A history of Innovation

Charles A. LindbergEarly Pioneer

Charles A. Lindberg

On March 19, 1924, Charles Augustus Lindbergh reported to Brooks Field in San Antonio, Texas, to begin his military flying career. One year later, Lindbergh graduated top in his class and received his commission as a second lieutenant in the United States Air Service Reserve Corps. However, Lindbergh did not enter active-duty after commissioning because the Air Service simply had too many pilots and not enough aircraft for them to fly. As a result, Lindbergh turned to the civil aviation sector.

On May 20, 1927, Lindbergh climbed in his aircraft, dubbed the “Spirit of St. Louis,” and embarked on an arduous and dangerous solo flight across the Atlantic Ocean. After 33.5 hours in the air, Lindbergh landed at the Le Bourget Airport in Paris, France. Lindbergh’s solo flight earned him tremendous accolades, including the Congressional Medal of Honor and the French Ordre national de la Légion d'honneur (National Order of the Legion of Honor).

Most importantly, Lindbergh’s achievement dramatically increased enthusiasm and interest in aviation throughout the world, especially in the United States.

Jimmy DoolittleStrategic Aviator

Jimmy Doolittle

Jimmy Doolittle received his Reserve Military Aviator rating and was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Signal Officers Reserve Corps of the United States Army on March 11, 1918. He resigned his regular commission on February 15, 1930, and was commissioned a Major in the Air Reserve Corps.

One month later, he became the manager of the Aviation Department of Shell Oil Company. Doolittle convinced Shell to produce 100 octane aviation gasoline. On January 2, 1942, shortly after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the U.S. Army Air Forces promoted Doolittle to lieutenant colonel and assigned to Army Air Forces Headquarters to plan a retaliatory strike on Japan.

On April 18, 1942, Doolittle and the 16 B-25B Mitchell bomber aircraft under his command took off from the deck of the U.S.S. Hornet. See the historic footage.

While the raid did not cause great damage to Japan, it had a significant psychological impact on both Americans and the Japanese. See the co-pilot's experience. The U.S. Congress awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor to Doolittle following the raid.

Building the Total Force

Lee Linglebach

In 1954, Lee Lingelbach served as the Continental Air Command’s director of civilian personnel. He championed a strategic personnel plan that called for employment of Air Reserve Technicians to fill the critical need for continuity at flying centers and wings across the United States. Lingelbach envisioned ARTs as members of their assigned units who served in uniform during their military training while simultaneously serving in a civil service capacity during the week.

After several years of work, Ligelbach achieved his goal during a swearing-in ceremony at Headquarters ConAC on January 10, 1958. On that day, Lieutenant General William Hall (ConAC commander) enlisted Master Sgt Samuel McCormack and Tech Sgt James Clark as the first two Air Force Reserve ARTs.

Associate Unit Program

A number of factors contributed to the initial success of the 944th Tactical Airlift Group (944 TAG)—the first Air Force Reserve unit to associate with an active-duty unit. General Howell Estes, Military Airlift Command commander, had previously visited Norton AFB with several key members of his staff. To forestall any possible active force opposition to the impending influx of Reservists, General Estes warned that he would tolerate no resistance to the new program.

Brigadier General Gilbert Curtis, 63rd Military Airlift Wing commander, enthusiastically endorsed the program at his level. The MAC officials matched their words with deeds as General Estes gave the 944 TAG top priority for aircrew training positions at the C-141 Starlifter school at Tinker AFB, Oklahoma, and General Curtis assured that his unit gave Reserve crews priority access to aircraft for their training flights whenever possible. Headquarters Air Force Reserve played a critical role in the success of the associate program.

The new associate units lacked an official statement of mission until November 4, 1968, when AFRES published a regulation defining the mission of the associate groups and the responsibilities of their commanders. The directive gave the groups the responsibility of providing necessary augmentation to active military airlift wings in the form of aircrews, maintenance personnel, and aerial port personnel for the purpose of achieving full use of the aircraft under various conditions of heightened tension up to and including full mobilization. 

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