386th Air Expeditionary Wing

Infobox Military Unit
unit_name= 386th Air Expeditionary Wing

caption= 386th Air Expeditionary Wing emblem
dates= 25 November 1942 - 7 August 1945
1956 - 1957, 2001 - Present
country= United States
branch= United States Air Force
command_structure=Air Combat Command/US Central Command
garrison=Ali Al Salem Air Base, Kuwait
notable_commanders= Joe W. Kelly

The United States Air Force's 386th Air Expeditionary Wing is an Air Expeditionary unit located at Ali Al Salem Air Base, Kuwait.


The 386th Air Expeditionary Wing has a diverse mission which canvases the CENTCOM AOR. The 386th AEW is the primary aerial hub for Operation Iraqi Freedom and provides airlift support for Operation Enduring Freedom and the Horn of Africa. The wing is comprised of the 386th Expeditionary Maintenance, Mission Support, Medical and Operations Groups and the 586th Expeditionary Mission Support Group.

The 386th AEW is composed of more than 3,000 Airmen from the National Guard, Air Force Reserve and active duty. More than 1,300 of the Airmen serve outside the wire with the 586th Expeditionary Mission Support Group. They provide security at the largest Theater Internment Facility in Iraq, security for convoys, and serve as drivers for convoys.

The wing is also home to one of two contingency aeromedical staging facilities (CASF) in the theater. The CASF serves as a gateway for patients airlifted to Germany or the United States for further medical treatment. The CASF averages more than 200 patients a month with patient stays averaging between 12 and 36 hours.

quadrons assigned

* 386th Expeditionary Maintenance Group
* 386th Expeditionary Medical Group
* 386th Expeditionary Operations Group
* 386th Expeditionary Mission Support Group
* 387th Air Expeditionary Group
* 586th Air Expeditionary Group


* Passengers Moved (Since Oct 2003)
Monthly Average - 44,728
Total (As of February 07) - 1,431,287

* Cargo and Baggage Moved (Since Oct 2003)
Monthly Average - 3,962
Total (As of February 07) - 126,785

* Patients Moved (Since Sept 2004)
Monthly Average - 236
Total (As of February 07) - 4,821

* C-130 Sorties (Since Nov 2003)
Monthly Average - 1,688
Total (As of February 07) - 52,316

* 586th Expeditionary Mission Support Group
Convoy miles driven in Iraq (Since Jan 2005) - 4,813,917
Airmen driving convoys in Iraq - 360
Airmen providing security in Iraq - 865



* 386th Bombardment Group (Medium) (1942-1945)
* 386th Troop Carrier Wing (Medium) (23 March 1953)
* 386th Fighter-Bomber Group (1956-1957)
* 386th Air Expeditionary Wing (2001-Present)

Bases Assigned

* MacDill Field, FL 1 Dec 1942
* Lake Charles AAB, LA 9 Feb-8 May 1943
* RAF Snetterton Heath, England 3 Jun 1943
* RAF Boxted, England 10 Jun 1943
* RAF Great Dunmow, England 24 Sep 1943
* Beaumont-sur-Oise, France 2 Oct 1944 (ALG A-60)
* St-Trond, Belgium 9 Apr-Jul 1945 (ALG A-92)
* Seymour Johnson Field, NC 7 Aug 1945
* Westover Field, MA 30 Sep-7 Nov 1945
* Bunker Hill AFB, Indiana, 1956-1957
* Southwest Asia (2001 - Present) ?

