing, Medium on 10 May 1949
Activated in the Reserve on 27 June 1949
Ordered to Active Service on 10 March 1951
Inactivated on 14 March 1951
  • Redesignated 438th Fighter-Bomber Wing on 26 May 1952
Activated in the Reserve on 15 June 1952
Inactivated on 16 November 1957
  • Redesignated 438th Military Airlift Wing and activated on 27 December 1965 (not organized)
Organized on 8 January 1966
Redesignated 438 Airlift Wing on 1 November 1991
Inactivated on 1 October 1994
  • Redesignated 438th Air Expeditionary Wing and converted to provisional status, on 4 December 2001





  • 438th Troop Carrier Group (later Fighter-Bomber, later Operations) Group: 27 June 1949 – 14 March 1951; 15 June 1952 – 16 November 1957; 1 November 1991 – 1 October 1994
  • 903d Military Airlift Group: attached 25 September 1968 – 30 June 1973


  • 18th Military Airlift Squadron: 8 January-15 June 1966 (not operational, 1 February–15 June 1966); 1 August 1968–
  • 29th Military Airlift Squadron: 8 January 1966 – 31 August 1968 (not operational, 12–31 August 1968)
  • 40th Military Airlift Squadron: 8 January 1966 – 4 March 1968 (not operational, 1 December 1967 – 4 March 1968)
  • 45th Military Airlift Squadron: 3 July 1967 – 31 August 1968 (not operational, 12–31 August 1968)
  • 30th Military Airlift Squadron: 8 April 1967 – 1 November 1991
  • 6th Military Airlift Squadron: 8 April 1970 – 1 November 1991
  • Military Airlift Squadron Provisional, 1645th: attached 15 March–3 July 1967
  • Naval Air Transport Squadron VR-3: attached 1 February 1966 – 1 July 1967.
  • 738th Air Expeditionary Advisory Squadron: inactivated on June 12, 2014[22]


  • Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska, 27 June 1949 – 14 March 1951
  • General Mitchell Field, Wisconsin, 15 June 1952
  • Milwaukee, Wisconsin, 5 January 1953 – 16 November 1957
  • McGuire Air Force Base, New Jersey, 8 January 1966 – 1 October 1994
  • Undisclosed locations after 4 December 2001
  • Iraq
  • Kabul Air Force Base, Afghanistan, (2007–Present)



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

  1. ^ Airman leads joint Mi-35 attack helicopter advisor team for Afghan Air Corps Archived 27 May 2010 at the Wayback Machine.
  2. ^ 439th Air Expeditionary Advisory Squadron change of command, February 09, 2011
  3. ^ US, Afghan airmen perform 1st joint operational air-assault mission, 438th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs, 10/14/2011
  4. ^ Maintenance: Keeping them in the air Archived 25 February 2013 at the Wayback Machine., Commentary by Maj. Jeffrey Hunziker, 442nd Air Expeditionary Advisory Squadron Commander, 11/7/2011 Archived 25 February 2013 at the Wayback Machine.
  5. ^ Successful organizations are built around a strong core Archived 13 May 2012 at the Wayback Machine., Commentary by Senior Master Sgt. Brian Kruzelnick, 1/12/2012 Archived 13 May 2012 at the Wayback Machine.
  6. ^ TIOH - Heraldry - 802d Air Expeditionary Advisory Squadron
  7. ^ Staff Sgt. Nadine Y. Barclay, AAF achieves first fixed-wing UPT flights in 30 years, 3/26/2012, 438th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
  8. ^ Afghan MI-17 Instructor Pilot trains student for first time[dead link]
  9. ^ Video by Tech. Sgt. Matthew Pardini, 444th AEAS and Afghan Air Force Pilots Conduct a Pre-mission Briefing Archived 3 January 2014 at the Wayback Machine.
  10. ^ 838 AEAG Facebook info
  11. ^ a b c d e Ravenstein, pp. 234-236
  12. ^ Cantwell, p. 74
  13. ^ See Mueller, p. 457. 2473d Center at Offutt from 1946-1951.
  14. ^ Cantwell, p. 87
  15. ^ Cantwell, pp. 96-97
  16. ^ Cantwell, p. 137
  17. ^ Cantwell, p. 139
  18. ^ See Cantwell, p. 152 (all reserve fighter bomber wings initially assigned an air defense role and later a tactical fighter role.)
  19. ^ Cantwell, p. 168
  20. ^ Ravenstein, pp. 237-238
  21. ^ 2014 Department of Defense Maintenance Award Winners Announced
  22. ^ Air Advisors in Afghanistan-Inactivation of 738th Air Expeditionary Advisory Squadron

External links[edit]