Constituted as 440th Troop Carrier Group on 25 May 1943. Activated on 1 Jul 1943. Prepared for duty overseas with C-47's. Moved to RAF Bottesford England, Feb-Mar 1944, and assigned to Ninth Air Force. Operational squadrons of the group were:
This group was soon training with the paratroops of the 82nd Airborne Division deployed in the Leicester area. The 440th was a group of Ninth Air Force's 50th Troop Carrier Wing, IX Troop Carrier Command. On 26 April the 440th moved south to RAF Exeter as part of the general move of the groups of the 50th TCW to obtain better operational deployment.
From Exeter, the group dropped paratroops near Carentan in the early hours of 6 June and the following day delivered parapacks containing fuel and ammunition to the same area. Accurate flak accounted for three C-47s on D-Day and a further three were lost on the resupply mission, one of the latter in a freak accident when struck by bombs accidentally released from a P-47 Thunderbolt.
As with the other groups of the 50th Troop Carrier Wing, the 440th sent three squadrons, the 95th, 96th, and 97th TCSs. to Italy on 17/18 July, where they operated from Ombronc airfield hauling supplies to Rome before taking part in the airborne invasion of southern France, Operation "Dragoon", on 18 August. The 98th TCS returned to Exeter on 23 August 1944 and the following day the other squadrons returned from the Mediterranean.
The 98th TCS remained at Exeter until 7 August when it began operating from RAF Ramsbury. Three days later it dropped parapacks to a US infantry battalion that had become encircled at Marlain when the German Army attempted to launch a counter-offensive.
During the attack on Holland the 440th dropped paratroops of 82nd Airborne Division near Groesbeek on 17 Sep 1944 and released gliders with reinforcements on 18 and 23 Sep. On 26 Dec 1944, during the Battle of the Bulge, it hauled gliders filled with supplies for 101st Airborne Division encircled at Bastogne.
In Mar 1945 it towed gliders with troops of 17th Airborne Division to the battle area near Wesel during the airborne assault across the Rhine. When not engaged in airborne operations the group transported food, clothing, medical supplies, gasoline, ammunition, and other cargo to the front lines and evacuated casualties to rear-zone hospitals.
After the war the group transported liberated prisoners and displaced persons. Inactivated in Europe on 18 Oct 1945.
The wing was reactivated as a Reserve Flying Training Group in 1947 at Minneapolis, Minn. Two years later, the unit’s mission changed and it was renamed the 440th Troop Carrier Wing. The wing’s remained in Minneapolis until November 1957 when it was transferred to the new Air Reserve Station in Milwaukee. After the move to Milwaukee, the 440th Troop Carrier Wing had the Fairchild C-119 Flying Boxcar aircraft assigned to the wing.
The 440th Troop Carrier Wing was called to active duty for one month (Oct - Nov 1962) during the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962. Milwaukee was a temporary home to some deployed nuclear capable B-47 Stratojets in during the crisis. Volunteer aircrews also supported military operations in the Dominican Republic in May 1965. Tragedy struck the wing on June 5, 1965 when a C-119 (Flight Number 680) under the command of Maj. Louis Giuntoli was lost without a trace in the infamous Bermuda Triangle area. Nine other wing members were on the plane.
Milwaukee reservists flew emergency supplies to snowbound Indian reservations in the western U.S. in December 1967. The 440th Troop Carrier Wing went through another name change in 1967 when it became the reserve 440th Tactical Airlift Wing. Wing personnel also flew equipment and supplies to Gulfport, Miss., in August 1969, after Hurricane Camille devastated the Gulf Coast. Wisconsin reservists efforts did not go unnoticed. The Air Force Association named the 440th as its Outstanding Reserve unit in 1963, 1964, 1966 and 1968.
The 440th in the 1970s
The decade began with a new unit being assigned to the 440th, the 928th Tactical Airlift Group in 1970. The relatively new name (Tactical Airlift Wing) and new unit (928th) were followed up with some more up-to-date equipment. The wing’s C-119s were replaced with C-130A Hercules transport planes in 1971.
Weather emergencies along the eastern U.S. coastline brought the 440th into action in February 1978. The wing flew more than 145 tons of equipment and supplies into several areas after severe blizzards brought life on the coast to a standstill.
The Air Force Reserve took on a new mission in 1979. In January of that year the 440th started a regular rotation with other Reserve and National Guard units that took them to Panama to support the operations of the U.S. Southern Command. Rotations to the Central American country lasted 2-3 weeks at a time.
