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NEWS | Dec. 7, 2015

437th celebrates 50th anniversary

By Stanley Gohl, historian 437th Air Wing

1966 was filled with historical events, including: Simon and Garfunkel's "Sounds of Silence" was the #1 song in America; Willie Mays of the San Francisco Giants signed the largest professional baseball contract to date for $130,000 a year; Wilt Chamberlain set a new NBA career scoring record with 20,884 career points; Muhammad Ali beat George Chuvalo for heavyweight boxing title; Comedian Jerry Lewis hosted the first Muscular Dystrophy telethon raising $15,000; NBC premiered first episode of Star Trek; NBC broadcast its entire lineup in color; Chevrolet introduced the Camaro and CBS broadcast Dr. Seuss' "How the Grinch Stole Christmas," for the first time.  However, one other event stood out as a significant event in 1966 - - my birth!  Okay, maybe not such a significant world event but it was pretty significant for me.  On a more serious note, another stand out event that occurred in 1966, more specifically, January 8, 1966, was the arrival of then 437th Military Airlift Wing (MAW) to the Lowcountry.  Prior to its arrival at Charleston Air Force Base (AFB), the 437 MAW had been a traditional Reserve Wing stationed at O'Hare International Airport in Chicago, IL. It had been last activated from June 15, 1952 to November 16, 1957.

On that day in January almost 50 years ago, the 437 MAW transitioned to Charleston AFB replacing the 1608th Air Transport Wing (ATW), which had been the host wing since March 1, 1955.  The transition from the 1608th to the 437th was more of a ceremonial name change than anything, as the 437th absorbed the people and equipment of the former 1608th.  Brig Gen Howard W. Kreidler, the last commander of the 1608 ATW, became the first commander of the 437 MAW while stationed at Charleston AFB.  Additionally, the 437 MAW assumed responsibility for the four flying squadrons previously assigned to the 1608 ATW; 3rd Military Airlift Squadron, 17th Military Airlift Squadron, 41st Military Airlift Squadron and 76th Military Airlift Squadron.  At the time, the wing's aircraft inventory included the; C-124 Globemaster, C-130 Hercules and the C-141 Starlifter.   In 1991, the Air Force dropped the "Military" portion of the wing and squadrons titles; changing to the titles seen today; Airlift Wing and Airlift Squadron.   Over the next three decades, as the Air Force transitioned and reorganized to meet national security requirements, the wing replaced three of its original flying squadrons with the squadrons assigned today: the 14th Airlift Squadron, 15th Airlift Squadron, and 16th Airlift Squadron.  The fourth squadron of the original flying squadrons, 17th Airlift Squadron, was sadly inactivated earlier this year on June 25th.  So as the holidays end and the new year begins, keep an eye out for several upcoming events planned as we come together as a wing to celebrate the 437th Airlift Wing's 50th Anniversary of being stationed here in the Lowcountry!