128th Airborne Command and Control Squadron

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128th Airborne Command and Control Squadron
116th ACW E-8C Joint STARS 96-0042-2.jpg
128th ACCS E-8C Joint STARS 96-004
Active 1 February 1918-Present
Country  United States
Allegiance  Georgia (U.S. state)
Branch US-AirNationalGuard-2007Emblem.svg  Air National Guard
Type Squadron
Role Airborne Command and Control
Part of Georgia Air National Guard
Garrison/HQ Robins Air Force Base, Warner-Robins, Georgia
Tail Code "GA"
Engagements World War II
Korean War
Vietnam War
Operation Desert Storm
Operation Enduring Freedom
Operation Iraqi Freedom
128th Airborne Command and Control Squadron emblem 128th Airborne Command and Control Squadron emblem.jpg

The 128th Airborne Command and Control Squadron (128 ACCS) is a unit of the Georgia Air National Guard 116th Air Control Wing located at Robins Air Force Base, Georgia. The 128th is equipped with the E-8C Joint STARS.

The squadron is a descendant organization of the World War I 840th Aero Squadron, established on 1 February 1918. It was reformed on 1 May 1941, as the 128th Observation Squadron, and is one of the 29 original National Guard Observation Squadrons of the United States Army National Guard formed before World War II.


World War I

The 128th Airborne Command and Control Squadron traces its origins to the 840th Aero Squadron, formally organized at Rich Field, Waco, Texas on 4 February 1918. However, the 840th's history itself dates to the middle of December, 1917 when many of the squadron members first enlisted in the Army at Fort Slocum, New York and the Columbus Barracks, Ohio. Just before Christmas, 1917, the men were transported to Kelly Field, near San Antonio, Texas where they began indoctrination into the Army as an unorganized unit. Many men were transferred into and out of the unit in its first weeks at Kelly. On 8 January, the men was transferred to Rich Field, and placed in temporary squadrons. Time was taken up by drills, hikes, physical training and other exercises. Also the men attended various lectures about military courtesies and customs. Finally, on 4 February, 150 men from the group were selected and formed into the 840th Aero Squadron.[1]

After several more weeks of Army indoctrination training, the squadron was ordered for overseas service, being transferred to the Aviation Concentration Center, Garden City, Long Island. It arrived at Mineola Field on 4 March 1918 where it was prepared and equipped for overseas duty. On 15 April, the squadron was ordered to the Port of Entry, Hoboken, New Jersey where it boarded the former White Star Line liner SS Canopic. After an uneventful Atlantic crossing, the squadron arrived at Liverpool, England where it boarded a train headed south to Winchester, where it arrived at the Romney Rest Camp. There, the 840th was detached to the Royal Flying Corps for technical training, arriving at the No. 3 Western Aircraft Depot, RFC Yatesbury, Wiltshire, on 4 May. There the squadron was placed in different departments of the Depot and were engaged in the production and repair of airplanes. The 840th was the second American squadron assigned to the Depot, and there was quite a curiosity by the English about them. The men were warmly received in the villages around the Depot and celebrated the 4th of July in Bristol. On 13 August, training ended and the squadron moved to Southampton for transport across the English Channel to France.[1]

The 840th arrived at Le Havre, France on 18 August, where the squadron was greeted by a German air-raid on its "Rest" Camp. The squadron was hurriedly moved during the raid to a race track, where some ammunition was stored. However, after the "All Clear" was given, it returned to its barracks. After three days, the squadron was transported to Courban Aerodrome, in eastern France where it was assigned to the #3 Aircraft Depot, Independent Forces, RAF was located. There, the squadron began work on Handley Page and de Havilland planes. The squadron had the distinction of turning out the first Handley Page aircraft to be assembled in France. It also saw its first United States-built Liberty engine at the depot. The 840th was one of only three Air Service squadrons assigned to the British depot. The squadron remained at Courban until the end of the war. The squadron was quite proud to have its share of the victory as two squadrons of Dayton-Wright DH-4 aircraft were turned out by the 840th at Courban, prepared for the great attack on Metz that was about to commence at the time of the Armistice.[1]

The squadron was moved to Latrecey Aerodrome, on 20 November 1918 where it waited for orders to return home. It finally moved to the port of Brest on 1 February, where it sailed on a troop ship for the United States, eventually finding its way to Langley Field, Virginia in early March, 1919. There the squadron members were demobilized and returned to civilian life.[1]

Georgia National Guard

Re-established in 1940 at Atlanta Airport as a Georgia National Guard Army observation squadron, equipped with numerous light observation aircraft of the 1930s era. Was activated to Federal Service in May 1941 as the United States mobilized prior to World War II. After the Pearl Harbor Attack, was equipped with B-25 Mitchells and performed antisubmarine patrols over both the Southeast Atlantic coast as well as the Gulf of Mexico as part of Antisubmarine Command.

