Charleston soars through time
By Airman 1st Class Thomas T. Charlton
| Joint Base Charleston Public Affairs | Dec. 7, 2016
The C-141 Starlifter was stationed at Joint Base Charleston, then Charleston Air Force Base, from 1961 to 2000. The C-141 Starlifter has been memorialized as a static display at the air park here. Additionally, a model of the aircraft is displayed in front of the JB Charleston Starlifter Lanes Bowling Alley. (Photo by Courtesy photo)
The C-130 Hercules was stationed at Charleston Air Force Base, South Carolina from 1962 to 1967. During the same time, the C-124 Globemaster II and C-141 Starlifter were stationed here as well. (Photo by Courtesy photo)
Staff Sgt. Jeffrey Michal, left, and Master Sgt. Gregory Long, right, 14th Airlift Squadron loadmasters, enjoy the view during a Key Spouse orientation flight heading to Northfield Auxiliary Airfield, S.C., Mar. 5, 2016. The C-17 Globemaster III has been stationed at Joint Base Charleston since 1993. (Photo by Airman 1st Class Thomas T. Charlton)
An Airman marshalls a C-124 Globemaster II on Charleston Air Force Base, South Carolina in the 1960s. The C-124 was based here from 1958 until 1969. A static display of the C-124 Globemaster II stands at the Air Park here. (Photo by Courtesy photo)
The C-121 Constellation, C-124 Globemaster II and C-141 Starlifter displayed at the Air Park here to memorialize their contribution to the base’s mission. Additionally, a C-47 Skytrain rests outside the base headquarters building which was operational in World War II. The aircraft was not flown here but was used by the 437th Airlift Wing, then the 437th Troop Carrier Wing during its time at Chicago O’Hare International Airport, Illinois. (Photo by Airman 1st Class Kevin West)
The C-47 Skytrain was one of the first airlift planes and was used by the 437th Airlift Wing from 1943 until 1957. Though the aircraft was not used at Charleston Air Force Base, it was flown by the members of the 437th AW while part of the 437th Troop Carrier Wing at Chicago O’Hare International Airport, Illinois. A static display of the aircraft stands across from the base headquarters building here. (Photo by U.S. Air Force illustration)
JOINT BASE CHARLESTON, SOUTH CAROLINA —
From Charleston Municipal Airport in 1942, to Charleston Air Force Base (AFB) in 1953, to Joint Base Charleston in 2010, this installation has provided worldwide airlift support for over 70 years.
Eight different cargo aircraft and four tenant unit aircraft have operated here since Charleston AFB’s founding.
“Virtually every contingency operation the U.S. has been involved in since the 1950s, our aircraft have had a part in it,” said Stan Gohl, 437th Airlift Wing (AW) historian. “We can also say the same about our humanitarian missions. Friend or foe, we have helped anyone in the world in the sense of a humanitarian mission. As one commander once put it, ‘We are the wings of hope.’”
The host unit of Charleston AFB changed frequently in the early years until the 1608th Air Transport Wing (ATW) became the lead wing from 1956 to 1966. After being activated from reserve status in Chicago, Illinois, the 437th AW, then known as the 437th Troop Carrier Wing (TCW), replaced the 1608th ATW. Through the years this installation has provided support for numerous missions including: escorting Keiko the whale from Newport, Oregon to Iceland, rescuing military members overseas and providing humanitarian support for countless natural disasters across the globe.
“We have a great flight path to reach Europe, the Middle East and South America in a relatively quick timeframe,” said Gohl. “When something needs to be done efficiently and quickly, it’s the 437th AW that is called.”
The C-121 Constellation, C-124 Globemaster II and C-141 Starlifter are displayed at the Air Park here to memorialize their contribution to the base’s mission. Additionally, a C-47 Skytrain rests outside the base headquarters building which was operational in World War II. The aircraft was not flown here, but was used by the 437th TCW during its time in Illinois.
“I think a lot of times, at first, young Airmen don’t grasp the idea they belong to something much larger than what they have previously known,” said Josh Mayes, 628th ABW historian. “Once they understand some of the history of JB Charleston, I think it brings a sense of belonging which contributes to more conviction in how they work.”