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459th Air Refueling Wing
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459th Air Refueling Wing

459th ARW KC-135Rs at Andrews AFB in 2004. B-24L-10-FO Liberator 44-49750, 756th Bombardment Squadron, Bombing near Padua, Italy, 1945 The 459th Air Refueling Wing (459 ARW) is an Air Force Reserve Command unit based at Joint Base Andrews Naval Air Facility since 1954.



Flying the KC-135 Stratotanker and assigned to Fourth Air Force, the 459 ARW's mission is to recruit, train, equip, challenge, mentor and reward the men and women of the unit to provide safe, sustained, outstanding service to ourselves, our communities and nation. If activated, the 459 ARW would become part of Air Mobility Command.

Subordinate units of the 459th ARW are the 459 OG, 459 OSF, 756 ARS, 459 AES, 459 ASTS, 459 AMDS, 459 AMXS, 459 MXG, 459 MOF, 459 AMS, 459 MXS, 759 LRF, 459 MSG, 459 MSF, 459 CF, 459 LRF, 459 SVF, 459 CES, 459 SFS, 69 APS

The 459th Airlift Wing converted to the air refueling mission on 1 October 2003. This also resulted in a conversion from the C-141 Starlifter to the Boeing KC-135R, and the wing was equipped with eight aircraft. The wing was also reassigned from the 22nd Air Force to the 4th Air Force.

The wing, over the years, is a six-time recipient of the Air Force Outstanding Unit Award. There are about 1,200 traditional Reservists stationed at the wing. A full-time civilian and Air Reserve Technician staff of about 230 people provide day-to-day administration and management of the 459th.


World War II

The World War II predecessor to the 459th Air Refueling Wing was the 459th Bombardment Group (Heavy). Activated as a B-24 Liberator heavy bombardment unit in July 1943; assigned to II Bomber Command for training. Primarily trained in Utah and Arizona received deployment orders for the Mediterranean Theater of Operations (MTO) in September 1943. Moved to Massachusetts where the group flew long-range convoy escort missions over the Newfoundland Banks to Long Island Sound, November December 1943 while station in Italy was being constructed.

Deployed to Southern Italy in January 1944; entered combat in February, being assigned to Fifteenth Air Force. Engaged in very long range strategic bombing missions to enemy military, industrial and transportation targets in Italy, France, Germany, Austria, Hungary, Romania, and Yugoslavia, bombing railroad marshalling yards, oil refineries, airdrome installations, heavy industry, and other strategic objectives. Also carried out some support and interdiction operations. Struck bridges, harbors, and troop concentrations in August 1944 to aid the invasion of Southern France. Hit communications lines and other targets during March and April 1945 to support the advance of British Eighth Army and American Fifth Army in northern Italy.

Returned to the United States in August 1945, being programmed for deployment to the Pacific Theater of Operations (PTO) as a B-29 Superfortress Very Heavy Bombardment Squadron. Many combat veterans of MTO demobilized upon arrival in the United States, and a small cadre of personnel reformed at Sioux Falls Army Airfield, South Dakota at the end of August. Japanese Capitulation in August led to inactivation of unit and assigned personnel being reassigned to other group squadrons or demobilized.

Reactivated in the Air Force Reserve in 1947 with B-29s. Trained at Long Beach Army Air Field, California then moving in 1949 to Smoky Hill AFB, Kansas and Barksdale AFB, Louisiana shortly afterward. Activated in 1951 by Second Air Force due to the Korean War, aircraft and personnel being reassigned to Strategic Air Command combat groups deployed to Far East Air Forces; inactivated shortly afterward.

Air Force Reserve

The Reserve flying mission began at Andrews AFB in the summer of 1954, when the 756th Troop Carrier Squadron was activated and equipped with the C-46 aircraft. Nearly 8 months later, the unit had grown enough to activate its parent organization, the 459th Troop Carrier Group (formerly 459th Bombardment Group) and its parent the 459th Troop Carrier Wing. Later that year, another squadron, the 757th Troop Carrier Squadron was activated at Byrd Field, Richmond, Virginia and assigned to the Group. A third flying unit, the 758th Troop Carrier Squadron, was added in 1957 and equipped with the C-119 "Flying Boxcar" at Greater Pittsburgh Airport, Pennsylvania. In November 1957, the 757th relocated from Byrd Field to Youngstown Municipal Airport, Ohio. On 1 July 1966, the 459th was redesignated 459th Military Airlift Wing and converted to a strategic, long-range mission with the C-124 "Globemaster" aircraft.

In June 1971, the 459th converted to the C-130 "Hercules" and was redesignated as the 459th Tactical Airlift Wing. In December 1974, with the consolidation of all Air Force strategic and tactical airlift resources under a single manager, the 459th's active duty gaining command switched from Tactical Air Command to Military Airlift Command.

In July 1986, the Wing converted to the Lockheed C-141B "Starlifter" aircraft. The conversion resulted in an increase of Wing personnel at Andrews from 900 to a level of almost 1,600.

Modern era

In 1992, wing personnel flew supplies to the victims of Hurricane Andrew in Florida; medical equipment and supplies to Minsk, Belarus, as part of Operation Provide Hope; and food, medicine, supplies and medical personnel into Somalia in support of Operation Restore Hope.

In 1993, the 459th continued to support Operation Support Hope. The wing provided humanitarian airlift relief in Rwanda and in support of the Cuban refugees at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. In addition, 459th personnel supported Operation Uphold Democracy in Haiti as well as various other significant missions around the globe.

