Fourth Air Force


The Fourth Air Force (4 AF) is a numbered air force of the Air Force Reserve Command (AFRC). It is headquartered at March Air Reserve Base, California.

Fourth Air Force
Shield of the Fourth Air Force
Active1 December 1985 - present (as Fourth Air Force)
24 September 1976 - 1 December 1985 (as Fourth Air Force (Reserve))
20 January 1966 - 30 September 1969
18 September 1942 - 1 September 1960 (as Fourth Air Force)
26 March 1941 - 18 September 1942 (as 4 Air Force)
19 October 1940 - 26 March 1941 (as Southwest Air District)
(82 years, 11 months)[1]
Country United States of America
Branch United States Air Force (18 September 1947 – present)
United States Army ( Army Air Forces, 20 June 1941 – 18 September 1947; Army Air Corps 19 October 1940 – 20 June 1941)
TypeNumbered Air Force
RoleProvide combat-ready reserve air mobility and support forces[2]
Part of Air Force Reserve Command
HeadquartersMarch Air Reserve Base, California, U.S.
World War II – American Theater[1]
Air Force Outstanding Unit Award
CommanderBrig Gen Derin S. Durham
Vice CommanderCol Michael M. Moeding
Command ChiefCCM Israel Nuñez
Carroll W. McColpin
Benjamin H. King

4 AF directs the activities and supervises the training of more than 30,000 Air Force Reservists. If called to active duty, 4 AF's ready reserve units would be assigned to Air Mobility Command, Air Education and Training Command, and Pacific Air Forces.[2] Several airfields are associated with the Fourth Air Force.

One of the four original pre–World War II numbered air forces, 4 AF was activated on 18 December 1940, at March Field, California with a mission of air defense of the Southwestern United States and Lower Midwest regions. During the war, its primary mission became the organization and training of combat units prior to their deployment to the overseas combat air forces.

4 AF is commanded by Brigadier General Derin S. Durham.

Units Edit

Fourth Air Force flying units include one unit-equipped air mobility and two unit-equipped airlift wings, five unit-equipped air refueling wings, three associate air mobility wings, two associate airlift wings and one associate air refueling wing.

  • Headquarters, Fourth Air Force, March ARB, California

History Edit

One of the four original numbered air forces, Fourth Air Force was activated as the Southwest Air District of the GHQ Air Force on 18 December 1940, at March Field, California. It was redesignated Fourth Air Force on 26 March 1941 with a mission for the defense of the Southwest and Lower Midwest regions of the United States.

World War II Edit

Fourth Air Force region of the United States, early World War II

During World War II Fourth Air Force was the primary air defense command for the West Coast. The command also flew antisubmarine patrols along coastal areas of the Gulf of Mexico from after Pearl Harbor until October 1942. One of its primary fighter units was the 10th Fighter Wing at Hamilton Field, California.

On 29 September 1942, Rice Municipal Airport located in the Desert Training Center was acquired by the IV Air Support Command, and was operational by 26 October 1942. Re-designated Rice AAF it was used to train pilots and crews of aircraft whose mission it was to support ground troops.

Beginning in May 1942, the mission of Fourth Air Force became operational training of units and crews, and the replacement training of individuals for bombardment, fighter, and reconnaissance operations. It received graduates of Army Air Forces Training Command flight schools; navigator training; flexible gunnery schools and various technical schools, organized them into newly activated combat groups and squadrons, and provided operational unit training (OTU) and replacement training (RTU) to prepare groups and replacements for deployment overseas to combat theaters. The Fourth Air Force became predominantly a fighter OTU and RTU organization. Most P-51 Mustang and P-38 Lightning groups were trained by Fourth Air Force primarily due to the proximity of their manufacturing plants in Southern California. By 1944, most of the Operational Training of groups ended, with the command concentrating on RTU training of individual replacements using Army Air Force Base Units (AAFBU) as training organizations at the airfields controlled by Fourth Air Force.

Air Defense Wings were also organized for the major metropolitan areas along the West Coast, using training units attached to the Wings. By 1944 the likelihood of a full-scale air attack along the West Coast since the bombing of Dutch Harbor two years earlier was remote, and these air defense wings were reduced to paper units.

On 13 December 1944, First, Second, Third and Fourth Air Force were all were placed under the unified command of the Continental Air Forces.

