By Staff Sgt. Jeremy McGuffin
19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
Through its humble beginnings as an observation group in 1927 to the world’s mightiest C-130 tactical airlift wing in the world, this year marks the 19th Airlift Wing’s 69th birthday – one filled with many honors, awards and historical milestones.
When the U.S. Army Air Corps established the 19th Observation Group in 1927, which later became the 19th Bombardment Group, this laid the foundation for the Black Knight heritage which is honored this year.
“The 19th Airlift Wing is one of the U.S. military’s premiere organizations” said Dr. Jeremy Prichard, 19th AW historian. “From operating B-29 bombers in World War II and Korea, to B-52 Stratofortress bombers and KC-135 Stratotanker refueling aircraft during Vietnam and the Cold War, to the C-130s we fly today: the mission has changed over the years, but the 19th’s commitment to the Nation remains as firm today as it did during the World War II.”
Following World War II as a bombardment group, the U.S. Air Force officially stood up the 19th Bombardment Wing in 1948 and continued to operate the B-29s while attached to the Far East Air Forces.
In 1968, the 19th Bombardment Wing moved to Robins Air Force Base, Georgia, where it absorbed the Black Knights nickname and traded its inventory of B-47 Stratojets for B-52 and KC-135.
While there, 19th Bombardment Wing provided aircraft and Airmen to operations in Vietnam and other regions across the globe.
In 1983, the 19th Bombardment Wing was re-designated as the 19th Air Refueling Wing and operated KC-135 at Robins AFB.
“The 19th Air Refueling Wing – and eventually the 19th Air Refueling Group – supported operations in Central America in the 1980s, the first Gulf War in the 1990s and in Iraq and Afghanistan following the attacks on 9/11,” Prichard said.
In 2008, the 19th Airlift Wing was activated as the host unit at Little Rock Air Force Base which continues today.
“From World War II, to Cold War engagements in Korea and Vietnam, and the Persian Gulf and the Global War on Terror, the 19th AW continues to fly with the motto: In Alis Vincimus – On Wings We Conquer,” Prichard said.