44th Military Airlift Squadron

44th Air Transport Squadron

44th Air Transport Squadron  

44th Military Airlift Squadron 

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44th Military Airlift Squadron History and Lineage 

Note: The 44th was first line organization to fly the C-141 aircraft.


The 44th Military Airlift Squadron is an inactive United States Air Force unit. Its last was assigned to the 60th Military Airlift Wing, Military Airlift Command, stationed at Travis Air Force Base, California. It was inactivated on 1 March 1972.  

Established in 1942 as a C-47 Skytrain air transport squadron, initially active in the United States supporting units in the Zone of the Interior.

Deployed to Egypt in 1942 being assigned to Ninth Air Force. Provided combat transport in support of the British Eighth Army during the Western Desert Campaign, and the United States Fifth Army under Twelfth Air Force during the North African Campaign in Algeria and Tunisia. Included airborne assaults on Sicily, then reassigned to IX Troop Carrier Command in England, participating in the airborne invasions of Normandy, Holland, and Germany.

Returned to the United States after the German Capitulation in May 1945; many combat veterans demobilized and unit re-equipped with C-46 Commandoes. Reassigned to Hawaii Territory and provided air transport for Seventh Air Force until inactivated in 1946.

Organized in 1955 at McGuire AFB, New Jersey when assets on inactivated 1600th Air Transport Group were moved to McGuire from Westover AFB, MA, however never fully manned or equipped. Inactivated a few days after activation. 

Reactivated in 1961 at Travis AFB, California as a C-135B Stratolifter strategic airlift squadron. The 44th received 18 new C-135B's from the Boeing factory that would be operated over Pacific and around the world transport routes under Military Air Transport Service. The 44th was the first organization to use jets while airlifting Bob Hope Christmas tours to the Far East in 1963.

On 23 April 1965, squadron became the first line operational unit to fly the Lockheed C-141 Starlifter, which it operated over MATS and later Military Airlift Command routes on a worldwide basis, 1965-1972. Frequently flew cargo and personnel to United States bases in South Vietnam and Thailand during the Vietnam War. Inactivated in 1972 due to budget restrictions as part of the post-Vietnam drawdown of the USAF.

Lineage: Constituted 44th Transport Squadron on 30 May 1942. Activated on 15 Jun 1942. Redesignated 44th Troop Carrier Squadron on 4 Jul 1942. Inactivated on 25 Mar 1946. Constituted as 44th Air Transport Squadron on 1 Nov 1955, activated on 9 Nov 1955.  Inactivated on 14 Nov 1955.  Reactivated as: 44th Air Transport Squadron, Heavy, on 1 Nov 1961, redesignated: 44th Military Airlift Squadron, Heavy on 8 Jan 1966.  Inactivated on 1 March 1972.

Assignments: 316 Transport (later, 316 Troop Carrier) Group, 15 Jun 1942; I Troop Carrier Command, May 1945; VI Air Service Area Command, attached 3 Aug 1945-25 Mar 1946. 1611th Air Transport Wing, 9-14 Nov 1955, 1501 Air Transport Wing, 1 Nov 1961-8 Jan 1966  and 60th Military Airlift Wing, 8 Jan 1966-1 Mar 1972. 

Stations: Patterson Field, OH, 15 Jun 1942; Bowman Field, KY, 16 Jun 1942; Lawson Field, GA, 9 Aug 1942; Del Valle, TX, 29 Sep-10 Nov 1942; Egypt, 25 Nov 1942; Nouvion, Algeria, 10 May 1943; Guercif, French Morocco, 28 May 1943; Enfidaville, Tunisia, 24 Jun 1943; Mazara, Sicily, 1 Sep 1943; Borizzo, Sicily, 18 Oct 1943-16 Feb 1944; Cottesmore, England, Feb 1944-May 1945; Pope Field, NC, May 1945; Baer Field, IN, 20 Jun-15 Jul 1945; Bellows Field, TH, 3 Aug 1945; Wheeler Field, TH, 29 Sep 1945-25 Mar 1946. McGuire AFB, New Jersey, 9-14 Nov 1955 and Travis AFB, California, 1 Nov 1961-1 Mar 1972. 

Commanders: Lt Col Buron R. Fleet, Jun 1942; Lt Col Benjamin F. Kendig, Aug 1943; unkn, Apr 1945-25 Mar 1946; Lt Col William A. Brinson, 1962; Lt Col Hartness, 1964; Lt Col Fish, 70-72;   (Help me to complete--send names). 

Aircraft: C-47, 1942-1945; C-46, 1945-1946.  C-135B, 1961 -1965, C-141, 1965 - 1972. 

Operations: Included airborne assaults on Sicily, Normandy, Holland, and Germany, and aerial transportation in MTO and ETO, during World War II. 


Service Streamers: World War II Asiatic-Pacific Theater. 

Campaign Streamers: World War II: Egypt-Libya; Tunisia; Sicily; Naples-Foggia; Rome-Arno; Normandy; Northern France; Rhineland; Central Europe. 

Armed Forces Expeditionary Streamers:  None. 

Decorations: Distinguished Unit Citations: Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Sicily, 25 Nov 1942-25 Aug 1943; Sicily, 11 Jul 1943; France, [6-7] Jun 1944.