The low point of the 1980s occurred on Jan. 22, 1985 when C-130A (#56501) commanded by Maj. Mike Durante crashed in the sea off the northern coast of Honduras while trying to land at Trujillo, Honduras. The plane carried a seven-man crew and 14 passengers. There were no survivors.
The highlight of the 1980s was the arrival of factory fresh C-130H Hercules aircraft. The local Reserve Officers Association, the 440th Community Council and numerous civic leaders led the efforts to convince Washington authorities to equip the 440th with eight new C-130s. The appropriation was approved and the aircraft were delivered in 1989. The C-130As the wing had been flying were apparently not just old, but unique. One of the 440th’s C-130s was flown to Washington, D.C. and is now part of the Smithsonian’s aircraft collection. The first C-130H was dubbed “The Spirit of Wisconsin.”
The wing’s continuing record of outstanding performance was recognized in 1987 with the award of the Air Force Outstanding Unit Award.
The 95th TAS began the decade with honors when it was named the Best in AFRES with the award of the Grover Loening Trophy in 1990. Elements of the 440th were part of Operations Desert Shield in 1990 and Desert Storm in 1991. Aircraft, flight crews, maintenance specialists and a variety of support specialists deployed to operating locations in several Persian Gulf States where they provided airlift support to U.S. and coalition military forces. The aircraft and personnel were drawn from the wing’s units at Selfridge ANGB, Mich. (927th TAG), General Mitchell IAP-ARS (95th TAS) and O’Hare IAP, Chicago (928th TAG). The 927th performed the wing’s first tactical re-supply mission as part of Operation Desert Storm. The 440th Medical Squadron was activated in January 1991 and was deployed to Germany in anticipation of large numbers of casualties, which thankfully never occurred.
The 440th Airlift Wing was one of many Reserve and Guard C-130 units that provided airlift support to NATO and U.S. operations in the Balkan region as part of Operation Provide Promise in 1993. The 440th swept almost all the C-130 honors at the 1993 Air Mobility Command rodeo. The wing was recognized as the Best of the Best in the competition.
The next two years were a busy operational period for the wing. The 440th took part in Operation Uphold Democracy (Haiti) and Operation Safe Borders (support of U.S. Army forces in Honduras while preparing a defense of the unit before the congressionally mandated Base Realignment and Closure Commission).
Operation Joint Endeavor took elements of the unit back to the Balkans in 1995 and 1996. Wing aircrews flew people and supplies into and out of embattled Bosnia. The 11,005 sq. ft. Aircraft Maintenance Shop (building 222) was also finished in 1996.
Tragedy came to the wing again in 1997 when a 440th C-130H (#88-4408) crashed while attempting to land at Tegucigalpa Airport in Honduras. Three members of the wing were killed in the accident.
The post Vietnam War reorganization of the armed services brought more change to the 440th. Tactical Air Command came to an end and the 440th became an Air Mobility Command gained unit on April 1, 1997.
Tragedies and operational changes did not dull the unit’s sharp operational edge. The 440th went through an operation readiness inspection at the Savannah Ga., Combat Readiness Training Center, and received the highest score of any Reserve unit in the previous two years.
The wing went on to show off its operational capabilities in the real during the next calendar year (1999) when the 440th provided 13 percent of the total Reserve and Air National Guard tactical airlift that flew relief supplies into Kosovo as part of Operation Shining Hope. The wing Balkan efforts were complimented by continued support of the Coronet Oak mission throughout 1999 – 2000. Flying operations had been moved from Panama to Puerto Rico but the mission continued.
The Sept. 11, 2001 assault on America hurt the 440th as much as it did the rest of the country. The 440th Security Forces Squadron recalled almost the entire unit and was the first wing unit to deploy members on anti-terror operations. Security Forces Ravens were the first to deploy, but other members of the unit helped conduct prisoner transports from Afghanistan to Guantanamo Naval Station Cuba after Taliban resistance collapsed in Afghanistan. Security specialists were also heavily involved in providing base and personal security measures and anti-terror measures in Afghanistan and Iraq.
On November 26, 2003, two days before Thanksgiving, the wing received a mobilization order for more than 300 aircrew members, aircraft maintenance specialists and general support specialists. By December 15, the wing had six aircraft and about 200 people in Kuwait with more than a dozen operation missions accomplished by that date. The Flying Badgers are still on the job in the Central Command area providing airlift support, superb aircraft maintenance and security training and support from the Horn of Africa to the high desert of Afghanistan. Since 2001, the 440th has deployed aircraft, crew and support personnel in support of Operations Noble Eagle, Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom.