Roots of the 105th Airlift Squadron (105AS) and the 118th Airlift Wing (118AW) reach to World War I when the 105th Aero Squadron of the American Expeditionary Force was formed at Kelly Field, Texas in 1917. After the war, in 1919, veterans of the 105th Aero Squadron residing in the Nashville area gathered for the purpose of organizing an air element of the Tennessee National Guard.
On December 4, 1921, the unit received "Federal Recognition" and was designated the 136th Observation Squadron, and assigned to the U.S. Army's 30th "Old Hickory" Division. Subsequently dubbed the "Old Hickory" Squadron, our squadron insignia still includes a figure of Andrew Jackson "Old Hickory" on horseback. In March 1922, our squadron received our first four Curtiss JN-6HG airplanes, nicknamed the "Jenny." We would eventually receive eight of these "Jennys" and one lone DeHavilland DH-4B airplane, nicknamed the "Flaming Coffin." Later on 20 July 1923, our squadron was changed from the 136th to the 105th Observation Squadron.
The next fifteen years the Squadron developed strength and stature in Nashville, along with receiving more reliable O-2 Observation airplanes in 1926. Beginning in 1927, flying operations began at our second airfield McConnell Field. McConnell Field, located west of downtown Nashville, was named after 1Lt. Frank B. "Brower" McConnell, a squadron pilot killed during an airplane accident on maneuvers at Langley Field, Virginia.
The years 1928-1938 were characterized by frequent changes in assigned aircraft and the unit would actually be disbanded for a few months from late 1930 to early 1931 due to politics. The unit would fly the Curtiss O-11 Falcon and O-17 in 1928, then the Douglas O-38 in 1931 and Douglas O-25 in 1935 and later the North American O-47 aircraft in 1938. The O-47 was our unit's first operational single wing aircraft.
In 1931, the unit moved to Sky Harbor Airport, near Murfreesboro, where it could share hanger space with Interstate Airways, later American Airways (now American Airlines).
In 1935, construction began for an airport in Nashville. After months of research, the area chosen was a 340-acre site comprised of four adjoining farms located along the Dixie Highway (now Murfreesboro Road). Constructed began in 1935, the airport was dedicated in 1936, and officially opened in 1937.
The new airport was named Berry Field in honor of Colonel Harry S. Berry, State Administrator of the Works Progress Administration (WPA). The three-letter identifier: "BNA" stands for Berry Field Nashville. Berry Field became a military base for the 4th Ferrying Command during World War II. The military added additional acreage for its operations and in 1946, after the war; returned the 1,500-acre airport to the City of Nashville.
By 1938, the squadron had completed its move to Berry Field. The unit formerly occupied Hangers #1, #2, and #4 between Hanger Lane and present taxiway T4. The southeastern end of the airport still shows remnants of the original Berry Field. The field was used by the Air Transport Command during World War II (W.W.II), then later by the Air Defense Command briefly in the early 1950s. The unit moved to its present facilities on Knapp Blvd. in 1952. Berry Field remains the name of the ANG complex at Nashville IAP.
In 1940, after summer maneuvers in Louisiana, the squadron was called to active duty. It was sent to Ft. Jackson, SC, assigned to the newly organized 65th Observation Group, which was equipped with O-52 "Owl" aircraft. Members of the 105th became a ready source of trained personnel and seasoned pilots as our nation entered World War II.
Members of the 105th were to make history around the globe flying a variety of missions: Observation, antisubmarine patrol, reconnaissance and bombardment. They found themselves switching organizations frequently and flying different aircraft as follows; the twin engine Martin B-10 Bomber, the Vega Ventura B-34, and the North American B-25G Mitchell Bomber. From 1943 to 1945, the men from the 105th performed with distinction in the Pacific Campaign and flew over 100 combat missions flying the B-25G "Mitchell" Bomber against Japanese targets. During the course of the war, we were re-designated the 820 Bomb Squadron and assigned to the 41st Bomb Group, 7th Air Force.
After the war, the Tennessee Guardsman returned to Nashville and the famed 105th was reactivated, reorganized under state control, and granted federal recognition. In 1947, the 118th Fighter Group and the 105th Fighter Squadron were federally reorganized with the 105th Fighter Squadron assigned to the 118th Fighter Group flying the Republic P-47 "Thunderbolt", a high speed World War II fighter. By 1947, the 105th had received 25 of the P-47's and additional support aircraft.
In 1950, the 118th Composite Wing was re-designated 118th Composite Wing and in 1951 the 118th Composite Wing, 118th Composite Group and 105th Fighter Squadron were re-designated the 118th Tactical Reconnaissance Wing (TRW), Group and Squadron respectively.
The 118th TRW was activated for federal service again in 1950. It was re-designated as the 105th Fighter Interceptor Squadron and was activated in place in early 1951. While on active duty, it operated two geographically separated units; Detachment 1 flying P-47 Thunderbolt aircraft, from McGhee-Tyson Airport at Knoxville, TN, providing air defense for the Atomic Energy Commission at Oak Ridge, and Detachment 2 was the 467th Ground Observer Squadron, Smyrna, TN.
