|Active 1935–1959||Country United States|
|Branch United States Army Air Forces
United States Air Force|
Nickname(s) Green Hornets (1946-1949)
Engagements World War II American Theater Asia-Pacific Theater China-Burma Campaign with Arrowhead China Defensive Campaign Central Burma Campaign China Offensive Campaign
Decorations Distinguished Unit Citation
The 971st Airborne Warning and Control Squadron is an inactive United States Air Force unit designation. It was designated on 15 January 1985 by the consolidation of the World War II 1st Troop Carrier Squadron (1st TCS), which was inactivated on 18 December 1945 at Fort Lawton, Washington; the 1st Strategic Support Squadron (1st SSS), which was inactivated on 15 January 1959 at Biggs Air Force Base, Texas, and the 1st Air Transport Squadron (1st ATS), which was inactivated on 20 June 1971 at Andrews Air Force Base, Maryland.
The 1st TCS was a transport squadron which served primarily in the China-Burma-India Theater. It participated in the airborne invasion of Myitkyina, Burma and other combat cargo operations in both Burma and China.
The 1st SSS was a Strategic Air Command transport squadron providing a limited air transport capability to supplement that of the Military Air Transport Service (MATS).
The 1st ATS was a Headquarters Command VIP transport squadron that replaced the 1001st Air Transport Squadron at Andrews Air Force Base.
The unit's origins date to 1 October 1933 with the constitution of the 1st Provisional Transport Squadron. However, there were no funds to man or equip the unit, which remained in an inactivated state. The Army Air Corps was experimenting with air transport as a faster way to send critically needed aircraft parts and supplies between its supply and maintenance depots around the country, and to airfields where they were needed. It was authorized to partially activate in 1935 at the Fairfield Air Depot, Dayton, Ohio in March 1935. The squadron was given a permanent designation as the 1st Transport Squadron in June and fully activated on 15 July 1935.
The squadron operated a single-engine Bellanca C-27 Airbus and twin-engine Douglas C-33 transports on routes in the US and to Alaska and the Canal Zone, transporting supplies, materiel, and personnel. In May, 1937, the Air Corps formed the 10th Transport Group, which brought the 1st, 2d, 3d, and 4th Transport Squadrons under a single command and control organization, the other squadrons being assigned to the three other Air Depots operated by the Air Corps (at Sacramento, California; San Antonio, Texas; and Middletown,Pennsylvania).
World War II
After the Pearl Harbor Attack and the entry into World War II, in April 1942, its parent 10th TG was reassigned to the Air Transport Command (later I Troop Carrier Command) (I TCC). The 1st, now re-designated as a Troop Carrier Squadron became an Operational Training Unit and converted to C-47 Skytrain transports. It moved to General Billy Mitchell Field, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and it joined the 5th Troop Carrier Squadron carrying out operations and transition training for pilots. In September the 10th transferred to Pope Field, North Carolina, where it continued to be a training squadron for I TCC. In February 1943, the group's 1st and 2d Troop Carrier Squadrons deployed to the CBI Theater and were assigned to Tenth Air Force.
Upon the squadron's arrival in India, it was assigned to Tenth Air Force Headquarters. Upon its arrival with C-47s, it was decided that the squadron was to be attached to the Air Transport Command units in the Assam Valley of eastern India, to aid in moving supplies to China. The squadron was assigned to Chabua Airfield, and consisted of 13 C-47s, 42 officers and 62 enlisted men. After about a month, the squadron headquarters moved back to New Delhi, and flights of C-47s were sent to several airfields in the Assam Valley to supplement the ATC aircraft flying over "The Hump" into airfields in China. As more and more ATC aircraft arrived for the logistics mission to China, the squadron reformed at Sookerating Airfield in the Assam Valley in March 1943.
With the squadron's return to Tenth Air Force control, it began combat operations, primarily supporting American and British forces in Burma. The squadron was active carrying commandos who would parachute at low altitude behind enemy lines, and perform their mission. Frequently, the squadron would locate small groups of men in camouflaged areas and drop resupply containers out of the door of the aircraft, usually flying at low level with the aircraft vulnerable to enemy ground weapons fire. In late April 1944 the squadron supported the Allied attack on Myitkyina Airfield in northern Burma. The squadron flew paratroopers and also towed in CG-4A Waco gliders to the airfield during the battle; later moving in combat engineers and equipment to prepare the captured airfield to land reinforcements.
