The 97th Airlift Squadron (97 AS) is a United States Air Force Reserve squadron, assigned to the 446th Operations Group, stationed at McChord Field, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington. It is a corollary unit of the active duty 4th Airlift Squadron, 62d Airlift Wing (62 AW).
The squadron operates C-17 Globemaster III aircraft supporting the United States Air Force global reach mission worldwide.
Activated in July 1943 as an I Troop Carrier Command C-47 Skytrain Squadron. After training in the United States, at various bases, sent to Baer Field, Indiana for final equipping with aircraft, personnel and other equipment. Deployed to Ninth Air Force in England, assigned to IX Troop Carrier Command in February 1944 during the build-up prior to the Invasion of France.
During the D-Day Invasion, the squadron dropped paratroops of the 101st Airborne Division in Normandy, subsequently flying numerous missions to bring in reinforcements and needed supplies. During the airborne attack on The Netherlands (Operation Market Garden, September 1944), the squadron dropped paratroops, towed gliders, and flew resupply missions. Later participated in the invasion of southern France in August 1944. The squadron supported the 101st Airborne Division in the Battle of the Bulge by towing gliders full of supplies near Bastogne on 27 December 1944. In addition, its units participated in the air assault across the Rhine River in early 1945 (Operation Varsity) and later flew numerous freight missions to carry gasoline, food, medicine, and other supplies to allied ground forces during the Western Allied invasion of Germany in April 1945 near Wesel. The squadron also hauled food, clothing, medicine, gasoline, ordnance equipment, and other supplies to the front lines and evacuated patients to rear zone hospitals. It transported displaced persons from Germany to France and Belgium after V-E Day. Remained in Europe during the summer of 1945, inactivating as part of the United States Air Forces in Europe, October 1945.
Reactivated in the reserve as a C-46 Commando troop carrier squadron in Minneapolis, Minnesota during 1947. Was federalized as a result of the Korean War in 1951, squadron personnel and aircraft being sent to active-duty units as fillers, inactivated as an administrative unit a few days later.
Reactivated after the Korean War as a reserve fighter-bomber squadron for Tactical Air Command in 1952 initially equipped with F-51 Mustangs, later upgraded to F-80 Shooting Star jet aircraft. Re-designated back to a troop carrier squadron in 1957 under TAC's Eighteenth Air Force. Carried out theater transport operations and supported Air Force and Army units with troop carrier missions. Was activated during the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, carried Army units to South Florida in preparation of a possible invasion of Cuba. Returned Army personnel to home stations after situation was normalized and returned to reserve service.
The squadron flew airlift missions worldwide, including to Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War and to Southwest Asia during the Gulf War. It has also participated in training exercises, some involving the dropping or landing of airborne troops.
The squadron has conducted worldwide airlift including Supporting contingency operations in Panama, 1989–1990, and in southwest Asia, 1990-1991.Combat Operations: Airborne assaults on Normandy Operation Overlord; southern France Operation Dragoon; the Netherlands Operation Market Garden, and Germany. Relief of Bastogne; transportation of cargo and personnel in the European and Mediterranean Theaters of Operation (ETO and MTO) during World War II. Berlin Airlift Operation Vittles. Took part in Vietnam War; Operation Just Cause in Panama, 1989–1990, and Operation Desert Shield and Operation Desert Storm in southwestern Asia, 1990-1991. In modern era: Operation Joint Endeavor; Operation Joint Forge; Operation Enduring Freedom; Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation Deep Freeze
Campaigns: World War II: Rome-Arno; Normandy; Northern France; Southern France; Rhineland; Ardennes-Alsace; Central Europe. Southwest Asia: Defense of Saudi Arabia; Liberation and Defense of Kuwait.
Decorations: Distinguished Unit Citation: France, 6–7 June 1944. Air Force Outstanding Unit Awards: 23 December 1964 – 22 January 1965; 26 January 1968 – 1 June 1969; 1 July 1969 – 30 June 1970; 1 July 1973-30 June 1974; 1 September 1982 – 31 August 1984; 1 August 1990 – 31 July 1992. Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross with Palm, 1 April 1966 – 28 January 1973.
Constituted 97th Troop Carrier Squadron on 25 May 1943
Activated on 1 July 1943
Inactivated on 18 October 1945
Activated in the Reserve on 15 September 1947
Re-designated: 97th Troop Carrier Squadron, Medium
on 27 June 1949
Ordered to active duty on 1 May 1951
Inactivated on 4 May 1951
Re-designated: 97th Fighter-Bomber Squadron on 26 May 1952
Activated in the Reserve on 15 June 1952
Inactivated on 1 July 1957
Re-designated: 97th Troop Carrier Squadron, Medium on 24 October 1957
Activated in the Reserve on 16 November 1957
Ordered to active duty on 28 October 1962
Relieved from active duty on 28 November 1962
Re-designated: 97th Air Transport Squadron, Heavy
on 1 December 1965
Re-designated: 97th Military Airlift Squadron
on 1 January 1966
Ordered to active duty on 26 January 1968
Relieved from active duty on 2 June 1969
Re-designated: 97th Military Airlift Squadron (Associate)
on 25 July 1969
Re-designated: 97th Airlift Squadron (Associate)
on 1 February 1992
Re-designated: 97th Airlift Squadron
on 1 October 1994.
440th Troop Carrier Group, 1 July 1943 – 18 October 1945
440th Troop Carrier Group, 15 September 1947 – 4 May 1951
440th Fighter-Bomber Group, 15 June 1952 – 1 July 1957
440th Troop Carrier Group, 16 November 1957
349th Troop Carrier Group, 25 March 1958
349th Troop Carrier Wing, 14 April 1959
941st Troop Carrier (later, 941st Air Transport; 941st Military Airlift) Group, 11 February 1963
939th Military Airlift Group, 25 July 1969
446th Military Airlift (later, 446th Airlift) Wing, 1 July 1973
446th Operations Group, 1 August 1992 – Present