A legacy of valor: 489th ATKS achieves centennial

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Christian Clausen
  • 432nd Wing/432nd Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

The 489th Attack Squadron has played an important part of airpower and reached its centennial anniversary on Aug. 13, 2017, despite multiple duties and designations.

Following its initial inception as the 77th Aero Squadron at Kelly Field, Texas, the unit was stationed in France during World War I and was designated as the 489th Aero Squadron. During World War II, the unit was activated again as the 432d Bombardment Squadron flying B-25 Mitchell medium-range bombers to drive out unwanted hostiles in North Africa and Southern Europe.

After the war, the squadron bounced between reserve and active duty components flying the B-47 Stratojet long-range bombers in the fifties and early sixties before inactivating in 1962.

Fast forward nearly 50 years, in 2011, the 489th Reconnaissance Squadron reactivated at Beale Air Force Base, Calif., to fly the MC-12W Liberty overseas providing intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance until their inactivation in late 2015.

In 2016, the unit was renamed to the 489th ATKS and assumed its current mission flying launch and recovery RPA operations for the MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper at Creech AFB. Their efforts directly enable persistent attack and reconnaissance operations overseas, 24/7/365, for the joint force commanders and ground forces alike.

“The previous mission of the squadron from WWII applies to today’s current mission in how we directly assist our military brethren on the ground, while also assisting civilian populations in driving the enemy who has invaded their homelands away,” said Lt. Col. Robert, 489th ATKS commander. “A real world example would be how we helped drive Rommel’s Afrika Korps from North Africa in WWII to how we are helping to drive ISIS from Syria and Iraq today.”

The 489th ATKS was reactivated as part of Air Combat Command’s Culture and Process Improvement Program priorities to establish a launch and recovery unit at Creech AFB.

Having one mission set allows the squadron to develop deployment ready Airmen dedicated to LRE operations. To maintain this structure, members of the unit deploy to meet mission needs, while other members stay at Creech AFB to meet home station requirements such as training, professional development and personal readiness.

“The performance of our Airmen is outstanding considering the high level of training they are required to stay current on and duties they have on their dwell times at home,” Robert said. “Many of our Airmen have and continue to rise to the occasion to run shops within our squadron that have far less manpower compared to other units.”

Without LRE crews, there would be no aircraft to handoff to the aircrew who execute the mission 24/7/365. This is a fact the 489th Airmen are very proud of. “We are behind the scene warriors, downrange in harm’s way to make operations happen,” Robert said. “The impact we have in support of so many missions is rewarding and inspiring.”