315TH AIRLIFT WING HISTORY: 1980-1989
In September 1980, the 701st MAS won the AFA President’s Award as the Outstanding Air Force Reserve Flight Crew of 1980. Also in September of the same year, the 315th MAW conducted the very first, all Reserve, refueling mission. The C-141 B Starlifter was refueled by another all Reserve aircrew from the 336th Air Refueling Squadron based at March AFB, California.
In a 24-day operation that began on November 1 1981, the 315th MAW supported two Operations, Bold Eagle and Bright Star. Operation Bold Eagle is a Joint Chiefs of Staff directed, US Readiness Command exercise. The Wing also provided crews for a 24-ship, heavy equipment airdrop in Egypt for Operation Bright Star. JCS directed, Bright Star is a ground maneuverability event involving Egyptian and US forces.
On October 23, 1983, aircrews from the 707th MAS flew from Rhein-Main AB in West Germany to Beirut, Lebanon to assist in returning 35 sets of remains and an additional 14 litter patients. This mission by the 707 MAS comes in the aftermath of the bombing of the US Marine barracks at the Beirut International Airport. In all, the bombing claimed the lives of 241 service members.
During this same time, October 23, 1983, Operation Urgent Fury kicks off. Urgent Fury is a multi national, multi service response to Cuba using the tiny island nation of Grenada as a storage area for arms and other military equipment. In the coming days, both the 300th MAS and the 707th MAS will transport Marines and members of the 82nd Airborne Division to Point Salinas, Grenada as part of this effort. The 300th MAS also flew 71 evacuees from St. George’s Medical University on Grenada back to the US.
Members of the 31st AES also participated in Urgent Fury. The unit departed CAFB on board a C-141B on October 24 and headed to the island of Barbados. The 31st AES established an Aeromedical Evacuation Control Center there and was tasked to direct the movement of casualties from Grenada to rearward medical treatment facilities. O ver the next several days both the 315th MAW and their active duty counterparts, the 437th MAW, conducted missions that transported battle wounded casualties from Barbados and Puerto Rico and then back to the US.
The accomplishments of the 3-1-5 were recognized with two more awards on November 3, 1984. The first one was the Air Force Outstanding Unit Award for the period of January 1, 1982 to December 31, 1983. The Wing was also the recipient of the Reserve Flying Wing Award from the Air Force Association for the period of April 1, 1983 to March 31, 1984.
The 315th MAW responded to another natural disaster relief request, this one from the American Ambassador to Ecuador. An aircrew assigned to the 701st MAS and commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Gerald A. Black, airlifted 70,000 pounds of relief supplies to Quito, Ecuador on March 8, 1987. This South American country suffered two large earthquakes on the night of March 5-6, one shock measured 6.0 on the Richter scale, and another one that registered at 6.8 followed that.
The Air Force Association selected the 315th MAW as the Outstanding Reserve Flying Squadron on June 22, 1987. The Wing received this honor for its performance during the period of April 1, 1986 to March 31, 1987.
Near midnight on September 21, 1989, the eye of Hurricane Hugo passed over Sullivan’s Island, SC with 135 mile per hour (MPH) winds. Aircrews from the 315th MAW had already evacuated aircraft to inland facilities ahead of the storm but in the days after the hurricane both the aircraft and personnel of the 3-1-5 would remain busy and ready to lend a hand. Supplies and personnel were airlifted to various islands in the Caribbean that the storm had already devastated in the previous days to help with those relief efforts. Here at home, members of the 3-1-5 helped in cleaning up CAFB and in the local community. The 315th MAW also provided and helped to distribute food, clothing, and other necessities in the community.
Just barely over a month after Hurricane Hugo devastated Charleston, SC, aircrews from the 315th MAW respond to another natural disaster, this time in San Francisco, Calif. The Loma Prieta earthquake rocked San Francisco on the afternoon of October 18, 1989 with a magnitude of 6.9 on the Richter scale. The aircrews of the 3-1-5 once again deliver much needed supplies to victims of the earthquake.
315th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
218 N. Bates St.
Charleston Air Force Base, SC 29404-4918
Ph: (843) 963-2035