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455th AEW Fact Sheet


The 455th Air Expeditionary Wing is composed of more than 2,100 Airmen located at Bagram, Jalalabad, and Kandahar airfields. Known as the ‘Vulgar Vultures’, the wing consists of five groups: the 455th Expeditionary Operations Group, the 455th Expeditionary Mission Support Group, the 455th Expeditionary Maintenance Group, the 455th Expeditionary Medical Group, and the 451st Air Expeditionary Group.



"Defend, Support, Deliver...Airpower!"

Defend…the two busiest airfields in Afghanistan

Support…the premier counterterrorism wing and its partners

Deliver…decisive Airpower



To be the premier counterterrorism wing enabling a successful train, advise and assist campaign.



Bagram Airfield is located in Afghanistan's Parwan Province, approximately 11 kilometers (7 miles) southeast of the city of Charikar and 47 km (27 mi) north of Kabul. The airfield has two runways capable of serving large and small airframes. Kandahar Airfield is located in southern Afghanistan, about 16 km (10 mi) southeast of Kandahar City, the country’s second largest city. Jalalabad Airfield is 4.8 km (3 mi) to the southeast of Jalalabad City in Nangahar Province, which is nearer to the Afghanistan’s eastern border with Pakistan.


The 455th AEW is one of two Air Force wings located within Afghanistan and provides decisive airpower throughout the country in support of Operation Freedom’s Sentinel and NATO’s Resolute Support mission. The airpower that the wing provides ensures NATO forces can focus on their training and advisement missions, while simultaneously targeting terrorist groups that wish harm upon the Afghan and American people.

455th Expeditionary Operations Group:

The group is responsible for all expeditionary flying and aeromedical evacuation operations from Bagram Airfield. The group oversees one F­-16 Fighting Falcon fighter squadron, one C­-130J Super Hercules airlift squadron, one joint CH-47 Chinook/Guardian Angel rescue squadron, one EC­-130H Compass Call electronic combat squadron, and one aeromedical evacuation squadron.


The group also oversees aviation support functions such as air traffic control, intelligence, weather, radar monitoring, airfield management and command and control at multiple forward operating bases.

455th Expeditionary Maintenance Group:

The group provides combat ­ready aircraft and munitions to the wing, supporting coalition forces throughout Afghanistan. The group comprises of two squadrons responsible for aircraft maintenance and sortie generation, as well as launch, recovery, and service support for military and commercial transient aircraft.

455th Expeditionary Mission Support Group:

The 455th EMSG is composed of six squadrons that enable the wing to execute combat and security mission. It provides engineering, communications, flight line logistics, aerial port, personnel services, base defense and Joint Expeditionary Tasking/Individual Augmentee support, ensuring the safety and effectiveness of the installation, while also providing for the morale and welfare of personnel.

455th Expeditionary Medical Group:

The 455th EMDG staffs the Craig Joint Theater Hospital. The group is the Air Force component of the Task Force Medical-Afghanistan, providing combat medical services and support to U.S. and coalition forces through Afghanistan. In addition to being the most capable Role III trauma hospital in Afghanistan, the medical group serves as the aeromedical evacuation hub for all AE mission within the Combined Joint Operations


451st Air Expeditionary Group:

The 451st AEG provides a persistent and powerful airpower presence in the Afghanistan area of operations. The group’s Airmen provide world-­class close air support, intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, command and control, personnel recovery and airborne datalink capabilities whenever and wherever needed. The group operates the A-10C Thunderbolt II, the HH-60G Pave Hawk, the E­-11 BACN and the MQ­-9 Reaper at Kandahar airfield.


The 455th Bombardment Group (Heavy) activated on June 1, 1943 at Alamogordo Army Air Field, New Mexico, under the II Bomber Command, before moving to Langley Field, Virginia, under I Bomber Command.


On July 8, 1943, Col. Kenneth A. Cool took command of the organization. The 740th, 741st, 742nd and 743rd Bombardment Squadrons were placed under the 455th BG’s authority. From July-November 1943, the BG trained with the B-24 “Liberator” bomber. By Dec 1943, the 455th BG shipped out for San Giovanni, Italy and the European Theater of Operations. While engaged in combat under Fifteenth Air Force from February 1944 to April 1945, the BG bombed oil refineries, marshalling yards, storage areas, airdromes, harbors and factories throughout Europe.


On April 2, 1944, a hazardous mission to destroy a ball bearing plant in Steyr, Austria earned the group its first Distinguished Unit Citation. Another dangerous mission to destroy an oil refinery in Moosbierbaum, Germany on June 26, 1944 earned the 455th BG its second DUC despite severe enemy fighter opposition and heavy losses.


The group continued to support ground forces throughout World War II, completing early missions in Italy, eliminating gun positions prior to the invasion of southern France in August 1944, and supporting the final Allied drive through Italy in April 1945. The 455th BG inactivated in Italy on September 9, 1945, but returned as a Reserve training unit from March 1947 to June 1949. On May 7, 1956 the 455 BG redesignated as the 455th Fighter-Day Group under Ninth Air Force command and activated on July 25, 1956. The group never materialized and inactivated again July 1, 1957.


Under Strategic Air Command, the group re-designated and activated as the 455th Strategic Missile Wing at Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota, in 1962. The wing received its first intercontinental ballistic missiles on September 6, 1963 and emplaced its 150th, and final, missile, February 26, 1964, becoming combat operational in March 1964. On June 25, 1968, the 455th SMW was inactivated--remaining so for 33 years—until it converted to provisional status in December, 2001 as the 455th Air Expeditionary Group.


On April 26, 2002, the group activated at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan. Col. Matthew Neuenswander served as the group commander. The group started flying A-10 Thunderbolt IIs in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. The group increased in size quickly and on July 26, 2002, became the 455th Air Expeditionary Wing. Col. Gregory Ihde served as the first commander of the wing.


The men and women of the 455th Air Expeditionary Wing have been recognized for their excellence since World War II.


Distinguished Unit Citations: Steyr, Austria, 2 Apr 1944; Austria, 26 Jun 1944

Meritorious Unit Award:

16 Sep 2003 ­- 30 Sep 2004

1 Oct 2004 ­- 30 Sep 2005

1 Oct 2005 ­- 01 Sep 2006

1 Oct 2006 ­- 30 Sep 2007

1 Oct 2007 ­- 30 Sep 2008

1 Oct 2008 ­- 30 Sep 2009

1 Oct 2009 ­- 30 Sep 2010

1 Oct 2010 ­- 30 Sep 2011

1 Oct 2011 ­- 30 Jun 2012

1 Jul 2012 - 30 Jun 2013

1 July 2013 - 30 Jun 2014

1 Oct 2015 - 31 Mar 2017

Air Force Outstanding Unit Award with Valor: 1 Nov 2001; 15 Sep 2002; 15 Sep 2003


Campaign Streamers:

World War II: Air Combat, EAME (European ­African­ Middle Eastern Campaign); Air Offensive, Europe; Naples;­ Foggia; Anzio; Rome; ­Arno; Normandy; Northern France; Southern France; North Apennines; Rhineland; Central Europe; Po Valley