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AF RESERVE HISTORY AT ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE

A tornado strikes Middle Georgia and Robins Air Force Base onAPril 30, 1953.By Keith L. Barr
AFRC History Office

The Air Force Reserve has had a long standing relationship with Team Robins. Air Force Reserve presence on Robins Air Force Base, Georgia, dates to 1947 when the 416th Bombardment Squadron was activated here on 17 July 1947. The 416th was inactivated on 27 June 1949. However, by that fall, the Air Force Reserve was back on Robins, this time as a considerably more formidable unit, the Fourteenth Air Force.

The Fourteenth Air Force, of World War II fame, administered Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard functions in 11 states across the south and southwest, as well as Puerto Rico. On 28 October 1949, the Fourteenth Air Force moved their headquarters from Orlando, Florida, to Robins Air Force Base (RAFB). The Fourteenth Air Force was one of three numbered air forces under the Continental Air Command (ConAC). The Continental Air Command was the major command at that time responsible for the Air National Guard and Air Force Reserves programs.

In May 1950, the Air Force Reserve celebrated the first national Armed Forces Day with thousands of other Middle Georgians. Thirty-six days later the Korean War began. Robins and the Air Force Reserve went through a big build up with local support.

Early on, Robins and the greater Warner-Robins communities learned to partner for more than just this nation's needs. In May 1953, when a tornado struck Middle Georgia killing 14 people, injuring 300, and wrecking havoc, we lent each other a hand--a handshake that is still as firm as ever today.

Until the end of the Korean Conflict, the Fourteenth Air Force staff was scattered around Robins in several buildings. In 1953, construction began on a new air conditioned headquarters, eventually designated Building 210. Nearly all Fourteenth Air Force staff functions moved into the new building on 13 September 1954.

In 1961, Headquarters Continental Air Command, moved to Robins Air Force Base. In the 1960s, many Air Force Reservists were veterans who had served in both World War II and Korea and, if called up or volunteering, also supported the Berlin and Cuban Crises. As an experienced force, the Air Force asked the Air Force Reserve to contribute to the Vietnam War effort. We partnered again.

On 1 January 1969, the first AC-119s, gunship version of the then Warner Robins Air Material Area (WRAMA)-managed C-119 Flying Boxcar program, arrived at Ton Son Nhut AB in South Vietnam. Four days later, they flew their first combat missions in Vietnam as part of the Air Force Reserve's 71st Special Operations Squadron. Utilizing inactive duty and annual two-week training days, our Air Force Reserve C-124 crews began airlifts into Vietnam in 1965 that continued until US involvement ended in 1973. We relied on WRAMA personnel to service and maintain our C-124s in this fight.

On 1 August 1968, Headquarters Continental Air Command was inactivated, and Major General Rollin B. Moore became the first to command the newly established Headquarters Air Force Reserve (AFRES) at RAFB. Headquarters Air Force Reserve was then comprised of three major regions: Western, Central, and Eastern.

Over the next thirty years the Air Force Reserve mission continued to expand. The Air Force Reserve became a multi-mission force, flying the same modern aircraft as the active Air Force and training to the same standards. From Robins Air Force Base, the Air Force Reserve has run its major efforts around the world in support of the Israeli Airlift, Libya, Grenada, Panama, the First Gulf War, Bosnia, Kosovo, the Global War on Terrorism, and countless humanitarian and disaster relief operations, such as our own Hurricane Katrina relief. The Warner Robins Air Logistics Center work force continued to enable us to sustain these operations through your maintenance on our C-130, C-141, C-5, and now C-17 aircraft.

The command hosts community leaders for orientations and mission briefingsAs the Air Force increasingly relied on its Reserve components during the 1990s, Congress sought to clarify the organizational placement of the Reserve. Accordingly, in February 1997, the Air Force Reserve officially became the Air Force Reserve Command (AFRC), then the ninth major air command.

On 11 September 2001, as news of the attack upon America reached Middle Georgia, the base and the community united in resolve. We felt your embrace as we surged to meet the Global War on Terrorism. Your from-the-heart "thank you for serving" and support has been unwavering these past ten years.

A notable change occurred on 11 October 2009 when Lieutenant General Charles E. Stenner, Jr., Commander, Air Force Reserve Command, moved his permanent residence from Bolling AFB, Washington D.C., to Robins AFB. Since before AFRC became a major command in 1997, the commander, who also serves as chief of Air Force Reserve, has lived in Washington and worked at the Office of Air Force Reserve in the Pentagon. The uptick in operations tempo in the 21st century was such that the secretary of defense directed all of the uniformed services to manage their forces in an operational manner.

"Hence, in order to do justice to this directive, I believe it is imperative that I live where the command headquarters is located," Stenner said. While his duties were the same, the difference was the general then had his home at Robins. "The Middle Georgia community is very special, and I'm excited about the opportunity to spend more time here," he said. "I have always admired the close relationships between the community members, civic leaders and employers."

The Band of the U.S. Air Force Reserve

The Band of the U.S. Air Force Reserve was part of Team Robins for nearly 50 years. Known then as the 581st Air Force Band, it moved to Robins Air Force Base with Headquarters Continental Air Command in October 1961. It was one of the oldest bands, active or reserve, assigned to the Air Force, having continued from its formation in 1941 until 2012 when it was deactivated.


Community Participation

The Air Force Reserve Command also participates in other community oriented activities such as the Rebuilding Together program and STARBASE Robins.

Originally known as Christmas in April, Rebuilding Together is the only national nonprofit organization working to preserve affordable home ownership and revitalize neighborhoods, by providing free home repairs to home owners in need of routine maintenance projects the owners cannot afford or accomplish on their own.

The organization's annual signature event is held in April. Since the inception of the Warner Robins chapter of Rebuilding Together in 1997, Headquarters Air Force Reserve Command personnel and their families have volunteered their time and skills. They have helped low-income homeowners by providing material and labor.

The Air Force Reserve Command is also a cosponsor of STARBASE Robins. STARBASE Robins is a Department of Defense educational program that offers a hands-on Science, Technology, Engineering & Math (STEM) curriculum to students from local school systems as well as several area private schools. It was the 18th STARBASE to begin operations with its inaugural classes in 1996.

The STARBASE Robins academy is held in the Museum of Aviation in Warner Robins, Georgia, a site contiguous to Robins Air Force Base. The program emphasizes the importance of goal-setting, teamwork and communication in everyday life.

STARBASE Robins has graduated over 9,000 students from its school year and summer academies programs.

Meeting challenges for more than 6 decades

To date the Air Force Reserve has met challenges to National Security spanning over six decades.

For nearly twenty consecutive years, the United States Air Force has been continually engaged in combat and operations globally. On any given day, more than 6,000 Air Force Reservists are on active duty status around the world.

There are approximately 1,170 people stationed at Headquarters AFRC.

The headquarters staff and AFRC members assigned to Robins AFB account for an economic impact of more than $159 million. Partnering with the Warner Robins Air Logistics Center and Robins Air Force Base, the Air Force Reserve Command's Citizen Airmen continue to go wherever and whenever America calls.

Missions will change, and equipment will come and go. What will not change, however, is the relationship we share with Team Robins and the Warner Robins community.