50th Airlift Squadron

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50th Airlift Squadron
50th Airlift Squadron.jpg
50th Air Refueling Squadron
(as 50th Airlift Squadron)
Active 30 May 1942 – 27 May 1946;
17 Oct 1949 - 1 Apr 2016;
2 Oct 2017 - Present
Country United States
Branch United States Air Force
Type Air Refueling and Airlift
Part of Air Mobility Command
18th Air Force
6th Air Mobility Wing
Garrison/HQ MacDill Air Force Base
Nickname(s) Red Devils
Motto(s) Transportatem Certe In Caelo
Colors Red
Engagements World War II
Korean War
Vietnam War

Operation Just Cause
Operations Desert Storm & Desert Shield
Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF)
Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF)
Decorations Distinguished Unit Citation
Air Force Outstanding Unit Award
Philippine Presidential Unit Citation
Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation
Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross with Palm
Lt Col Ricardo Lopez

The 50th Airlift Squadron (50 AS) is a former USAF C-130H squadron that was inactivated in April 2016. It was previously one of four operational flying Air Mobility Command squadrons stationed at Little Rock AFB in Jacksonville, Arkansas under the 19th Airlift Wing (19 AW). The Fightin' 5-0 along with sister squadrons, the 41 AS, 53 AS, and the 61 AS, was assigned to the 19th Operations Group.

The squadron was reactivated in October 2017 at MacDill AFB in Tampa, Florida as the 50th Air Refueling Squadron (50 ARS) where it will fly the KC-135R under the 6th Air Mobility Wing (6 AMW), assigned to the 6th Operations Group.


Activated in the summer of 1942 under I Troop Carrier Command and equipped with C-47 Skytrains. Trained in various parts of the eastern United States until the end of 1943. Deployed to French Morocco in May 1943 and assigned to Twelfth Air Force to support combat operations in the North African Campaign. Remained with Twelfth Air Force, moving to Tunisia and Sicily providing transport and resupply operations as well as casualty evacuation of wounded personnel in the Mediterranean Theater of Operations (MTO). Reassigned to IX Troop Carrier Command, Ninth Air Force in England during early 1944 as part of the build-up of Allied forces prior to the D-Day invasion of France.

Began 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.

After V-E Day, became part of the United States Air Forces in Europe, being assigned to AAF Station Frankfurt and was part of the USAFE European Air Transport System (EATS), supporting the occupation forces in Germany as well as carrying supplies and personnel between various stations in Western Europe. Demobilized in early 1946 while stationed in France, unit inactivated later that year as an administrative unit.

Reactivated as part of Tactical Air Command Eighteenth Air Force in 1949 with C-82 Packets and various gliders as an assault squadron. Deployed to Japan for combat operations in 1950 for the Korean War. Furnished airlift between Japan and Korea and airdropped paratroops and supplies at Sukchon/Sunchon and Munsan-ni. Moved to the Philippines in 1954 after the armistice and was inactivated.

Reactivated in 1957 by TAC as one of the first C-130 Hercules squadrons when the aircraft came into operational service. The squadron has been involved in major engagements around the world to include the Korean War, Vietnam War, Persian Gulf War, and the current Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) and Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF).

The 50th AS is also known for humanitarian relief. During the 2004 Asian tsunami crisis, the 50th sent several crews and tons of food rations to Thailand to help those in need. Following the horrors of Hurricane Katrina, 50th AS aircrews helped relocate survivors from the New Orleans, Louisiana and Biloxi, Mississippi areas to Little Rock, Arkansas. Humanitarian missions were flown in and out of Haiti following a major earthquake in December 2010.

In 2012, elements of the 50th celebrated 70 years of history with members deployed to the 774th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron in Afghanistan.[1]

The squadron was inactivated on 1 April 2016 as part of the 19 AW's transition to the C-130J Super Hercules.

