A significant portion of America's military strength is vested in its reserve forces. Coupled with its federal mission to provide the U.S. Air Force and Department of Defense with a trained combat-ready strategic military airlift force, the 172d Airlift Wing provides the State of Mississippi support in the event of national emergency, maintains peace and order and supports civil defense and pre-attack planning.
The 172d's original designation was the 183d Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron (Night Photo). In 1957 - 183rd TRS became the 183rd Aeromedical Transport Squadron (Light). The C-119 was the first conversion aircraft assigned to the 183d. Six (6) Fairchild C-119 Flying Boxcars replaced the RB-26. The C-119 widened the mission of the unit. In 1964 183d was upgraded from squadron to group status and redesignated the 172d Air Transport Group. The reorganization increased unit manning to a total of 927 officers and airmen, and retained the 183d Air Transport Squadron as its flying squadron. In 1966 the C-124 Globemaster was assigned to the Mississippi Air Guard. Nicknamed "Ole Shakey" because of the constant vibration of the airframe in flight. The C-124 was capable of carrying a wider range of outsized cargo than any other aircraft in the Air Force inventory at that time.
The 172d is based at Allen C. Thompson Field in Jackson, Mississippi. The Air Guard facility is named after Charles L. Sullivan, the former Lieutenant Governor of Mississippi and long-time member and pilot in this unit. The 172nd Airlift Wing based in Jackson operates C-17 Globemaster aircraft.
On 13 December 1971 the 172d converted to the C-130E Hercules aircraft. From 18 February to 1 April 1978 the 172d participated in Operation Volant Oak, an Air Force-sponsored deployment to the Panama Canal Zone. Under Volant Oak, the cargo mission of the Air Force Southern Command would eventually be turned over to units from the Air National Guard and the USAF Reserve, on a rotating basis, relieving regular AF units assigned to Howard Air Force Base in the Canal Zone. In 1980 the 172d received the latest version of the Hercules, the C-130H, the ultra-modern model. After 27 years in the business, the 172d finally received a brand new, factory-fresh aircraft.
On 12 July 1986 the first C-141B Starlifter to be released from Air Force control arrived at Thompson Field to begin its new mission with the Mississippi Air National Guard. With a total of eight (8) aircraft, the unit began a new mission in strategic airlift that greatly expanded its global range.
The current assigned aircraft is the C-17 Globemaster. The 172d was the first Air National Guard unit to be assigned this aircraft. Growth of the unit 0 is testimony to the success the unit has had in recruiting and retaining qualified people. The 172d contributes significantly to the economic posture of the city and surrounding communities.
In March 1988 the 172d took part in the airlift of approximately 3200 troops and almost 1000 tons of cargo on an exercise to Palmerola Air Base, Honduras. The 172d had the distinction of being the only Air National Guard unit in the United States which participated in the airlift of troops to Honduras. On 6 December 1988 the Soviet Republic of Armenia suffered a powerful earthquake. The first Air Guard aircraft to fly to Armenia was a C-141B from the 172d. Before relief missions ended, the 172d would fly six missions with its planes and crew and additionally would furnish a crew to fly a U.S. Air Force C-141 whose crew had reached maximum flying hours. In September 1989 a devastating hurricane struck the tiny island of St. Croix, leaving the island crippled, the 172d flew eleven emergency relief missions, hauling 465 tons of cargo and 472 passengers and encompassing 165 hours of flying time.
From 20 December 1989 to 12 January 1990 the 172d flew 21 sorties in support of Operation Just Cause in Panama. The total amount of cargo transported during the support of Operation Just Cause was 403.6 tons Total number of passengers was 1,274. On 7 August 1990 the 172d's support of Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm began when aircrew members began voluntary missions. Approximately 98 aircrew members flew missions on a volunteer basis. On 24 August 1990 the 183d Airlift Squadron was activated by Presidential Directive. From August 1990 to May 1991 the 148 members of the 183d flew 2,880 sorties which transported 15,837 passengers and 25,949.2 tons of cargo.
On 1 September 1995 the 172d amassed 175,000 accident free flying hours, proving the ability of the Air National Guard to fulfill its role in the Total Force concept.
On 20 November 1995 Congressman G. V. "Sonny" Montgomery announced that six operational C-17 aircraft will be assigned to the 172d Airlift Wing, Jackson, Mississippi. When asked about the C-17 announcement, Major Richard B. Howard, Commander, 172 Aircraft Generation Squadron, responded "We're excited. The depth of our maintenance folks' experience in supporting cargo aircraft -- the C-124, the C-130, the C-141 -- [shows that] now we're ready for the next challenge."
· 23 May 1998 - The nation's 19th B-2 Stealth Bomber was named "Spirit of Mississippi."
· 12 October 2000 -October 2000 after the bombing of the USS Cole in Yemen, members from the Mississippi Air National Guard's 172 Airlift Wing deployed seventeen members to Ramstein Air Base Germany. Members from the 183rd Aeromedical Evacuation and 183rd Airlift Squadron picked up four sailors from Ramstein Air Base in Germany and flew them home to Norfolk Naval Station.
