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3d Airlift Squadron
3d Airlift Squadron.jpg
3d Airlift Squadron Patch
Active 18 February 1942 - Present
Country United States
Branch United States Air Force
Type Airlift
Part of Air Mobility Command
18th Air Force
436th Airlift Wing
436th Operations Group
Garrison/HQ Dover Air Force Base
Motto(s) Safe, Swift, Sure
Decorations Outstanding Unit ribbon.svg AFOUA
Vietnam gallantry cross unit award-3d.svg RVGC w/ Palm
Lieutenant Colonel Charles Velino
William J. Begert

Unit insignia for the 3rd ALS prior to its switch to the C-17

Douglas C-74 Globemaster 42-65402, 3d ATS, early 1950s

The 3d Airlift Squadron is a squadron of the 436th Airlift Wing of the USAF. It is based at Dover Air Force Base near Dover, Delaware.


The 3d Airlift Squadron goes back to the days of World War II when it was activated at Pope Field, Fort Bragg, North Carolina, in March 1942, as a ferrying squadron. During the war, the 3rd was stationed at Chabau, Upper Assam, India. Later, it transferred to the India-China Wing of the Air Transport Command and carried supplies and equipment back and forth across the treacherous "Hump." The squadron was disbanded in late 1943. During the Korean War, the 3rd was reconstituted at Brookley Field, Alabama, and began flying regularly scheduled airlift missions in its eight C-124 Globemaster IIs to the Arctic, Caribbean, and South America. In June 1958, the squadron moved to Charleston AFB, South Carolina, where it continued to fly C-124s until August 1965, when it transitioned into jets with the arrival of the first C-141 Starlifter. In June 1970, the 3rd Military Airlift Squadron received the first operational C-5 Galaxy to be assigned to a Military Airlift Command flying organization. Three years later, the 3rd was transferred to its present home with the 436th Airlift Wing at Dover AFB. Aircrews of the 3rd AS flew support missions for French troops in the Zaire peacekeeping effort. For their efforts, they were co-recipients with a 9th MAS crew of the Mackay Trophy for the 1978 airlift operation. The 3rd has proven itself and the C-5 to be highly mission-ready by setting AMC records for departure reliability. In 1986, the 3rd received the 436th Military Airlift Wing's Flying Eagle award four times for having the highest percentage of on-time departures. In April 1988, a 3rd MAS crew, overcoming the difficulties of flying into unfamiliar territory, airlifted drilling equipment into Semipolitinsk, U.S.S.R. The mission was part of a joint nuclear weapons detonation monitoring agreement signed by the United States and the Soviet Union. The crew was subsequently awarded the Mackay Trophy for the "most meritorious flight of the year". The 3rd AS continues its distinct history and support of AMC by flying humanitarian and contingency missions into such places as Southwest Asia, Somalia, Rwanda, and Haiti. The 3rd AS participated in the first-ever six-ship formation flights of C-5’s in support of the Strategic Brigade Airdrop Test.

In October 2003 a crew from the 3rd Airlift Squadron landed the first C-5 Galaxy in Iraq at Baghdad International Airport. Until 2004 the unit was also the only Special Operations Low Level SOLL capable unit to fly the C-5 Galaxy. While this capability was transferred to the smaller and more modern C-17, the 3rd Airlift Squadron’s mission capability still includes clandestine delivery, extraction, and airdrop of special operations forces and equipment.

In 2007 the 3rd AS transitioned from operation of the C-5 Galaxy to the newer C-17 Globemaster III.


  • Constituted 3d Air Corps Ferrying Squadron on 18 Feb 1942
Activated on 7 Mar 1942
Redesignated 3d Transport Squadron on 24 Mar 1943
Disbanded on 1 Dec 1943
  • Reconstituted, and redesignated 3d Air Transport Squadron, Heavy, on 20 Jun 1952
Activated on 20 Jul 1952
Redesignated: 3d Military Airlift Squadron on 8 Jan 1966
Redesignated: 3d Airlift Squadron on 1 Dec 1991.





 This article incorporates public domain material from the Air Force Historical Research Agency website

  • Mueller, Robert, Air Force Bases Volume I, Active Air Force Bases Within the United States of America on 17 September 1982, Office of Air Force History, 1989
  • 3d Airlift Squadron AFHRA History

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