History of the 57th

 Hierarchy of the 57th Troop Carrier Squadron in Army Air Forces WWII

Hierarchy of the 57th Troop Carrier Squadron in Army Air Forces WWII

A brief history of the Fifth Army Air Force (AAF), World War II

The 5th Air Force had its early beginnings as the Philippine Department Air Force on 20 September 1941 under the command of Brigadier General Henry B. Clagett.

The 5th AAF was renamed to the Far East Air Force (FEAF) on 28 October 1941 and was under the command of Major-General Lewis Hyde Brereton. The FEAF fought in the Philippines at the outbreak of the Pacific War. They covered the retreat south to Java and then escaped back to Australia where they played a small part in the Battle of the Coral Sea (7-8 May 1942) and went on to became the nucleus of the new Fifth Air Force. 

Click to see - Allotment of USAAF Units In Australia on 27 May 1942

On 9 August 1942, the American Chief of Staff, General Marshall gave orders to establish the 5th Air Force and gave George C. Kenney immediate command of this new air force and all other Allied air units in the South West Pacific Area (SWPA). 

The 5th Air Force USAAF was established in Brisbane,Australia on 3 September 1942 under the command of Major General George Kenney who had arrived in Brisbane, in the State of Queensland in Australia on 29 July 1942. Kenney made a  lightning  tour of bases in northern Queensland and summarily fired the entire command air staff.

At the time that Gen. Kenney had arrived, there were three fighter groups, 5 bombardments groups, two transport squadrons and one photographic squadron operational in the SWPA comprising 1,602 officers and 18,116 men.

A brief history of the 54th Troop Carrier Wing of the Fifth Army Air Force, World War II

The 54th Troop Carrier Wing was activated in Australia on 13 May, 1943, and operated as part of the Fifth Air Force.

Prior to creation of the Wing, the 21st and 22nd Transport Squadrons had been redesignated Troop Carrier Squadrons. Other Troop Carrier Squadrons joining them were the 6th and the 33rd. All these squadrons were assigned to the 374th Troop Carrier Group under Lt Col Erickson Nichols. In December, 1942, when he returned to the states, Col Paul H Prentiss (later brigadier general) was placed in command. 

It was from the 374th Troop Carrier Group that the 54th Troop Carrier Wing was formed, and Col Paul H Prentiss remained in command.

Other groups and squadrons that later served under the 54th Troop Carrier Wing included the 2nd Combat Cargo; the 317th, 375th and 433rd Troop Carrier Squadrons; the 333rd and 415th Signal Companies; the 21st Service Group; and the 804th Medical Air Evacuation Squadron.

The book "Moresby to Manila via Troop Carrier," which was published in Australia in 1945, tells the story of the critical part the 54th played in enabling General MacArthur to return to the Philippines as he pledged to do. The book was edited by Richard Jacobson, Public Relations Officer. It contains many stories and pictures of the various campaigns. It also gives a good picture of how the men lived and worked all those years in the jungles of the Southwest Pacific.

The mission of the Troop Carriers was to fly from forward bases into front-line fields and drop supplies to infantry engaged in battle, and to carry paratroopers to fields of battle.

General George C Kenny, Allied Air Force chief in the Southwest Pacific, said, "The...railroad car of the last war has been replaced by the C-47 airplane...Men, food, munitions, and artillery now go by air...War as waged in New Guinea would be impossible without air transportation."

The 54th Troop Carrier Wing played an essential role in winning the war with Japan. The entire Wing, as well as its individual groups and squadrons, received many letters of commendation for jobs well done, before it was finally inactivated in the Philippines on 31 May, 1946.

57th Troop Carrier Squadron in WWII November 18, 1942 - March 26, 1946

This is the only known official 57th Troop Carrier Squadron (TCS) picture depicting the WWII morale patch. The notation in the picture “King's Men” is a reference to the 57th TCS Commander 1st Lt Benjamin C. King  (Mar 1943 - Nov 1944).

