The 172d Airlift Wing is a unit of the Mississippi Air National Guard, stationed at Allen C. Thompson Field Air National Guard Base, Mississippi. If activated to federal service, the Wing is gained by the United States Air Force Air Mobility Command.
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The 172nd Airlift Wing operates the Boeing C-17 Globemaster III, and has participated in an all-volunteer partial activation since 2005, flying weekly missions to return wounded patients of the military safely back to the United States. Also, 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 Airlift Wing consists of the following units:172d Operations Group
183d Airlift Squadron
183d Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron
172d Maintenance Group
172d Mission Support Group
172d Medical Group
In December 1963, the Mississippi 183d Air Transport Squadron was authorized to expand into a group which would include the 183d and supporting organizations, and the 172d Air Transport Group was established. The 183d became the new group's flying squadron. The support units assigned into the group were the 183d Material Squadron, 183d Air Base Squadron, and the 183d USAF Dispensary. Flying Lockheed C-121 Constellations at the time of its activation, the group soon converted to Douglas C-124C Globemaster II heavy intercontinental airlift aircraft in 1966 which meant supplies and equipment could be carried around the world along with the personnel the Constellations could carry.
The C-124 was being retired in the early 1970s and the 172d airlift mission was changed to theater support, as it equipped with Lockheed C-130E Hercules aircraft in May 1972. It upgraded to new C-130H aircraft in 1980 and continued to fly tactical airlift missions until the mid-1980s. On 12 July 1986 the group returned to the strategic airlift role when the first Lockheed C-141B Starlifter to be released from active-duty Air Force control was assigned. With a total of eight aircraft, the unit began its new mission.
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 was the only Air National Guard unit that participated in this airlift 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 flew six missions with its own planes and crew and furnished a crew to fly a United States Air Force C-141 whose crew could not continue because they had reached the maximum number flying hours to continue safe operations. 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.
From 20 December 1989 to 12 January 1990 the 172d flew 21 sorties in support of Operation Just Cause, the incursion into Panama to replace Manuel Noriega as ruler. Cargo transported during the operation amounted to 403.6 tons and 1,274 passengers were airlifted. On 7 August 1990 the 172d's support of Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm began when aircrew members started flying voluntary missions. Approximately 98 aircrew members flew these missions before 24 August 1990, when the 183d Military Airlift Squadron was activated. The 183d was one of the first two reserve and guard units to be activated. By May 1991 the 148 members of the 183d had flown 2,880 sorties which transported 15,837 passengers and 25,949.2 tons of cargo.
In 2000, the C-141C with electronic "glass cockpit" was phased into service with the group. In October 2000 after the USS Cole bombing in Aden, seventeen members of the 172d deployed to Ramstein Air Base Germany. Members of the 183d Aeromedical Evacuation and 183d Airlift Squadrons picked up four sailors from Ramstein and flew them home to Norfolk Naval Station. In February 2003 the 172d retired its last C-141C Starlifter in preparation for the arrival of the wing's first Boeing C-17 Globemaster III.
On 17 December 2003, Lt. Gen. Daniel James III, Director, Air National Guard, handed off the "keys" to the first Globemaster III to Maj. Gen. James H. Lipscomb III, adjutant general of the Mississippi National Guard. The plane was the first Globemaster III assigned to the Air National Guard and was named the "Spirit of the Minutemen".Established as the 172d Air Transport Group, Heavy and allotted to the Air National Guard on 16 December 1963
Activated in December 1963 and extended federal recognition
Redesignated 172d Military Airlift Group
on 1 January 1966
Redesignated 172d Tactical Airlift Group
on 30 June 1972
Redesignated 172d Military Airlift Group
on 1 July 1986
Redesignated 172d Airlift Group
on 16 March 1992
Redesignated 172d Airlift Wing
on 1 October 1995
Mississippi Air National Guard, 1 July 1965 – Present
Military Air Transport Service, December 1963
Military Airlift Command, 1 January 1966
Air Mobility Command, 1 June 1992 - present
172d Operations Group, 1 October 1995 – present
183d Air Transport Squadron (later 183d Military Airlift Squadron, 183d Tactical Airlift Squadron, 183d Military Airlift Squadron, 183d Airlift Squadron), December 1963 – 1 October 1995
Hawkins Field, December 1963
Allen C, Thompson Field (later Allen C. Thompson Field Air National Guard Base), Mississippi, 1 July 1965
Elements operated from: Charleston Air Force Base, South Carolina, 24 August 1990 - 30 May 1991