Making a Difference: Robins Celebrates 75 Years of Power Projection

  • Published
  • By Geoff Janes Robins Public Affairs and Dr. Bill Head, Base Historian

Team Robins has a worldwide impact every single day. Whether it’s supporting humanitarian and war efforts by maintaining aircraft and software, providing personnel and supplies, caring for Airmen and our families, or providing vital combat Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance  and tactical communication capabilities ... Team Robins drives success. 

And so it has been for the past 75 years, ever since a telegraph made its way to Middle Georgia one hot summer day in 1941. 

On June 16, Congressman Carl Vinson sent a wire from Washington D.C. to local civic dignitaries letting them know the War Department had selected a site across the road from Wellston, Georgia, as the location for an Army Air Maintenance and Supply Depot. 

Saddled by the Great Depression, it was just the news they wanted to hear. Macon and other local leaders had long been vying for a large industrial complex for the area to break the cycle of poverty citizens had been suffering for nearly two decades. 

From the start, the military and community relationship was strong as business and political leaders did everything they could to help the construction along. On Aug. 14, workers rolled in, and the official groundbreaking took place Sept. 1, 1941, with the first depot commander, Col. Charles Thomas, presiding. 

A year later, city officials renamed Wellston to the city of Warner Robins, allowing Thomas to name the air field and depot after his mentor and friend, Brig. Gen. Augustine Warner Robins. 

World War II 

When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor in 1941 and America entered World War II, work on the installation was expedited. By April of the next year, the flight line and many of the buildings had been completed. By May, aircraft started arriving for depot maintenance, and Robins began proving that Success Here = Success There. 

The War Department selected the Robins location as part of a long-range plan to prepare American Defenses for war. Not only did it become one of the country’s most vital military bases, but it grew to become Georgia’s largest industrial complex. 

After the war, military and civilian employees dropped to 3,900, but because of Team Robins’ role in the Berlin Airlift, the workforce grew to 11,000.  

It was also during this period the first Reserve unit was stationed here. It was the start of great things to come. Air Force Reserve Command is headquartered here today. 


When the Korean War started, the workforce continued to grow. The nation took notice of the essential role of the depot when depot workers literally unwrapped and refurbished hundreds of cocooned Boeing B-29 Superfortesses. Working around the clock, Team Robins made sure United Nations Forces had what they needed to fight North Korea. 

That was particularly true with the role B-29s played in bombing supply lines and staving off enemy attacks on allied forces inside the Pusan perimeter.  By December 1952, the Robins workforce grew to about 17,000. 


It was then that base leadership created production lines to facilitate sustainment work. Following the war, the Defense Department ensured Robins was adequately staffed, an important move given Robins involvement with the resupply of troops and materiel during the Vietnam War. 

Among the weapons systems managed by Robins personnel during the war was the B-57 Canberra, used for night raids along the Ho Chi Minh Trail. The modification of AC-119G and K gunships were managed entirely by Team Robins in the late 1960s. The AC-130 gunship, various helicopters, the C-141, C-130, C-123, and the C-124 cargo aircraft – all serviced and maintained here – also played a vital role in the war. 

Throughout the decade, Team Robins worked with contractors and modified 52 Douglas C-47 Skytrains into AC-47D gunships. Other projects included modifying 400 C-130 center wing boxes and reconfiguring 17 C-130s into various versions of the AC-130.

In 1964, the 5th Combat Communications Group activated at Robins. Originally called the 5th Mobile Communications Group, it is still referred to as “The 5th MOB” today. 

In 1972, Robins took over logistics and management of the F-15 production models as they rolled off the assembly line, and in 1973 and 1974, contracts were signed for Lockheed Georgia to lengthen the C-141 Starlifter by 23.5 feet and add aerial refueling capability.  

In 1978, the Air Force gave Lockheed the go-ahead, and with help from Team Robins experts, the modifications were completed in 1982 – under budget and ahead of schedule.  

The project added the equivalent of 90 new aircraft to the service’s airlift capability and ended dependence on foreign landing fields. 

In 1981, the base began managing the combined altitude radar altimeter – an avionics package so successful it became the Air Force standard.  

Ten years later, America went to war with Iraq. The workforce was once again challenged to provide supplies, parts, repairs and personnel, this time to coalition forces in the Persian Gulf. 

The Persian Gulf 

Robins’ employees, along with others across the Air Force, airlifted more supplies and aircraft to the Persian Gulf in 14 weeks than the allies had in 14 months to West Berlin during the Berlin Airlift.  