· 22 March 2001 - The 172d amassed 190,000 accident free flying hours, continuing to prove the ability of the Air National Guard to fulfill its role in the Total Force concept.
· 29 October 2001 - 16 December 2002 172d Airlift Wing operated the European Strategic Intra-Theater Deployment from Ramstein AB, Germany
o Total Flown Hours Flown - 4,360.2 Hours
o Total Sorties Flown - 872
o Total Passengers Hauled - 5,911
o Total Cargo Hauled - 5,963.2 Short Tons
o Aircraft Reliability Rate (Deployed Maintenance/Operations Operations) - 82.5%
o Contingencies Supported - Operation Enduring Freedom, Northern Watch, Southern Watch, Deliberate Force
· February 2003 - The 172d looses its last C-141C Starlifter in preparation for the arrival of the wings first C-17 Globemaster III.
· On December 17 2003, Lt. Gen. Daniel James III, Director, Air National Guard, hands off the "keys" to the first C-17 Globemaster (S/N 02-1112) to Maj. Gen. James H. Lipscomb III, adjutant general for the Mississippi National Guard. C-17A -1112 is also the first Globemaster assigned to the Air National Guard. This C-17 was named the "Spirit of the Minutemen".
· 10 December 2004 - The 172d Airlift Wing departed RAF Brize Norton on an "opportune cargo" mission with an English Horse Stable (circa 1924) which housed the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment (PIR) during WW II enroute to Dobbins AFB, GA. The mission coined the "Band of Brothers Mission".
· 1 June 2005, Members of the 172d Airlift Wing were placed on Title 10 Presidential Mobilization status. In July 2005, the 172 Airlift Wing deployed aircraft, aircrews, and maintenance personnel to Incirlick AB, Turkey to support the C-17 OIF airlift operations.
· August 26 2005 - The state of Mississippi activated its National Guard in preparation for the landfall of hurricane Katrina. Additionally, the state government activated its Emergency Operations Center the next day, and local governments began issuing evacuation orders. The 172 Airlift Wing Operated for Hurricanes Katrina and Rita:
· 92 Sorties
· 157.6 Flight Hours
· 567 Passengers
· 988.0 Tons of Cargo
· October 2005 - The 172 Airlift Wing moved their deployed operations form Incirlick AB, Turkey to Ramstein AB, Germany in support of the Medical Aerial Evacuation mission. This mission was tagged simply as, the Balad Air Evacuation mission.
· 2006 Balad A/E - For the year 2006, the Balad Air Evac mission operated 1,101 sorties accumulating 5,542.9 flight hours, transporting 5,625 litter patients, 4,754 ambulatory patients, 2,235 attendants, 12,095 passengers, and 8,134 tons of cargo.
· 19 March 2006 - A C-17 from the 172nd Airlift Wing flew the C-17 fleet past the millionth hour mark during an Aero medical Evacuation Mission from Ramstein AB, Germany to Balad AB, Iraq and back.
· 2007 Balad A/E - For the year 2007, the Balad Air Evac mission operated 815 sorties accumulating 4,035.4 flight hours, transporting 3,339 litter patients, 3,607 ambulatory patients, 1,316 attendants, 6,698 passengers, and 2,194.8 tons of cargo.
· 9 July 2007 - The Mississippi Air National Guard and the 172nd Airlift Wing opened the first Air Guard assault runway at Camp Shelby, Miss., near Hattiesburg.
· 20 November 2007 - Dedicated C-17 aircraft 3113 the "Spirit of the Purple Heart. "
· 2008 Balad A/E - For the year 2008, the Balad Air Evac mission operated 1,024 sorties accumulating 5,856.4 flight hours, transporting 4,846 litter patients, 5,235 ambulatory patients, 1,909 attendants, 9,721 passengers, and 3,185.2 tons of cargo.
- September 2008 - Supported state-wide responses to Hurricanes Gustav and Ike by activating more than 150 personnel for ice and water distribution in Bude, Miss. and aeromedical evacuation missions out of Texas and Louisiana to support state evacuation plans.
- 2009 Partnered with NASA to fit and transport the Orion space module in a C-17 aircraft to departure location.
- 2009 Boasts a safety record of over 244,084 accident free flying hours equating to over 55 years without a Class A mishap.
- January 2010 - 172d flew humanitarian support missions to Haiti following the devastating earthquake that struck that country. Along with transporting tons of medical supplies, the wing carried medical and rescue personnel to the nation. The Wing also evacuated individuals impacted by the earthquake to safety.
- June 2010 - 172d personnel flew the recovered mast from the sunken WW II ship, USS Oklahoma, from Pearl Harbor to Tinker AFB, OK.
- March 2011 - 172d participated in the rapid earthquake/tsunami response to Japan. The wing provided one of the first crews to assist in the relief efforts.
- May 2011 - 172d mobilized Security Forces for the Great 2011 Mississippi River Flood.
- 2011 - Boasts a safety record of 262,312 accident free flying hours, equating to more than 57 years without a Class A mishap.
- 2012 - 172d is continuing its mobilization since 2005 in support of contingency operations across the globe.