It’s not every day that Airmen get to get close to their military unit’s artifacts at the base where they currently serve.
However, thanks to teamwork between 461st Air Control Wing historian Kevin Mulberger and Aerospace Museum curator Arthur Sullivan, Airmen from the 12th Airborne Command and Control Squadron at Air Base of Robins, Georgia were able to learn about and touch one of the planes at the museum next to the facility.
The aerospace curator said the museum’s primary mission focuses on exposing Robins Airmen and the regional community to the history and heritage of the Air Force.
“An understanding of our heritage is important, not only for who we are now, but also for how we shape our future,” Sullivan said. “I hope we help our Airmen develop a sense of pride in their service based on the sacrifice of those who have gone before them.”
Mulberger said it’s important for Airmen to know that their squadron’s aircraft are on display so they can see some of their squadron’s heritage.
“Many heritage briefings contain PowerPoint slides with text and images,” he said. “It is rare, however, to be able to provide an account of the heritage of an aircraft that was flown by members of the squadron at an earlier period in its history. These briefings being physically with the aircraft helps current squadron Airmen understand the dedication to mission accomplishment.”
The squadron’s mission changed over the years as the needs of the then Army Air Corps, and later the Air Force, changed, Mulberger said.
The 12th ACCS originated as the 2nd Anti-Submarine Squadron, which activated on October 18, 1942. The squadron was first stationed at Langley Field, Va., from October 18 to December 26 from the same year.
“The squadron flew anti-submarine patrols around England from January to March 1943 and French Morocco from March to November of that year as the 2nd Anti-Submarine Squadron, achieving a commendation of Distinguished Unit for combat contributions in the Battle of the Atlantic against German U-boats,” Mulberger mentioned.
The unit returned to the United States in late 1943 and was disbanded in January 1944. The unit was then activated as the 327th Ferrying Squadron on May 31, 1944 in Italy, where it transported cargo, passengers and mail to destinations in Italy, Sardinia, Corsica, North Africa and southern France.
The squadron then moved to the United States in late September 1945 and inactivated in October.
Mulberger said the unit then activated as the 12th Air Commando Squadron on August 26, 1966, and was designated as the 12th Special Operations Squadron on August 1, 1968.
The unit’s mission focused on flying the C-123 Provider, tail 633, to spray defoliant herbicides and pesticides as part of Operation Ranch Hand and on special missions, such as dropping leaflets or flares, during the Vietnam War. The 12th SOS inactivated in September 1970.
The squadron was activated as the 12th Airborne Command and Control Squadron in January 1996 to fly E-8 aircraft for command and control and the target attack radar system.
MOA personnel are working with Mulberger to host several other heritage events for 461st ACW Airmen throughout 2022.
“My staff and I enjoy sharing MOA with our Robins Airmen,” he said. “We offer behind-the-scenes tours of the artifact collection, the opportunity to get up close and personal inside historic aircraft, and can help tailor a tour to the unit’s heritage.”
Airman 1st Class Paul Kowalczyk, an airborne operations technician in the 12th ACCS, said he is looking forward to learning more about his unit’s legacy.
“A lot of times you read about history, but you don’t always have the opportunity to experience it in a tangible way,” he said. “We have a rich and honorable heritage that shapes how we operate, even to this day.
“It’s cool that MOA has an aircraft that is part of my unit’s heritage,” he continued. “I look forward to the briefings the 461st ACW and the museum have in store for the future. This will help me better understand where I stand in my squadron’s ongoing history.