Major Aircraft Flown

* Martin B-26 Marauder
* North American F-86F/H Sabre
* North American F-100 Super Sabre
* 2003 - January - GR-4, C-130E, RQ-1B, RC-12, MQ-1
* 2003 - December - C-130H, C130E, C-12, UC-35, C-23
* 2004 - April - C-130H, C-12, UC-25, C-23
* 2004 - June - Present - C-130E, C-130H, EC-130

Operational History

World War II

The unit was constituted as the 386th Bombardment Group (Medium) on 25 November 1942, and was activated on 1 December 1942 at MacDill Field, Florida. The group was equipped with the Martin B-26 Marauder medium bomber. Its operational squadrons were the 552d (RG), 553d (AN), 554th (RU) and 555th (YA)

After training at several airfields in the United States, the group was deployed to Europe in June 1943 and was assigned initially to the Eighth Air Force 3rd Bombardment Wing at RAF Snetterton Heath, England. The group remained at Snetterton Heath only a few days, being transferred to RAF Boxted on 10 June 1943 in north Essex where the Martin B-26 Marauder groups were being consolidated for operations. The group flew its first mission on 20 July, with operations concentrating on airfields but also attacked marshalling yards and gun positions along the channel coast.

The 386th was again transferred to RAF Great Dunmow on 24 September 1943. Missions of the 386th concentrated on airfields but also bombed marshalling yards and gun positions during the first months of combat. In common with other B-26 Marauder units of the 3d Bomb Wing, the 386th was transferred to Ninth Air Force on 16 October 1943.

Tactical operations were carried out against V-weapon sites along the coast of France in the winter of 1943-1944, and bombed airfields in Holland and Belgium during Big Week, 20-25 Feb 1944.

Great Dunmow was the first airfield visited by General Eisenhower in his USAAF airfield tour on Tuesday, 11 April 1944, and he arrived in time to see thirty-nine Ninth Air Force Marauders take off at twenty second intervals for a mission to attack the marshalling yards in Charleroi Belgium.

The 386th hammered gun positions, and airfields preceding the invasion of Normandy and made numerous assaults on bridges of the Seinelate in May. Struck coastal batteries on D-Day and hit bridges, supply and fuel stores, gun positions, and defended areas during the remainder of the Battle of Normandy. Supported Allied forces at Caen, and participated in the massive blows against the enemy at St Lo on 25 July 1944. Knocked out targets to help clear the Falaise pocket of German forces in August 1944 and hit strong points at Brest during September.

In July 1944, the 553d Bomb Squadron was selected to perform operational testing on the new Douglas A-26 Invader. However due to technical troubles with the aircraft, the type was withdrawn in September. Several damaged aircraft were moved to one side of the airfield, being abandoned along with wrecks of several Marauders and a Boeing B-17 which crash-landed at the airfield.

On 2 October 1944, the 386th Bomb Group moved to Beaumont-sur-Oise (A-60) Airfield, in Normandy France. On the continent, the 386th BG used the following Advanced Landing Grounds:

* A-60 Beaumont-sur-Oise France 2 October 1944
* A-92 St Trond Belgium 9 Apr-Jul 1945

After V-E Day the group returned to the United States, where its Marauder aircraft were sent to Walnut Ridge, Arkansas for disposal. The 386th Bomb Group was deactivated on 7 November 1945.

Cold War

The 386th Troop Carrier Wing, Medium was established on 23 Mar 1953, but was never made active nor assigned any aircraft or mission.

The 386th Fighter-Bomber Group was activated on 8 April 1956 at Bunker Hill AFB, Indiana as part of the 323d Fighter-Bomber Wing. It was assigned to Tactical Air Command The group had three squadrons, 552d, 553d and 554th. Initially training with North American F-86Fs, these were quickly upgraded to the North American F-86H Sabre and then to the North American F-100A to become proficient in tactical air operations.

The wing's aircraft wore a band on the tail, and around the nose edged with small black checkers.

In 1955, Strategic Air Command (SAC) began stationing units at the base, and the Eighth Air Force claimed jurisdiction of Bunker Hill AFB in September 1957. With the turnover of the base to SAC, the 323d was phased down and replaced by the SAC 401st Air Base Group on 1 September 1957.

