433rd AW History

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The 433rd Airlift Wing, also known as the Alamo Wing, is an Air Force Reserve unit with approximately 3,400 members stationed in San Antonio, Texas.

The wing headquarters and 20 subordinate units are tenants at Lackland AFB. The wing also supports two attached units, the 307th Red Horse Squadron, on East Kelly, and the 710th Intelligence Flight, at Brooks City Base.

The 433rd AW's flying squadron is the 68th Airlift Squadron, the first Air Force Reserve squadron to fly its own C-5A Galaxy aircraft. The world's second largest aircraft, the C-5A is designed to provide massive strategic airlift for deployment and supply of combat and support forces worldwide.

The 433rd AW traces its history to an active-duty Air Force unit organized in 1943. In 1955, it was assigned to the Reserve at Brooks AFB and moved to Kelly in 1960. Four years later, the 433rd AW became the first unit in the Air Reserve Forces (Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard) to win the coveted Air Force Outstanding Unit Award, an award the unit has won three times since. In 2001, with the closure of Kelly AFB, the 433rd AW realigned with Lackland AFB.

When activated, the 433rd AW is gained by Air Mobility Command. As a Reserve unit, its activities aren't limited to just training. Many training missions yield valuable by-products of passengers and cargo moved.

Reservists travel worldwide in support of the Air Force mission. Most Alamo Wing members live in San Antonio and the surrounding area. This contributes to an unusually high esprit de corps and community spirit. Enlisted members, officers and civilians of the wing look upon their unit as a community resource. As such, they work extensively with youth groups, senior citizens, the handicapped and other civic charitable organizations. The wing community even set a record for the most blood ever donated on a one-day drive in San Antonio.

On a global scale, the Alamo Wing played a major role in providing aeromedical evacuation support and cargo relief during the 1989 invasion of Panama, for Operation Just Cause. The wing's C-5As flew in a massive airlift of supplies, heavy Army combat equipment, and troops to the Persian Gulf in 1990-91 in Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. Additionally, 1,400 wing reservists of various career fields were activated and more than 500 deployed overseas in support of the conflict. Following the war, the wing participated in Operation Provide Comfort, when the airlift of food and supplies provided much-needed relief to the beleaguered Kurds of Turkey.

The wing also assisted in Operation Provide Hope by transporting critical cargo to the Commonwealth of Independent States. In 1992-93, the 433rd AW was the first Reserve wing to fly relief missions and provide medical support to famine stricken Somalia during Operation Restore Hope.

The Alamo Wing again flew missions into Africa, this time to aid refugees fleeing Rwanda in 1994. In the same year, it helped in efforts to restore democracy in Haiti, and supported operations to halt renewed Iraqi aggression against Kuwait during Operation Phoenix Jackal.

The wing played a critical role in Operation Joint Endeavor, hauling hundreds of tons of cargo as well as hundreds of duty passengers to Europe in support of NATO's peace initiative in Bosnia. Further, the 433rd AW became the first Reserve wing to deploy personnel to Germany, Hungary and Bosnia for 179 days as part of Joint Endeavor's support contingent -- 39 members of the 433rd Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron. 

Then, in late 1996, the wing participated in Operation Desert Strike to once again help halt renewed threats by Iraq on the Kurdish population. In 1998, the wing was called again to participate in Operations Phoenix Scorpions I – III and in Operation Desert Fox when Iraq refused to cease manufacturing weapons of mass destruction.

In early 1999, the Alamo Wing responded to another area of the world that threatened the peace and security, again in the Balkans. Wing C-5s and aircrews airlifted essential cargo and passengers to support the NATO-led Operation Allied Force to halt Serbia’s policy of ethnic cleansing in Kosovo. After the peace accord with Serbia, the wing assisted in NATO’s efforts to resettle ethnic Albanians into a secure environment.

Over the years, the wing also flew many humanitarian relief missions to aid victims of natural disasters, to include Central American aid in the wake of Hurricane Mitch.

In the aftermath of 9/11, the Alamo Wing was a major player in Operation Enduring Freedom. Ten percent of the 10,000 Air Force Reservists—or 1,000 troops—activated for OEF came from the 433rd AW. Operations, maintenance and mission support troops provided en-route support maintenance in Guam and Spain, and Alamo Wing maintainers augmented maintenance support at Dover AFB, Del. The entire 433rd Security Forces Squadron was deployed throughout the world in support of OEF. Our C-5 fleet and aircrews flew more flying hours than any other C-5 unit at Travis AFB, Ca.; Dover AFB, De.; Westover ARB, Me.; and Fort Stewart, Ga.

After President Bush declared war in March 2003 and started Operation Iraqi Freedom, approximately 990 433rd AW troops supported the war on terrorism during this operation. These troops included personnel from operations, maintenance, and mission support functions. Approximately 170 433d members served voluntary active duty, and served in voluntary status for approximately 279 days. Since Feb. 2003, members of the 433rd Airlift Wing and its flying squadron, the 68th Airlift Squadron, averaged airlift support of eight C-5s and five volunteer aircrews in support of OIF. Aircrews and aircraft logged more than 2,100 flying hours, or 44% more than the wing’s average peacetime flying rate.

While maintaining operations in support of the Global War on Terror, the 433rd AW was still able to respond quickly to transport relief supplies and workers into the Indian Ocean region within days of the devastating December 2004 tsunami.

In the first week after Hurricane Katrina, the 433rd AES evacuated more than 1,000 people on 125 aircraft and the 433rd ALCF delivered more than 317 thousand pounds of humanitarian supplies to the victims who remained in the affected area.

More innovations continue to as the 433rd evolves into a major force of the United States’ national defense. The wing’s 433rd Medical Squadron changed its gaining MAJCOM from Air Education and Training Command to Air Mobility Command as of March 2004. Additionally, the wing’s airlift mission will acquire a new facet when the C-5 “schoolhouse” makes its home at the Alamo Wing. Targeted date for training all USAF C-5 aircrews at the 433rd is FY 2007.

Since its activation, the Alamo Wing has enjoyed the esteem of the San Antonio military community as well as that of the Reserve forces. Under today's Total Force Policy the wing is an integral part of America's defense forces. As a C-5 unit, the Alamo Wing stands ready to perform airlift and many other types of missions around the globe on a moment's notice. The future promises even more exciting challenges for the men and women of the 433rd Airlift Wing.