Sunday, September 19, 2021

The Ga. ANG in the C-124 Globemaster Era: 1966-1974

By Maj. William Carraway

Historian, Georgia Army National Guard


The C-124 Globemaster was assigned to the Ga. ANG in December 1966 replacing the C-97 Stratofreighter. Stratofreighters are visible
to the left in this image from Dobbins AFB. Georgia National Guard Archives.

On Sept. 19, 1974, the last two C-124 Globemaster aircraft in service departed Savannah Municipal Airport bound for Tucson Arizona and the vast mothball fields of Davis-Monthan Air Force Base. The aircraft, assigned to the Georgia Air National Guard’s 165th Military Airlift Group, had logged a combined 10 million miles and more than 25,000 flying hours each while assigned to the Georgia Air National Guard. The delivery of the last C-124s to storage marked the end of a nearly eight-year chapter in the history of the Ga. Air National Guard

Prelude: The Air Transport Mission Begins

By 1960, the Georgia Air National Guard encompassed fighter interceptor aircraft stationed at Dobbins Air Force Base and Travis Field in Savannah under the 116th Air Defense Wing and the subordinate 116th and 165th Fighter Groups. [1] On April 1, 1961, the Ga. Air National Guard’s 116th Air Defense Wing was reorganized as the 116th Air Transport Wing (Heavy).[2] Pilots of the 116th began delivering their F-86L fighter jets to the California Air National Guard in February and March and started the training to transition from single-engine jet aircraft to the double-deck multi-engine C-97 Stratofreighter. Flight crews and maintenance personnel completed training in May 1961 at Randolph, AFB, Texas and the 128th Fighter Interceptor Squadron, redesignated the 128th Air Transport Squadron, received the first four C-97s in June.

Through the remainder of 1961, 31 pilots and 29 flight engineers completed home-station training on the C-97. Subsequently, the Ga. Air National Guard announced that the Savannah-based 165th Fighter Group would also convert to the heavy transport mission. The 165th received its first C-97 in 1961 and was redesignated the 165th Air Transport Group on April 1, 1962.[3] The Georgia Air National Guard flew the C-97 Stratofreighter for more than five years.

Transition to the Globemaster

The Georgia Air National Guard’s 116th Military Airlift Group became the first Air National Guard unit in the nation to receive the C-124 Globemaster Dec. 7, 1966.[4] The Globemaster was praised by Ga. ANG pilots for its cargo capacity its range and for the comfort and proximity of crew rest positions to the flight deck.

On January 23, 1967, just six weeks after receiving its first Globemaster, the Ga. ANG began its first over-water mission flying 26,000 pounds of equipment to Antigua. By March 10, four additional flights had been completed to Antigua all by the 128th Military Airlift Squadron.[5] The enormous range of the C-124 soon allowed the Ga. ANG to support a Joint Chiefs of Staff mission to Spain March 21, 1967. On April 1, 1967, a C-124 crew completed the first of many flights bearing cargo to Vietnam.[6] The 14-day round trip flight from Dobbins AFB carried more than 20,000 pounds of cargo from Travis AFB, Calif. to Da Nang in South Vietnam and returned with 17,000 pounds of cargo.

On April 1, 1967 a Ga. ANG C-124 made the first of many flights to Vietnam. Georgia Air National Guard crews had previously flown air transport missions
to Vietnam with the C-97 Stratofreighter. Georgia National Guard Archives.

On July 1968, the 165th MAG executed an airlift of 402 Soldiers of the 170th and 176th MP Battalions from Fort Stewart to Dobbins AFB. Seven C-124 Globemaster aircraft transported the Soldiers along with 35 military vehicles.[7]

Over the years, the Ga. Air National Guard would continue to rack up historic firsts in the C-124. In December 1969, a Georgia C-124 crew became the first in Air National Guard history to fly completely around the South American continent. The feat was accomplished while supporting a special assignment airlift mission in support of Operation Deep Freeze 1969.[8] The Guardsmen flew more than 50 military and civilian scientists along with three tons of scientific instruments to Punta Arenas, Chile where a Coast Guard icebreaker was waiting to transport them to Antarctica.

Georgia Air National Guard C-124 Globemasters deliver more than 400 Ga. ARNG Military Police and 35 vehicles during an airlift exercise from
Fort Stewart to Dobbins AFB July 9, 1968. Georgia National Guard Archives.