World War II

Realigned in late 1943 as a B-17 Flying Fortress heavy bombardment squadron, trained under Third Air Force in Florida. Was deployed to the Mediterranean Theater of Operations (MTO), being assigned to Fifteenth Air Force in Southern Italy. Engaged in long-range strategic bombardment of enemy military, industrial and transport targets, including oil refineries and production oilfields in Italy; France; Southern Germany; Austria and the Balkans. Continued strategic bombardment until German capitulation in May 1945.

After V-E Day, was assigned to Air Transport Command Green Project which was the movement of troops from Pisa Airfield staging area in Morocco. B-17s were dearmed with flooring and seats for 25 passengers installed. Crew consisted of Pilot, Co-Pilot, Navigator and Flight Engineer. Carried passengers from Pisa to Port Lyautey Airfield, French Morocco where ATC transports moved them across the Atlantic or to Dakar for movement via South Atlantic Transport Route. Inactivated in Italy in September 1945.

Georgia Air National Guard

128th Fighter Squadron Republic P-47N-25-RE Thunderbolt 44-89403 Marietta GA May 1946. This aircraft was part of the last production block of P-47s at Republic Aircraft, Farmingdale, Long Island

The wartime 840th Bombardment Squadron was re-activated and re-designated as the 128th Fighter Squadron, and was allotted to the Georgia Air National Guard, on 24 May 1946. It was organized at Marietta Army Airfield, Georgia, and was extended federal recognition on 20 August 1946 by the National Guard Bureau. The 128th Fighter Squadron was entitled to the history, honors, and colors of the 840th Bombardment Squadron.

The squadron was equipped with F-47N Thunderbolts and was temporarily assigned to the 54th Fighter Wing on 20 August, then permanently to the 116th Fighter Group on 9 September 1946. The 116th Fighter Group consisted of the 128th and the 158th Fighter Squadron at Chatam Army Airfield, near Savannah. As part of the Continental Air Command Fourteenth Air Force, the unit trained for tactical fighter missions and air-to-air combat.

Korean War federalization

The 128th was federalized on 10 October 1950 due to the Korean War. It was assigned to the federalized Oklahoma ANG 137th Fighter-Bomber Wing and equipped with F-84G Thunderjets. Along with the Oklahoma ANG 125th Fighter Squadron and Kansas ANG 127th Fighter Squadron, the wing was scheduled for deployment to the new Chaumont-Semoutiers AB, France, as part of the United States Air Forces in Europe (USAFE).

By 27 November, the wing assembled at Alexandria Municipal Airport, Louisiana for conversion training in the newer F-84Gs. Deployment of the wing was delayed, however, by the need to transfer pilots to Korea from training and delays in receiving engines for the F-84Gs, as well as the ongoing construction at Chaumont AB. Training and delays continued throughout 1951. Due to these delays, many of the activated National Guard airmen were released from active duty and never deployed to France.

With mostly regular Air Force personnel and all the delays behind them, the remaining Guardsmen departed Louisiana on 5 May 1952 for Europe; however, the 128th inherited a base that was little more than acres of mud where wheat fields used to be. The only hardened facilities at Chaumont were a concrete runway and a handful of tar-paper shacks. The 128th wound up being stationed by USAFE at Neubiberg Air Base, West Germany until the facilities in France were suitable for military use. The aircraft arrived at Chaumont on 25 June, being the first USAF tactical air fighters to be based permanently in France, albeit working mostly in tents and temporary wooden buildings on their new base.

The Guardsmen of the 128th ended their active-duty tour in France and returned to the United States in late June, leaving their F-84 Thunderjets in Europe.

Air Defense Command

128th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron General Motors F-84F-40-GK Thunderstreak 51-9520

The 116th Fighter-Bomber Group designation was returned to the Georgia Air National Guard on 10 July at Dobbins AFB. At this time the Group was restructured to include the 128th and 158th Fighter Squadrons. Initially upon their return to State Control both squadrons were equipped with the long-range F-51H Mustang and given an air defense mission. The 116th was assigned to Air Defense Command (ADC), being assigned to the 35th Air Division with a mission of the air defense of the Southeastern United States.

