97th Air Mobility Wing

97th Air Mobility Wing

Infobox Military Unit
unit_name=97th Air Mobility Wing

caption= Emblem of the 97th AMW.
dates= February 3, 1942
country=United States of America
branch=United States Air Force
command_structure=Air Education and Training Command
current_commander=Colonel David W. Allvin
garrison=Altus Air Force Base, Oklahoma.

* World War II: European Campaign (1942-1945)
notable_commanders= John Dale Ryan
Jacob E. Smart
The 97th Air Mobility Wing (97 AMW) is a wing of the United States Air Force based at Altus Air Force Base, Oklahoma. The 97 AMW provides quality training to produce the finest combat-ready aircrew members for the United States Air Force. The training at Altus AFB, OK, is done in a three phase approach: Academic Phase, Simulator Phase, and Flying Phase.

The 97th AMW's operational mission is, in conjunction with its training mission, to have its instructor force maintain operational currency so that they, as highly-qualified combat-ready aircrew members, can deploy to augment world-wide contingencies. The 97th maintains approximately 500 mobility personnel ready to deploy all over the world in a moments notice in support of national interests.


The 97 AMW consists of the following major units:

* 97th Operations Group
Plans and executes C-17, KC-135 formal school initial and advanced specialty training programs for up to 3000 students annually. Sustains C-17, KC-135 airland, airdrop and air refueling mobility forces providing global reach for combat and contingency operations. Provides air traffic control and weather forecasting for flying operations.
** 97th Operations Support
** 97th Trainning Squadron
** 54th Air Refueling Squadron (KC-135)
** 55th Air Refueling Squadron (KC-135)
** 56th Airlift Squadron (C-5A)
** 58th Airlift Squadron (C-17)
* 97th Mission Support Group
Provides first class mission, infrastructure, and community quality of life support for personnel and all assigned organizations on Altus AFB. Supports worldwide USAF taskings with deployment ready personnel and equipment.
* 97th Maintenance Directorate
Provides quality maintenance and support to all KC-135R and C-17 aircraft and provide the same quality maintenance support to transient aircraft, engines and associated ground equipment. To provide quality backshop support to all three aircraft while continuously improving environmental awareness and effectively managing maintenance resources, allowing the 97th Air Mobility Wing to perform its aircrew training mission.
* 97th Medical Group
Ensures maximum wartime readiness and combat capability by promoting the health, safety and morale of active duty personnel. Staffs, trains, mobilizes and provides medical services in support of contingency operations worldwide. Develops and operates a prevention-oriented, cost-effective managed healthcare system for over 9.500 beneficiaries, increasing wellness in the local community.



* Established as 97th Bombardment Group (Heavy) on January 28, 1942. : Activated on February 3, 1942.: Redesignated 97th Bombardment Group, Heavy, on September 30, 1944. : Inactivated on October 29, 1945.
* Redesignated 97th Bombardment Group, Very Heavy, on July 15, 1946: Activated on August 4, 1946.
* Established 97th Bombardment Wing, Very Heavy, on September 11, 1947: Organized on December 1, 1947.: Redesignated: 97th Bombardment Wing, Medium, on July 12, 1948: Redesignated: 97th Bombardment Wing, Heavy, on October 1, 1959: Redesignated: 97th Wing on September 1, 1991. : Inactivated on April 1, 1992.
* Redesignated: 97 Air Mobility Wing on August 21, 1992: Activated on October 1, 1992.


* Third Air Force, 3 Feb 1942
* VIII Bomber Command, 20 May 1942
* XII Bomber Command, 14 Sep 1942: 5th Bombardment Wing, Jan 1943-c. 29 Oct 1945:: 5th BW transferred and assigned to Fifteenth Air Force
1 Nov 1943 - 29 October 1945
* Fifteenth Air Force, 4 Aug 1946 - 16 May 1948: Attached to: Yukon Sector, Alaskan Air Command
c. 2-30 Nov 1947: Attached to: 301st Bombardment Wing, Very Heavy
17 Mar - 16 May 1948
* Eighth Air Force, 16 May 1948 - 15 Mar 1952: 7th Air Division, 15 Mar - 11 Jun 1952: 810th Air Division, 16 Jun 1952 - 5 Mau 1956:: Attached to 7 Air Division, 5 May - 4 Jul 1956: 4th Air Division, 1 Jul 1959 - 1 Jul 1963: 42d Air Division:: 1 - 2 Jul 1963:: 1 Jan - 30 Jun 1971: 19th Air Division:: 2 Jul 1969 - 1 Jul 1973: 42d Air Division, 1 Jul 1973 - 15 Jun 1988
* Eighth Air Force, 16 Jun 1988 - 1 Apr 1992
* Twenty-Second Air Force, 1 Oct 1992 - 1 Jul 1993
* Nineteenth Air Force, 1 Jul 1993 - Present

