The 183d Airlift Squadron is a unit of the 172d Airlift Wing of the Mississippi Air National Guard stationed at Allen C. Thompson Field Air National Guard Base, Mississippi. The squadron is equipped with the C-17 Globemaster III.
The 183d was organized in 1953 as a reconnaissance unit, but converted to the airlift role in 1957. It was called to federal service during the first Gulf War.
The squadron was constituted as the 183d Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron in 1953 and allotted to the Air National Guard. It was organized at Hawkins Field, Mississippi and extended federal recognition on 1 July 1953. The squadron was assigned to the 117th Tactical Reconnaissance Group, of the Alabama Air National Guard, but operational control was exercised by the Mississippi Air National Guard.
The 183d was initially equipped with World War II-era Douglas RB-26C Invader night photographic reconnaissance aircraft. The black RB-26s were light bombers that were modified for aerial reconnaissance in the late 1940s. Most of the aircraft received were unarmed Korean War veterans, which carried cameras and flash flares for night aerial photography. Upon mobilization, the squadron would be gained by Tactical Air Command (TAC).
In 1957, the B-26 was reaching the end of its operational service. The squadron's mobilization gaining command became Military Air Transport Service when it was redesignated the 183d Aeromedical Transport Squadron and was equipped with Fairchild C-119 Flying Boxcar transports configured for medical transport and reassigned to the 106th Aeromedical Transport Group. Five years later the unit was upgraded with the Lockheed C-121 Constellation long-range transport in 1962, becoming the 183d Air Transport Squadron and beginning to carry personnel to overseas locations in Europe and the Caribbean. The 183d and its support elements expanded into a group level later that year, when the 172d Air Transport Group was activated. The 183d became the group's flying squadron. Support elements assigned into the group were the 183d Material Squadron, 183d Air Base Squadron, and the 183d USAF Dispensary. The squadron moved from Hawkins to Allen C. Thompson Field, another field near Jackson, Mississippi in 1963.
The group received the Douglas C-124 Globemaster II heavy intercontinental transport was received in 1966 which meant supplies and equipment could be carried around the world along with personnel. 1966 was also marked by a change of mobilization command to Military Airlift Command (MAC) and the name to 183d Military Airlift Squadron.
The C-124 was being retired in the early 1970s and the 183d was realigned to a theater transport mission, and equipped with Lockheed C-130E Hercules aircraft as the 183d Tactical Airlift Squadron in May 1972. Once more, TAC gained the unit if it was called to federal service. It was upgraded to new 1979 production C-130H aircraft in 1980 and continued to fly tactical airlift missions until the mid-1980s.
On 12 July 1986 the first Lockheed C-141B Starlifter to be released from the active duty Air Force was assigned to the Mississippi Air National Guard. With a total of eight aircraft, the unit resumed a global airlift mission and was gained by MAC when mobilized.
In March 1988 the squadron took part in the airlift of approximately 3200 troops and almost 1000 tons of cargo on an exercise to Palmerola Air Base, Honduras. The 183d was the only Air National Guard unit to participate in this 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 183d. Before relief missions to Armenia ended, the unit would fly six missions with its planes and crew and additionally would furnish a crew to fly a United States Air Force C-141 whose crew had reached the maximum flying hours permitted without rest. In September 1989 a devastating hurricane struck the tiny island of St. Croix, leaving the island crippled, the squadron flew eleven emergency relief missions to St. Croix, hauling 465 tons of cargo and 472 passengers.
From 20 December 1989 to 12 January 1990 the 183d flew 21 sorties in support of Operation Just Cause, the operation to replace Manuel Noriega with a democratically elected government in Panama. The unit transported 403.6 tons of cargo and 1,274 passengers during the operation. On 7 August 1990 the 172d's support of Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm began when Approximately 98 aircrew members began flying voluntary missions. On 24 August 1990 the 183d Airlift Squadron was one of the first two units to be called into active federal service and moved to Charleston Air Force Base, South Carolina. Until May 1991, shen the squadron was returned to state control the 148 members of the 183d flew 2,880 sorties which transported 15,837 passengers and 25,949.2 tons of cargo.
In 2000, the squadron received the C-141C with an electronic "glass cockpit". In October 2000 after the USS Cole bombing in Yemen, seventeen members of the unit and the 183d Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron deployed to Ramstein Air Base Germany. They picked up four injured sailors from Ramstein and flew them to Norfolk Naval Station, Virginia. In February 2003 the 183d retired its last 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" of the first C-17 Globemaster III (S/N 02-1112) to Maj. Gen. James H. Lipscomb III, adjutant general of the Mississippi National Guard. This plane was also the first Globemaster III assigned to the Air National Guard and was named the "Spirit of the Minutemen".Constituted as the 183d Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron Night Photographic and allotted to the National Guard in 1953
Activated and extended federal recognition on 1 July 1953
Redesignated 183d Aeromedical Transport Squadron
, Light on 1 July 1957
Redesignated 183d Air Transport Squadron
, Heavy on 1 July 1962
Redesignated 183d Military Airlift Squadron
on 1 January 1966
Redesignated 183d Tactical Airlift Squadron
on 1 May 1972
Redesignated 183d Military Airlift Squadron
on 1 July 1986
Federalized and placed on active duty on 24 August 1990
Released from active duty and returned to Mississippi state control on 30 May 1991
Redesignated 183d Airlift Squadron
on 16 March 1992
117th Tactical Reconnaissance Group, 1 July 1953
106th Aeromedical Transport Group, 1 July 1957
118th Air Transport Wing 1 January 1963
172d Air Transport Group (later 172d Military Airlift Group, 172d Tactical Airlift Group, 172d Military Airlift Group), 10 December 1963
315th Military Airlift Wing, 24 August 1990
172d Military Airlift Group (later 172d Airlift Group), 30 May 1991
172d Operations Group, 1 October 1995 – Present
Hawkins Field, Mississippi, 1 July 1953
Allen C. Thompson Field, Jackson, Mississippi, c. 10 December 1963
Charleston Air Force Base, South Carolina, 24 August 1990
Allen C. Thompson Field (later Allen C. Thompson Field Air National Guard Base, Mississippi, 30 May 1991 - present
12 time recipient of the Air Force Outstanding Unit Award