817th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron

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817th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron
817th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron - pic.jpg
Members of the 8th Airlift Squadron are welcomed home as they return from deployment to Southwest Asia[note 1]
Active 1943–1945; 1953–1970; 2002–2014
Country United States
Branch  United States Air Force
Role Airlift
Motto(s) Ad Astra et Ultra Latin To the Stars and Beyond[1][note 2]

Mediterranean Theater of Operations[2]
Korean War[2]Vietnam War[2]
Afghanistan Campaign[citation needed]

Iraq Campaign[citation needed]
Decorations Distinguished Unit Citation (2x)
Air Force Outstanding Unit Award (3x)[2]
817th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron emblem (approved 19 August 1958)[2] 817th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron - Emblem.png
Unofficial 817th Troop Carrier Squadron emblem (Korean War era) 817th Troop Carrier Squadron - Korean War - Patch.png
Unofficial 817th Bombardment Squadron emblem[3] 817 Bombardment Sq emblem.png

The 817th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron is a provisional United States Air Force unit. It was engaged in combat operations in Southwest Asia. It was inactivated in 2014, however it can be reactivated by Air Mobility Command at any time needed for contingency iperations.

During World War II as the 817th Bombardment Squadron, it was one of the last Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress heavy bomber squadrons deployed to southern Italy as part of the Fifteenth Air Force 483d Bombardment Group in March 1944.

The squadron was converted to airlift operations and activated in the Pacific area, where it served during both the Korean and Vietnam Wars until it was inactivated in 1970.


The squadron was equipped with McDonnell Douglas C-17 Globemaster III transports and supported Coalition forces engaging in combat operations as part of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom, and also operated in the Horn of Africa.

The mission of the 817h was to provide global strategic airlift, airdrop, aeromedical evacuation and humanitarian relief, to create an air bridge for personnel, equipment and supplies throughout their assigned areas of responsibility.


World War II[edit]

Established in late 1943 as a Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress heavy bombardment squadron, trained under Third Air Force in Florida. Was deployed to the Mediterranean Theater of Operations (MTO), being assigned to Fifteenth Air Force in Southern Italy. Engaged in long-range strategic bombardment of enemy military, industrial and transport targets, including oil refineries and production oilfields in Italy, France, southern Germany. Austria and the Balkans. Continued strategic bombardment until German capitulation in May 1945.

817th Bombardment Squadron bombers on a taxiway at Sterparone Airfield[note 3]

After V-E Day, was assigned to Air Transport Command (ATC) Green Project which was the movement of troops from Pisa Airfield staging area in Morocco.[dubious ] B-17s were dearmed with flooring and seats for 25 passengers installed. Crew consisted of Pilot, co-Pilot, Navigator and Flight Engineer. Carried passengers from Pisa to Port Lyautey Airfield, French Morocco where ATC transports moved them across the Atlantic or to Dakar for movement via South Atlantic Transport Route. Inactivated in Italy in September 1945.

Korean War[edit]

Reactivated by Far East Air Forces in 1952 in Japan as a C-119 Troop Carrier squadron. Engaged in combat operations in South Korea transporting personnel and supplies to front-line units, under hazardous conditions. Also evacuated wounded personnel to hospital facilities in South Korea and Japan. Remained in Japan after the 1953 Armistice, providing intra-theater transport within Japan, South Korea and Okinawa.

Vietnam War[edit]

Moved to Okinawa in 1958, re-equipped with Lockheed C-130A Hercules aircraft. Continued intra-theater transport operations, also flying to locations in the Philippines, Thailand and Indochina, supporting United States civilian and military personnel assigned to the region. As the United States increased its combat presence in Indochina in the early 1960s, made frequent flights to airfields in South Vietnam and to locations within the country. As in South Korea, the flights within South Vietnam were extremely hazardous as the squadron operated within combat areas and frequently were under fire from communist forces during takeoff, landing and ground operations. Inactivated in 1970 as part of the drawdown of US forces in Southeast Asia.

Expeditionary operations[edit]

Reactivated in 2002 as a Boeing C-17 Globemaster III squadron as part of the Global War on Terrorism. Provided intra-theater transport within Southwest Asia and other locations as directed in support of units engaged in combat operations.


  • Constituted as the 817th Bombardment Squadron (Heavy) on 14 September 1943
Activated on 20 September 1943
Re-designated 817th Bombardment Squadron, Heavy c. September 1944
  • Inactivated on 25 September 1945
  • Re-designated 817th Troop Carrier Squadron, Medium on 15 November 1952
Activated on 1 January 1953
Redesignated 817th Troop Carrier Squadron on 8 December 1965
Redesignated 817th Tactical Airlift Squadron on 1 August 1967
Inactivated on 15 June 1970
  • Redesignated 817th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron and converted to provisional status, on 12 June 2002[2]
Activated c. 2002
Inactivated on 1 April 2014[citation needed]




See also[edit]


  1. ^ Taken 5 April 2013 at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington. The airmen were deployed to the 817th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
  2. ^ This has also been rendered as "Ad Astra et Sursuum"
  3. ^ Lead aircraft is Boeing B-17G Flying Fortress serial 44-8591. Delivered to the squadron on 3 January 1945, this aircraft survived the war and was used by Air Transport Command as a passenger transport between Pisa and Port Lyautey Airfield, French Morocco returning personnel to the United States after the war.
  1. ^ Maurer, Combat Squadrons, p. 767
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i Haulman, Daniel L. (May 1, 2011). "Factsheet 817 Expeditionary Airlift Squadron (AMC)". Air Force Historical Research Agency. Retrieved June 26, 2017. 
  3. ^ Watkins, p. 116
  4. ^ "Factsheet 315 Air Division". Air Force Historical Research Agency. 10 December 2007. Archived from the original on 30 October 2012. Retrieved 24 February 2014. 


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

Watkins, Robert A. (2009). Insignia and Aircraft Markings of the U.S. Army Air Force In World War II. Volume IV, European-African-Middle Eastern Theater of Operations. Atglen,PA: Shiffer Publishing, Ltd. ISBN 978-0-7643-3401-6.