Bases assigned

* MacDill Field, Florida, 3 Feb 1942
* Sarasota AAF, Florida, 29 Mar-c. 16 May 1942
* RAF Polebrook, England, c. 13 Tun-c. 9 Nov 1942
* Algeria:: Maison Blanche: c. 13 Nov 1942: Tafaraoui: 22 Nov 1942 : Biskra: c. 25 Dec 1942: Chateaudun-du-Rhumel: c. 8 Feb 1943
* Tunisia:: Pont-du-Fahs: c. I Aug 1943;: Depienne: c. 15 Aug 1943
* Italy:: Cerignola: c. 20 Dec 1943: Amendola: 16 Jan 1944: Marcianise: c. 29 Oct 1945
* Smoky Hill AAF, Kansas, 4 Aug 1946:: Deployed to: Mile 62 Air Field, Alaska
1 Dec 1947 - 12 Mar 1948
* Biggs AFB, Texas, 17 May 1948
* Blytheville (later, Eaker) AFB, Arkansas, July 1, 1959-April 1, 1992.
* Altus AFB, Oklaholma, October 1, 1992-Present

Operational history

World War II

Constituted as 97th Bombardment Group (Heavy) on January 28, 1942. Activated on February 3, 1942. Trained with B-17's; also flew some antisubmarine patrols. Moved to England, May-July 1942, for duty with Eighth Air Force.

Entered combat on August 17, 1942 by bombing a marshalling yard at Rouen, the first mission flown by AAF's heavy bombers based in England. After that, attacked airfields, marshalling yards, industries, naval installations, and other targets in France and the Low Countries.

Moved to the Mediterranean Theater in November 1942, being assigned first to Twelfth Air Force and later (November 1943) to Fifteenth Air Force. Struck shipping in the Mediterranean and airfields, clocks, harbors, and marshalling yards in North Africa, southern France, Sardinia, Sicily, and southern Italy, November 1942-May 1943, in the campaign to cut supply lines to German forces in North Africa.

Helped to force the capitulation of Pantelleria in June 1943. Bombed in preparation for and in support of the invasions of Sicily and southern Italy in the summer and fall of 1943.

From November 1943 to April 1945, engaged chiefly in long-range missions to targets in Italy, France, Germany, Czechoslovakia, Austria, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, and Greece, attacking oil refineries, aircraft factories, marshalling yards, and other strategic objectives.

Received a Distinguished Unit Citation for leading a strike against an aircraft factory at Steyr on February 24, 1944 during Big Week, the intensive air campaign against the German aircraft industry.

2nd Lt David R Kingsley, bombardier, was awarded the Medal of Honor for saving the life of a wounded gunner on June 23, 1944: during a mission to Ploesti, Kingsley's B-17 was seriously crippled and the tail gunner was injured; when the crew was ordered to bail out, Kingsley gave his parachute to the gunner, whose own had been damaged, and assisted him in bailing out; Kingsley died a few moments later when his bomber crashed and burned.

The group received its second DUC for a devastating raid against one of the Ploesti refineries on August 18, 1944. Other operations of the 97th included pounding enemy communications, transportation, and airfields in support of Allied forces at Anzio and Cassino; bombing coastal defenses in preparation for the invasion of Southern France; and assisting US Fifth and British Eighth Army in their advance through the Po Valley.

Inactivated in Italy on October 29, 1945.

Cold War

The unit was redesignated as the 97th Bombardment Group (Very Heavy) and was reativated at Smoky Hill AAFld (later, Smoky Hill AFB), Kansas on August 4, 1946. Assigned to Strategic Air Command and was equipped with B-29 Superfortresses.

On December 1, 1947, the 97th Bombardment Wing, Very Heavy was established, and the unit was reassigned to Mile 26 Air Field (later named Eielson Air Force Base (AFB), Alaska) on that date. The new wing reported to Fifteenth Air Force, Strategic Air Command (SAC), although the Yukon Sector of the Alaskan Air Command controlled its operations.