The Globemaster continued to serve as the workhorse of the Ga. ANG into the 1970s beginning in May when civil unrest in Augusta, Ga. prompted the governor to activate the Georgia National Guard. Three Ga. ANG C-124s delivered the 2nd Battalion 214th Field Artillery under the command of Col. John McGowan to Augusta May 12, 1970.[9]

On Aug. 26, 1970, C-124 Globemaster 52-1049 of the Georgia Air National Guard’s 165th Military Airlift Group crashed into the side of Mount Pavlof while en route from McChord Air Force Base, Wash. to Cold Bay, Alaska with a cargo of satellite equipment. The crashed killed all seven crewmembers.[10]

From Globemaster to Hercules

Military maneuvers of the 30th Division in Tennessee in 1972 saw the C-124s called to transport Ga. ARNG personnel and equipment to training sites. By that time, the age of the Globemaster frame and scarcity of available parts weighed heavily in the decision to seek a new airframe for Georgia. Governor Jimmy Carter and Maj. Gen. Joel Paris, Georgia’s Adjutant General, along with senior leaders of the Ga. ANG met with National Guard Bureau and U.S. Air Force officials regarding possible aircraft or mission changes. The preferred course of action was to retain the MAT mission with C-130s phasing in. But the C-130 was in short supply and the Air Force Reserve’s 918th Military Airlift Wing based at Dobbins AFB had already been allocated C-130s the previous year.[11] National Guard Bureau preferred to convert the Ga. ANG to fly the F-100 Super Sabre effective April 1973. [12] Enlisting the aid of Georgia’s congressional delegation Carter and Paris successfully negotiated to maintain the airlift mission for the 165th.[13]

A C-124 Globemaster delivers vehicles and personnel to Tennessee for maneuvers of the 30th Division in 1972. Georgia National Guard Archives.

Final Flight

Two years would pass before the arrival of the C-130 Hercules. The first C-130 arrived in Savannah Aug. 8, 1974.[14] The following month, two veteran C-124 crews led by Lt. Col. Arthur Eddy, safety officer of the 165th and Lt. Col. Edgar D. Benson, 165th MAG Air Force advisor, delivered the last two C-124 Globemasters to Davis-Monthan they went into mothball storage. It would be Benson’s last flight as he was set to retire the following spring. Among the veteran crew members was flight engineer SMSgt. Thomas L. Davis who was the last survivor of the Bataan Death March of World War II still in uniform.

Georgia Air National Guard SMSgt Thomas L. Davis (Center) was the last survivor of the Bataan Death March still in uniform. He retired following
the final flight of the C-124 Globemaster. Georgia National Guard Archives. 

By Dec. 10, 1974, the 165th had completed the conversion to the C-130 with eight aircraft assigned.[15] The 165th Airlift Wing continues to fly the C-130 airframe supporting missions across the globe.


[1] “Russell Praised in Wing Reorganization.” The Georgia Guardsman Magazine, Jan Feb 1960, 4.

[2] “First C-97 Stratofreighters Arrive for ANG.” The Georgia Guardsman Magazine, June 1961, 4.

[3] “Kuhn’s Fighter Gp in Historic Switch to Transport Role.” The Georgia Guardsman Magazine, January 1962, 1.

[4] “Ga ANG First to Get C-124s; 116th MAG Conversion Began 7 Dec.” The Georgia Guardsman Magazine, January 1967, 3.

[5] “Global Missions Begin for C124” The Georgia Guardsman Magazine,” Feb-Apr 1967, 6.

[6] “Lt. Col. C. J. Perkins, Ga. ANG Crew Take First C124 Mission to Vietnam.” The Georgia Guardsman Magazine, Feb-Apr 1967, 3.

[7] “Ga. Emergency Operations Headquarters Conducts Successful Airlift of MP’s.” The Georgia Guardsman Magazine. May-Aug 1968, 4.

[8] “Col Perkins’ ANG Crew Flies to Southernmost City in World; Mission Supports Polar Expedition.” The Georgia Guardsman Magazine, Sept Dec 1969, 6.

[9] “Governor Sends 2,000 Ga. Guardsmen to Augusta and Athens to Restore Calm in Wake of May Civil Disturbances.” The Georgia Guardsman Magazine. Apr.-Jun. 1970, 8-9.

[10] William Carraway. “Remembering the Ga. ANG Airmen of C-124 Globemaster 52-1049” History of the Georgia National Guard. Sept. 5, 2020.

[11] “Dobbins Units to Get C130s” The Atlanta Constitution. April 7, 1917, 8.

[12] “Georgia Air Guard Getting Supersonic Fighters.” The Atlanta Journal and Constitution. Sept. 4, 1972, 14.

[13] “Switch to Fighters Stirs Guard Debate.” The Atlanta Constitution, October 24, 1972.

[14]“Savannah’s 165th MAG Has New Mission Now That the C-130s are in.” Georgia Guardsman Magazine, Jul Aug 74, 10

[15] State of Georgia Department of Defense. Annual Report 1975. 

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