815th Airlift Squadron "Flying Jennies"

The 815th Airlift Squadron is located at Keesler Air Force Base, Miss., and functions under the operational control of the 403rd Wing, located at the same base.

Peacetime: The mission of the 815th AS is to recruit, organize and train to deploy, redeploy and employ air and ground forces to any area of the world and provide them with logistical support.

Wartime: The mission is to support the theater commander with the capability to resupply the forces, provide for their airlift requirements and employment operations within the combat zone or forward areas, and when requested, to provide aeromedical/refugee evacuation and augment strategic airlift forces.

The 815th AS, nicknamed the "Flying Jennies," is a tactical airlift unit. The squadron currently has 10 C-130J aircraft.

The 815th AS is authorized 46 officers and 109 enlisted personnel. Thirty-two of those officers and Airmen are Air Reserve Technicians. The unit also employs three civilians.

The history of the 815th AS dates back to World War II when it was activated on Sept. 20, 1943, as the 815th Bombardment Squadron (Heavy), flying B-17s. The squadron's war efforts included action in Italy, France and over the Rhine in Germany. The unit was inactivated in 1945.

In 1952, the squadron was redesignated the 815th Troop Carrier Squadron (Medium) and activated in 1953 to fly C-119s. As a troop carrier squadron, the 815th transported troops, supplies and equipment to, and evacuated casualties from Korea.

The unit began flying C-130s in 1958 and was redesignated a tactical airlift squadron in 1967. The 815th TAS was inactivated in 1969.

Then in 1973, the 815th was reactivated as part of the Air Force Reserve, flying C-130s at Keesler AFB, Miss., under control of the 920th Tactical Airlift Group (Reserve).

On Jan. 1, 1976 the unit was redesignated as the 815th Weather Reconnaissance Squadron when its parent, the 920th, was redesignated a weather reconnaissance group.

For the next 12 years, the 815th WRS tracked storms and hurricanes in the Atlantic, Caribbean Basin, Gulf of Mexico and Eastern Pacific.
In 1983, the 920th WRG was deactivated, and the 815th WRS came under the direct operational control of the 403rd Rescue and Weather Reconnaissance Wing, which moved its headquarters to Keesler.

In December 1987, both the 815th and its parent wing, the 403rd were redesignated as tactical airlift units. The 815th TAS, however, continued to maintain a limited weather reconnaissance capability through the 815th Weather Flight and the 34th Air Weather Flight.

In December 1989, during the Flying Jennies' first deployment to Panama, aircrews provided airlift support for Operation Just Cause, the U.S. military effort to restore democracy to that country and oust Panamanian strongman Manuel Noriega.

A year later, after the Iraqi invasion of neighboring Kuwait in August 1990, and the onset of Operation Desert Shield, members of the 815th volunteered for and performed duty in the Middle East. Unit members provided airlift support in the multi-national effort to stop Iraq from further expansion.

In September 1992, the squadron found itself overseas again, flying in support of the United Nations relief effort Operation Provide Relief in Somalia. The relief effort last several months, and delivered tons of food and medical supplies to people in the drought-stricken area.

The 815th AS was back on the road again in early February 1993, assisting in relief efforts in war-torn Bosnia-Herzegovina. Meanwhile, in July , the 815th became a single mission (airlift) squadron when the 815th Weather Squadron was established. The 815th AS continued its involvement in Operation Provide Promise until June 1994 -- more than a year -- and was supported by aircraft from the 815th AS and crews from both flying squadrons.

In September 1994, two months after the 815th ended its support of Operation Provide Promise the squadron flew out again in support of overseas operations -- Uphold Democracy -- in Haiti. Crews transported peacekeepers and supplies to staging areas near the island nation.

In 1995, the squadron deployed in support of Haiti with Operation Restore Hope. Also that year, the squadron deployed to Honduras, Mexico, Argentina and Peru in support of humanitarian missions in those countries.

Humanitarian missions continued through 1996, with deployments to Argentina, Ecuador, Russia, Antigua, Nicaragua, Albania, Mexico and the Dominican Republic. Also that year, Reservists with the 815th deployed to Saudi Arabia in support of Operation Southern Watch, and to Venezuela to help train the Venezuelan air force in C-130 tactics.