Operational squadrons of the 97th BW were the 340th, 341st and 342d Bomb Squadrons

The 97th was originally a temporary organization, comprised of components of the 97th Bombardment Group and the 519th Air Service Group, deployed from Smoky Hill Air Force Base, Kansas. The Air Force was conducting a service test of a combat wing structure that elevated the wing headquarters to the highest echelon of command on the base. This gave the wing commander the authority to direct activities rather than merely request that his flying mission receive support.

The wing consisted of a combat group, an airfield group, a maintenance and supply group, and a medical group. The unit's March 1948 history stated: "The mission of the 97th Bombardment Wing (VHB) is to man, train, and maintain a self-sustaining strategic bombardment group capable of operations in any theater." While in Alaska the 97th flew B-29 Superfortress training missions over the Arctic Ocean, testing the aircraft and maintenance crews in the harsh climate. At the end of the Alaskan deployment the wing returned to Smoky Hill AFB, near Salina, Kansas, in March 1948.

Throughout its existence the 97th contributed to the deterrence of nuclear war with the former Soviet Union by being prepared to execute Emergency War Order (EWO) assignments. It continually demonstrated its resolve in the same manner as other SAC bombardment wings, primarily by maintaining the "CHROME DOME" aerial alert capability and by keeping crews on ground alert, capable of launching bomber sorties within minutes. The wing's tankers participated in the Atlantic, Pacific, European, and Alaskan Tanker Task Forces, ensuring that the bombers would be able to reach their targets. Until the Soviet Union's demise in 1989 the crews of the 97th trained for war, unless other world events demanded their attention.


While at Smoky Hill AFB, the wing was attached to the 301st Bombardment Wing, Very Heavy, for further training and to assist the 301st prepare for its upcoming move to Germany. The 301st never moved, hence the 97th moved to Biggs AFB, El Paso, Texas, on May 22, 1948, only two short months later. Meanwhile, the Eighth Air Force assumed control of the wing on May 16, 1948. Eighth Air Force discontinued the 97th Bombardment Wing, Very Heavy, on July 12, 1948 and subsequently redesignated it the 97th Bombardment Wing, Medium, and activated it on the same date. This made the 97th a permanent combat wing. The combat wing service test was over, leaving the 97th with a combat group, an air base group, a maintenance and supply group, and a medical group.

Biggs AFB, Texas

The 97th, under SAC, took over operation of Biggs AFB from the departing [http://www.47thbombwing.org/47th-history.html 47th Bombardment Group] , Light Jet, a Tactical Air Command unit. Biggs AFB would remain the wing's home for over ten years. As the 1940s ended, changes were on the horizon for the 97th's flying mission.

Early in 1950 the 97th received its first B-50 Superfortress, an improved version of the B-29 capable of delivering atomic weapons. As crews trained and became qualified in the B-50, the wing transferred some of its B-29s to other units. Aerial refueling increased the new bomber's range and brought a new flying mission to the wing.

The 97th Air Refueling Squadron, activated in March 1949, saw its manning increase as it received its first KB-29P in January 1950. Its mission, as stated in the wing's history, was: "to extend the range of the strategic bombers." The 97th was the first unit to operate the new boom-type or "American-type" equipment. As such it had the burden of testing the equipment and standardizing the operating procedures. The unit received KC-97 Stratotankers in 1954 to replace its KB-29s.

The 97th experienced two mission changes in 1955. First, the 340th Bombardment Squadron, a subordinate unit, started flying RB-50Gs on electronic reconnaissance missions. The 340th went to Upper Heyford RAF Station, England and Japan on intelligence gathering missions and operated in this capacity for over a year. Meanwhile, the other bombardment squadrons in the 97th started receiving B-47 Stratojets, replacing their B-50s. The wing conducted training in bombardment and aerial refueling until December 1958 when SAC rendered it inoperational. Some of the 97th's crews went to other B-47 units, while others began training for duty in the Air Force's latest bomber, the B-52 Stratofortress.

Re-assigned to Arkansas

The 97th moved to Blytheville Air Force Base, (later named Eaker AFB), in northeast Arkansas, after SAC reassigned the wing to the 4th Air Division on July 1, 1959. Later that year SAC redesignated it the 97th Bombardment Wing, Heavy; its new mission was "to provide command and staff supervision over assigned combat tactical units that execute bombardment missions designed to destroy enemy forces and facilities." The wing's first B-52G, City of Blytheville, Arkansas, arrived in January 1960. That summer, SAC declared the 97th combat-ready and slightly changed the scope of the mission statement. Now operational, the 97th "was to conduct strategic bombardment operations on a global scale, either independently or in cooperation with land and sea forces." The wing's bomber crews, who were assigned to the [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/
] , would fly their share of CHROME DOME missions, which kept a number of SAC's B-52s on airborne alert.