In late 1952, the Wing was release from active duty and early 1953 reformed in Nashville as Headquarters, 118th Tactical Reconnaissance Wing and consisted of the 105th Squadron, and units at Memphis, Little Rock and Fort Smith, all flying North American P-51 Mustangs from 1953 to 1955. The units flew the Lockheed RF-80C Shooting Star from 1955 -1956, and the Republic RF-84F Thunderflash from 1956 to 1961.
In 1961 the wing converted to the airlift mission flying the Boeing C-97G "Stratofreighter." In 1966 MATS was renamed Military Airlift Command (MAC). As a result, the 118th Air Transport Wing, Group and Squadron were re-designated 118th Military Airlift Wing, Group and Squadron respectively. Six years later the 118th MAW converted to the Douglas C-124C "Globemaster II" transport and received the first of eight of the aircraft in 1967.
In 1971, the Wing converted to the Lockheed C-130A Hercules and became the 118th Tactical Airlift Wing. In 1978 the Wing was recognized for its achievements and was awarded the Air Force Outstanding Unit Award. In 1979, the Wing was enlarged from eight to sixteen C-130A Aircraft.
In 1989, it had been ten years since the unit had acquired the C-130 airframe while supporting a worldwide tactical airlift mission. Participation in exercises such as Brave Shield, Brim Frost and Red Flag were accomplished with some of the oldest aircraft in the inventory (A models were built from 1954 to 1957). Rotations to Panama in support of Operation Volant Oak beginning in 1977 had become routine.
1990 was the start of another conversion process. The 118th received a total of sixteen new C-130H aircraft from Lockheed, replacing the 30 year-old A-models. But, the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in 1990 was to place the largest demand upon 118th personnel in almost 40 years. The Wing mobilized 462 personnel during 21 deployments for Operation Desert Shield / Desert Storm in southwest Asia and flew a record 7239 flying hours.
In 1992, Military Airlift Command (MAC) reorganized as Air Mobility Command (AMC). The 118th Tactical Airlift Wing became the 118th Airlift Wing. With sixteen C-130H aircraft and 1406 authorized personnel at Nashville, the 118th Airlift Wing was one of the largest flying units in the Air National Guard at that time.
Following "September 11th", our Operational Tempo skyrocketed. Over one-third of the Wing was activated for one year or more to supporting the National Homeland Security Plan (Operation Noble Eagle), which included deploying aircraft and personnel to bases inside the United States for several months, then assigned a home station alert mission. Shortly after the Wing completed the Noble Eagle mission, the Wing was selected to deploy to Southwest Asia in support CENTCOM Operations.
In 2003, the 118th deployed ten C-130's and over 320 personnel to the Middle East in direct support of combat operations at the beginning of Operation Iraqi Freedom. While living in austere conditions in tents, enduring the desert heat and sand storms, the men & women of the 118th supported combat operations into and out of Baghdad and surrounding areas of Iraq. The 118th was the lead wing in establishing a bare base in support of the largest contingent of C-130's ever based in a combat environment, over 46 C-130's located at a single base. The unit supported CENTCOM at various locations in Iraq, Kuwait, Oman and Saudi Arabia. The unit returned home at different times in late 2003 as U.S. forces were drawn down and rotated to meet the changing requirements. In late 2003, the Wing again deployed to Uzbekistan supporting Operating Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. The Wing is now scheduled to support Operation Joint Forge in the near future.
Since being assigned a transport mission in 1961, we have flown the C-97, C-124, C-130A and C-130H over 200,000 hours and millions of miles of international, as well as stateside, missions in direct support of U.S. Military missions. From 1961 to 1991, the Wing provided airlift support for the Berlin Airlift and Cuban Missile crises, national and state civil disturbances, Vietnam Conflict, Red Flag, Brave Shield, Volant Oak and Coronet Oak, Desert Shield, and Desert Storm. Since 1991, the 118th Airlift Wing has participated in:
Operation Volant & Coronet Oak- airlift support for SOUTHCOM in Central & South America
Operation Brim Frost- airlift support to Alaska in 1985, 1987, 1989
Operation Artic Warrior- airlift support to Alaska, early 1990's
Operation Amalgam Warrior- airlift support to Alaska, late 1990's
Operation Amalgam Virgo- airlift support to Alaska, late 1990's
Operation Creek Resolve: airlift support in Turkey
Operation Desert Shield / Storm- deployments of Forces in support of CENTCOM in Southwest Asia
Operation Distant Haven- humanitarian operations for Haitian refugees in Surinam
Operation Provide Relief- humanitarian airlift into Somalia
Operation Provide Promise- airlift into Sarajevo and airdrops over Bosnia
Operation Support Hope- humanitarian operations in or near Rwanda
Operation Uphold Democracy- supporting military forces in Haiti
Operation Southern Watch- enforcing the no-fly zone over southern Iraq
Operation Joint Guard- supporting peacekeeping operations in Yugoslavia
Operation Joint Endeavor- supporting peacekeeping operations in Bosnia
Operation Noble Eagle- supporting the National Homeland Security Plan
Operation Enduring Freedom- deployments of Forces in support of CENTCOM
Operation Iraqi Freedom- continued deployments of our forces in support of CENTCOM operations in Iraq