Joint Base Andrews

 

457th AS celebrates heritage

By Aimran 1st Class Rustie Kramer | 11th Wing Public Affairs | July 28, 2017

JOINT BASE ANDREWS, Md. --

Past and present came together when the 457th Airlift Squadron at Joint Base Andrews celebrated the 75th anniversary of their rich heritage with a squadron tour and banquet here, June 30.  

World War II, Vietnam War veterans, and current members including numbered Air Force leadership entertained each other with tales of “back in my day” and marveled at how much their past continues to influence the future.

“We can’t continue moving on without knowing the great effort of those that came before us,” said Lt. Gen. Giovanni Tuck, 18th Air Force commander.  

At its inception, July 1, 1942, the 457th AS began as the U.S. Army Air Corps 457th Bombardment Squadron. Their mission was to train stateside aircrews in the B-17 Flying Fortress and B-24 Liberator.

During World War II the squadron transitioned to the B-29 Superfortress and engaged in combat operations against the Empire of Japan as part of the 330th Bomb Group, nicknamed “The Empire Busters.”

Frank Bradley, World War II veteran, explained how chaotic things were as they headed into war.

“We didn’t even have time to think about what we were getting into,” he added.

The 330th BG achieved the lowest overall abort rate on the ground and the highest over-the-target rate of any Group in the 20th Air Force during that time.

In the six months leading up to the Japanese surrender, the 330th BG flew 1,320 missions, 18,978 combat hours and dropped more than six million incendiary bombs into the heart of the Japanese industry.

“We had a group of missions we flew at night, at low altitudes, over cities with military factories,” Bradley said.

Their 47th and final bombing airstrike was on the hour of the Japanese surrender, Aug. 15, 1945.

Bradley added that after the surrender, the 457th delivered food packages and supplies into prisoner-of-war camps.

After the end of the war, the 457th was inactivated as part of the postwar drawdown and later reactivated as the Air Force’s 457th Tactical Airlift Squadron during the escalation of the Vietnam War, Oct. 12, 1966.

The squadron flew many unique air-land and airdrop assault missions.

“We were limited to 21 [missions] a day,” said retired Col. Mike Loughran, Vietnam veteran. “We hauled everything; pigs, cows, KIAs, wounded, mail, ammo, and even a Christmas tree.”

The 457th TAS flew in 14 major offensives and counteroffensives during the war, earning seven unit citations including two Presidential Unit Citations.

After touring the squadron, Loughran compared today’s aircraft with their C-7 Caribou.

“It was a lot different from what it is now; the Caribou was ugly,” Loughran said. “It was green, noisy, smelled bad, unpressurized and it leaked in the rain.”

The landscape of the 457th is different as well. Where there are now runways and air traffic control towers, the Airmen in Vietnam would often land in dirt, grass, pierced-steel planking and even wide spots in the road.

“I, personally, landed in a golf course,” Loughran recounted.

Following the war, the unit was deactivated and reactivated under different names on several occasions.  

Now part of the 357th Air Mobility Wing at Scott Air Force Base, Illinois, the 457th AS operates out of JBA as a tenant unit of the base, transporting the senior leaders of the Air Force.

“They attend meetings all over the globe,” said Lt. Col. Greg Adams, 457th AS commander. “Our mission is to get them to where they need to be.”

From its inception as “The Empire Busters” in WWII, to the unsung but vital role as “The Hustlers” in Vietnam, to today’s mission of transporting the nation’s leaders, the 457th AS has always executed its mission, whatever it has been called to accomplish, for the last 75 years.