Historian shares 461st ACW’s heritage that spans 78 years

  • Published
  • By Holly Logan-Arrington
  • Robins Public Affairs

The 461st Air Control Wing’s story began in the West, several decades before the wing called Robins Air Force Base, Georgia, its home.

The 461st ACW currently delivers combat-ready Command and Control Intelligence Surveillance Reconnaissance and Deployable Air Traffic Control and Landing System, commonly known as C2ISR DATCALS, capabilities to warfighters worldwide.

However, the unit was originally known as the 461st Bombardment Group when it was formed at Gowen Field, Idaho, July 1, 1943.

Kevin Mulberger, wing historian in the 461st Air Control Wing Historical Office at Robins, said the 461st Bombardment Group’s mission dates back to World War II.

“The original mission of the 461st Bombardment Group was the strategic bombing campaign against German infrastructure during World War II as part of 15th Air Force,” he said. “Some of the targets were aircraft factories, oil fields, marshaling yards, refineries, etc. These targets were located in Romania, Italy, France, Germany and Austria.”

The 461st Bombardment Group’s mission changed through the years.

“The 461st Bombardment Group flew a large fleet of B-24 Liberators during World War II,” Mulberger said. “In the 1950s, the 461st Bombardment Wing initially flew B-26 aircraft and then the B-57 Canberra. In the 1960s, the 461st Bombardment Wing flew B-52s and a squadron of KC-135 Tankers.”

The group served its bomber mission until the conclusion of World War II and deactivated on August 28, 1945.

The unit was activated again Dec. 23, 1953, as the 461st Bombardment Wing, flying B-57 aircraft until it was deactivated April 1, 1958. The wing reactivated Nov. 15, 1962, as the 461st Bombardment Wing flying B-52 aircraft until its inactivation March 25, 1968.

On Oct. 1, 2011, the wing, now known as the 461st Air Control Wing, was activated at Robins.

Mulberger said as the Air Force mission needs changed, the newly stood up 461st ACW mission evolved to meet those requirements.

“The original mission was bombing the industrial and logistical infrastructure of German forces during World War II,” he said. “Now, the wing conducts Battle Management, Command and Control, Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance, also called BMC2ISR, and provides the Air Force’s only DATCALS capabilities.”

Throughout its history, the unit has continuously transformed its focus to meet the ever-evolving Air Force mission.

One constant has remained throughout the 461st ACW’s heritage – the role each Liberaider plays in the unit’s mission success, Mulberger said.

“One of the biggest commonalities is the air crews and ground crews,” the historian said. “The air crews fly the aircraft and accomplish the mission while the ground crews conduct the maintenance on the aircraft. Basically, everyone does their part to complete the wing’s mission across the globe.”