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56th Air Refueling Squadron
Air Mobility Command.svg
N461FT 4 Boeing 767-2C(2LK)-KC-46A Boeing Aircraft Co (USAF) PAE 29JUL15.jpg
KC-46 Pegasus as operated by the 56th Air Refueling Squadron
Active 1942–1946; 1947–1952; 1952–1957; 1966–2008; 2016–present
Country United States
Branch  United States Air Force
Type Air refueling Training
Motto(s) Safety Through Knowledge
Decorations Air Force Outstanding Unit Award
Philippine Presidential Unit Citation
56th Air Refueling Squadron emblem (approved 16 November 1966)[1][note 1] 56 Airlift Sq.jpg

The 56th Air Refueling Squadron is an active unit of the United States Air Force. It is part of the 97th Operations Group at Altus Air Force Base, Oklahoma. It operates Boeing KC-46 Pegasus aircraft, conducting initial and advanced aircrew training for air refueling operations.

The squadron was first activated in 1942 as the 56th Troop Carrier Squadron. After training in the United States, the squadron moved to the Southwest Pacific Theater, where it conducted combat airlift operations against the Japanese until the surrender of Japan. It moved to Japan and served as part of the occupation forces until inactivating in 1946.

History[edit | edit source]

World War II[edit | edit source]

The squadron was first activated in November 1942 as the 56th Troop Carrier Squadron. After training in the United States, the squadron moved to New Guinea, where it conducted tactical airlift in the Southwest Pacific Theater. The unit participated in the airborne assault on Nadzab, New Guinea, on 5 September 1943 during World War II. After the surrender of Japan, the squadron moved to Tachikawa Field, where it participated in the military occupation of Japan until inactivating in 1946.[1]

Reserve operations and Korean War[edit | edit source]

In August 1947, the squadron was activated at Greater Pittsburgh Airport as a reserve unit. It trained in the reserves until October 1950, when it was called to active duty for the Korean War. The squadron moved to Greenville Air Force Base and served on active duty until July 1952 when it was inactivated and its personnel and aircraft were transferred to the 18th Troop Carrier Squadron, which was simultaneously activated.[1][2]

The same day it was inactivated at Greenville, the squadron returned to Pittsburgh and reserve service, where it assumed the mission, personnel and equipment of the 458th Troop Carrier Squadron, which was simultaneously inactivated.[2] The squadron continued to train in the reserves until inactivating in 1957.[1]

Airlift training[edit | edit source]

In 1966, Military Air Transport Service (MATS) became Military Airlift Command and replaced its former Major Command Controlled (MAJCON or 4 digit) units with AFCON units. As part of this transformation, the 56th replaced the 1740th Air Transport Squadron at Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma in January 1966.[1] The 1740th had been organized by MATS on 5 September 1951 as the 1740th Air Transport Squadron (Transition Training Unit) at McChord Air Force Base and was assigned to the 1705th Air Transport Wing. It moved to Palm Beach Air Force Base in July 1952 and to Tinker Air Force Base in March 1959 when MATS moved its training wing. At Tinker, the squadron provided training for aircrews in Douglas C-124 Globemaster II. In January 1966, the 56th Military Airlift Squadron replaced the 1740th and continued to train Globemaster crews through 1968.

With the arrival of the Air Force's first C-5 Galaxy on 17 December 1969, the 56th became the first operational C-5 squadron in the Air Force. It provided training and transition-flying training for aircrews in C-5 aircraft from 1969 to 2007. It also supported U.S. forces in Southeast Asia from April 1972 to December 1974.

The 56th Airlift Squadron was an inactive unit of the United States Air Force from September 2008 – August 2016, when it re-activated as the "56th Air Refueling Squadron".[3] It was most recently part of the 97th Operations Group at Altus Air Force Base, Oklahoma. It operated Lockheed C-5 Galaxy aircraft, conducting initial and advanced aircrew training for airlift, airdrop and air refueling operations . The 56th Airlift Squadron was the Air Force's formal school for Lockheed C-5 Galaxy airland qualification training.[1] The squadron transferred its C-5s in 2007, although it did not inactivate until September 2008.[1]

The last C-5 Galaxy (0462) "flewaway" from Altus on 20 July 2007. It was transferred to Martinsburg AFB, West Virginia.

Operations[edit | edit source]

Lineage[edit | edit source]

  • Constituted as the 56th Troop Carrier Squadron on 12 November 1942
Activated on 18 November 1942
Inactivated on 25 March 1946
Activated in the reserves on 3 August 1947
  • Redesignated 56th Troop Carrier Squadron, Medium on 27 June 1949
Ordered to active service on 15 October 1950
Inactivated on 14 July 1952
Activated in the reserves on 14 July 1952
Inactivated on 16 November 1957
  • Redesignated 56th Military Airlift Squadron, Training and activated on 27 December 1965 (not organized)
Organized on 8 January 1966
  • Redesignated 56th Airlift Squadron on 27 August 1991[4]
Inactivated on 30 September 2008
  • Redesignated 56th Air Refueling Squadron on 23 June 2016
Activated on 1 August 2016[3]

Assignments[edit | edit source]

  • 375th Troop Carrier Group, 12 November 1942 – 25 March 1946
  • 375th Troop Carrier Group, 3 August 1947 – 14 July 1952
  • 375th Troop Carrier Group, 14 July 1952 – 16 November 1957
  • Military Air Transport Service (later Military Airlift Command), 27 December 1965 (not organized)
  • 443d Military Airlift Wing (later 443d Airlift Wing), 8 January 1966
  • 443d Operations Group, 1 October 1991
  • 97th Operations Group, 1 October 1992 – 30 September 2008
  • 97th Operations Group, 1 August 2016 – present[4]

Stations[edit | edit source]

Aircraft[edit | edit source]

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

Notes[edit | edit source]

Explanatory notes

  1. The emblem was slightly modified on 12 July 1971. AFHRA Factsheet, 56 Air Refueling Squadron. This emblem was originally approved for the 1740th Air Transport Squadron and was adopted as part of the 1740th's heritage when the 56th replaced in 1966


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 Haulman, Daniel L. (January 10, 2017). "Factsheet 56 Air Refueling Squadron (AETC)". Air Force Historical Research Agency. http://www.afhra.af.mil/About-Us/Fact-Sheets/Display/Article/434042/56-airlift-squadron-aetc/. Retrieved May 4, 2017. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 Maurer, Combat Squadrons,[page needed]
  3. 3.0 3.1 Davis, SRA Dillon (August 31, 2016). "Forging the KC-46: New training center opens to prepare tanker aircrews". US Air Force Public Affairs. http://www.aetc.af.mil/News/ArticleDisplay/tabid/5115/Article/930748/forging-the-46.aspx. Retrieved 6 September 2016. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 Lineage, except as indicated, including assignments, stations and aircraft in AFHRA Factsheet

Bibliography[edit | edit source]

External links[edit | edit source]

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