By December 1997, the 815th AS had amassed more than 3,900 mishap-free flying hours while supporting operations around the world and delivering more than 95,000 tons of food, clothing and medical supplies in support of the Denton Amendment.

In 1998, the squadron deployed to Venezuela and Bolivia, training those countries' air forces in C-130 operations. In the fall of 1998, following one of the most violent hurricane seasons on record, the 815th AS provided humanitarian relief to Honduras and Nicaragua after Hurricane Mitch hit Oct. 29.

In May 1999, the wing earned the Flight Safety Milestone Award from Air Mobility Command for 24 years without a type A or B mishap and 90,000 flying hours.

In May 1999, the wing received the first C-130J in the Department of Defense inventory.

In December 2004, the Jennies deployed a crew and the C-130J to Southwest Asia flying into Iraq, Afghanistan and other countries in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Later that year, the squadron completed the first circumnavigation of the globe in a C-130J while supporting Aero India, one of the largest aviation trade shows in the world.

In September 2009, the Jennies deployed several hundred Airmen and several C-130Js to Southwest Asia to support United States Central Command airlift requirements in the region. While deployed, the 815th AS set a world record for the maximum number of airdrop bundles delivered in a one-week period: 801 bundles in 24 missions, verified by United States Central Command.

During the same deployment, the 815th flew 358 missions and 1,233 sorties, delivering more than 150 boxes of "care packages" and nearly 5,000 tons of cargo while maintaining a 98.5 percent recoverable/reusable rate of cargo airdropped. Over the 120-day deployment, 815th aircrews flew more than 20,000 passengers and 500 aeromedical evacuation passengers, logging nearly 2,500 hours of flying and surpassing their home-station annual average of 2,400 hours.

In August 2010, the 815th AS merged with the 345th AS "Golden Eagles" as the Air Force's first C-130J active associate unit. The 345th AS integrated more than 100 active-duty personnel with the 403rd Wing's Reservists. In cooperation with the Air Force's total force integration initiative, the partnership between the two airlift squadrons provides the opportunity of joint training and reduces the operational costs for taxpayers.

In January 2011, the Jennies and the Golden Eagles deployed to Afghanistan together for the first time as an integrated force and joined with the 41st AS from Little Rock AFB, Ark. Under the command of the 772nd Expeditionary AS at Kandahar Airfield, they successfully completed 261 airdrops exceeding the record of 40 airdrop missions in a month by completing 51 missions.  They went on to shatter their own record again in March with 71 missions and in April with 81 moving a total of 5.6 million pounds of cargo. By successfully and accurately dropping supplies, convoys driving long distances through dangerous areas were avoided.

In September 2013, the Jennies again deployed with the Golden eagles, this time to Southwest Asia as members of the 379th Air Expeditionary Wing. Overall, around 160 Airmen were deployed, and they returned January 2014.

As part of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2013, the Air Force announced plans to transfer 10 of the 403rd Wing's C-130J aircraft and close the 815th, but then-Secretary of Defense Deborah Lee James 2015 reversed that recommendation in 2015, beginning the programming and budgeting work to restore personnel and mission capability at Keesler. The unit returned to fully operational status November 2017.

Shortly after becoming fully operational, the Jennies deployed to Southwest Asia in support of Operations Freedom Sentinel and Inherent Resolve January 2018. 815th aircrews, along with maintainers from newly formed 803rd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron and other wing personnel, were assigned to the 379th Air Expeditionary Wing, Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar. As part of the 746th Air Expeditionary Squadron, the Flying Jennies made Air Force history during an event where they did a two-ship formation airdrop with the 774th EAS, an active duty squadron at Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan making it the first time two separate units in two countries came together for a single combat airdrop mission. The Airmen returned to Keesler May 2018 having flown 303 combat and 465 combat support sorties, delivering 5,140 passengers, 51 distinguished visitors, 245 patients, and nearly 3,000 tons of cargo.

From October 2020 through February 2021, the 815th AS deployed flying combat missions in direct support of Operation Inherent Resolve. During this time, they were assigned to the 779th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron, 407th Air Expeditionary Group, 386th Air Expeditionary Wing, Ali Al Salem Air Base, Kuwait. The Flying Jennies executed 579 missions, flew 2,179 sorties with 3,620 flight hours moving 4,026 passengers and 2,131 tons of cargo.

Current as of October 2022