Flying through the years: 37th AS celebrates 75 years

Airman 1st Class Quinn Harris, 37th Airlift Squadron loadmaster, peers over the skies at another C-130J Super Hercules flying over a blanket of clouds in Germany Feb. 10, 2017. During the Korean War, the squadron flew airborne assaults at Sukchon and Munsan-ni and aerial transportation between Japan and Korea. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Lane T. Plummer)

Airman 1st Class Quinn Harris, 37th Airlift Squadron loadmaster, peers over the skies at another C-130J Super Hercules flying over a blanket of clouds in Germany Feb. 10, 2017. During the Korean War, the squadron flew airborne assaults at Sukchon and Munsan-ni and aerial transportation between Japan and Korea. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Lane T. Plummer)

A formation of C-130J Super Hercules flies during the 37th Airlift Squadron’s 75th anniversary over Germany Feb. 10, 2017. Since its inception in 1942, the 37th AS has flown seven different aircraft. The C-130J Super Hercules was introduced to the unit in 2009 and remains its only active plane currently. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Lane T. Plummer)

A formation of C-130J Super Hercules flies during the 37th Airlift Squadron’s 75th anniversary over Germany Feb. 10, 2017. Since its inception in 1942, the 37th AS has flown seven different aircraft. The C-130J Super Hercules was introduced to the unit in 2009 and remains its only active plane currently. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Lane T. Plummer)

First Lieutenant Thomas Arnett, 37th Airlift Squadron pilot, copilots a C-130J Super Hercules during his unit’s 75th anniversary flight over Germany Feb. 10, 2017. Pilots have been flying with the 37th since February 1942, when the unit was activated as the 37th Transport Squadron. Since then, the unit has relocated nine times, the most recent being here with the 86th Operations Group since October 1994. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Lane T. Plummer)

First Lieutenant Thomas Arnett, 37th Airlift Squadron pilot, copilots a C-130J Super Hercules during his unit’s 75th anniversary flight over Germany Feb. 10, 2017. Pilots have been flying with the 37th since February 1942, when the unit was activated as the 37th Transport Squadron. Since then, the unit has relocated nine times, the most recent being here with the 86th Operations Group since October 1994. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Lane T. Plummer)

Airman 1st Class Quinn Harris, 37th Airlift Squadron loadmaster, peers across the skies over Germany Feb. 10, 2017. During World War II, the 37th AS engaged in combat operations by dropping paratroops into Normandy, France, near Ste-Mere-Eglise on D-Day and released gliders with reinforcements on the following day. The unit received its third Distinguished Unit Citation and a French citation for these missions. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Lane T. Plummer)

Airman 1st Class Quinn Harris, 37th Airlift Squadron loadmaster, peers across the skies over Germany Feb. 10, 2017. During World War II, the 37th AS engaged in combat operations by dropping paratroops into Normandy, France, near Ste-Mere-Eglise on D-Day and released gliders with reinforcements on the following day. The unit received its third Distinguished Unit Citation and a French citation for these missions. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Lane T. Plummer)

Lt. Col. Barry A. King. II, 37th Airlift Squadron commander, left, shakes hands with Chief Master Sgt. Samuel Frederick, 37th AS superintendent, as he disembarks a C-130J Super Hercules on Ramstein Air Base, Germany, Feb. 10, 2017. The 37th AS celebrated its 75th Anniversary with a training mission which culminated with a flight over the squadron building. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Joshua Magbanua)

Lt. Col. Barry A. King. II, 37th Airlift Squadron commander, left, shakes hands with Chief Master Sgt. Samuel Frederick, 37th AS superintendent, as he disembarks a C-130J Super Hercules on Ramstein Air Base, Germany, Feb. 10, 2017. The 37th AS celebrated its 75th Anniversary with a training mission which culminated with a flight over the squadron building. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Joshua Magbanua)

A 37th Airlift Squadron C-130J Super Hercules sits on the flightline on Ramstein Air Base, Germany, Feb. 10, 2017. The 37th AS has used a variety of aircraft since its activation as a unit in 1942, with the current aircraft being the C-130J. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Joshua Magbanua)

A 37th Airlift Squadron C-130J Super Hercules sits on the flightline on Ramstein Air Base, Germany, Feb. 10, 2017. The 37th AS has used a variety of aircraft since its activation as a unit in 1942, with the current aircraft being the C-130J. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Joshua Magbanua)

37th Airlift Squadron memorabilia lies on a table at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, Feb. 10, 2017, during the squadron's 75th Anniversary celebration at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, Feb. 10, 2017. The 37th AS was established on Feb. 2, 1942, and activated as a unit on Feb. 14 that same year. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Joshua Magbanua)

37th Airlift Squadron memorabilia lies on a table at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, Feb. 10, 2017, during the squadron's 75th Anniversary celebration at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, Feb. 10, 2017. The 37th AS was established on Feb. 2, 1942, and activated as a unit on Feb. 14 that same year. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Joshua Magbanua)