57th History and Lineage

Our squadron was activated on November 18, 1942 at Bowman Field, KY as the 57th Troop Carrier Squadron (TCS). The 57th TCS was assigned to the 375th Troop Carrier Group along with its sister squadrons the 55th, 56th, & 58th TCS's. The squadron received its key personnel from the 30th Troop Carrier Squadron which was part of the 89th Troop Carrier Command operating at Sedalia, MO. The first Squadron Commander, Capt Lucian N. Powell, was a career airline pilot with over 6000 hours flying time. The squadron was originally equipped with the C-47 aircraft. 

In preparation for the upcoming overseas duty in the Pacific Theater, the 57th began training with the C-47 Skytrain. The training included transporting cargo and personnel, airborne drops, cargo drops, and pulling troop gliders. A few months later, on 23 January 1943, the 57th moved to Sedalia Army Air Field, Missouri, (better known today as Whiteman AFB) to continue training. On 5 May 1943, the 57th moved from Sedalia to Laurinburg-Maxton Army Air Base, North Carolina, for advanced training. While at Laurinburg-Maxton, the squadron picked up some experienced combat crews. The squadron experienced its first accident on March 10 when a glider, practicing night landings, cut loose too soon, hit a tree and crashed. The pilot and co-pilot were seriously injured and the mechanic was killed. Their experience would be invaluable to the new unit. On 2 June 1943, the 57th TCS moved to Baer Field, Indiana, where their equipment shortages were filled and the squadron received its final training before heading out to the Pacific Theater. On June 14, the air echelon (part of 5th AF, 54th Troop Carrier Wing and 375th Troop Carrier Group (Tokyo Trolley) flew to Port Moresby, New Guinea, arriving there June 29, 1943. The ground echelon left Baer Field on June 17 and by 27 June the ground echelon of the 57th TCS was aboard the S.S. Lurline passing under the Golden gate bridge on-route to Brisbane, Australia and then onto Port Moresby, New Guinea. Those traveling by boat were inducted into ―Neptune‘s Royal Order of the Deep as they crossed the equator and they arrived at Port Moresby on July 31. 

Soon after arriving in New Guinea the squadron received the name "Biscuit Bomber" (The name Biscuit Bomber comes from the dropping of food and ammunition to forward locations during WWII). The 57th TCS moved on Aug. 2 to Dobodura, New Guinea and two days later flew the first mission to Salamaua. On September 2, nine of the 57th's planes dropped 90,000 pounds of ammunition, food and equipment to allied troops in the area. Until December 23, 1943, the unit made flights to several locations in New Guinea, as well as Port Moresby and Australia. After October 16, the air echelon operated from Port Moresby, with the rest of the squadron moving there on December 20, 1943.

In addition to C-47s, the squadron flew armed B-17F Flying Fortress's from February to May 1944 for the more hazardous missions that involved landing on fields that were under enemy attack. On April 8, 1944, the 57th flew personnel and equipment from Guadalcanal to forward bases at Munda and Dobodura. The unit supported the invasion of Noemfoor Island on July 2 and on September 23, moved to Biak Island. They made the first trip to Morotai Island on October 5, carrying supplies forward and returning with litter patients.

An additional mission took them to Leyte, Philippine Islands on October 31 to haul supplies to the beachhead and return wounded to hospitals. In January 1945 the unit began the transition to C-46 aircraft. It also moved to San Jose, Mindoro, Philippine Islands, on Feb. 18 during the next few months most of its missions were supply flights to ground forces on Luzon and neighboring islands; then to Porac, Luzon on May 19. C-46s flew from Clark Field, 15 miles from the squadron's camp. On June 16, 1945, the 57th TCS made its first flight to Okinawa, the destination of most missions for the next two months.

On August 23, 1945 the 57th and its sister squadrons (55th, 56th & 58th TCS) led by the 375th Troop Carrier Group Commander, Lt Col John L. Ames Jr. flew to the airport in Atsugi, Japan, participating in the initial occupation. September 20 brought another move, this time to Tachikawa AB near Tokyo. Operations continued in Japan until January 21, 1946 when the last of the personnel and equipment transferred to other organizations. The 57th TCS inactivated on March 25, 1946.

