Pope Air Force Base

Pope Air Force Base

Infobox Airport
name = Pope Air Force Base
nativename = Part of Air Mobility Command (AMC)

image-width = 300
caption = Aerial view of Pope AFB

image2-width = 200
caption2 = Location of Pope Air Force Base
type = Military: Air Force Base
owner = U.S. Air Force
location = Fayetteville, North Carolina
built = 1919
used =
commander = Colonel [http://public.pope.amc.af.mil/library/biographies/bio.asp?id=8695 Timothy M. Zadalis]
occupants = 43rd Airlift Wing
elevation-f = 217
elevation-m = 66
coordinates = coord|35|10|15|N|079|00|52|W|region:US_type:airport
website = [http://public.pope.amc.af.mil/ public.pope.amc.af.mil]
r1-number = 49/229
r1-length-f = 3,000
r1-length-m = 914
r1-surface = Asphalt
r2-number = 5/23
r2-length-f = 7,501
r2-length-m = 2,286
r2-surface = PEM
footnotes = Sources: official web site [ [http://public.pope.amc.af.mil/ Pope Air Force Base] , official web site] and FAAFAA-airport|ID=POB|use=PR|own=MA|site=16723.03*A, effective 2007-12-20]

Pope Air Force Base airport codes|POB|KPOB|POB is a United States Air Force base located 12 miles (19 km) northwest of the central business district of Fayetteville, in Cumberland County, North Carolina, United States. It is the home of the United States Air Force Air Mobility Command 43d Airlift Wing.

USAF Missions at Pope AFB range from providing airlift and close air support to American armed forces, to humanitarian missions flown all over the world. Pope AFB particularly provides air transportation for the US Army's 82nd Airborne Division and XVIII Airborne Corps which are based at neighboring Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

43d Airlift Wing

The 43d Airlift Wing was activated at Pope on 1 April 1997, replacing the airlift squadrons of the Air Combat Command 23d Wing. It is part of 21st Air Force, McGuire Air Force Base, New Jersey, and Air Mobility Command, Scott Air Force Base, Illinois. Operational units of the 43d AW are:

* 2d Airlift Squadron
* 43d Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron
* 43d Aircraft Maintenance Squadron

The 2d AS flies the Lockheed C-130E Hercules. All aircraft are identified with a blue/green Pope tail stripe. The C-130 is recognized as the workhorse of the Air Force airlift fleet, capable of delivering troops, supplies and equipment directly to the battlefield in all weather conditions.

The 43d AES provides a trained and equipped force capable of establishing and operating a Theater Aeromedical Evacuation System across the full spectrum of contingencies. It is the U.S. Air Force's primary Tactical Aeromedical Evacuation unit, and has deployed in support of Operation Nobel Anvil, OEF, OIF, JTF Katrina, and in support of operations in the Horn of Africa.

The 43d AW helps provide the Rapid Global Mobility of the United States Air Force. It is capable of deploying a self-sustaining war fighting package anywhere in the world at a moment’s notice, to form the United States' premiere forced entry capability with the United States Army. It can also provide theater airlift for other contingencies and humanitarian missions around the world such as Operation Joint Endeavour in Bosnia or Operation Southern Watch in Southwest Asia.



In 1918, Congress established Camp Bragg, an Army field artillery site named for the Confederate General Braxton Bragg. An aviation landing field was added a year later. The War Department officially established "Pope Field" in 1919, and it ranks as one of the oldest installations in the Air Force.

Pope AFB is named after First Lieutenant Harley Halbert Pope who was killed on 7 January 1919, when the Curtiss JN-4 Jenny he was flying crashed into the Cape Fear River. After five years, Camp Bragg became a permanent Army post renamed Fort Bragg.

Original operations included photographing terrain for mapping, carrying the mail, and spotting for artillery and forest fires. Observation planes and observation balloons occupied Pope Field for the first eight years. In December 1927, Pope Field played a role in the development of tactics that would prove critically important in shortening World War II.

The 1930s saw the first major expansion of the facilities at Pope. In 1935, Pope Field hosted 535 aircraft in one day as the Army Air Service practiced large scale operations along the East Coast. In 1940, paved runways replaced dirt open fields. Much of the parking ramp space remained unpaved until after World War II.

The tempo of activities at Pope quickened with the outbreak of World War II. During the 1940s, the base swelled as a troop carrier training site, and with the institution of paratrooper training at Camp Bragg, Pope began putting the “Air” in “Airborne.” Throughout the war, air and ground crews trained here with Army airborne units in preparation for airborne and aerial resupply missions.