In the early 1960s the 97th received missiles that would improve its B-52's survivability during penetration into enemy territory. On September 27, 1960 the 97th deployed its first GAM-77/AGM-28 Hound Dog, capable of delivering a nuclear warhead convert|500|nmi|km from its launch point, to defeat heavy air defenses. Four months later, on January 31, 1961, the GAM-77/ADM-20 Quail entered the 97th's arsenal. The Quail was a decoy that could generate radar and heat signatures resembling those of a B-52, t hereby saturating the enemy's defenses.

The aerial refueling capability of the KC-135 Stratotankers extended the range of the wing's B-52s. On January 12, 1962 the 97th received its first KC-135, christened the Arkansas Traveler before its first mission three days later. Along with refueling the B-52s on training missions, the tankers participated in an ongoing command-wide rotation to bases in Southern Europe to support CHROME DOME bombers.

Cuban Missile Crisis

The political climate grew tense in October 1962 as Cuba began preparing sites for offensive Soviet missiles. On October 22 SAC responded by establishing Defense Condition Three (DEFCON III), and ordered the 97th to place two B-52s on airborne alert. Tension grew and the next day SAC declared DEFCON II, a heightened state of alarm. While at DEFCON II the 97th maintained two B-52s on airborne alert. These, along with bombers from other SAC wings, were ready to strike targets within the Soviet Union. One of the 97th's bombers carried Hound Dog and Quail missiles, the other carried nuclear and conventional ordnance. No missions were aborted or canceled during the crisis. The 97th and other units deployed more tankers to Spain to refuel the alert force. Reconnaissance photographs taken on November 1, 1962 indicated that the Cubans had begun dismantling the sites. The wing returned to DEFCON III on the 15th and subsequently resumed normal activity on November 20.

outheast Asia

The 97th's involvement in the Southeast Asia conflict started slowly, but would demand the wing's undivided attention before ending. Its involvement began on December 14, 1965 when the wing sent one KC-135 to participate in YOUNG TIGER, the operation to refuel fighters involved in the conflict. At first, the wing's B-52s remained at Blytheville while bomber crews went to Guam to fly ARC LIGHT bombing missions. However, by the summer of 1972 all the 97th's bombers were at Guam. From there wing crews flew LINEBACKER II (sometimes called the "11-Day War" because of its intensity) missions in December 1972. On December 18, 1972 Hanoi's air defenses claimed the lives of nine crew members during this operation, while North Vietnamese ground forces captured another four and held them as prisoners of war. On August 15, 1973, after months of committing most of the wing's people and resources to the conflict, crew E-21 had the distinction of flying the last mission over a target in Cambodia. This marked the end of the United State's bombing in Southeast Asia.

Resumption of Global Mission

The 97th resumed its bomber training and refueling missions after the conflict in Southeast Asia ended while it continued to participate in contingency operations and assume new roles. Tanker crews and aircraft refueled other Air Force units supporting the rescue of American citizens in Grenada in October and November 1983. In 1984 the wing upgraded its B-52G force to carry the AGM-86B air launched cruise missile (ALCM). The wing further expanded its mission in 1987 to include conventional bombing, sea search and surveillance, and aerial mining.

Desert Storm

After Iraq's August 1990 invasion of neighboring Kuwait, the 97th began deploying elements to various locations in the United States and overseas to support Operation DESERT SHIELD. In late December, 97th Bombardment Wing B-52 crews practiced high altitude bombing missions at the Nellis AFB test range in Nevada, anticipating their role in the inevitable war to come.

Once Operation DESERT STORM was underway the nature of the wing's involvement changed. At the end of January 1991 six of the wing's bombers and crews assumed ground alert duty at Wurtsmith AFB, Michigan, allowing the 379th Bombardment Wing, stationed at Wurtsmith, to participate in Operation DESERT STORM. On February 1, 1991 major elements of the 97th deployed to RAF Fairford, United Kingdom, forming the 806th Bombardment Wing (Provisional). The wing conducted over 60 conventional bombing sorties and many air-refueling sorties.

