To provide trained personnel to be a source of augmentation for the active forces in any emergency expansion of the Air Force strategic and aeromedical airlift capability.
The 701st Bombardment Squadron was activated 1 April 1943 at Gowen Field in Idaho, where initial organization took place while key personnel traveled to Orlando AAB, Florida for training with the Army Air Forces School of Applied Tactics. Both elements met at Wendover Army Air Field, Utah on 8 June 1943, where initial training with the Consolidated B-24 Liberator took place. The squadron moved to Sioux City Army Air Base, Iowa in July 1943 to complete training. In September the squadron began to receive B-24H aircraft, the model of the Liberator they would fly in combat.
On 20 October 1943 the ground echelon moved to Camp Shanks, New York and embarked on the RMS Queen Mary on 26 October 1943, sailing next day. The unit arrived in the Firth of Clyde, Scotland on 2 November 1943 and disembarked at Gourock. The air echelon departed Sioux City late in October 1943 and flew to the United Kingdom via the southern route: Florida, Puerto Rico, Brazil, and West Africa. Upon arrival, the squadron was stationed at RAF Tibenham as part of the 2nd Combat Bombardment Wing. The group was initially given a fuselage code of MK.
The 701st entered combat on 13 December 1943 by attacking U-boat installations at Kiel. The unit operated primarily as a strategic bombardment organization until the war ended, striking such targets as industries in Osnabrück, synthetic oil plants in Lutzendorf, chemical works in Ludwigshafen, marshalling yards at Hamm, an airfield at Munich, an ammunition plant at Duneberg, underground oil storage facilities at Ehmen, and factories at Münster.
The squadron participated in the Allied campaign against the German aircraft industry during Big Week, from 20 to 25 February 1944, being awarded a Distinguished Unit Citation for attacking a Me 110 aircraft assembly plant at Gotha on 24 February. This was the longest running continuous air battle of World War II—some two and a half hours of fighter attacks and flak en route and leaving the target area. Bomb damage assessment photographs showed that the plant was knocked out of production indefinitely.
The unit occasionally flew air interdiction and air support missions. It helped to prepare for the invasion of Normandy by bombing airfields, V-1 and V-2 launch sites, and other targets. It attacked shore installations on D-Day, 6 June 1944. and supported ground forces at Saint-Lô by striking enemy defenses in July 1944. During the Battle of the Bulge, between December 1944 and January 1945 it bombed German communications. Early on 24 March 1945 the 701st dropped food, medical supplies, and ammunition to troops that landed near Wesel during the airborne assault across the Rhine and that afternoon flew a bombing mission to the same area, hitting a landing ground at Stormede.
On occasion the unit dropped propaganda leaflets and hauled fuel to France. It was awarded the Croix de guerre with Palm by the French government for operations in the theater from December 1943 to February 1945 supplying the resistance.
By far, the 701st's most tragic mission is the attack on Kassel of 27 September 1944. In cloud, the navigator of the lead bomber of the 445th Bombardment Group miscalculated and the 35 planes of the 701st and the other squadrons of the group left the bomber stream of the 2d Air Division and proceeded to Göttingen some 35 miles (56 km) from the primary target. After the bomb run, the group was alone in the skies and was attacked from the rear by an estimated 150 Luftwaffe planes, resulting in the most concentrated air battle in history. The Luftwaffe unit was a Sturmgruppe, a special unit intended to attack bombers by flying in tight formations of up to ten fighters in line abreast. This was intended to break the bomber formation at a single pass. The 361st Fighter Group intervened, preventing complete destruction of the group. Twenty-nine German and 25 American planes went down in a 15-mile (24 km) radius. Only four of the 445th group's planes made it back to the base—two crashing in France, one in Belgium, another at RAF Old Buckenham. Two landed at RAF Manston. Only one of the 35 attacking aircraft was fit to fly next day.
After the end of the air war in Europe, the 701st flew low level Trolley missions over Germany carrying ground personnel so they could see the result of their efforts during the war. The group's air echelon departed Tibenham on 17 May 1945, and departed the United Kingdom on 20 May 1945. The 700th ground echelon sailed on the USAT Cristobal from Bristol. The ship arrived at New York on 8 June 1945. Personnel were given 30 days R&R. The squadron reestablished at Fort Dix, New Jersey, with the exception of the air echelon, which had flown to Sioux Falls Army Air Field, South Dakota. Most personnel were discharged or transferred to other units, and only a handful were left when the unit was inactivated on 12 September 1945.
