History of the 167th Airlift Wing

 The 167th Airlift Wing initially constituted as the 369th Fighter Squadron on 20 December 1942 and formally activated on 15 January 1943 and assigned to the 359th Fighter Group from 15 January 1943 to 10 November 1945. Assignments included: Westover Field, Massachusetts on 15 January 1943, Grenier Field, New Hampshire on 6 April 1943, Republic Field, New York on 26 May 1943, Westover Field, MA on 24 August 1943 until 2 October 1943, East Wretham, England on 18 October 1943 until 4 November 1945 and Camp Kilmer, New Jersey on 9-10 November 1945. The aircraft flown during World War II was the P-47 Thunderbolt (1943-1944) and the P-51 Mustang (1944-1945). The 369th took part in the Air Offensive, Europe; Normandy, Northern France, Rhineland; Ardennes-Alsace; Central Europe Air Combat, EAME Theater. The squadron deactivated on 10 November 1945, redesignated the 167th Fighter Squadron and allotted to the Air National Guard (ANG) on 24 May 1946. 

The Air National Guard designated the State of West Virginia as the resident state for the fighter squadron. On 24 May 1946, Charleston's Kanawha Airport became the home base for the renamed 167th Fighter Squadron. The unit reactivated on 5 January 1947 and federally recognized effective 7 March 1947. The assigned strength: 19 officers and 35 airmen. Within six months, the unit attained full manning strength. Early aircraft included the T-6 Trainer, the P-47 Thunderbolt and the P-51 Mustang. The name, mission, size and even the site changed over the next 40 years, but the numbers "167" have remained constant with the West Virginia Air National Guard. 

On 10 October 1950, the unit and all personnel were sworn in for 21 months of active duty. Most personnel and all aircraft became part of the 123rd Fighter Bomber Wing, located at Godman AFB, Kentucky. Some members transferred to Manston Air Field near London, England, flying F-84 Thunderjet aircraft. Other seasoned (experienced) pilots transferred to Korea. 

Released from active duty on 9 July 1952, the 167th Fighter Interceptor Squadron returned to Charleston, West Virginia and the P-51 Mustang aircraft. The unit name changed to the 167th Fighter Bomber Squadron on 1 December 1952. 

Because of limitations at Kanawha Airport at that time, that could not accommodate jet aircraft, a search for a new home in West Virginia began. Two sites considered were Beckley and Martinsburg. The cost of improvements at Beckley came to $5,978,000 and for Martinsburg $3,093,000. Though Beckley campaigned hard, Martinsburg received approval as the new site on 21 September 1955 and Lt Col Joseph T. Crane, Jr. became the Commander. Martinsburg had to raise funds to purchase the 200 acres needed to expand the runway. Two hundred citizens signed notes, totaling over $160,000, to guarantee sufficient money for buying the land until a bond issue could be voted on by the citizens. The official move came on 3 December 1955, when the 167th deactivated at Charleston and reactivated on 4 December 1955 at Martinsburg. Shortly thereafter, equipment moved to the new site and active recruiting commenced to achieve full authorized personnel strength.
New construction and the increase of manpower continued in 1956. The aircraft assigned included the P-51 Mustang, T-6 Trainer, and a C-47 Skytrain. The immediate need became to recruit 70 airmen and 10 officers. By 1956, manning grew to a strength of 399 airmen and 44 officers. The 167th Fighter Interceptor Squadron dedicated its new facilities on 4 October 1958. On 10 November 1958, the unit became the 167th Tactical Fighter Squadron and a member of the Tactical Air Command. 

In 1956 and 1957, the unit flew P-51 Mustangs and T-28's. Following a two-year construction phase the unit received single engine jet fighter/interceptors, the F-86 Sabre Jet. The fuselage was thick and stubby with a lipped jet intake and a bubble-type canopy. The jets would stay until 31 March 1961. 

In an announcement on 31 January 1961, the 167th learned it would gain change aircraft. On 1 April, the unit received C-119 Flying Boxcars, manufactured by Fairchild. A new mission and name change also took effect: The 167th Aeromedical Transport Squadron, Light. The mission became evacuation and care of the sick and wounded. The changes resulted in an increase of manpower and the addition of nurses to the unit. The authorized strength had grown to 572 total airmen and officers. 

Aircraft changes in 1963 saw the arrival of the C-121 Super Constellation with its worldwide operating capability. Staffing increased to 604 enlisted and 107 officers. Overseas missions flown to Puerto Rico, the Azores, France, England, Germany, Spain and Bermuda were not uncommon. The unit began flying missions to the Pacific areas in 1965 and 1966. During 1966, the Super Constellations made 103 overseas flights, including 26 to Vietnam and 77 to other outpost such as Thailand, Australia, Japan and the Philippines, carrying 1198 tons of military cargo and 1390 passengers.
The unit anticipated that it would be deactivated 1 July 1967, since no projected program had been specified beyond that date. A new campaign began to find new aircraft, a new mission or to justify continuance of the old mission. Senator Robert C. Byrd became active in securing a new mission. An announcement in December stated that the unit would be assigned an aeromedical aircraft mission, thus keeping the unit alive. 

