457th Airlift Squadron inactivates, celebrates history
Story by A1C Chad Gorecki on 06/17/2019
As members both past and present watched the 457th Airlift Squadron’s guidon be rolled up and stored away at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland as part of an inactivation ceremony on June 14, they knew a proud and storied history went with it.
“Getting to command a squadron as impressive as the 457th AS has been amazing, but to have it cut short due to inactivation is hard,” said Lt. Col. Royce Lippert, 457th AS commander.
“Serving as a Squadron Commander of a flying squadron has been fantastic and knowing I won’t get to serve in this capacity again is tough. My family will miss the hustle harder’ attitude that we’ve seen with each of every member of the squadron, but I also know that as the Hustlers’ move on to their new units, they’ll bring that attitude with them.”
The unit was inactivated as part of a consolidation effort of the C-21 inventory. The last of the four C-21s located at Andrews will arrive at Scott AFB on June 18 to make a total of 14 C-21s here.
Gaining commander of the C-21s, Lt. Col. Brooke Matson, said, “Inactivating a squadron is never an easy thing to do but this storied squadron will live on in the 458th Airlift Squadron. We are lucky enough to inherit a few 457th Airmen along with their aircraft. They bring with them the proud tradition of hard work and selfless service. They embody the ideal that service is a family business, and that is very much alive and well in America’s Learjet Squadron. We’re proud to carry on their heritage.”
She also explained how the consolidation comes at a time of many changes happening in the small but tight knit community, during what they call the “Year of the Lear,” marking 35 years of the C-21 in the Air Force.
To add on to this consolidation, a $38M avionics upgrade is underway to ensure these aircraft and the service provided to customers will live on with a tradition of excellence for years to come as they meet future FAA requirements as well.
The 457th AS was first stood up as the 457th Heavy Bombardment Squadron on July 1, 1942, and was responsible for training stateside aircrews in the B-17 Flying Fortress and B- 24 Liberator. The 457th then transitioned to the B-29 Superfortress and moved to Guam, engaging in combat operations against the empire of Japan. Its 47th and final bombing strike was in the air on the hour of the Japanese surrender on Aug. 15, 1945. Shortly thereafter the 457th was inactivated as part of the massive postwar drawdown.
With the escalation of the Vietnam War, the squadron was re-activated on Oct. 12, 1966, becoming the 457th Tactical Airlift Squadron. During this time, Airmen flew the unarmed C-7 Caribou out of Cam Ranh Bay in Vietnam and Don Maung airport in Bangkok. They provided intra-theater airlift throughout southeast Asia, including air, land and airdrop assault missions. But then, the 457th was once again inactivated on April 30, 1972.
On April 12, 1975, the 457th rose once again as the 1402nd Military Airlift Squadron, and was consolidated and re-designated as the 457th Airlift Squadron on Dec. 1, 1991. Until June 14, the 457th flew distinguished visitor, medical evacuation, and Mission Capable, or MICAP, missions throughout the western hemisphere and is part of ongoing Air Tasking Order combat operations in U.S. Central Command from 2001 to present.
Over the past several years, the primary mission of the 457th AS has been to serve in support of senior government official airlift. By being located in the National Capitol Region, they had the opportunity to support U.S. Northern Command during exercises in defense of the region. This has provided pilots in the 457th AS a unique opportunity to interact with other agencies gaining valuable experience that will serve them well as they transition to other aircraft.
Lippert said, “The 457th is an amazing squadron. While it’s smaller than most squadrons, it has been extremely efficient and effective in accomplishing its mission and supporting our nation’s senior leaders. The size of the squadron has enabled me to get to know each one of my people with as much daily interaction possible. I am proud to have led such an amazing squadron.”