Commencing in February 1953 the 128th began conversion to F-84D Thunderjet, yet most were not received until mid summer. During the summer of 1955 the 128th was re-designated as the 128th Fighter Interceptor Squadron and converted the swept-wing F-84F Thunderstreak. Strangely enough, it was not until March 1957 that the surviving D models were dispatched for salvage, with eleven of those aged D models having been lost in accidents while serving with the 128th FBS.

In 1958, the 116th implemented the ADC Runway Alert Program, in which interceptors of the 128th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron were committed to a five-minute runway alert. In 1960 the F-84s were again replaced by the F-86L Sabre Interceptor, a day/night/all-weather aircraft designed to be integrated into the ADC SAGE interceptor direction and control system.

Air Transport

In 1961, the 116th FIG was reassigned to Military Air Transport Service (MATS), trading in its Sabre interceptors for 4-engines C-97 Stratofreighter transports. With air transportation recognized as a critical wartime need, the squadron was re-designated the 128th Air Transport Squadron (Heavy). The 116th ATG was assigned to the MATS Eastern Transport Air Force, (EASTAF), and the squadron flew long-distance transport missions in support of Air Force requirements, frequently sending aircraft to the Caribbean, Europe Greenland, and the Middle East in support of Air Force requirements.

In 1966 MATS became the Military Airlift Command (MAC) and EASTAF became the MAC Twenty-First Air Force. The 116th ATG was upgraded to the C-124 Globemaster II strategic heavy airlifter, being the first Air National Guard unit to receive the aircraft. Due to requirements generated by the Vietnam War, missions were flown across the Pacific to Hawaii, Japan, the Philippines, South Vietnam, Okinawa and Thailand.


25 May 1983 at Dobbins AFB. Republic F-105F-1-RE Thunderchief 63-8299 heading to the boneyard, the last F-105 in USAF service. Next to it is McDonnell F-4D-26-MC Phantom 65-0604, arriving for service with the 128th Tactical Fighter Squadron.

In the years after the Vietnam War, the transport requirements of MAC along with the retirement of the C-124 led the 116th to be reassigned back to Tactical Air Command in 1974 and was re-equipped with F-100 Super Sabre tactical fighter-bombers, many aircraft being veterans of the Vietnam War. The 116th was changed in status from a Group to a Wing with the reassignment to TAC, and the 128th flew the Super Saber jets for six accident-free years until May 1979 when the last aircraft left Dobbins AFB to be retired as part of the phaseout of the F-100 from the inventory. The F-100s were replaced with other Vietnam-era hand-me-down combat veteran aircraft by TAC during the early 1980s, as F-105G Thunderchief Wild Weasel electronic warfare aircraft were assigned, then retired and F-4D Phantom II fighter bombers in their final years of service.

In 1986 the 116th retired the last of its Vietnam War Phantoms and received F-15A Eagle air superiority fighters. The F-15A was introduced into the inventory in the mid-1970s and now were being upgraded in the active duty by the improved F-15C. The 128th flew the F-15 for the next ten years. The 116th Tactical Fighter Wing developed an impressive record of accomplishment and was awarded nine Air Force Outstanding Unit Awards.

B-1B Lancer

Four U.S. Air Force Rockwell B-1B Lancer from the 128th Bomb Squadron, 19 April 2002

In 1992 as part of the post Cold-War reorganizations of the Air Force, the 116th converted to the Air Force Objective organization and the 128th was assigned to the new 116th Operations Group. In 1992 Tactical Air Command was inactivated and the 116th was assigned to the new Air Combat Command (ACC).

After calling Dobbins AFB home for 50 years, the 116th was presented with a new challenge in 1996. The wing simultaneously converted from the F-15 Eagle fighters to the B-1B Lancer strategic bomber and moved 110 miles south to Robins AFB in Warner Robins, Georgia. As part of the post Cold-War drawdown, the active-duty fleet of B-1Bs were being reduced for budget reductions and being taken off Alert Status by the former Strategic Air Command (SAC), which itself was inactivated in 1992.

Having to make the most of the available facilities, including the former Strategic Air Command alert facility at Robins AFB, the 116th Bomb Wing was quickly up and running and participated in a number of deployments and exercises around the world in the B-1B.

Airborne Command and Control

16th ACW E-8C Joint STARS 01-2005

In order to save money, in 2002 the USAF agreed to reduce its fleet of B-1Bs from 92 to 60 aircraft. The 116th Bomb Wing, having older aircraft was ordered to send its aircraft to "active storage" which meant that they could be quickly returned to service should circumstances dictate. Its first B-1B was flown to AMARC storage at Davis-Monthan AFB, Arizona on 20 August.