Nurses became a particularly critical specialty during this period. New construction included an engine build-up shop, squadron operations building, maintenance dock, civil engineering and aerospace ground equipment buildings. 

In 1972, the unit began the transition into the Lockheed C-130 Hercules and, as a result, another new mission. In June of that year, the unit became the 167th Tactical Airlift Group and moved from the Military Airlift Command to the Tactical Airlift Command. Late in 1977, the unit received "B" model C-130s. The 1986, the number of aircraft assigned increased, and in 1989, the "B" model was replaced with the "E" model. 

The unit has been active in numerous exercises such as Sentry Storm, Volant Oak, Rodeos, and various overseas deployments; for example, 1981, and again in 1988, all aircraft deployed to Europe a first for any unit. 

The 167th has not only been combat ready, but also ready to come to the aid of the community. In 1970, during a water shortage emergency, the unit transported over 2,000,000 gallons of water to Shepherdstown, WV. The 167th fire fighters were a major factor in fighting a gasoline fire in Pikeside, WV. In November 1985, during a time of high water and flood conditions, the 167th assisted by transporting personnel and supplies to the stricken communities. Members of the 167th have annually hosted a bloodmobile and given to the Salvation Army's "Toys for Tots" program. The 167th has hosted the Air Force Junior ROTC cadets in a mini camp and annually, in October, the base opens its doors for the Apple Harvest Festival. 

Initially, the base at the Eastern West Virginia Regional Airport had only one hangar, a motor pool, and a supply building. Many major additions have since been made to the base, including a fire hall, base operations building, nose dock, civil engineering building, corrosion control/fuel cell facility, engine shop, aerospace ground equipment shop, barracks, clinic, avionics shop and aerial port building. 

On Sunday, 8 July 1984, the 167th Tactical Airlift Group reached 100,000 hours of safe flying, only the fifth Air Guard unit to achieve this goal. 

In 1987, the unit received an Operational Readiness Inspection (ORI) from the Military Airlift Command. The unit received eight Outstanding, twelve Excellent and one Satisfactory rating among the various components of the unit. 

Other awards during this period include the fourth Air Force Outstanding Unit Award received in 1988 and the Distinguished Unit Flying Award from the National Guard Association in 1989. 

The conversion in July 1989 to the newer C-130E broadened our capabilities with the ability to airdrop during adverse weather and transport an additional 20,000 pounds of cargo. 

In 1990, the unit came to the aid of communities, pro-viding relief efforts for victims of Hurricane Hugo and the California earthquake. Supplies were also flown to Puerto Rico, which had been devastated by the hurricane. 

The unit is a school/business partner with Valley View Elementary School. Many members take time to visit the school and assist in various projects. One such project was to provide physical education equipment. The unit sponsored a golf day in October 1990, with members and former members participating. The event raised $500.00 for the physical education program at the school. 

Also in 1990, members of the Aeromedical Evacuation Flight, Mobile Aerial Port Squadron, Tactical Airlift Squadron and Consolidated Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, along with support personnel from other areas were the first called to volunteer to take part in Operation Desert Shield. 
They did so, with many leaving on only a few hours' notice. 

The 167th continued to fly missions, supporting Desert Shield, during the remainder of 1990. The unit also flew members of the Army and Air National Guard home for Christmas prior to their deploying overseas. Construction completed in 1990 included a NDI Avionics/NDI facility on 29 August 1990, and the new main gate and guard house on 26 December 1990. Also in December, 12 fire fighters deployed to Hulbert Field in Florida to serve as backfill for Desert Shield. 

January 1991 began with additional deployments of medical, maintenance and motor pool personnel in support of Desert Shield/Desert Storm. The Civil Engineers also deployed to Panama and Mobile Aerial Port to Italy during the year. The unit received the Outstanding School/Business Partner Award in April at the West Virginia State PTA Convention and hosted an open house on 18 May. In June, the unit conducted the annual Cadet Officer Leadership School for the ROTC. Members of the Color Guard participated in numerous parades, and members of the unit, who deployed, spoke at schools, civic organizations and ceremonies. In December, a new Operational Training Complex opened with a dining facility. 

On 10 May 1992, the unit hosted the U. S. Air Force Thunderbirds, the U. S. Army Golden Knights and 45,000 people for an open house. Static aircraft displays included an F-51, MIG-15, F-15, AT-6, F-14, C-141, C-5A, LC-130 with skis, and an AC-130 gunship. A flyover by the F-117 stealth proved pleasing to the crowd. 

