Herc history honored: 37 AS celebrates 75 years

by Airman 1st Class Joshua Magbanua 86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

Photo by Senior Airman Lane T. Plummer
Airman 1st Class Quinn Harris, 37th Airlift Squadron loadmaster, peers over the skies at another C-130J Super Hercules flying over a blanket of clouds Feb. 10. During the Korean War, the squadron flew airborne assaults at Sukchon, North Korea, and Munsan-ni, South Korea, and aerial transportation between Japan and Korea.

Friday, Feb. 10, was a cold, dreary day on Ramstein. A blanket of dark clouds eclipsed the sun and sky, shutting out the light and dappling the landscape with delicate snow. Anybody would have wanted to stay inside and succumb to the stillness of a grave winter morning.

But, above the thick curtain of grey, a group of aircraft thundered over the fields and villages of Rhineland-Palatinate. The roar of their engines resounded throughout the earth and sky.

As four C-130J Super Hercules, the Air Force’s beasts of burden, raced like mechanical stallions with wings, the Airmen of the 37th Airlift Squadron were making history just like they do every day.

The 37 AS celebrated its 75th anniversary with a training mission.

“This year marks a huge milestone in our squadron’s history as we turn 75 years old,” said Capt. Zackary Williams, 37 AS central scheduler and squadron historian. “It is important that we pause to reflect the heritage we represent and recognize that we continue to make history every day as we impact operations across three combatant commands.

“To be part of a squadron that has so much history, to be a part of a unit that’s older than the Air Force it’s a remarkable feeling to be part of that heritage,” he said.

The unit was founded as the 37th Transport Squadron on Feb. 2, 1942, on Patterson Field, Ohio, as a component of the U.S. Army Air Corps. The squadron moved to different locations throughout the world before being formally assigned to Ramstein in 1994.

Since its establishment, the 37 AS has played a role in almost every major operation involving the U.S. and its allies since World War II.

Among its many significant missions, the squadron participated in the airborne assaults on Normandy during World War II, conducted operations during the Korean War, aided in the repatriation of U.S. prisoners of war from Hanoi during Operation Homecoming in 1973, and airdropped humanitarian supplies during Operation Provide Comfort for fleeing refugees in northern Iraq in 1991.

Presently, the 37 AS supports the U.S. mission by providing airlift and airdrop capabilities to troops in U.S. European Command, Africa Command and Central Command. The squadron also plays a significant role in helping build ties with U.S. allies throughout these areas of responsibility.

“We are the sole tactical airlift unit for both U.S. EUCOM and AFRICOM. There is very little we are not involved in,” said Lt. Col. Barry A. King II, 37 AS commander. “We support the warfighters throughout Europe and Africa, delivering vital supplies routinely. Additionally, we spend numerous months each year building partnership capacity with our NATO allies and recently have expanded our efforts to Africa. We are poised and ready to support airlift needs anytime, anyplace.”

King expressed his pride in leading a squadron such as the 37 AS, saying he felt humbled and honored to serve in a unit with such a rich history.

“This is the world’s greatest airlift squadron … full of the best group of operators I’ve ever had the pleasure of serving with,” he said. “We truly stand on the shoulders of giants. … I’m extremely fortunate to be a part of this heritage. We perform to our max every single day. … We chase perfection and catch excellence!

“Each Blue Tail is empowered to lead at their level and always encouraged to innovate. This ensures we continue to build upon our great heritage,” King added, using the nickname for each member of the 37 AS.

Throughout its history, the 37 AS used a variety of cargo aircraft, the current aircraft being the C-130J Super Hercules.

“Our C-130J aircraft are extremely versatile, and we can operate in a wide range of environments, making it a highly desired asset for our warfighter,” Williams said. “While the aircraft we have flown have changed over the years, the core mission of providing combat airlift and airdrop capabilities for our nation, its allies and those in need has always remained at the core.”

As the squadron marks a significant milestone in its history, the Airmen of the 37 AS look forward to continuing their heritage by making history every single day.