26th Air Refueling Squadron

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26th Air Refueling Squadron
Boeing KC-97G Stratofreighter 53-816.jpg
Boeing KC-97G Stratofreighter 53-816.jpg
Active 28 May 1952 – 1 April 1955
1 April 1955 – 7 August 1957
7 August 1957 – 15 September 1964
Country  United States
Branch  United States Air Force
Type Aerial refueling
Part of Strategic Air Command
26th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing
4050th Air Refueling Wing
380th Bombardment Wing
  • US Air Force Outstanding Unit Award - Stremer.jpg
    Air Force Outstanding Unit Award
Emblem of the 26th Air Refueling Squadron 125px

The 26th Air Refueling Squadron (26 AREFS) was a squadron of the United States Air Force that flew the KC-97E/F/G Stratofreighter, An early Cold War air refueling squadron, it primarily supported B-47 Stratojets of the Strategic Air Command Eighth Air Force during the 1950s and early 1960s. The squadron was inactivated in September 1964 as part of the phaseout of the KC-97 from SAC.


The 26th Air Refueling Squadron was formed at Lockbourne Air Force Base Ohio in May 1952. Equipped with the new Boeing KC-97 Stratotanker, it was assigned as the air refueling component of the 26th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing, primarily supporting the wing's Boeing RB-47 Stratojets. It provided air refueling support for a variety of Strategic Air Command (SAC) directed exercises and operations that included numerous simulated combat missions and deployments, ranging from a few days to a few months. The exercises took the squadron's aircraft to such bases as Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska; Thule Air Base, Greenland; Royal Air Force stations at Upper Heyford and Fairford, United Kingdom; Sidi Slimane Air Base in Morocco; Goose Bay Airport, Laborador; and Lajes Field in the Azores.[1]

In August 1953, the squadron refueled Republic F-84G Thunderjet fighters from the 508th Strategic Fighter Wing participating in the Operation Long Stride. They refueled seventeen F-84Gs from Turner Air Force Base, Georgia to RAF Lakenheath, Great Britain during a non-stop 4,485-mile trip. During the second phase of Operation Long Stride in October 1953, the 26th helped refuel eight F-84s of the 31st Strategic Fighter Wing from Turner to Nouasseur Air Base, French Morocco. The aircraft covered 3,800 miles in 10 hours and 20 minutes, thanks to in-flight refueling in the vicinity of Bermuda and the Azores. Crews and aircraft from the 26th deployed to Lajes in September 1954 for 45 days to refuel the 26th Wing's reconnaissance aircraft.

In April 1955, the squadron was reassigned to the new 4050th Air Refueling Wing under the SAC 57th Air Division at Westover Air Force Base, Massachusetts. From Westover, the squadron carried out air refueling primary for Eighth Air Force B-47s transiting the Atlantic from either the United States or returning from SAC's REFLEX bases in Europe and North Africa. On 22 May 1957, the 26th was moved from Westover to Plattsburgh AFB, New York, being reassigned to the 380th Bombardment Wing under the 820th Air Division.[2]

From its base at Plattsburgh, the squadron continued to support training in air refueling for B-47 and B-52 crews as well as deploying to bases in Newfoundland and Greenland. Aircraft and crews were at Sondrestrom, Greenland, when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated, to guard against any potential "sucker punch" that the USSR might try while our country grieved. The squadron was inactivated in September 1964 as part of the retirement of the KC-97 from SAC service.


  • Established as the 26th Air Refueling Squadron on 28 May 1952
Inactivated on 15 September 1964




See also



  1. History of the 26th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing
  2. Chronology of the 4050th Air Refueling Wing (Medium) (AREFWG)
  3. "Factsheet 820 Strategic Aerospace Division". Air Force Historical Research Agency. 11 October 2007. Archived from the original on 30 October 2012. Retrieved 5 March 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>


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

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