The 97th:Re-Invented

As the Air Force began reorganizing in 1991, it redesignated the wing as the 97th Wing on September 1, and inactivated it on April 1, 1992.

On October 1, 1992 the Air Force activated the wing at Altus AFB, Oklahoma, and redesignated it the 97th Air Mobility Wing under Air Mobility Command. At the same time the Air Force inactivated the 443d Military Airlift Wing, which had been the host wing at Altus AFB since May 5, 1969. Less than a year later, on July 1, 1993, Air Education and Training Command assumed control of the 97th. The redesignated wing possessed C-5 Galaxies, C-141 Starlifters, and KC-135 Stratotankers; it subsequently started to add C-17 Globemaster IIIs in March 1996. The 97th's new mission was: to conduct strategic airlift, aerial delivery, aerial refueling training schools, conduct training for AMC aircrews, ...provide strategic aircraft support for Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) Single Integrated Operational Plan (SIOP) and conventional contingencies, provide aerial port of embarkation for US Army, Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and accomplish other tasks when assigned by higher authority.

ignificant dates

*Established on: September 11, 1947.
*Organized on: December 1, 1947.
*At: Mile 26 Air Field, AK.
*Assigned to: Fifteenth Air Force. (Attached to the Yukon Sector, Alaskan Air Command from December 1, 1947 to March 12, 1948). (Attached to the 301st Bomb Wing from March 17 to May 16, 1948).
*Equipment: B-29s.
*Moved to: Smoky Hill AFB, KS, onMarch 16, 1948. *Reassigned to: Eighth Air Force on May 16, 1948. (Attached to the 7th Air Division from March 15 to June 11, 1952).
*Moved to: Biggs AFB, TX, on May 22, 1948.
*Changed equipment in: 1950 to B-29s, KB-29s, B-50s.
*Changed equipment in: 1951 to KB-29s, B-50s.
*Reassigned to: Eighth Air Force, 810th Air Division on June 16, 1952.
*Changed equipment in: 1954 to ERB-29s, KB-29s, , B-50s, RB-50s.
*Reassigned to: Fifteenth Air Force, 810th Air Division in 1955. (Attached to the 7th Air Division from May 15 to July 4, 1956).
*Changed equipment in: 1955 to ERB-29s, KB-29s, B-50s, RB-50s, B-47s, KC-97s.
*Changed equipment in: 1956 to ERB-29s, KB-29s, RB-50s, B-47s, KC-97s.
*Changed equipment in: 1957 to B-47s, KC-97s.
*Changed equipment in: 1958 to B-47s.
*Moved to: Blytheville AFB, AR, on July 1, 1959.
*Reassigned to: Second Air Force, 4th Air Division on July 1, 1959.
*Changed equipment in: 1960 to B-52s.
*Changed equipment in: 1962 to B-52s, KC-135s.
*Reassigned to: Second Air Force, 42nd Air Division on July 1, 1963.
*Reassigned to: Second Air Force, 19th Air Division on July 2, 1969.
*Reassigned to: Second Air Force, 42nd Air Division on January 1, 1970.
*Reassigned to: Second Air Force, 19th Air Division on June 30, 1971.
*Reassigned to: Second Air Force, 42nd Air Division on July 1, 1973.
*Reassigned to: Eighth Air Force, 42nd Air Division on January 1, 1975.
*Reassigned to: Eighth Air Force on June 16, 1988.

See also

* 5th Air Division


* [http://www.altus.af.mil/units/ 97th Air Mobility Wing] . Accessed April 28, 2007.

External links

* [http://www.altus.af.mil/History/historybest.htm 97th Bombardment Group Bestowed History]
* [http://www.frankambrose.com/pages/medit.html Assignments during WWII]
* [http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/agency/usaf/97ars.htm 97th Air Refueling Squadron]
* [http://www.boeing.com/history/boeing/b29.html Boeing's B-29 homepage]
* [http://www.boeing.com/history/boeing/b50.html Boeing's B-50 homepage]
* [http://www.boeing.com/history/boeing/b47.html Boeing's B-47 homepage]
* [http://www.boeing.com/defense-space/military/b52-strat/flash.html Boeing's B-52 homepage]
* [http://www.boeing.com/history/boeing/c97.html Boeing's KC/C-97 homepage]
* [http://www.boeing.com/defense-space/military/kc135-strat/flash.html Boeing's KC-135 homepage]

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