An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Fact Sheets
FACTSHEET | Sept. 20, 2023

16th Airlift Squadron

A Brief History of the 16th Airlift Squadron


            The 16th Airlift Squadron began as the 16th Transport Squadron on 20 November 1940. Activated in December of that year at McClellan Field, California, the unit moved to Portland, Oregon, for basic training on 9 July 1941.  A year later, the unit was redesignated as the 16th Troop Carrier Squadron (TCS) on 4 July 1942, the squadron moved to Ramsbury, England flying C-47s.

While headquartered at Ramsbury, the 16th operated on detached service to North Africa, flying out of Algeria and then Tunisia, participating in the invasion of Sicily and Italy in July and September 1943. From April through June 1943, the squadron was on detached service to India, assisting in the resupply of “Merrill’s Marauders” during the China-Burma-India theater campaign, for which the 16 TCS received its Distinguished Unit Citation.  The squadron moved to Sicily in 1943, and then to Italy in April 1944.  In July 1944, the squadron participated in Operation OVERLORD, the invasion of Southern France.  From 1944 to May 1945, the 16th continually transported men and equipment in the Mediterranean and European theaters, including resupply missions to partisans in Greece and Yugoslavia. After V-E Day, the 16 TCS moved to Wallerfield, Trinidad, where it remained until it was inactivated on 31 July 1945.

            Two years later, on 19 May 1947, the squadron was again activated: this time at Langley Field, Virginia as part of Tactical Air Command.  At Langley, the squadron supported the command’s mission to organize, train, equip and maintain combat-ready forces capable of rapid deployment.  On 19 September 1950, the squadron was redesignated the 16th Troop Carrier Squadron (Assault, Light), and assigned to Sewart Air Force Base (AFB), Tennessee, in response to the growing tensions in Korea. While at Sewart, the 16th flew the C-119 and the YC-122, the predecessor of the C-123, in joint airborne training with Army forces.  In addition to airborne training at Sewart, the squadron was the parent organization of an attached flight of helicopters.  

On 14 November 1954, the squadron was redesignated the 16th Troop Carrier Squadron (Assault, Fixed Wing), and moved to Ardmore AFB, Oklahoma.  Eight months later, on 8 July 1955, the squadron was again inactivated.  On 15 October 1969, the unit activated and again assigned again to Sewart AFB, Tennessee; now designated as the 16th Tactical Airlift Training Squadron (TATS).  Less than 6-months later, on 15 March 1970, the 16th was assigned to Little Rock AFB, Arkansas. 

            For the next 24-years the squadron, conducted initial C-130 formal training.  As part of the Air Force reorganization, on 1 December 1991, the 16 TATS was redesignated the 16th Airlift Squadron. After 24 years at Little Rock AFB, the 16th was moved to Charleston AFB, South Carolina, on 1 October 1993.

            The 16 AS’ transfer was in flag only.  Once at Charleston AFB and assigned to the 437th Airlift Wing (AW), they assumed command and responsibility for the personnel and equipment of the former 76th Airlift Squadron.  Now at Charleston, the 16th operated the C-141B on world-wide strategic airlift, tactical airdrop, and the nation’s only long-range, rapid response, Special Operations Low Level (SOLL) capability missions.  While performing SOLL missions, squadron aircrews could rapidly deploy and insert special operations ground forces into blacked-out, austere airfields/drop zones and extract those ground forces upon mission completion.  For the next 7-years, the Airmen of the 16 AS continued to perform all 3 mission sets with excellence and professionalism, however on 15 July 2000, the squadron was inactivated.  Different in many ways from previous inactivations, this inactivation was a planned and scheduled one.  In June 1993, only months prior to the squadron’s arrival at Charleston, the 437 AW took delivery of the first C-17 Globemaster III; assigned to the 17 AS.  In 2000, the SOLL mission was transferred to a C-141 squadron at McGuire AFB, New Jersey, and the 16 AS was inactivated as the Air Force awaited the delivery of enough C-17s to outfit the squadron. 

