311th Airlift Squadron
|311th Airlift Squadron|
311th Airlift Squadron Patch
|Active||23 October 1943 - 15 May 1946
27 May 1949 - 2 April 1951
24 May 1963 - 5 October 1971
1 April 1997 - Present
|Branch||United States Air Force|
|Part of||Air Mobility Command
18th Air Force
375th Airlift Wing
375th Operations Group
|Garrison/HQ||Peterson Air Force Base|
|Engagements||Battle of Khe Sanh|
|Decorations||Presidential Unit Citation
Air Force Outstanding Unit Award
Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross with Palm
The 311th Troop Carrier Squadron trained in the United States from 1943–1944 and later flew cargo and personnel missions. It transferred to Hawaii in February 1945 and flew cargo in the Hawaiian Islands. When Lieutenant General Millard F. Harmon crashed in the Pacific, the squadron participated in an intensive air search for survivors. In August 1945 it moved to Okinawa and continued its airlift mission until May 1946.
The 311th trained in C-46 aircraft from June 1949-April 1951.
In Vietnam, the 311th flew cargo and passengers in support of I and II Corps. In addition, the unit flew flare, communications cover, air evacuation, and search and rescue missions for downed aircraft.
On 10 May 1968, The special forces camp at Kham Duc in the central highlands near Laos came under heavy mortar fire and was ordered to be evacuated. On 12 May, during evacuation efforts, an Army Boeing CH-47 Chinook and two division C-130s were disabled by enemy fire. One C-130 burst into flames at the end of the runway, killing all aboard. The final C-130 took off thinking it had boarded the last of the men on the ground. As the Viet Cong overran the forward outpost and established gun positions on the airstrip, eight aircraft were destroyed and the C-130 on the runway reduced its usable length to only about 2,200 feet. However, the three-man combat control team, in charge of directing the evacuation, was still on the ground searching for survivors.
Informed that three men remained behind, Lt Col Joe M. Jackson of the 311th Air Commando Squadron (834th Air Division) dove his Fairchild C-123K Provider from 9,000 to land at the field. Unable to slow by reversing his propellers (Reversing the propellers on the C-123K shut off the two jet engines. They would have to be restarted before the aircraft could begin to take off again.) he jammed on the brakes and skidded halfway down the runway. The three combat controllers jumped from a culvert next to the runway and leaped into the open rear cargo door. A 122 mm rocket, fired from just outside the perimeter stopped only 10 meters from the plane. It did not explode. Jackson taxied around the shell and took off under heavy fire from the hills on either side of the camp. For this rescue, he was awarded the Medal of Honor.
The flight replaced the 11th Airlift Flight and was equipped with C-21A aircraft in 1997. It has since supported the Commander, US Strategic Command, providing passenger airlift for high-level Defense Department officials and members of Congress throughout the US.
- C-47 Skytrain (1943–1945)
- C-53 Skytrooper (1943–1944)
- C-46 Commando (1945–1946, 1949–1951)
- C-123 Provider (1963–1971)
- C-21 (1997 – Present)
- "Biography, Colonel Joe M. Jackson". United States Air Force. Archived from the original on February 19, 2007. Retrieved July 10, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>