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NEWS | June 28, 2023

305th AMW celebrates a century of air mobility

By Master Sergeant Candace Alston Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst Public Affairs

On June 27, 1923, The U.S. Army Air Service conducted the first aerial refueling mission, passing 75 gallons of gasoline through a hose from one De Haviland DH-4B to another. This marked the first air-to-air refueling using a gravity-flow hose.

To commemorate this historic date, the 305th Air Mobility Wing participated in Operation Centennial Contact. Airmen from the 305th AMW joined Air Mobility Command wings from around the nation to carry out air refueling demonstrations over the United States and overseas, displaying 100 years of air refueling experience. The operation showcased that today’s U.S. Air Force is able to deliver unrivaled rapid global reach for U.S. forces and Allies and partners through the Mobility Air Forces fleet of KC-46, KC-135 and KC-10 tankers.

“Air refueling propels our Nation’s air power across the skies, unleashing its full potential,” said Gen. Mike Minihan, Air Mobility Command commander. “It connects our strategic vision with operational reality, ensuring we can reach any corner of the globe with unwavering speed and precision. Air refueling embodies our resolve to defend freedom and project power, leaving an indelible mark on aviation history.”

When it comes to aviation history, the 305th AMW’s impact is undeniable. Col Curtis E. Lemay led the 305th AMW’s forbearer, the 305th Bombardment Group, into combat in the European Theater during World War II, and he later organized air operations for the historic Berlin Airlift, precisely 75 years ago.

During the 15 months of the Berlin Airlift, the United States and Allies delivered 2.3 million tons of food, fuel and supplies to the people of West Berlin entirely by air, confirming there is no meaningful maneuver of the Joint Force without air refueling and the importance of sustained global air mobility in action. On its 75th year anniversary and the 100th year anniversary of air refueling, this force and commitment was demonstrated once again.

“This operation demonstrated the tenacity of our Airmen.  It was a huge team effort that started weeks ago with planning and coordination, not only within our wing, but also with other wings and outside agencies,” said U.S. Air Force Col Elizabeth Hanson, 305th AMW commander. “Our Airmen worked hard preparing the aircraft, fixing last minute issues, and navigating complex and dynamic environments to meet the demands of this unique mission.  At the end of the day, our Airmen proved they are ready, capable, and able to tackle the challenges they encounter to succeed. It is an honor to be a part of this incredible team.”

Airmen from the 514th Air Mobility Wing and the 87th Air Base wing also supported the large scale operation. These personnel included maintainers, command post, transportation, fuels and fleet services in addition to the aircrew that flew. Though it was a strenuous feat, the challenges paled in comparison to the fulfillment of playing a role in an operation of this magnitude.

“This operation was an amazing and rewarding experience. Operation Centennial Contact and the mass generation of aircraft at Joint Base MDL demonstrated the incredible capabilities of our base and our Air Force,” said U.S. Air Force Captain Brian Colitti, 305th Air Mobility Wing, Operation Centennial Contact ground operations planner. “There was certainly a lot of planning, coordination, and manpower that made this happen, but its success is a testament to what our base and our Air Force bring to the table. I couldn’t be more proud of our team that made this happen.”

The 305th AMW deployed eight KC-46 and five C-17 for Operation Centennial Contact, and was joined by two KC-135 from the 108 Air National Guard Wing, JB MDL and the 914th Air Refueling Wing, Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station, New York. In total, the operation included 152 aircraft, 82 tankers and 70 receivers, from 26 AMC bases to celebrate the milestone that transformed defense strategies globally.