The 22nd AS returns to Australia, celebrates 80 years of heritage

  • Published
  • By 1st Lt. Jasmine Jacobs
  • 60th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

Members of the 22nd Airlift Squadron, stationed at Travis Air Force Base, California, trained on the C-5M Super Galaxy and celebrated 80 years of heritage with Royal Australian Air Force allies at RAAF Base Amberley, Queensland, March 23-27, 2022, as part of the Major Command Service Tail Trainer program.

The MSTT program is managed by Air Mobility Command and allots monthly flight hours to the C-5M specifically for training.

“Opportunities like this allow all parties to learn and improve,” said Capt. Justin Wilson, 22AS pilot and aircraft commander. “Within the first hour or two of our arrival, we were already learning techniques from our RAAF partners that we hadn’t considered — that’s the purpose of training together.”
Wilson explained that through these broadening opportunities, the squadron and the aircrew are able to refine tactics, techniques and procedures for tomorrow’s fight.

“By working with our RAAF partners, their aerial port squadrons and their loadmasters, it enhances the proficiency and effectiveness in how we respond to humanitarian and wartime efforts,” said Wilson. “We are the only air force with the C-5M aircraft — through showing our RAAF counterparts how the C-5M works and maneuvers, it better prepares both forces for future bilateral and multilateral operations.”

This is the first time in history that a C-5M has landed in the country, presenting a unique training environment for the members of the Australian Air Force assigned to RAAF Base Amberley.

“It makes sense for us to capitalize on our existing close relationship with the U.S. Air Force and take advantage of training opportunities on the C-5M,” said Air Commodore Sandra Turner, Director General of U.S. Force Posture Initiatives and Singapore Military Training Initiatives for the Australian Defense Force. 

“The international order built since World War II is being contested and the global competition is intensifying. Together with our allies and partners, Australia is postured to further promote an open, inclusive, and prosperous Indo-Pacific region and build regional resilience to 21st century transnational threats.”

This was also a unique experience for the members of the 22nd AS because it was an opportunity to celebrate 80 years of heritage in the squadron’s birthplace.

“To come back to Australia, the place where it all started, is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and a first for many people in the squadron,” said Wilson. “We worked together 80 years ago and are still working together today… that signifies that our bond has only gotten stronger.”

The squadron was established April 3, 1942, as the 22nd Transport Squadron at Essendon Airport in Melbourne, Australia, coinciding with the formation of several RAAF transport squadrons as well, during the Second World War.

Assigned to U.S. Army forces in Australia under U.S. Air Transport Command, the 22nd AS was created with the mission of providing combat airlift support to the Indo-Pacific region. Earning two Distinguished Unit Citations for its actions over Papua and New Guinea, the squadron quickly became a major operating unit within the region, and was instrumental in lifting the Japanese threat against Australia.

To commemorate this milestone, members of the 22nd AS and 60th AMW attended a heritage ceremony alongside Australian distinguished visitors, lawmakers, and RAAF Base Amberley civic leaders and defense personnel.

Following the ceremony, guests in attendance toured the C-5M and received a demonstration of its cargo capabilities.

“The aircraft and the load training are great, the equipment that we have is great, but it’s really about getting to know and work alongside the people in the Australian Defense Force,” said Wilson. “We can have the airframe work and we can have the maintenance work, but it’s through strengthening our relationships with our allies that we enhance our interoperability.”