10th Tactical Reconnaissance Group

After the war, Pope Army Airfield became Pope Air Force Base with the creation of the United States Air Force on 18 September 1947. The base served as the home of the 10th Tactical Reconnaissance Group, being activated at Pope on 3 December 1947 as the 10th Reconnaissance Group. It was redesignated as the 10th Tactical Reconnaissance Group in June 1948. At Pope, the 10th flew the P/F-51 Mustang, as well as its photo recon variant the F-6, later redesignated the RF-51. Operational squadrons were:

* 1st Photographic Reconnaissance
* 15th Photographic Reconnaissance

4415th Air Base Group

The 10th TRG was deactivated on 1 April 1949 and the host unit at Pope was the 4415th Air Base Group. The base primary mission dealt with training Forward Air Controllers for the Korean War This training was conducted by the following operational units:

* 502d Tactical Control Group (27 June 194927 August 1950)
* 605th Tactical Control Group (27 June 194927 August 1950)
* 507th Tactical Control Group (2 September 19501 July 1954)
* 726th Tactical Control Group (2 September 19501 July 1954)

Headquarters, Ninth Air Force, was located at Pope in August 1950. It was transferred to Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, on 20 August 1954.

464th Troop Carrier Wing

On 21 September 1954, Ninth AF turned Pope over to the 464th Troop Carrier Wing, which specialized in tactical airlift operations, which transferred from Lawson AFB, Georgia. Known operational squadrons and tail codes (after 1966) of the 464th were:

* 777th Tactical Airlift Squadron (PB)
* 778th Tactical Airlift Squadron (PG)
* 779th Tactical Airlift Squadron (PR)

The 464th (later redesignated Tactical Airlift Wing on 1 March 1966) provided tactical airlift of troops and cargo, participated in joint airborne training with Army forces, and took part in tactical exercises in the United States and overseas. The wing provided aeromedical airlift and flew humanitarian missions as required. Until it was inacivated, the 464th usually had two or more tactical squadrons deployed overseas at any one time, supporting airlift operations in Central America, Europe, the Middle East, the Far East, and Southeast Asia.

At Pope, the 464th received the Mackay Trophy for humanitarian operations in the Congo in 1964. It participated in contingency airlift operations in the Dominican Republic, April 1965-September 1966.

During its time at Pope, a major period of facility expansion occurred. The main runway, the taxiways, and the ramp were all expanded to support the 464th’s Fairchild C-119 "Flying Boxcar"s operations. During the 1950s and 1960s, aircraft upgrade was the primary trend at the North Carolina installation. The Fairchild C-123 Provider started replacing the C-119 in 1958, and in 1963, the first C-130 Hercules arrived, appropriately named “The North Carolina.”

317th Tactical Airlift Wing

In August 1971, the 464th inactivated and the 317th Tactical Airlift Wing administratively moved to Pope AFB from Lockbourne AFB, Ohio. Known operational squadrons and tail codes of the 317th were:

* 39th Tactical Airlift Squadron (PB - blue tail stripe)
* 40th Tactical Airlift Squadron (PG/PB - green tail stripe)
* 41st Tactical Airlift Squadron (PR/PB - red tail stripe)

The 317th TAW flew the C-130E aircraft. After June 1972, the squadron tail codes were standardized with "PB", reprsenting (Pope/Bragg).

As America became involved in the Vietnam War, the need to train large numbers of aircrews to fully use the unique capabilities of the C-130 led to the establishment of an aircrew replacement training unit. The mission of the 317th was to perform C-130 replacement crew training support for PACAF.

The drop zones, low-level routes, and dirt landing zones at Fort Bragg became familiar to many men bound for Southeast Asia. The training gained in operating in the North Carolina area immeasurably improved aircrew preparedness for combat duty. The wing was a pioneer in the use of adverse weather aerial delivery system (AWADS) equipment in active combat operations in Southeast Asia, and after the end of American involvement, trained European-based NATO aircrews in those same techniques.

During the Vietnam War, Pope was the destination for the bodies of servicemen killed in Southeast Asia. When identification was confirmed, the bodies were sent to their hometowns or the appropriate military cemeteries for burial. [ Clancy, Tom. "Without Remorse." Putnam/Berkley paperback, 1994. pp.179-180 of Berkley ed.]

On 1 December 1974 the Military Airlift Command took responsibility for tactical airlift and assumed command of Pope with all of its assigned units. Under MAC, the two-digit tail code designation of the 317th's aircraft was removed.

