Courtesy of Jim Wade, who served with 7th and 8th Aerial Port Squadrons


The US Army and US Air Force troop carrier mission and the tactical airlift mission that followed it began in April 1942 when units formerly designated as "transport" were redesignated as "troop carrier." Troop carrier groups were integral elements of all of the overseas numbered air forces of the US Army Air Forces, and served notably, particularly in the Southwest Pacific, European and China-Burma-India sub-theaters of World War II, flying mostly military variations of the Douglas DC-3, generically known as the C-47. In 1948-49, troop carrier groups flying C-47s and C-54s operated into airports in Berlin bringing in coal, flour and other commodities after communist forces blockaded all land routes into the city. Troop carriers performed valiantly during the Korean Conflict, bringing in cargo and personnel to Korea from Japan and airdropping personnel and cargo in support of United Nations operations. In 1954, Far East Air Forces C-119s supported French forces in Indo-China. Immediately after the Korean War, troop carrier forces were reorganized and the Eighteenth Air Force was established as part of Tactical Air Command as the troop carrier element. A further reorganization in the late 1950s saw TAC's four-engine C-124s transfer to the Military Air Transport Service and TAC troop carrier wings became part of Ninth and Twelfth Air Force in the United States while 315th Air Division in the Pacific and 322nd Air Division in Europe were responsible for troop carrier operations overseas. Troop carrier units were also part of the Alaska and Southern Commands. TAC troop carrier units were integral elements of the Composite Air Strike Forces developed in the late 1950s. In 1965 the Military Airlift Command was activated but the troop carrier mission remained with TAC and the overseas commands. Troop carrier units were involved in the Vietnam War from the very beginning, and Pacific Air Forces C-130 crews were some of the last airmen to participate in combat operations. On July 1, 1967 the troop carrier designation was replaced by "tactical airlift. A reorganization in 1975 saw the transfer of all tactical airlift units to the Military Airlift Command, now the Air Mobility Command, although for a few years in the 1990s they returned to TAC's successor, the Air Combat Command.

Troop Carrier Aircraft

World War II Troop Carrier Groups

Tactical Air Command

315th Air Division

World War II Troop Carrier

Air Transport Command

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Updated 2/25/2020