3rd Airlift Squadron 

3rd Military Airlift Squadron  

3rd Air Transport Squadron

 3rd Air Transport Squadron

 3rd Air Transport Squadron

 3rd Military Airlift Squadron 

 3rd Military Airlift Squadron

  3rd Airlift Squadron  

  3d Airlift Squadron  

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3rd Airlift Squadron History and Lineage


The squadron's motto is "Third but First!" Building on its proud heritage, the 3rd Airlift Squadron today continues its tradition of excellence providing sovereign options for the United States of America in the Global War on Terrorism. 

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 Semipalitinsk, 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 2006 the 3rd AS transitioned from operation of the C-5 Galaxy to the newer C-17 Globemaster III. Constituted 3rd Air Corps Ferrying Squadron on 18 Feb 1942. Activated on 7 Mar 1942. Redesignated 3rd Transport Squadron on 24 Mar 1943. Disbanded on 1 Dec 1943. Reconstituted, and redesignated 3rd Air Transport Squadron, Heavy, on 20 Jun 1952. Activated on 20 Jul 1952. Redesignated: 3rd Military Airlift Squadron on 8 Jan 1966; 3d Airlift Squadron on 1 Dec 1991.

Assignments: 1st Ferrying (later, 1st Transport) Group, 7 Mar 1942-1 Dec 1943. 1703d Air Transport Group, 20 Jul 1952; 1700th Air Transport Group, 18 Jun 1957; 1608th Air Transport Wing, 24 Nov 1957; 1608th Air Transport Group, 18 Jun 1958; 1608th Air Transport Wing, 18 Jan 1963; 437th Military Airlift Wing, 8 Jan 1966; 436th Military Airlift Wing, 1 Aug 1973; 436th Operations Group, 1 Dec 1991- 

Commanders: Unknown, 7 March 1942; Maj Roy O. Ralston, January 1943; Maj Hiram Griffin, 20 July 1952; Lt Col Eugene P. Pitts, Jr., 1 October 1953; Lt Col Charles W. Kelso, June 1955; Maj Claude W. Allen, 1 July 1956; Maj Everett W. Langworthy, 1 January 1957; Lt Col Earle W. Kelley, 19 June 1957; Lt Col Donald E. Matthews, June 1958; Lt Col Earle R. Kingsley, 16 April 1960; Lt Col William M. McKinzie, 1 August 1961; Lt Col William L. Smith, 3 June 1965; Lt Col Leonard F. Burke, 1 August 1965; Lt Col Glen R. Hempleman, December 1966; Lt Col William H. McVey, December 1967; Col A.F. Dunlay, 5 August 1968; Lt Col Rudy Krueger, September 1969; Lt Col Joseph E. Nutt, December 1969; Lt Col Lawrence F. Uebell, March 1970; Col Robert H. Potts, 1 April 1971; Col Ray D. Shelton, 30 November 1972; Lt Col Myron D. Harnly, 19 August 1974; Lt Col James B. O’Connor, 28 February 1975; Lt Col Roy B. Dille, Jr., 3 September 1976; Lt Col Delwin K. Bopp, 25 July 1978; Lt Col Anthony F. Ferdinando, 16 July 1979; Lt Col Charles J. Dumas, 15 June 1981; Lt Col Douglas M. Senter, 3 May 1982; Lt Col William J. Begert, 17 January 1983; Lt Col Joseph F. Mathis, 18 June 1984; Lt Col Charles J. Jernigan, 24 June 1985; Lt Col John L. Sole, 3 March 1987; Lt Col Garold R. Garber, 7 December 1988; Lt Col Bradley S. Baker, 4 January 1991; Lt Col Stephen P. Nelson, 1 August 1993; Lt Col Ronald E. Richburg, 12 February 1996; Lt Col Francis W. Sick, Jr., 13 June 1997; Lt Col John R. Smith, 7 July 1999; Lt Col Andrew Redmond, 6 April 2001; Lt Col Gordon S. Campbell, 28 July 2003; Lt Col Michael K. Webb, June 2005; Lt Col Keith Thibodeaux, 1 May 2007; Lt Col Kevin J. Gordon, 27 February 2009; Lt Col Charles M. Velino, 3 November 2010

Stations: Pope Field, NC, 7 Mar 1942; Charleston SC, 17-19 Mar 1942; Karachi, India, 15 May 1942; New Malir Cantonment, India, 17 May 1942; Chabua, India, 1 Aug 1942-1 Dec 1943. Brookley AFB, AL, 20 Jul 1952; Charleston AFB, SC, 18 Jun 1958; Dover AFB, DE, 1 Aug 1973-

Aircraft: C-46, 1942-1943. C-124, 1952-1965; C-74, 1955; C-141, 1965-1970; C-5, 1970-2006, C-17, 2006 -

Operations: Air transport in CBI, 17 May 1942-1 Dec 1943. Began worldwide airlift in 1952. Flew missions to Southeast Asia, 1965-1973. Supported operations in Grenada, 24 Oct-18 Dec 1983; Panama, 19 Dec 1989-14 Jan 1990; and Southwest Asia, Aug 1990-Jul 1991. 


Service Streamers: None.

Campaign Streamers: World War II: India-Burma; China Defensive. Southwest Asia: Defense of Saudi Arabia; Liberation and Defense of Kuwait.

Armed Forces Expeditionary Streamers: None.

Decorations: Air Force Outstanding Unit Awards: 1 Jan 1963-1 Feb 1964; 11 Jul 1966-10 Jul 1967; 11 Jul 1967-10 Jul 1968; 11 Jul 1968-12 Jun 1969; 13 Jun 1969-12 Jun 1970; 1 Jul 1972-30 Jun 1973; 13 Oct-14 Nov 1973; 1 Jan 1974-30 Apr 1975; 1 May 1975-31 May 1976; 1 Jun 1976-31 May 1978; 1 Jun 1978-31 May 1979; 1 Jun 1981-31 May 1982; 1 Jun 1982-31 May 1984. Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross with Palm: 1 Apr 1966-28 Jan 1970.

Emblem: On a Blue disc bordered Blue, a Golden Yellow sun issuing from dexter (right), radials Blue, the perimeter surmounted by a White lighting flash arched; in chief three small White stars forming "Orion's Belt"; in sinister (left) one (1) large White star "Sirius"; over all a Golden crown trimmed Red, lined Blue with highlights White, outlines and details Blue. MOTTO: SAFE, SWIFT, SURE. Approved on 31 Jul 1959 (K 11378).