On 1 January 1992 the 317th MAW was reassigned to Air Mobility Command and the wing was redesignated the 317th Operations Group as part of the new 23d Composite Wing (23d Wing) at Pope. On 1 June 1992 the 317th OG was inactivated. As part of the deactivation, its operational squadrons were dissolved as follows:

* 39th Airlift Squadron -> Activated 1 October 1993 with the 7th Wing, Dyess AFB, Texas
Replaced at Pope by the 2d Airlift Squadron assigned to the 23d Composite Wing (23d Wing)
* 40th Airlift Squadron -> Activated 1 October 1993 with the 7th Wing, Dyess AFB, Texas
* 41st Airlift Squadron - Reassigned to the 23d Composite Wing (23d Wing)

23d Wing

The collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 and the end of Cold War tensions led senior defense planners to conclude that the structure of the military establishment which had evolved during the Cold War years was not suited to the new world situation. Senior planners reviewed numerous options before agreeing on the final conclusion – a merger of most strategic and tactical air resources and a reorganization of the Military Airlift Command (MAC). In addition, the number of Air Force wings was to be reduced by about one-third to reflect the financial constraints of the post Cold War environment.

These changes led to Pope Air Force Base being transferred to the new Air Combat Command upon its activation on 1 June 1992. Also, the 317th TAW was blended into the new 23d Wing on 1 June 1992 when the 23d Fighter Wing at England Air Force Base Louisiana was transferred to Pope after England's BRAC91 closing.

In April 1992, A/OA-10 Thunderbolt II aircraft were transferred to the 75th Fighter Squadron from the 353d FS / 354th FW at Myrtle Beach Air Force Base, South Carolina prior to the wing's deactivation and the bases closure in January 1993. In June 1993, Block 40 F-16C/Ds were transferred to the 74th Fighter Squadron from the 347th FW at Moody and 388th FW at Hill.

Operational squadrons of the 23d Wing at Pope were:

* 317th Group
** 2d Airlift Squadron (C-130E) (1 June 1992 - 1 April 1997)
** 41st Airlift Squadron (C-130E) (16 July 1993 - 1 April 1997)

* 23d Group
** 74th Tactical Fighter Squadron (15 June 1993 - 1 April 1997)
(F-16C/D 15 June 1993 - 30 June 1996), (A/OA-10A 1 July 1996 - 1 April 1997)
** 75th Tactical Fighter (1 April 1992 - 1 April 1997) (A/OA-10A)

In December 1992, C-130s from the 2d Airlift Squadron deployed to Mombasa, Kenya, to participate in Operation PROVIDE RELIEF. The aircraft and crews delivered tons of food and other relief supplies to small airstrips throughout Somalia. 23d Wing Flying Tiger C-130s were also been tasked to assist in other humanitarian relief efforts, to include Hurricane Andrew in Florida. They also airdropped relief supplies into Bosnia-Herzogovina and flew relief missions into Sarajevo for more than 28 months.

On March 23, 1994 two 23d Wing aircraft, an F-16 and a C-130, collided in the base's landing pattern. After the two crewmembers of the F-16 ejected from their damaged fighter, the unmanned aircraft crashed into an aircraft parking ramp and hit a C-141 transport aircraft parked on the ramp. The resulting fireball and flaming wreckage killed 24 United States Army paratroopers who were waiting nearby to load the transports and injured almost 100 more paratroopers in what is known as the Green Ramp disaster.

In September 1994, 23d Wing Flying Tiger C-130s participated in what was to be the largest combat personnel drop since World War II, Operation UPHOLD DEMOCRACY. They were to assist in dropping more than 3,000 paratroopers from the 82d Airborne Division onto Port au Prince Airport, Haiti. The invasion force was recalled at the last minute after word that the Haitian president had resigned upon hearing that the aircraft were on their way. The 75th Fighter Squadron's A-10s were also involved in UPHOLD DEMOCRACY. The squadron deployed their aircraft to Shaw AFB, South Carolina, where they were scheduled to launch close air support operations for the invasion force before recovering in Puerto Rico.

The first operational deployment of a composite wing happened in October 1994, when Iraqi troops began massing near the Kuwaiti Border. Within 72 hours, 56 aircraft and 1,500 people deployed to the Persian Gulf region for Operation VIGILANT WARRIOR. Eventually, the 75th Fighter Squadron redeployed to Ahmed Al Jaber Air Base, Kuwait, becoming the first U.S. fixed-wing aircraft to be stationed in that country since the end of the Gulf War.

On 1 July 1996, the 74th Fighter Squadron's F-16C/D Fighting Falcons were transferred to the 27FW / 524th FS at Cannon AFB New Mexico, and the squadron transitioned to A/OA-10 Thunderbolt IIs received from the 20FW / 55th FS at Shaw AFB South Carolina. This gave the 23d Wing a 2nd A-10 squadron.