Air Defense Command Edit

In March 1946, USAAF Chief General Carl Spaatz had undertaken a major re-organization of the postwar USAAF that had included the establishment of Major Commands (MAJCOM), who would report directly to HQ United States Army Air Forces. Continental Air Forces was inactivated, and Fourth Air Force was assigned to the postwar Air Defense Command in March 1946 and subsequently to Continental Air Command (ConAC) in December 1948 being primarily concerned with air defense.

The command was headquartered at Hamilton AFB, California and originally assigned the region of the CONUS west of the Rocky Mountains, roughly from the Pacific Ocean coast east to the eastern borders of, and . It was also responsible for training Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard personnel throughout the region.

By 1949 with the establishment of the Western Air Defense Force (WADF), the air defense mission of the command was transferred to WADF, leaving Fourth AF free to focus on its reserve training tasks, which it did for the next decade. On 1 September 1960, Air Defense Command inactivated Fourth Air Force, transferring its reserve training mission to the Sixth Air Force Reserve Region.

Fourth Air Force was re-activated on 20 January 1966 again at Hamilton AFB, as part of Air Defense Command with the inactivation of its organization of Air Defense Sectors. Its area of responsibility was essentially unchanged from its 1948 region. Subordinate organizations assigned by ADC were the 25th 26th and 27th Air Divisions.

On 16 January 1968 Air Defense Command was re-designated Aerospace Defense Command (ADCOM) as part of a restructuring of USAF air defense forces. Fourth Air Force's second period of service was short-lived, however, and the command was again inactivated as the result of a major ADCOM reorganization on 31 December 1969 of the First Fourth, Tenth Air Forces and several Air Divisions. This reorganization was the result of the need to eliminate intermediate levels of command in ADCOM driven by budget reductions and a perceived lessening of the need for continental air defense against attacking Soviet aircraft.

ADCOM reassigned the units under the inactivated Fourth Air Force were reassigned primarily to the 25th and 26th Air Divisions.

Air Force Reserve Edit

The newest Boeing C-17A Globemaster III, 06-6164, arrives at Travis AFB
A KC-135R Stratotanker from the 434th Air Refueling Wing refuels an F-22A from the 1st Fighter Wing, Langley Air Force Base, Virginia

The command remained inactive until 8 October 1976, when it was activated as Fourth Air Force (Reserve) at McClellan Air Force Base, CA, and assigned to the Air Force Reserve. Fourth Air Force has been a key component of the Air Force reserve ever since.

Fourth Air Force personnel supported operations in Grenada (Operation Urgent Fury) and Panama (Operation Just Cause). More than 8,000 Air Force Reservists assigned to Fourth Air Force units served in the United States, Europe, and the Persian Gulf during Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm. This included more than 2,878 medical personnel assigned to Fourth Air Force units.

Since the end of the Cold War, Fourth Air Force has supported humanitarian missions such as Provide Promise in the Balkans and Provide Relief and Restore Hope in Somalia. Units rushed to provide aid and rescue service to the residents of Florida, the Gulf Coast, and the Caribbean in the aftermath of the traumatic and prolonged 1995 hurricane season. It supported immediate assistance to aid victims and disaster officials following the bombing of the Oklahoma City Federal Building. Fourth Air Force units provided assistance for several natural disasters, including the 1994 Northridge earthquake in the Los Angeles area, and the catastrophic midwest floods and the California wildfires in 1993.

Fourth Air Force units routinely support United Nations and Department of State missions. Fourth Air Force people were on the first teams into Haiti for Operation Uphold Democracy, and supported Vigilant Warrior and Desert Thunder deployments to Southwest Asia. The men and women of Fourth Air Force continue to perform international peacekeeping and humanitarian missions on an almost daily basis. Headquarters Fourth Air Force officially returned to its original home, now March Air Reserve Base, in Riverside, CA, in April, 1998.

In 2003 Fourth Air Force became an intermediate echelon responsible primarily for all Air Mobility Command gained AFRC air refueling units in the United States and AMC gained AFRC strategic airlift units in the western United States. Today the sixty person staff consists of Traditional Reservists, Air Reserve Technicians and civilian employees. They direct the activities and supervise the equipping and training of more than 30,000 Air Force reservists in unit programs located across the continental United States, Alaska, Hawaii and Guam. Reservists from 4 AF units were routinely deployed with Air Expeditionary units to fight in the Afghanistan War (2001-2021); the Iraq War (2003-2011); and later anti-ISIS (Daesh) operations.