On 1 July 2002, the 16 AS was again activated and began training in the operation of the C-17; making them the fourth and final C-17 squadron assigned to the 437 AW.  Since then, the 16 AS have flown strategic, tactical, and SOLL II airlift mission in support contingency and humanitarian operations worldwide.  They have provided direct combat support to operations in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria as well as contingency support throughout the Middle East and Africa. Below is a list of major operations the 16th Airlift Squadron has supported since its activation in 1940:



World War II

  • Operation TORCH – Allied invasion of French Algeria and French Morocco - 8 November 1942 – 13 May 1943
  • China-Burma-India theater campaign – Resupply of Merrill’s Marauders – April – June 1943
  • Operation HUSKY – Allied invasion of Sicily - 9 July-17 Aug 1943
  • Operation OVERLORD - Allied invasion of German-occupied Western Europe (Battle of Normandy) 6 June – 30 August 1944
  • Operation DRAGOON -  Allied invasion of Provence (Southern France) began on 15 August 1944
  • Operation GRAPESHOT - Final Allied attack of the Italian Campaign - 6 April 1945 – 2 May 1945


Post Cold War









16th Airlift Squadron Commanders

(As of September 2023)


Lt Col Nicole M. Stenstad, 10 June 2022

Lt Col James S. Long, 26 June 2020

Lt Col Alexander J. Pelbath, 1 Jun 2018

Lt Col Michael B. Lewis, 16 May 2016

Lt Col Patrick F. Farrell, 16 May 2014

Lt Col Stewart H. Newton, 23 July 2012

Lt Col Todd A. Hohn, 25 June 2010

Lt Col Christopher R. Mann, 22 May 2008

Lt Col Paul B. Eberhart, 16 June 2006

Lt Col Blain D. Holt, 8 June 2004

Lt Col Gary P. Goldstone, 26 July 2002

Unfilled 1-25 July 2002

[inactivated] [29 September 2000]

Lt Col James J. Wendling, 1 December 1998

Lt Col Richard J. Richardson, 16 October 1997

Lt Col Michael C. Jackson, 1 March 1996

Lt Col Kip Self 22, April 1994

Lt Col Charles P. Brooks, Jr. ,1 October 1993

Lt Col Carl W. Gustke, 25 June 1992

Lt Col Paul M. Rouse, 26 June 1990

Lt Col Jon L. Martinson, 28 July 1989

Lt Col Robert W. Topel, 9 February 1988

Lt Col Charles H. Wittrock, 21 March 1986

Lt Col Robert E. Snyder, 9 March 1984

Lt Col Ronald L. Moray, 11 August 1982

Lt Col Robert C. Peck, 14 November 1980

Lt Col Richard W. Blatter, 9 February 1979

Lt Col James L. Biggs, 10 March 1977

Lt Col J.D. Livingston, 3 May 1976

Lt Col D.A. Emerson, Jr., 1 August 1973

Lt Col Walter J. Ford, 20 November 1972

Lt Col Ralph A. Yates, 19 November 1970

Lt Col John D. Hedges, 1 March 1970

Lt Col George A. Ashbridge, 16 October 1969

[activated] [16 October 1969]

[inactivated] [8 July 1955]

Maj Louis P. Lindsay, ca December 1953

Capt Elden C. Funk, ca 30 June 1953

Maj Louis P. Lindsay, ca March 1953

Maj James S. Hamer, ca March 1952

Lt Col Earl A. Butts, ca May 1951

Unknown 5 October 1950

[activated] [5 October 1950]

[inactivated] [10 September 1948]

Unknown (Not Manned) 19 May 1947 – 10 September 1948

[activated] [19 May 1947]

[inactivated] [31 July 1945]

Capt Jack F. Linn, 29 September 1944

Capt Long 4, September 1944

Lt Col John H. Champion, 18 May 1943

Maj John Cerny, 16 June 1942

Capt Lloyd A. Hardesty, 25 April 1942

1Lt John Cerny, 1 May 1941

Capt Ralph J. Moore, 11 December 1940

[activated] [11 December 1940]