On 3 August 1947, the 57th was re-activated in the Reserve at Greater Pittsburgh Airport, PA, as part of the 375th Troop Carrier Group. The Reservists trained in the C-46 aircraft until the unit was call to active duty on October 15, 1950. Immediately, the unit moved to Greenville (later, Donaldson) AFB, SC, and began flying the C-82 (forerunner of the C-119) & C-45 aircraft. The 57th was declared operational to support Troop Carrier missions in November 1950.

Between February 20 and April 11, 1952, the unit operated on duty from Brownwood Municipal Airport, TX, in support of Army maneuvers. On July 14, 1952, the 57th TCS inactivated at Donaldson AFB and was reactivated in the reserves at Pittsburgh, PA, with new personnel and equipment. The squadron did little training and inactivated on April 1, 1954.

Redesignated 57th Military Airlift Squadron (MAS), Training, the squadron was activated at Tinker AFB OK, on 8 January 1966 and would also absorb the men and equipment of the 1741st Air Transport Squadron.

The mission of the 57th MAS was to train aircrew members (Pilots, Navigators, Flight Engineers and Loadmasters) to fly the new C-141 turbo-jet transport aircraft. They frequently carried cargo and passengers to destinations within the United States on the training flights. The unit also transported cargo and passengers overseas to Japan, Germany, Guam, Puerto Rico, Hawaii, and Alaska, usually on weekend missions. In later years, additional destinations included Egypt, Korea, Italy, the Philippines, Spain and Africa.

On April 21, 1969, the squadron relocated to Altus AFB OK. From there, the squadron took part in numerous humanitarian and operational missions. The squadron regularly flew to Southwest Asia in support of U.S. forces there. Crews and aircraft flew in the Israeli airlift, October-November 1973. In 1975, the 57th flew its first mission to South America. Occasionally the 57th supported the U.S. Army with airdrop missions of paratroopers and supplies.

In December 1979, the unit received the Air Force's first C-141B, and it was given the name “the City of Altus.” In addition to the stretched fuselage, the aircraft was modified for air refueling capabilities. The squadron also supported the Commander in Chief, Military Airlift Command and his staff in the late 1970s and early 80s.

Airlift missions to Beirut, Lebanon began in August 1983, in support of peacekeeping forces there. During Desert Shield, Desert Storm, 32 aircrews from the squadron flew more than 4,300 hours on 640 sorties. Additionally, the squadron flew more than 200 sorties and transported more than 3,100 tons of food and supplies in support of the Somalia relief efforts during Operation Restore Hope.

The unit was redesignated the 57th Airlift Squadron (AS) on Oct. 1, 1991. In April 1993, with the transfer of 285 flightline maintenance personnel to the 57th AS, the squadron combined aircrew operations with maintenance operations to form the largest combined maintenance and aircrew operational C-141B squadron in the Air Force. On July 1, 1993 the squadron came under the Air Education and Training Command.

From 1965 through 2001 the squadron was the sole source for initial qualifications and advanced training in C-141 strategic airlift aircraft. It was selectively manned to train C-141 aircrew members in airland, aerial delivery and aerial refueling. The 57th flew approximately 2,000 sorties and 8,500 hours annually to provide specialized flight training to over 900 students. In addition, the squadron maintained world-wide qualification and participates in most national USTRANSCOM directed airlift operations. The 57th AS was ceremoniously inactivated on 28 July 2001 at Altus AFB, OK and officially inactivated by the Air Force on 30 September 2001.

Redesignated 57th Weapons Squadron (WPS) on 30 May 2003 and activated on 1 June 2003 at McGuire AFB, NJ. The 57th WPS would provide graduate-level instructor academic and flying courses to C-17 crew members.

