The 56th Air Refueling Squadron is an active unit of the United States Air Force. It is part of the 97th Operations Group at Altus Air Force Base, Oklahoma. It operates Boeing KC-46 Pegasus aircraft, conducting initial and advanced aircrew training for air refueling operations.
The squadron was first activated in 1942 as the 56th Troop Carrier Squadron. After training in the United States, the squadron moved to the Southwest Pacific Theater, where it conducted combat airlift operations against the Japanese until the surrender of Japan. It moved to Japan and served as part of the occupation forces until inactivating in 1946.
The squadron was first activated in November 1942 as the 56th Troop Carrier Squadron. After training in the United States, the squadron moved to New Guinea, where it conducted tactical airlift in the Southwest Pacific Theater. The unit participated in the airborne assault on Nadzab, New Guinea, on 5 September 1943 during World War II. After the surrender of Japan, the squadron moved to Tachikawa Field, where it participated in the military occupation of Japan until inactivating in 1946.
In August 1947, the squadron was activated at Greater Pittsburgh Airport as a reserve unit. It trained in the reserves until October 1950, when it was called to active duty for the Korean War. The squadron moved to Greenville Air Force Base and served on active duty until July 1952 when it was inactivated and its personnel and aircraft were transferred to the 18th Troop Carrier Squadron, which was simultaneously activated.
The same day it was inactivated at Greenville, the squadron returned to Pittsburgh and reserve service, where it assumed the mission, personnel and equipment of the 458th Troop Carrier Squadron, which was simultaneously inactivated. The squadron continued to train in the reserves until inactivating in 1957.
In 1966, Military Air Transport Service became Military Airlift Command and replaced its former Major Command Controlled (MAJCON or 4 digit) units with AFCON units. As part of this transformation, the 56th replaced the 1740th Air Transport Squadron at Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma in January 1966. The 1740th had been organized by Military Air Transport Service (MATS) on 5 September 1951 as the 1740th Air Transport Squadron (Transition Training Unit) at McChord Air Force Base and was assigned to the 1705th Air Transport Wing. It moved to Palm Beach Air Force Base in July 1952 and to Tinker Air Force Base in March 1959 when MATS moved its training wing. At Tinker, the squadron provided training for aircrews in Douglas C-124 Globemaster II. In January 1966, the 56th Military Airlift Squadron replaced the 1740th and continued to train Globemaster crews through 1968.
With the arrival of the Air Force's first C-5 Galaxy on 17 December 1969, the 56th became the first operational C-5 squadron in the Air Force. It provided training and transition-flying training for aircrews in C-5 aircraft from 1969 to 2007. It also supported U.S. forces in Southeast Asia from April 1972 to December 1974.
The 56th Airlift Squadron was an inactive unit of the United States Air Force from September 2008 - August 2016, when it re-activated as the "56th Air Refueling Squadron". It was most recently part of the 97th Operations Group at Altus Air Force Base, Oklahoma. It operated Lockheed C-5 Galaxy aircraft, conducting initial and advanced aircrew training for airlift, airdrop and air refueling operations . The 56th Airlift Squadron was the Air Force's formal school for C-5 Galaxy airland qualification training. The squadron transferred its C-5s in 2007, although it did not inactivate until September 2008.
The last C-5 Galaxy (0462) "flewaway" from Altus AFB on July 20, 2007. It was transferred to Martinsburg AFB, West Virginia.World War II
Constituted as the 56th Troop Carrier Squadron on 12 November 1942
Activated on 18 November 1942
Inactivated on 25 March 1946
Activated in the reserves on 3 August 1947
Redesignated 56th Troop Carrier Squadron, Medium on 27 June 1949
Ordered to active service on 15 October 1950
Inactivated on 14 July 1952
Activated in the reserves on 14 July 1952
Inactivated on 16 November 1957
Redesignated 56th Military Airlift Squadron, Training and activated on 27 December 1965 (not organized)
Organized on 8 January 1966
Redesignated 56th Airlift Squadron on 27 August 1991
Inactivated on 30 September 2008
Redesignated 56th Air Refueling Squadron
Activated on 30 Aug 2016
375th Troop Carrier Group, 12 November 1942 – 25 March 1946
375th Troop Carrier Group, 3 August 1947 – 14 July 1952
375th Troop Carrier Group, 14 July 1952 - 16 November 1957
Military Air Transport Service (later, Military Airlift Command), 27 December 1965 (not organized)
443d Military Airlift Wing (later 443d Airlift Wing), 8 January 1966
443d Operations Group, 1 October 1991
97th Operations Group, 1 October 1992 – 30 September 2008, 2016–present