After the battle ended the squadron continued its combat operations, transporting Allied troops, evacuating wounded personnel, and hauling supplies and material, including gasoline, oil, signal and engineering equipment, medicine rations, and ammunition. The squadron's missions were concerned primarily with support for Allied forces that were driving southward through Burma, but the 1st TCS also made flights to China.
The squadron was reassigned to Fourteenth Air Force in January and moved to China in August 1945, and received a Distinguished Unit Citation for transporting a Chinese army of more than 30,000 men from Chihkiang to Nanking in September 1945. The squadron returned to the US in December and inactivated on 18 December 1945.
Strategic Air Command
The 1st Air Transport Unit was organized at Roswell Army Air Field, New Mexico, in July 1946 as part of a reorganization of the 58th Bombardment Wing. Due to its classified nature and mission during World War II, the 509th Composite Group was set up as an independent unit with its own airlift squadron. With its assignment to Strategic Air Command (SAC) in March 1946, it was decided to convert the 509th into a bombardment group. The 1st Air Transport Unit assumed the mission of the 509th's 320th Troop Carrier Squadron, which was inactivated. The 509th was redesignated as the 509th Bombardment Group, Very Heavy. The new transport unit was assigned directly to the 58th Bombardment Wing, the parent organization of the 509th, although operational control was retained by SAC headquarters.
The 1st continued the logistics support and special air transport mission of the inactivated 320th. In November 1946 the 58th Bomb Wing was assigned to Eighth Air Force and the 1st was also assigned directly to headquarters, Eighth Air Force. Little less than a year later, the unit moved to Fort Worth Army Air Field, headquarters of Eighth Air Force. As SAC and the Air Force began to expand, the unit supported SAC units in exercises and unit moves and deployment. As the only unit of its kind, it was called on for support in nearly all of these operations, including operations in Germany, Puerto Rico, Panama, Japan and Alaska. On 1 June 1948 it became the 1st Strategic Support Unit and moved to Biggs Air Force Base.
In early 1949 the unit participated in Operation Scordo, In this operation the unit transported support personnel and equipment to the four bases in Hawaii, the Philippines, Saudi Arabia, and the Azores, that were used by the Boeing KB-29 tankers that supported the first non-stop flight around the world by the Boeing B-50 Superfortress "Lucky Lady II". For this operation the unit received a commendation from the Secretary of the Air Force. It provided similar support for the first deployment of jet fighters from the United States across the Atlantic to Germany.
During 1949, as the mission load grew, the 1st became the 1st Strategic Support Squadron and provided the cadre for the new 2d Strategic Support Squadron. As the 2d was organized, the 1st transferred its Douglas C-54 Skymasters to the new squadron and began to re-equip with Boeing C-97 Stratofreighters. Eventually, a total of four strategic support squadrons, assigned directly to the SAC numbered air forces were organized around the United States.
The wartime mission of the squadron was based on the requirement for SAC’s medium bombers to deploy to overseas bases to successfully reach their targets. Even with air refueling, some bombers would only reach a recovery base rather than its original launch base. SAC planned to use the squadron to transport personnel and equipment to recovery bases to perform maintenance and recovery operations. The attitude that SAC could not rely on other sources for this support was partly based in General Curtis LeMay’s experience during World War II when he had to rely on theater commanders for supply and found that theater supply channels could not keep up with the pace of strategic bombing operations. This convinced him that SAC needed total control of all aspects of a nuclear campaign.
During the postwar years and through the 1950s the squadron carried much classified equipment and personnel to various locations around the world. It was upgraded first to C-97 Stratofreighters in 1949 operating 12 of that type. In 1951 C-124 Globemaster IIs replaced the C-97s, the first C-124A arriving at Biggs on 18 January 1951. It was inactivated on 15 January 1959 when SAC got out of the transport business and the 97th Bomb Wing was transferred from Biggs to Blytheville Air Force Base, Arkansas.
On 15 January 1985, the Air Force Historical Research Agency consolidated these three units, and designated it as the 971st Airborne Warning and Control Squadron. The 971st was never activated and remains in an inactive status.
1st Strategic Support Squadron
1st Troop Carrier Squadron
1st Air Transport SquadronConstituted as the 1st Air Transport Squadron on 8 May 1969