Under the Air Force's Total Force Initiative as a "blended" wing. America's first "Total Force" wing, the former 93d Air Control Wing, an active-duty Air Combat Command unit, and the 116th Bomb Wing, a Georgia Air National Guard unit, were inactivated effective 1 October 2002.

The 116th was immediately re-activated and re-designated as the 116th Air Control Wing. The 116th ACW was a blend of active-duty and national guard Airmen into a single unit. The 116th ACW was equipped with the new E-8C Joint STARS airborne battle management aircraft. Its mission is command and control, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance. Its primary mission is to provide theater ground and air commanders with ground surveillance to support attack operations and targeting that contributes to the delay, disruption and destruction of enemy forces. The E-8C evolved from Army and Air Force programs to develop, detect, locate and attack enemy armor at ranges beyond the forward area of troops.

The 128th Airborne Command and Control Squadron has flown more than 82,000 combat hours in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation New Dawn, Operation Odyssey Dawn, and Operation Unified Protector. Beginning in 2011, its operational resume expanded to include support of five Combatant Commands including U.S. Pacific Command, U.S. Northern Command and U.S. Southern Command.

On 1 October 2011 the 128th Airborne Command and Control Squadron was inactivated as a Joint Air National Guard/United States Air Force Unit. The 116th ACW was returned to the sole jurisdiction of the Georgia Air National Guard on 1 October 2011 and reactivated.


128th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron - Emblem
128th Fighter-Bomber Squadron patch (1950s)
128th Expeditionary Airborne Command and Control Squadron patch
128th BS "Desert Bones" patch
F-15 era 128th FS patch (1986-1995)
  • Organized as 840th Aero Squadron (Repair) on 1 February 1918
Demobilized in March 1919
  • Reconstituted and consolidated (1944) with 128th Observation Squadron which was allotted to Georgia National Guard on 30 Ju1 1940
Activated on 1 May 1941
Ordered to active service on 15 Sept 1941
Re-designated: 128th Observation Squadron (Light) on 13 Jan 1942
Re-designated: 128th Observation Squadron on 4 Jul 1942
Re-designated: 21st Antisubmarine Squadron (Medium) on 3 Mar 1943
Re-designated: 21st Antisubmarine Squadron (Heavy) on 20 Apr 1943
Re-designated: 818th Bombardment Squadron (Heavy) on 28 Sept 1943
Re-designated: 840th Bombardment Squadron (Heavy) on 15 Feb 1944[2]
  • Inactivated on 25 Sept 1945
  • Re-designated 128th Fighter Squadron, and allotted to Georgia ANG on 24 May 1946
Extended federal recognition on 20 Aug 1946
Federalized and placed on active duty, 10 October 1950
Released from active duty and returned to Georgia state control, 10 July 1952
Re-designated: 128th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron on 10 Jul 1952
Re-designated: 128th Fighter-Bomber Squadron on 1 Dec 1952
Re-designated: 128th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron on 1 Jul 1955
Re-designated: 128th Air Transport Squadron on 1 Apr 1961
Re-designated: 128th Military Airlift Squadron on 8 Jan 1966
Re-designated: 128th Tactical Fighter Squadron on 4 Apr 1973
Re-designated: 128th Fighter Squadron on 15 Mar 1992
Re-designated: 128th Bomb Squadron on 1 Apr 1996
Inactivated on 1 October 2002
  • Re-activated as 128th Airborne Command and Control Squadron on 1 October 2002
Inactivated 1 October 2011
  • Activated on 1 October 2011


  • Post Headquarters, Rich Field, 1 February-4 March 1918
  • Aviation Concentration Center, 4 Mar-15 April 1918;
  • Chief of Air Service, AEF, 4 May-13 August 1918
Attached to: Royal Flying Corps for training
Attached to: Number 3 Aircraft Depot, Independent Forces, RAF, 20 Aug 1918
Attached to: Gulf Task Force, 3 Jul-7 Sept 1942
Attached to: AAF Antisubmarine Command, 15 Oct 1942-3 Mar 1943



See also


 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the Air Force Historical Research Agency.

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Series "E", Volume 25, History of the 800th-1111th Aero Squadrons. Gorrell's History of the American Expeditionary Forces Air Service, 1917–1919, National Archives, Washington, D.C.
  2. This squadron is not related to the 840th Bombardment Squadron (Heavy) that was constituted on 14 September 1943, activated on 1 October 1943, redesignated the 818th Bombardment Squadron (Heavy) on 15 February 1944 and disbanded on 1 May 1944.

External links