Maj. Alex Adams, 37th Airlift Squadron/86th Operations Group flight chief, briefs a group of pilots about to take to the skies during the 37th AS’s 75th anniversary on Ramstein Air Base, Germany, Feb. 10, 2017. Activated in February 1942, the 37th AS was founded under the First Air Force at Patterson Field, Ohio. The unit trained in the southeastern U.S. before participating in its first assignment in Egypt of November 1942 as part of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s decision to aid the Royal Air Force Western Desert Air Force during World War II. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Lane T. Plummer)

Maj. Alex Adams, 37th Airlift Squadron/86th Operations Group flight chief, briefs a group of pilots about to take to the skies during the 37th AS’s 75th anniversary on Ramstein Air Base, Germany, Feb. 10, 2017. Activated in February 1942, the 37th AS was founded under the First Air Force at Patterson Field, Ohio. The unit trained in the southeastern U.S. before participating in its first assignment in Egypt of November 1942 as part of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s decision to aid the Royal Air Force Western Desert Air Force during World War II. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Lane T. Plummer)

Lt. Col. Ryan Chmielewski, 37th Airlift Squadron director of operations, coordinates with Capt. Kenneth Jubb, 37th AS pilot, on their unit’s 75th anniversary flight at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, Feb. 10, 2017. 37th AS pilots took to the skies to honor all those before them who have worn the unit patch. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Lane T. Plummer)

Lt. Col. Ryan Chmielewski, 37th Airlift Squadron director of operations, coordinates with Capt. Kenneth Jubb, 37th AS pilot, on their unit’s 75th anniversary flight at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, Feb. 10, 2017. 37th AS pilots took to the skies to honor all those before them who have worn the unit patch. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Lane T. Plummer)

RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany -- Friday Feb. 10, was a cold, dreary day on Ramstein Air Base. A blanket of dark clouds eclipsed the sun and sky, shutting out the light and dappling the landscape with delicate snow. Anybody would have wanted to stay inside and succumb to the stillness of a grave winter morning.

But, above the thick curtain of grey, a group of aircraft thundered over the fields and villages of the Rhineland Palatinate. The roar of their engines resounded throughout the earth and sky.

As four C-130J Super Hercules, the Air Force’s beasts of burden, raced like mechanical stallions with wings, the Airmen of the 37th Airlift Squadron were making history—just like they do every day.

The 37th AS celebrated its 75th anniversary with a training mission.

“This year marks a huge milestone in our squadron’s history as we turn 75 years old,” said Capt. Zackary Williams, 37th AS central scheduler and squadron historian. “It is important that we pause to reflect the heritage we represent and recognize that we continue to make history every day as we impact operations across three combatant commands.

“To be part of a squadron that has so much history, to be a part of a unit that’s older than the Air Force—it’s a remarkable feeling to be part of that heritage,” he said.

The unit was founded as the 37th Transport Squadron on Feb. 2, 1942, on Patterson Field, Ohio, as a component of the U.S. Army Air Corps. The squadron moved to different locations throughout the world before being formally assigned to Ramstein in 1994.

Since its establishment, the 37th AS has played a role in almost every major operation involving the U.S. and its allies since World War II.

Among its many significant missions the squadron participated in the airborne assaults on Normandy during World War II, conducted operations during the Korean War, aided in the repatriation of U.S. prisoners of war from Hanoi during Operation Homecoming in 1973, and airdropped humanitarian supplies during Operation Provide Comfort for fleeing refugees in northern Iraq in 1991.

Presently, the 37th AS supports the U.S. mission by providing airlift and airdrop capabilities to troops in U.S. European Command, Africa Command, and Central Command. The squadron also plays a significant role in helping build ties with U.S. allies throughout these areas of responsibility.

"We are the sole tactical airlift unit for both EUCOM and AFRICOM—there is very little we are not involved in,” said Lt. Col. Barry A. King. II, 37th AS commander. “We support the warfighters throughout Europe and Africa, delivering vital supplies routinely. Additionally, we spend numerous months each year building partnership capacity with our NATO allies, and recently have expanded our efforts to Africa. We are poised and ready to support airlift needs anytime, anyplace."

King expressed his pride in leading a squadron such as the 37th AS, saying he felt humbled and honored to serve in a unit with such a rich history.

"This is the world's greatest airlift squadron...full of the best group of operators I've ever had the pleasure of serving with,” he said. “We truly stand on the shoulders of giants...I'm extremely fortunate to be a part of this heritage. We perform to our max every single day...we chase perfection and catch excellence!”

“Each Blue Tail is empowered to lead at their level and always encouraged to innovate, this ensures we continue to build upon our great heritage,” King added, using the nickname for each member of the 37th AS.

Throughout its history, the 37th AS used a variety of cargo aircraft, the current aircraft being the C-130J Super Hercules.

“Our C-130J aircraft are extremely versatile and we can operate in a wide range of environments, making it a highly-desired asset for our warfighter,” Williams said. “While the aircraft we have flown have changed over the years, the core mission of providing combat airlift and airdrop capabilities for our nation, its allies, and those in need has always remained at the core.”

As the squadron marks a significant milestone in its history, the Airmen of the 37th AS look forward to continuing their heritage by making history—every single day.