The 23d Wing won its fifth Air Force Outstanding Unit Award for the period of 31 May 1995 through 31 March 1997. On 1 April 1997, the 23d Wing was deactivated and the C-130s and Pope Air Force Base were realigned to Air Mobility Command under the 43d Airlift Wing designation.

On the same day, the 23d Fighter Group was activated at Pope Air Force Base as a tenant unit aligned under the 347th Wing at Moody Air Force Base, Georgia remaining in Air Combat Command. The 74th Fighter Squadron, 75th Fighter Squadron, 23d Operations Support Squadron, and the 23d Maintenance Squadron remained part of the group.

The 23rd Fighter Group rejoined the 23rd Wing in a ceremony held on 18 August 2006 at Pope. The group relocated to Moody Air Force Base Georgia as a result of BRAC 2005. On 19 December 2007, the last three of the A-10 Thunderbolt II aircraft left for Moody AFB.


In the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure Plan, the Department of Defense stated its plan to realign Pope AFB, NC. The plan calls for moving the 23d Fighter Group’s 36 A-10 Thunderbolt II (Warthogs) to Moody AFB, Georgia and the 43d Airlift Wing's 25 C-130E's to Little Rock AFB, Arkansas. The base would then be absorbed by a currently expanding Fort Bragg, becoming "Pope Army Airfield".

In addition, several Army units are to be transferred to the current Pope AFB, including the headquarters for both the United States Army Forces Command, and the United States Army Reserve Command. These units are currently located at Fort McPherson, Georgia, which is to be closed. Also the headquarters of US Forces Command VIP Explosive Ordnance Support is to be moved to Pope from its current location of Fort Gillem, Georgia, which is also to be closed. Also, Fort Jackson, Fort Eustis, and Fort Lee are all to be realigned during which all of the mobilization processing functions located at these bases are to be relocated to Pope, creating "Joint Pre-Deployment/Mobilization Site Bragg/Pope".

However the Air Force presence at Pope will not totally disappear since several Air Force units will remain in place (3d Aerial Port Squadron, 18th Air Support Operations Group, 14th Air Support Operations Squadron, 43d Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron, and Detachment 1 of the 373d Training Squadron, among others) and Pope's airlift capability will be taken over by the 440th Airlift Wing which was BRAC'd from General Mitchell IAP-ARS in Milwaukee, Wisconsin [related stories: http://www.afrc.af.mil/news/story.asp?id=123023512 and http://www.afrc.af.mil/news/story.asp?id=123056630] . The 440th Airlift Wing will be the first Air Force Reserve Wing to have an active duty associate squadron (the 2nd Airlift Squadron) that will share the airlift mission with the 95th Airlift Squadron (the 440th AW's flying squadron). The new association will have 16 C-130's. [See here for more on BRAC: http://www.af.mil/brac/northcarolina.asp]

See also

* Fort Bragg, North Carolina
* Simmons Army Air Field
* Tactical Air Command
* Air Combat Command
* Ninth Air Force
* North Carolina World War II Army Airfields


* Endicott, Judy G. (1999) Active Air Force wings as of 1 October 1995; USAF active flying, space, and missile squadrons as of 1 October 1995. Maxwell AFB, Alabama: Office of Air Force History. CD-ROM.
* Mueller, Robert (1989). Active Air Force Bases Within the United States of America on 17 September 1982. USAF Reference Series, Maxwell AFB, Alabama: Office of Air Force History. ISBN 0-912799-53-6
* Ravenstein, Charles A. (1984). Air Force Combat Wings Lineage and Honors Histories 1947-1977. Maxwell AFB, Alabama: Office of Air Force History. ISBN 0912799129.
* Martin, Patrick (1994). Tail Code: The Complete History of USAF Tactical Aircraft Tail Code Markings. Schiffer Military Aviation History. ISBN 0887405134.
* Rogers, Brian (2005). United States Air Force Unit Designations Since 1978. Hinkley, England: Midland Publications. ISBN 1-85780-197-0.
* [http://home.att.net/~jbaugher/usafserials.html] USAAS-USAAC-USAAF-USAF Aircraft Serial Numbers–1908 to present

External links

* [http://www.army.mil/cmh-pg/books/Green-Ramp/Popec.htm Mary Ellen Condon-Rall: "Disaster on Green Ramp: The Army's Response", Washington 1996]
* [http://www.nps.gov/history/nr/travel/aviation/ Aviation: From Sand Dunes to Sonic Booms, a National Park Service "Discover Our Shared Heritage" Travel Itinerary]

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