In 1996, the 93rd Air Control Wing was activated here. It was to be equipped with the E-8C Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System, and it accepted its first aircraft on June 11, 1996.  

From late October through December 1996, the wing deployed to Rhein-Main Air Base, Germany, for Operations Joint Endeavor and Joint Guard in Bosnia-Herzegovina. It provided top cover for United Nations peacekeeping forces and monitored the warring factions for violations of UN resolutions. 

Also in 1996, the 116th Bomb Wing converted from F-15s to the B-1B Lancer strategic bomber and moved to Robins. As part of the post-Cold-War drawdown, the unit’s active-duty fleet of B-1Bs were being reduced and taken off alert status by the former Strategic Air Command, which itself was inactivated in 1992.


Most Americans recall the tense days between March and June 1999. They learned new names like Kosovo, Bosnia and Serbia. They came to know a new tyrant, Slobodan Milosevic. 

The Air Force played a decisive role in putting an end to his regime, while Team Robins played a major role in supporting U.S. warfighters with surge items, manpower and operational aircraft.  

Robins kept C-130s, AC-130s, C-141s, C-5s and numerous helicopters combat-capable under a crushing operations tempo. The success of Operation Allied Force led to a restoration of relative peace and democracy in the region. 


Robins Air Force Base, like all military installations, was deeply affected by the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.   

Like the rest of the nation, Robins’ personnel soon took up their role in the Global War on Terrorism surging repair materials and spares, and pushing forward sustainment and support operations for U.S. forces going in harm’s way. 

Between 2001 and 2002, they worked with allied forces during Operation Enduring Freedom, the liberation of Afghanistan. Their performance continued during Operation Iraqi Freedom from March to May, 2003 as coalition forces destroyed the regime of Saddam Hussein and freed the people of Iraq. 

Fast forward to 2010. The Chief of Staff of the Air Force designated the 116th Air Control Wing as an active associate wing and reorganized the blended wing concept.  

As a result, a new active duty associate wing was formed. The structure is an active association, composed of the Georgia Air Guard’s 116th and the active duty 461st Air Control wings.  

They continue to operate together to accomplish the shared JSTARS mission by integrating air guard and active duty personnel to the maximum extent possible in groups, squadrons and shops. Integrated into their ranks is the indispensable U.S. Army JSTARS Intelligence Squadron. 

From 2010 to 2016, Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 773 (minus) called Robins home. There were 150 active duty Marines stationed here, with about 180 Reservists who drilled regularly, all supporting military special operations training. In June 2016, the unit sadly departed Robins to merge with its parent unit at Joint Base McGuire- Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey. 

In 2011, Navy Vice Admiral Alan Thompson, Defense Logistics Agency director, cut the ribbon on a new $24.6 million consolidation and containerization point warehouse here.  

The building was the result of a decision by the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure Commission to make Robins one of four strategic distribution platforms in the DLA network. DLA has about 3 million square feet of warehouse space at Robins, and ships supplies to Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps installations worldwide.   

The Air Logistics Center was re-designated as the Warner Robins Air Logistics Complex in 2012.  

It was aligned under the Air Force Sustainment Center, headquartered at Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma, and the 78th Air Base Wing assumed installation command responsibilities.  

The Air Base Wing operates the installation, supports the Warner Robins Air Logistics Complex and 37 mission partners, sustains the base’s infrastructure and personnel, and projects power for combatant commanders worldwide.

It was also under this new structure that the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center was born. AFLCMC provides the warfighter’s edge by acquiring and supporting war-winning aircraft, engines, munitions, electronics, and cyber weapon systems and sub-systems.  

Today and Beyond 

Team Robins continues to support and sustain some of the Air Force’s most vital weapons systems. It’s one of the most important maintenance, repair, overhaul and avionics centers in the Air Force.  

We provide war-winning ISR and vital tactical communications to the fight. We operate the installation, secure the base, and provide world class support for 63,000 Airmen, their families, and local area retirees.  And today, just like every day since that telegraph arrived on a hot summer day in 1941, our people are still making a difference. 

For 75 years, Team Robins has been projecting power. Our Success Here = Success There. It’s something to be proud of, it’s something to believe in, and it’s something to celebrate. 

Editor’s note: This year marks Robins’ 75th anniversary. To recognize the great contributions made by the people who work, or have worked at Robins day-in and day-out, we’re providing a look back at the installation’s history. Although everything can’t be included, the following is a snapshot from the base’s inception until today.