The 459th has been engaged in the Global War on Terrorism since September 2001. As a result of these operations, the Wing has participated in places around the globe to include: Iraq, Afghanistan, Cuba, Bosnia and Kosovo. Redesignated in 2003 as an air refueling wing; equipped with KC-135Rs.


  • Established as 459th Bombardment Group (Heavy) on 19 May 1943
Activated on 1 July 1943
Redesignated 459th Bombardment Group, Heavy, on 20 August 1943
Inactivated on 28 August 1945
  • Redesignated 459th Bombardment Group, Very Heavy, on 11 March 1947
Activated in the Reserve on 19 April 1947
Redesignated 459th Bombardment Group, Medium, on 27 June 1949.
Ordered to active service on 1 May 1951
Inactivated on 16 June 1951
  • Established as 459th Troop Carrier Wing, Medium on 30 December 1954
Group redesignated: 459th Troop Carrier Group, Medium, on 30 December 1954 and became subordinate organization to wing
Activated in the Reserve on 26 January 1955
Redesignated: 459th Military Airlift Wing on 1 July 1966
Redesignated: 459th Tactical Airlift Wing on 29 June 1971
Redesignated: 459th Military Airlift Wing on 1 July 1986
Redesignated: 459th Airlift Wing on 1 February 1992
Redesignated: 459th Air Refueling Wing on 1 October 2003.


  • Second Air Force, 1 July 1943
  • First Air Force, 31 October 1943
  • Fifteenth Air Force
304 Bombardment Wing, 25 January 1944
  • Continental Air Forces
Second Air Force, 13 28 August 1945
304 Bombardment Wing (later, 304th Air Division), 19 April 1947
Eighth Air Force, 27 June 1949
Fifteenth Air Force, 1 April 1950 16 June 1951

First Air Force, 26 January 1955
Fourteenth Air Force, 25 March 1958
Second Air Force Reserve Region, 15 August 1960
First Air Force Reserve Region, 24 June 1966
Eastern Air Force Reserve Region, 31 December 1969
Fourteenth Air Force, 8 October 1976
  • Air Force Reserve Command
Twenty-Second Air Force, 1 July 1993
Fourth Air Force, 1 April 2003 .


  • Alamogordo AAFld, New Mexico, 1 July 1943
  • Davis-Monthan Fld, Arizona, 28 July 1943
  • Kearns Army Airfield, Kearns, Utah, c. 31 August 1943
  • Davis-Monthan Field, Arizona, c. 21 September 1943
  • Westover Fld, Massachusetts, 31 October 1943 3 January 1944
  • Giulia Airfield, Italy, c. 12 February 1944 c July 1945
  • Sioux Falls AAF, South Dakota, c. 16 28 August 1945
  • Long Beach AAF, California, 19 April 1947
  • Davis-Monthan AFB, Arizona, 27 June 1949 16 June 1951
  • Andrews AFB, Maryland, since 26 January 1955



  • 459th Troop Carrier (later, 459th Operations)
26 January 1955 14 April 1959
1 August 1992
  • 904th Troop Carrier (later, 904th Military Airlift)
1 July 1966 26 January 1968
2 June 31 December 1969
  • 905th Military Airlift (later, 905th Tactical Airlift): 25 February 1972 1 April 1974.
  • 907th Tactical Airlift (later, 907th Airlift): 1 October 1989 1 October 1994
  • 909th Troop Carrier (later, 909th Military Airlift): 17 January 1963 1 September 1975
  • 910th Troop Carrier (later, 910th Tactical Fighter; 910th Tactical Airlift)
17 January 1963 1 July 1966
1 April 1981 1 October 1989.
  • 911th Troop Carrier (later, 911th Military Airlift)
17 January 1963 21 April 1971 (detached 1 21 April 1971)

  • 913th Tactical Airlift (later, 913th Airlift): 8 January 1976 1 August 1992.
  • 915th Military Airlift: 26 January 1968 1 September 1969.
  • 918th Military Airlift: attached 1 20 April 1971, assigned 21 April 1971 1 July 1972
  • 919th Military Airlift (later, 919th Tactical Airlift): 30 July 1971 1 December 1974
  • 920th Tactical Airlift: 25 April 1973 1 January 1976
  • 927th Tactical Airlift: 15 March 1976 1 July 1981.


  • 57th Fighter Squadron: 15 May 1947 27 June 1949
  • 756th Bombardment (later Troop Carrier, Airlift, Air Refueling) Squadron: 1 July 1943 28 August 1945; 19 April 1947 26 June 1949; 26 January 1955 17 January 1963; 1 September 1975 present
  • 757th Bombardment (later Troop Carrier) Squadron: 1 July 1943 28 August 1945; 12 July 1947 27 June 1949; 8 April 1955 17 January 1963
  • 758th Bombardment (later Troop Carrier) Squadron: 1 July 1943 28 August 1945; 12 July 1947 27 June 1949; 16 November 1957 17 January 1963
  • 759th Bombardment Squadron: 1 July 1943 28 August 1945; 12 July 1947 16 June 1951


  • 459 Refueling Group Fact Sheet
  • Maurer, Maurer (1983). Air Force Combat Units Of World War II. Maxwell AFB, Alabama: Office of Air Force History. ISBN 0-89201-092-4.
  • Ravenstein, Charles A. (1984). Air Force Combat Wings Lineage and Honors Histories 1947 1977. Maxwell AFB, Alabama: Office of Air Force History. ISBN 0-912799-12-9.

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