War on Terrorism

In 1998, in preparation for Operation Desert Fox, the 9th Air Expeditionary Group stood up and in 2001 was redesignated as the 386th Air Expeditionary Group. The 386th Air Expeditionary Wing was activated as part of the War on Terrorism at Ali Al Salem Air Base (AKA "The Rock") as a result of the closure of Prince Sultan Air Base and the inactivation of the 363rd Air Expeditionary Wing.

This unit was literally at the forefront of Operation Southern Watch. For several years following the Persian Gulf War, the base was a sleepy radar site, manned by just a handful of Air Force people monitoring air traffic in the southern no-fly zone. The 74th Air Control Squadron deployed from August to November 1995 to set up and operate a radar site -- the only source of a 24-hour air picture in-theater - as part of Vigilant Sentinel. Exactly one year later, 74th ACS personnel deployed once again, this time for 120 days in support of Southern Watch and Operation Desert Strike.

After tensions in the region flared in late 1997, coalition forces started massing at the base. When the buildup renewed in November 1998, prior to Operation Desert Fox, the base doubled in size to a population of 1,500.

The 9th Air Expeditionary Group provided air surveillance and control through that same radar site, while a fleet of C-130 Hercules provide theater airlift and, if necessary, combat search and rescue and aeromedical evacuation for Operation Southern Watch forces. The 9th AEG brought all those functions under one umbrella. Life on The Rock was austere, even by the standards of Southwest Asia's deployed locations. Many Air Force people at other Southern Watch bases lived and worked in permanent buildings but The Rock was almost entirely a tent city, with very few actual buildings. Most "buildings" were Quonset-shaped, foldable general purpose structures.

During the summer of 2001, Airmen from all over the world were called to participate in Operation Southern Watch's AEF-6, also called the 386th Air Expeditionary Group. From the late spring to early fall, the active duty Airmen were joined by members of the Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve. Although from different divisions of the same service, they personified the "seamless air force" concept.

Air Expeditionary Force Eight came to a hot start under the desert sun when members of the 729th Air Control Squadron from Hill AFB, Utah, arrived in August 2001. There was a two-thirds changeover of base personnel due to AEF Eight rotations. Approximately one-third of the members assigned to the 729th ACS deployed to here assuming duties as the 386th Expeditionary Air Control Squadron for the next 90 days.

The 386th EACS began focused preparations for the deployment about six months earlier. Their wartime mission was to deploy to potentially austere environments, so the base here was not much of a departure. The 386th EACS also conducted field training in the desert environment of Western Utah to practice chemical warfare, security and other combat skills.

In 2000, the first hardened structures were built here. Hardened structures continue to be built on The Rock. The 386th Air Expeditionary Wing provides support to operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom. Active-duty, Guard and Reserve units operate C-130 Hercules aircraft from Ali Al Salem, flying to locations such as Kuwait International Airport, Baghdad International Airport and Balad Air Base, Iraq.


* Freeman, Roger A. (1978) Airfields of the Eighth: Then and Now. After the Battle ISBN 0900913096
* Freeman, Roger A. (1991) The Mighty Eighth The Colour Record. Cassell & Co. ISBN 0-304-35708-1
* Freeman, Roger A. (1994) UK Airfields of the Ninth: Then and Now 1994. After the Battle ISBN 0900913800
* Freeman, Roger A. (1996) The Ninth Air Force in Colour: UK and the Continent-World War Two. After the Battle ISBN 1854092723
* Maurer, Maurer (1983). Air Force Combat Units Of World War II. Maxwell AFB, Alabama: Office of Air Force History. ISBN 0892010924.
* Ravenstein, Charles A. (1984). Air Force Combat Wings Lineage and Honors Histories 1947-1977. Maxwell AFB, Alabama: Office of Air Force History. ISBN 0912799129.
*World Airpower Journal. (1992). US Air Force Air Power Directory. Aerospace Publishing: London, UK. ISBN 1-880588-01-3

External links

* [https://www.salem.af.mil/ Al Salem AB, Kuwait] (Restricted Link)
* [http://www.386aew.afnews.af.mil 386th Air Expeditionary Wing Official Website]

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