5 Intense Air Force Reserve Moments

An Air Force Reserve C-130 Hercules is readied for takeoff at Sather Air Base, Iraq, on Wednesday, April 19, 2006. The aircraft is from the 302nd Airlift Wing at Peterson Air Force Base, Colo. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Lance Cheung)
An Air Force Reserve C-130 Hercules is readied for takeoff at Sather Air Base, Iraq. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Lance Cheung)

If you think the Air Force Reserve just chills on the sidelines, you just might want to read on.

As Airmen prepare to ring in the 70th Anniversary of Air Force Reserve Command, it seems fitting to point out some of the major moments they have been involved with over the decades.

Reserve Airmen have stared death in the face for 100 years – going all the way back to the formation of Reserve Air Power in 1916, before the official formation of the Reserve in 1948.

Here are five major Air Force Reserve moments and combat missions over the years.

1. Air Force Reserve Command Created

On April 14, the Air Force Reserve will formally mark a 70 year anniversary, commemorating their 1948 transition from Reserve Air Power to Air Force Reserve Command; reserve forces for the Air Force began serving as far back as 1916 when a National Defense Act created Reserve Air Power. In 1917, the first Reserve unit deployed to France.

2. The Air Force Reserve Attacks Hitler

By 1939, reserve forces had reached 1,500, as Hitler’s military invaded Poland. Called “Citizen Airmen,” more than 3,000 reservists were taking to the skies over Europe during World War II. At the conclusion of the war, the Air Force did not want to lose this impressive fighting force, especially with the Cold War just getting started -- thus leading to the formation of today's official Air Force Reserve in 1948.

3. Air Reserve Helps Prep for Vietnam Attacks

The Air Force Reserve utilized their jungle flying skills to deliver supplies in humanitarian missions in South America in the 1950s, which wound up laying the foundation for the highly revered AC-130 gunship used for close air warfare during the Vietnam war – an attack aircraft which came to be affectionately known by soldiers as “Puff the Magic Dragon.”

4. Under Fire: High-risk Air Force Reserve Mission In Iraq Against ISIS

It was 2014, a time when ISIS had been making rapid gains and consolidating power across large swaths of Iraq. In the days before Operation Inherent Resolve, the situation with the roughly 40,000 Iraqi Christians in the Sinjar Mountains was dire. Answering the call when the Obama administration made the decision to help the Iraqi Christians, Air Force Reserve forces flew C-130s into hostile territory on humanitarian air drop missions delivering supplies, food and water to the area.

5. Rescue Operations:  Just Another Day’s Work

In February of this year, stranded hikers on Oregon’s Mt. Hood were dodging falling rocks and ice, fighting off massive waves of falling snow, and clinging to ropes to narrowly escape death from an avalanche at 10,000 feet.  Somehow, a rescue unit with Air Force Reserve Command managed to locate and save the imperiled hikers using search and rescue helicopters filled with trained Air Force reservists. Overcoming the dangers of flying copters at high altitude, 15 reserve Airmen dropped rope lines, enabling three of four stranded hikers to safely descend from the mountain. It was just another day for the Air Force Reserve, and another example of the ongoing missions these units undertake.

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