YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan --
Thirty years ago more than 60,800 Total Force Airmen rapidly deployed in support of Operation Desert Storm, including two units out of Yokota Air Base, Japan – known back then as the 374th Tactical Airlift Wing.
Operation Desert Storm’s primary mission was to drive Saddam Hussain and the Iraqi military out of Kuwait and re-establish its sovereignty.
One of the primary missions of the 1676th Tactical Airlift Squadron Provisional, a unit consisting of the 345th Tactical Airlift Squadron and the 21st TAS and known as the “Desert Eagles”, was providing intra-theater airlift of critical supplies and troops to sites throughout the Arabian Peninsula in support of Desert Storm. They also provided rapid aeromedical evacuation for wounded or injured personnel from forward combat areas.
The Desert Eagles, along with other Airmen of the 374th TAW worked alongside other Military Airlift Command (MAC) units providing and defending Air Force assets.
“The 374th’s role in Desert Storm is greater than most realize,” said Gen. Hansford T. Johnson, MAC commander in chief (September 1989-August 1992). “The professional and dedicated efforts of MAC’s men and women have proven we are more than ready to should the tremendous rapid deployment and sustainment requirements inherent in the doctrine of Global Reach-Global Power.”
On Feb. 28, 1991, following six weeks of air attacks and a 100 hour ground campaign, President George H.W. Bush declared a cessation of operations and announced that Kuwait had been liberated.
Immediately after the declaration, the first MAC aircraft landed at Kuwait City International Airport since the Aug. 2, 1990 Iraq invasion, piloted and crewed by members of the 1676th TAS.
The aircraft brought in a combat control team responsible for controlling the runway operations for a massive airlift to begin the rebuilding efforts in Kuwait.
“This is the goal we’ve been working for since early August ,” said Maj. J.T. Cassil, 1675th Tactical Airlift Group (provisional) tactics officer. “For more than two hundred days, we’ve hauled a lot of vehicles, MREs, water, troops, tanks, mail and just about anything else that could fit into a C-130 to virtually every airfield in this theater. All of our efforts and sacrifices, including the time away from our loved ones, have finally led to this moment—the liberation of Kuwait.”
Though the conflict was declared over, members from Yokota Air Base stayed in Saudi Arabia in the months afterwards to assist in the post-war rebuilding efforts in Kuwait.
Desert Storm marked the first conflict in history to heavily use stealth and space systems support capabilities against a modern air defense. This meant the Air Force unequivocally proved its air superiority in this war.
Known as the largest air campaign since the conflict in Southeast Asia, Desert Storm taught the Air Force that being on the cutting edge of revolutionary technology is critical to success.