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17th Airlift Squadron
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17th Airlift Squadron

The 17th Airlift Squadron is one of four active duty C-17A Globemaster III units at Charleston AFB, South Carolina.

The 17th Airlift Squadron is commanded by a Lieutenant Colonel, who serves as head of the squadron and the pilots. The Chief Loadmaster is in charge of the loadmasters, the First Sergeant takes charge of the few support military personnel and civilians working in the squadron.

The 17th was responsible for being the first unit to set up forward deployed C-17 staging operations, at the start of Operation ENDURING FREEDOM, creating the 817th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron (EAS) .

The 17th Airlift Squadron recently stepped up to the plate once more and created another EAS. For the first time, two C-17 Squadrons became deployed in forward theater locations, supporting Operations Iraqi Freedom, and Enduring Freedom. The 817th Area of Responsibility split. On June 1 2006, the 816th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron was created and launched its first crew 15 minutes later.

Unlike previous C-17 deployments, this one actually had the squadron itself doing all the flying from "an undisclosed location in Southwest Asia." The 17th helped initiate a whole new concept in C-17 operations in that this was the first time that the airframe was employed like traditional intratheater airlift assets such as the C-12, C-20, C-21 or the C-130. However, unlike traditional tactical airlift assets that are under the direct command of the theater commander, the 817th EAS is headquartered out of theater.



  • Constituted as the 17th Air Corps Ferrying Squadron on February 18 1942
Activated on April 27 1942
Redesignated the 17th Transport Squadron on March 19 1943
Disbanded on October 31 1943
  • Reconstituted, and redesignated the 17th Air Transport Squadron, Medium on March 22 1954
Activated on July 18 1954
Redesignated the 17th Air Transport Squadron, Heavy on June 18 1958
Redesignated the 17th Military Airlift Squadron on January 8 1966
Inactivated on April 8 1969
  • Activated on August 1 1987
Redesignated the 17th Airlift Squadron on October 1 1991

Note: the 17th Airlift Squadron already existed at the time of redesignation as a C-130 squadron based at Elmendorf AFB, Alaska. This unit originated from the 17th Troop Carrier Squadron under Alaskan Air Command in 1964. The squadron was redesignated the 17th Tactical Airlift Squadron in 1966. It was redesignated the 517th Airlift Squadron upon activation of the C-17 unit that took its name. In January 2006 the 517th Airlift Squadron began its own transition from C-130s to C-17s with the final C-130 leaving the unit on March 26 2007.[1]


  • Army Air Forces Ferrying Command (later, Air Transport Command), April 27 1942
  • 11th Ferrying (later, 11th Transport) Group, July 28, 1942 October 31 1943
  • 1608th Air Transport Group, July 18 1954
  • 1608th Air Transport Wing, January 18 1963
  • 437th Military Airlift Wing, January 8 1966 April 8 1969; August 1 1987
  • 437th Operations Group, October 1 1991 Present


Hamilton Field, California, April 27 1942 October 31 1943

  • Charleston AFB, South Carolina, July 18 1954 April 8 1969; August 1 1987


  • C-46, 1942 1943
  • C-47, 1942 1943
  • C-54, 1954 1958
  • C-124, 1958 1969
  • C-141, 1987 1993
  • C-17, 1993-


World War II:
Air Transport and aircraft delivery to the Pacific Theater

  • Worldwide Airlift beginning 1954
  • Missions to Southeast Asia, 1964 1969
  • Supported operations in Panama, December 18 29, 1989, and Southwest Asia, August 1990 December 1991
  • Continues to support operations in Afghanistan, September 2001 present
  • Continues to support operations in Iraq, 2003 present
  • Supported Tsunami Relief in India and Sri Lanka
  • Supported Pakistan earthquake relief
  • Supported Katrina Relief in United States
  • Supported the evacuation of American Citizens from Lebanon

Awards and decorations

Service Streamers

World War II American Theater

Campaign Streamers

Southwest Asia: Defense of Saudi Arabia; Liberation and Defense of Kuwait

Armed Forces Expeditionary Streamers

Panama, 1989 1990


Air Force Outstanding Unit Awards:

  • January 1 1963 February 1 1964
  • July 11 1966 July 10 1967
  • July 11 1967 July 10 1968
  • July 11 1968 April 8 1969
  • July 1 1988 June 30 1989
  • July 1 1989 June 30 1990
  • September 21 1989 - October 31 1989

Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross with Palm: April 1 1966 April 8 1969


On an Air Force Blue globe, grid lines White, issuing from the top of a White scroll, two hands flesh tone, winged at the wrists White, bearing supplies or cargo Air Force golden Yellow; outlines and details Air Force Blue throughout. MOTTO: ANYTHING, ANYWHERE, ANYTIME. Approved October 27, 1959 (K 11458).



  1. Fact Sheets : 517th Airlift Squadron : 517th Airlift Squadron

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