12th ACCS Airmen receive up-close view of heritage

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

It’s not every day that Airmen can get up close with artifacts from their military unit at the base where they currently serve.

However, thanks to some team work between 461st Air Control Wing Historian Kevin Mulberger and Museum of Aviation Aerospace Curator Arthur Sullivan, Airmen in the 12th Airborne Command and Control Squadron at Robins Air Force Base, Georgia, have been able to learn about and touch one of the airplanes at the museum next to the installation.  

The aerospace curator said the museum’s primary mission focuses on exposing Robins’ Airmen and the regional community to the history and heritage of the Air Force.

“An understanding of our heritage is important, not only for who we are now, but also for how we shape our future,” Sullivan said. “It’s my hope that we help our Airmen build a sense of pride in their service based on the sacrifice of those who came before them.”

Mulberger said it’s important for Airmen to know aircraft from their squadron are on display so they can view a portion of their squadron’s heritage.

“Many briefings on heritage contain PowerPoint slides with text and pictures,” he said. “It’s rare, though, to be able to provide a heritage briefing on an aircraft that was actually flown by squadron members from an earlier period in its history. These briefings being physically with the aircraft, assist the squadron’s current Airmen in understanding the dedication to accomplishing the mission."

The squadron’s mission has changed throughout the years as the needs of the then Army Air Corps, and later the Air Force changed, Mulberger said.

The 12th ACCS originated as the 2nd Antisubmarine Squadron, which activated Oct. 18, 1942. The squadron was first stationed at Langley Field, Virginia, from Oct. 18 through Dec. 26 of that year.

“The squadron flew antisubmarine patrols around England from January to March of 1943 and French Morocco from March through November that year as the 2nd Antisubmarine Squadron, earning a Distinguished Unit Citation for its combat contributions in the Battle of the Atlantic against German submarines,” Mulberger said.

The unit returned to the U.S. at the end of 1943 and disbanded in January 1944. The unit was then activated as the 327th Ferrying Squadron May 31, 1944, in Italy, where it flew cargo, passengers and mail to destinations in Italy, Sardinia, Corsica, North Africa and southern France.

The squadron then moved to the U.S. in late September 1945, and inactivated in October.

Mulberger said the unit then activated as the 12th Air Commando Squadron Aug. 26, 1966, and was designated as the 12th Special Operations Squadron Aug. 1, 1968.

The unit’s mission focused on flying the C-123 Provider, tail 633, to spray defoliant herbicides and pesticides as part of Operation Ranch Hand and flying special missions, such as dropping leaflets or flares, during the Vietnam War. The 12th SOS inactivated September 1970.

The squadron was activated as the 12th Airborne Command and Control Squadron in January 1996 to fly E-8 aircraft for command and control and the target attack radar system.

The MOA staff is working with Mulberger to hold several other heritage events for the 461st ACW Airmen throughout 2022.

“My staff and I love sharing the MOA with our Robins Airmen,” he said. “We offer behind-the- scenes tours of the artifact collection, the opportunity to get up close and sometimes inside of historic aircraft, and can help tailor a tour to the unit’s heritage.”

Airman 1st Class Paul Kowalczyk, an airborne operations technician in the 12th ACCS, said he’s looking forward to learning more about his unit’s heritage.

“A lot of times you read about history, but you don’t always get the opportunity to experience it in a tangible way,” he said. “We have a rich and honorable heritage that shapes how we operate even to this day.

“It’s cool that the MOA has an airplane that’s part of my unit’s heritage,” he continued. “I’m looking forward to the briefings the 461st ACW and the museum have in store for the future. It will help me to better understand where I fit in my squadron’s ongoing story.”