The 701st Bombardment Squadron was activated again in the Reserve during the summer of 1947 at McChord Field, Washington as a Boeing B-29 Superfortress very heavy bombardment squadron. After conducting training for two years, the squadron was inactivated in June 1949 when Continental Air Command reorganized to the wing base organizational model. It was replaced at McChord by elements of the 302d Troop Carrier Wing.
The squadron was activated again in the reserves in 1952 at Buffalo Municipal Airport, New York as the 701st Fighter-Bomber Squadron. Although designated as a fighter unit, until 1955 the squadron primarily flew North American T-6 aircraft, although it was equipped with a few North American F-51 Mustangs and Lockheed F-80 Shooting Stars. In 1955 the 701st moved a few miles to Niagara Falls Municipal Airport as a Republic F-84 Thunderjet. In 1957 the United States Air Force reduced its operations at Niagara Falls and the 702d was inactivated in July.
The United States Air Force realigned its reserve forces at this time, transferring all fighter aircraft to the Air National Guard, while Air Force Reserve organizations flew tactical airlift aircraft. In mid-November 1957 the 702d was redesignated as the 701st Troop Carrier Squadron and began training in Fairchild C-119 Flying Boxcar aircraft at Memphis Municipal Airport, where the 445th group was now located. When Continental Air Command reorganized under the dual deputy system in November the squadron transferred directly to the 445th wing although it was detached from wing headquarters.
Since 1957, the 700th has provided tactical airlift to include airdrop, airland, and air evacuation of personnel and equipment. It was called to active duty during the Cuban Missile Crisis. The squadron assisted with the redeployment of U.S. Army and Marine Corps personnel from Grenada following Operation Urgent Fury in 1983. In 1984 and 1985, the squadron helped deploy U.S. personnel throughout Central and South America from Howard Air Force Base, Panama in support of Operations Volant Oak and Coronet Oak.
The 701st has flown airlift missions from 1957 to 1965 and since 1970. It participated in US Army troops and equipment movements to various parts of the nation during Cuban Missile Crisis, October–November 1962.Operation Just Cause
Constituted as the 701st Bombardment Squadron (Heavy) on 20 March 1943
Activated on 1 April 1943
Redesignated 701st Bombardment Squadron, Heavy 20 August 1943
Inactivated on 12 September 1945
Redesignated 701st Bombardment Squadron, Very Heavy and allotted to the reserve on 13 May 1947
Activated on 12 July 1947
Inactivated on 27 June 1949
Redesignated 701st Fighter-Bomber Squadron on 24 June 1952
Activated on 8 July 1952
Inactivated on 1 July 1957
Redesignated 701st Troop Carrier Squadron, Medium on 24 October 1957
Activated 16 November 1957
Redesignated 701st Troop Carrier Squadron, Assault on 25 September 1958
Discontinued and inactivated on 15 December 1965
Redesignated 701st Military Airlift Squadron (Associate) on 16 September 1970
Activated on 25 September 1970
Redesignated 701st Airlift Squadron (Associate) on 1 February 1992
Redesignated 701st Airlift Squadron on 1 October 1994
445th Bombardment Group: 1 April 1943 – 12 September 1945
445th Bombardment Group: 12 July 1947 – 27 June 1949
445th Fighter-Bomber Group: 8 July 1952 – 1 July 1957
445th Troop Carrier Group: 16 November 1957
445th Troop Carrier Wing: 25 September 1958 (detached)
919th Troop Carrier Group: 11 February 1963 – 15 December 1965
943d Military Airlift Group: 25 September 1970
315th Military Airlift Wing (later 315th Airlift Wing): 1 July 1973
315th Operations Group: 1 August 1992 – present
Gowen Field, Idaho, 1 April 1943
Wendover Field, Utah, 8 June 1943
Sioux City Army Air Base, Iowa, 8 July 1943 – 20 October 1943
RAF Tibenham (Station 124), England, 2 November 1943 – 30 May 1945
Fort Dix Army Air Base, New Jersey, 9 June 1945 – 12 September 1945
McChord Air Force Base, Washington, 12 July 1957 – 27 June 1949
Buffalo Municipal Airport, New York, 8 July 1952
Niagara Falls Municipal Airport, New York, 15 June 1955
Memphis Municipal Airport, Tennessee, 16 November 1957 – 15 December 1965
Charleston Air Force Base, South Carolina, 25 September 1970 – present