Assignments: 375th Troop Carrier Group, 18 Nov 1942-25 Mar 1946. 375th Troop Carrier Group, 3 Aug 1947-14 Jul 1952. 375th Troop Carrier Group, 14 Jul 1952-1 Apr 1954. 443rd Military Airlift (later, 443rd Airlift) Wing, 8 Jan 1966; 443rd Operations Group, 1 Oct 1991; 97th Operations Group, 1 Oct 1992-30 Sep 2001. USAF Mobility Weapons School, 1 Jun 2003; USAF Weapons School, 5 Jul 2006-.

Stations: Bowman Field, KY, 18 Nov 1942; Sedalia AAFld, MO, 23 Jan 1943; Laurinburg-Maxton AAB, NC, 5 May 1943; Baer Field, IN, 3-17 Jun 1943; Port Moresby, New Guinea, 29 Jun 1943; Dobodura, New Guinea, 2 Aug 1943; Port Moresby, New Guinea, 20 Dec 1943; Nadzab, New Guinea, 22 Apr 1944; Biak, 23 Sep 1944 (operated from Peleliu, 9-26 Jan 1945); San Jose, Mindoro, 18 Feb 1945; Porac, Luzon, 20 May 1945; Okinawa, 20 Aug 1945; Tachikawa, Japan, 20 Sep 1945-25 Mar 1946. Greater Pittsburgh Aprt, PA, 3 Aug 1947; Greenville (later, Donaldson) AFB, SC, 16 Oct 1950-14 Jul 1952. Pittsburgh, PA, 14 Jul 1952-1 Apr 1954. Tinker AFB, OK, 8 Jan 1966; Altus AFB, OK, 21 Apr 1969-30 Sep 2001. McGuire AFB, NJ, 1 Jun 2003-.

Commanders: Unkn, 18-19 Nov 1942; Capt Lucian N. Powell, 20 Nov 1942; 1Lt Benjamin C. King, 22 Mar 1943; Capt James C. Smith, 27 Nov 1944; Capt Fred M. Starr, 24 Jun 1945-unkn. Maj George F. Swearingen, 3 Aug 1947; Maj James M. Thomas, 20 May 1949; Capt George Kacsuta, 15 Oct 1950; Maj Earl J. Smith, 7 Nov 1950; Capt Robert W. Smith, c. Dec 1951-unkn. Unkn, 14 Jul 1952-1 Apr 1954. Lt Col Therman C. Weir, 8 Jan 1966; Col Roger P. Larivee, 11 Oct 1966; Lt Col Ralph D. Haaf, 1 Aug 1968; Lt Col Thomas J. Overton, 28 Nov 1969; Lt Col Barney J. Milner, by 31 Dec 1970; Lt Col Kenneth E. Klein, 1 Dec 1971; Lt Col Leonard W. Dasbach, 23 Nov 1972; Lt Col Richard L. Davis, 24 May 1973; Lt Col Roy B. Dille Jr., 20 May 1974; Lt Col Gary S. Baker, 2 Feb 1976; Lt Col Francis J. Almeter, 2 Jul 1976; Lt Col Joseph L. Bergeron, 13 Feb 1978; Lt Col Carleton R. Philbrick, 9 Apr 1979; Lt Col Larry R. Winchell, 25 Aug 1980; Lt Col John C. Tait, 26 May 1981; Lt Col Bobby O. Floyd, 14 Jul 1982; Lt Col James C. Schaffer, 1 Jun 1984; Lt Col Richard B. Bundy, 27 Jun 1986; Lt Col Martin D. Amelung, 4 Apr 1988; Lt Col Robert A. Saunders, 27 Mar 1990; Lt Col Stephen B. Frye, 15 Jun 1992; Lt Col Mark C. Wido, 18 Jun 1993; Lt Col John H. Christ, 23 Jun 1994; Lt Col Russell J. Deluca, 13 Jun 1995; Lt Col Frederick H. Martin, 31 Mar 1997; Lt Col Bruce E. Card, 30 Jun 1998; Lt Col Richard J. Walberg, 3 Apr 2000-30 Sep 2001. Lt Col John J. Sullivan, 1 Jun 2003; Lt Col John J. Roscoe, 27 Jun 2005; Lt Col Walter C. Daniels, II, 2 Jul 2007; Lt Col Christopher B. Collett, 23 Jun 2009; Lt Col Brian J. Wald, 24 Jun 2013; Lt Col Shawn Serfass, 16 Jul 2015; Lt Col Charles (Chuck) Polomsky, 16 Jul 2015; Lt Col David Myrick, 13 Feb 2017; Lt Col Scott "Crank" Johnson, 19 Dec 2018; Lt Col Brian D. Muto, 16 Dec 2020; Lt Col Grant W. Behning, 8 Jul 2022.