June 1, 1992, saw the unit's name change again. This time, the 167th Tactical Airlift Group became the 167th Airlift Group. Reorganization placed the unit in the Air Mobility Command. Other activities involving the unit were hosting of the Apple Harvest Festival in October, a Volant Oak rotation in October and November and the involvement of aircraft and crews with Operation Provide Promise. Provide Promise support took place from July 1992 to January 1993. 

The unit continued to support Provide Promise from December 1993 to April 1994. The unit took part in the Bosnian relief effort as well. It was thought for a time in 1994 that the unit would be downsized; however, this did not occur. In October, the unit acquired an F-86 from Grissom AFB, Indiana. The aircraft was restored and is on display at the main gate of the base. The unit flew the F-86 from 1958 to 1961. Reorganization and realignment put the 167th in the Air Combat Command during this time frame. Another first for the 167th was the receipt of a new C-130H-3 on 21 December 1994. Greeted by Santa Claus upon its arrival, the aircraft is the first new plane received by the unit in its history. Previous conversions had been to newer models, but not just off the assembly line. 

In 1995, the unit began conversion training for the C-130H-3 in the first quarter and transferred most of the "E" models to Peoria, Illinois. The Civil Engineers deployed to Panama and the Medical Squadron deployed to Honduras. Most of the sections took part in a deployment to Alpena, Michigan in September where chemical exercises and other special training took place. The unit celebrated its 40th anniversary on 10 June 1995 with an open house and dance. 

The 167th Airlift Group was redesignated the 167th Airlift Wing on 1 October 1995. Then on 16 April 1997, the 167th Airlift Wing was assigned under the Air Mobility Command (AMC), with no change in mission or assignment. 

The Wing participated in an Operational Readiness Evaluation and Inspection in 1998 at the Combat Readiness Training Center, Savannah, Georgia. At the conclusion of the ORI, the 167th received its first ever overall Outstanding rating. 

Since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on New York City and Washington, D.C., the unit has had members deployed to the four corners of the world in support of Operations ENDURING FREEDOM and IRAQI FREEDOM. Unit members have received six Bronze Stars and two Purple Hearts in support of these operations. 

The wing received an Excellent overall rating in its 2004 Operational Readiness Inspection at the Combat Readiness Training Center, Savannah, Ga. 

The unit’s aircraft conversion to C-5 Galaxy aircraft, which was announced in 2002 and began in 2005, required significant upgrades to the Wing’s facilities. More than $280,000,000 was utilized in projects to upgrade the runway and taxiway, build a new air traffic control tower, a flight simulator building, ramp and hydrant upgrades, three C-5 aircraft capable hangars, a new fire station, apron and jet fuel storage, and an operations building.

On December 4, 2006 the first C-5 aircraft assigned to the unit landed at Shepherd Field. Ten more aircraft were assigned to the 167th Airlift Wing throughout the following two years.There are currently eleven C-5a aircraft assigned to the 167th Airlift Wing. 

On March 28, 2007 the unit launched its first C-5 mission from Shepherd Air Field. After a brief stop at Dover Air Force Base, the aircraft continued on to Camp Lemonier, Djibouti, Africa, delivering two CH-53E Super Stallion helicopters (used for humanitarian assistance, personnel and equipment movement, and noncombatant casualty evacuations) and more than 60 marines supporting Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa. 

In 2009  the 167th Airlift Wing was tasked to provide transportation for NASA's Ares I-X Crew Module, Launch Abort System Simulator, and related equipment. On January 27, 2009 the unit launched a C-5 aircraft to the Shuttle Landing Facility located at Langley Air Force Base, Virginia. The crew loaded a 70 foot trailer carrying the Launch Abort System and a 50 foot trailer carrying the Crew Module. The cargo was delivered to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida the following day. 

In the summer of 2012, 100 Airman deployed to Spain and Afghanistan to support the departure of the 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade departure from Afghanistan. The unit transported 4.3 million pounds of cargo, mostly helicopters in 25 days. The original plan allotted 45 days for the move.

In February 2012, the Force Structure Overview was released by the Secretary of the Air Force which announced the 167 AW’s aircraft conversion to C-17 Globemasters.

The Wing entered conversion in June 2014 and completed the conversion in June 2017.  During the conversion, 121 aircrew were trained and qualified and 260 aircraft maintainers were trained. Operations supporting the state and nation were minimally impacted through the conversion as air crew logged 7,620 C-17 flight hours and C-17 2,194 sorties.

The 167AW operates eight C-17 Globemaster III aircraft and has supported Operation Inherent Resolve, Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation New Dawn and Operation Deep Freeze and Operation Allies Refuge.