The squadron was reactivated on 2 October 2017 and redesignated as the 50th Air Refueling Squadron (50 ARS) of the 6 AMW, where it will fly the KC-135R Stratotanker.[2]

Operations and Decorations[edit]

  • Combat Operations. World War II: Provided airlift in MTO and ETO during World War II, taking part in airborne assaults on Sicily, Normandy, the Netherlands, and Germany (1943-1945). Aircrews frequently flew combat support missions in South Korea (1950-1953) and Southeast Asia, 1966-1973. Four aircrews participated in the rescue of the SS Mayaguez, dropping a 15,000-pound bomb on Koh Tang Island, 14 May 1975. Deployed personnel and aircraft in support of operations in Panama, Dec 1989, and Southwest Asia, 16 August 1990 – 27 March 1991.
  • Campaigns. World War II: Sicily; Naples-Foggia; Rome-Arno; Normandy; Northern France; Rhineland; Central Europe. Korea: UN Defensive; UN Offensive; CCF Intervention; First UN Counteroffensive; CCF Spring Offensive; UN Summer-Fall Offensive; Second Korean Winter; Korea Summer-Fall, 1952; Third Korean Winter; Korea, Summer 1953. Southwest Asia: Defense of Saudi Arabia; Liberation and Defense of Kuwait.
  • Decorations. Distinguished Unit Citations: Sicily, 11 July 1943; France, [6-7] Jun 1944; South Korea, 28 November-10 Dec 1950. Air Force Outstanding Unit Awards with Combat V Device: 1 November 1967 – 31 December 1969; 12 February-17 May 1975. Air Force Outstanding Unit Awards: 6 May 1953 – 10 September 1954; 11 January-14 Feb 1955; 1 January 1960 – 31 December 1961; 1 September 1962 – 15 April 1963; 1 January 1975 – 30 June 1976; 1 June 1985 – 31 May 1986; 1 July 1991 – 30 June 1993; 1 July 1993 – 30 June 1995; 1 July 1995 – 31 March 1997; 1 April 1997 – 30 June 1998; 1 July 2000 – 30 June 2001; 1 July 2001 – 30 June 2002. Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation: 1 July 1951 – 27 July 1953. Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross with Palm: 1 April 1966 – 28 January 1973. Philippine Republic Presidential Unit Citation: 21 July-15 Aug 1972.


  • Constituted 50th Transport Squadron on 30 May 1942
Activated on 15 June 1942
Re-designated: 50th Troop Carrier Squadron on 4 July 1942
Inactivated on 27 May 1946
  • Re-designated: 50th Troop Carrier Squadron, Medium on 20 September 1949
Activated on 17 October 1949
Re-designated: 50th Troop Carrier Squadron on 1 January 1967
Re-designated: 50th Tactical Airlift Squadron on 1 August 1967
Re-designated: 50th Airlift Squadron on 1 December 1991
Inactivated on 1 April 2016
Activated on 2 October 2017
Re-designated as 50th Air Refueling Squadron on 2 October 2017


Attached to: 315th Air Division, 11 September-c. 16 December 1958
Attached to: 322d Air Division, 27 March-c. 15 August 1961
Attached to: Undetermined. May-Jul 1965
Attached to: 322d Tactical Airlift Wing, 1 June-18 Aug 1974
Attached to: 374th Tactical Airlift Wing, 28 April-6 Jun 1975
Attached to: 435th Tactical Airlift Wing, 6 December 1975 – 12 February 1976
Attached to: 513th Tactical Airlift Wing, 7 September-1 Nov 1976
Attached to: 435th Tactical Airlift Wing, 6 April-9 Jun 1977
Attached to: 513th Tactical Airlift Wing, 14 January-14 Mar 1978
Attached to: 513th Tactical Airlift Wing, 6 August-8 Oct 1979
Attached to: 313th Tactical Airlift Group, 5 December 1980 – 12 February 1981, 5 June-14 Aug 1982, 4 October-14 Dec 1983, 2 June-14 Aug 1985, 3 August-16 Oct 1986, 5 October-16 Dec 1987, 3 December 1988 – 15 February 1989, 4 August-15 Oct 1991
Attached to: 313th Tactical Airlift Group, 27 November 1992 – 31 January 1993
Attached to: 86th Airlift Wing, 7 December 1995 – 11 March 1996
Attached to: 86th Airlift Wing, 5 December 1997 – 30 January 1998, 26 May-26 Jul
19th Airlift Wing, October 2008 - 1 April 2016




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

External links[edit]