Aircraft: C-47, 1942-1945; B-17, 1944; C-46, 1944-1946; C-82, 1950-1952; C-141, 1966-2001; C-17, 2003-.

Operations: Aerial transportation in Southwest and Western Pacific during World War II; airborne assault on Nadzab, New Guinea, 5 Sep 1945. Provided aircrew flight training in the C-141 aircraft and worldwide airlift, 1966-2001. Training provider for USAF weapons officers, C-17 2003-.


Service Streamers: None.

Campaign Streamers: World War II: Air Offensive, Japan; New Guinea; Northern Solomons; Bismarck Archipelago; Western Pacific; Leyte; Luzon; Southern Philippines; Ryukyus.

Armed Forces Expeditionary Streamers: None.

Decorations: Air Force Outstanding Unit Awards: 1 Apr 1967-31 Mar 1969; 1 Apr 1970-31 Mar 1972; 1 Jul 1979-30 Jun 1981; 1 Jul 1985-30 Jun 1987; 1 Jul 1991-30 Jun 1993; 1 Jul 1993-30 Jun 1994; 1 Jul 1994-30 Jun 1995; 1 Jul 1995-30 Jun 1996; 1 Jul 1996-30 Jun 1998; 1 Jul 1998-30 Jun 1999; 1 Jul 1999-30 Jun 2000; 1 Jul 2000-[30 Sep 2001]; 1 Jun 2004-31 May 2006. Philippine Presidential Unit Citation (WWII). Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross with Palm: 1 Apr 1966-28 Jan 1973.

Emblem: Azure, a pair of wings Or, garnished Gold Brown surmounted by two arrows saltewise of the like, overall a torch of the third flamant Proper fimbriated Argent, all between in base three double mullets, Yellow offset on White, each issuing a four lined contrail arcing to the flame of the torch of the las5t; all within an inner bordure or and an outer diminished bordure of the first. Approved c. May 1966 (K 14279).

 57th Alumni Association.  All Right Reserved

Information added on the 81st Anniversary to the 375th Troop Carrier Group (Medium), known today as the 375th Operations Group. 

Founded November 18th, 1942, the 375th TCG was instrumental during World War II, and had their work published by the Air Force Office of History in 1961 within "Air Force Combat Units of World War II."

The 375th TCG used C-47s in training for overseas duty and then moved to the Pacific theater June-July 1943, and was assigned to Fifth Air Force. They operated from New Guinea and Biak from Jul. 1943-Feb. 1945, transporting men, supplies, and equipment to forward bases on New Guinea, New Britain and in the Solomon and Admiralty Islands. They used armed B-17s for the more hazardous missions that involved landing on fields that were under enemy attack.

The 375th TCG took part in the first airborne operation in the Southwest Pacific, dropping paratroops to seize enemy bases and cut overland supply lines at Nadzab, New Guinea Sep. 5th, 1943.  They then converted to C-46 aircraft in late 1944 and moved to the Philippines in Feb 1945 and during the next few months most of its missions were supply flights to ground forces on Luzon and neighboring islands. They transported cargo to forces in the Ryukyus, June-July, 1945. Finally, they moved to Okinawa in Aug. 1945, and after the war helped transfer troops from Luzon to the Ryukus for staging to Japan.

The unit's emblem is posted to the left. The blue and yellow were the colors of the US Army Air Forces, the wings and parachute represented the troop carrier mission, and the Pegasus symbolized courage, endurance, and speed.  The motto "Nolle Secundis" means "None but the Best".