Lineage Edit

  • Established as Southwest Air District on 19 October 1940
Activated on 18 December 1940
Redesignated: 4 Air Force on 26 March 1941
Redesignated; Fourth Air Force on 18 September 1942
Discontinued, and inactivated on 1 September 1960
  • Activated on 20 January 1966
Organized on 1 April 1966
Inactivated on 30 September 1969
  • Redesignated Fourth Air Force (Reserve) on 24 September 1976
Activated in the Reserve on 8 October 1976
Redesignated Fourth Air Force on 1 December 1985.

Assignments Edit

Stations Edit

Components Edit

Commands Edit

Regions Edit

District Edit

  • 4th Air Reserve District: 1 Dec 1951 – 1 Apr 1954.

Air Divisions Edit

  • 25th Air Division (later, 25th Air): 25 October 1948 – 1 April 1949; 8 July 1949 – 1 August 1950 (detached 10 November 1949 – 1 August 1950); 1 April 1966 – 15 September 1969.
  • 26th Air Division: 1 April 1966 – 30 September 1969.
  • 27th Air Division: 1 April 1966 – 15 September 1969
  • 28th Air Division: 8 December 1949 – 1 August 1950 (detached 1 January – 1 August 1950).

Sectors Edit

Wing Edit

Groups (incomplete) Edit

List of commanders Edit

Fourth Air Force (1940–1960) Edit

No. Commander[1] Term
Portrait Name Took office Left office Term length
Fickel, Jacob E.Major General
Jacob E. Fickel
18 December 19402 April 19421 year, 105 days
Kenney, George C.Major General
George C. Kenney
2 April 194222 July 1942111 days
Giles, Barney M.Major General
Barney M. Giles
22 July 194218 March 1943239 days
Kepner, William E.Major General
William E. Kepner
18 March 19438 July 1943112 days
Lynd, William E.Major General
William E. Lynd
8 July 194314 July 19441 year, 6 days
Parker, James E.Major General
James E. Parker
14 July 19443 January 1945173 days
Strickland, Auby C.Brigadier General
Auby C. Strickland
3 January 194525 January 194522 days
Parker, James E.Major General
James E. Parker
25 January 194519 May 1945114 days
Morris, Edward M.Brigadier General
Edward M. Morris
19 May 19456 July 194548 days
Hale, Willis H.Major General
Willis H. Hale
6 July 19451 November 19472 years, 118 days
Schramm, NedBrigadier General
Ned Schramm
1 November 194720 January 194880 days
Upston, John E.Major General
John E. Upston
20 January 1948c. 30 September 1950c. 2 years, 253 days
Kincaid, Alvan C.Major General
Alvan C. Kincaid
c. 30 September 195015 December 1950c. 76 days
Duncan, Claude E.Colonel
Claude E. Duncan
15 December 195029 January 195145 days
Hall, William E.Major General
William E. Hall
29 January 19518 September 19521 year, 223 days
Kessler, Alfred A.Major General
Alfred A. Kessler
8 September 19521 February 19552 years, 146 days
Northrup, George G.Colonel
George G. Northrup
1 February 19554 February 19553 days
Landry, Robert B.Major General
Robert B. Landry
4 February 195527 June 19572 years, 143 days
Northrup, George G.Colonel
George G. Northrup
27 June 195730 August 195764 days
Smith, SoryMajor General
Sory Smith
30 August 19571 September 19603 years, 2 days

Fourth Air Force (1966–1969) Edit

No. Commander[1] Term
Portrait Name Took office Left office Term length
McColpin, Carroll W.Major General
Carroll W. McColpin
1 April 196623 July 1966113 days
Rouse, John A.Brigadier General
John A. Rouse
23 July 196625 August 196633 days
McColpin, Carroll W.Major General
Carroll W. McColpin
25 August 196630 August 19682 years, 5 days
Burns, Robert W.Major General
Robert W. Burns
30 August 19681 August 1969336 days
Strickland, Eugene L.Brigadier General
Eugene L. Strickland
1 August 196930 September 196960 days

Fourth Air Force (1976–present) Edit

No. Commander[1] Term
Portrait Name Took office Left office Term length
Novaresi, Sidney S.Major General
Sidney S. Novaresi
8 October 1976April 1981c. 4 years, 189 days
Gill, Sloan R.Major General
Sloan R. Gill
April 19811 November 1982c. 1 year, 200 days
Mortensen, Robert G.Brigadier General
Robert G. Mortensen
1 November 19821 May 19852 years, 181 days
Wahleithner, James C.Major General
James C. Wahleithner
1 May 19854 February 19904 years, 279 days
Sherrard, James E.Major General
James E. Sherrard III
4 February 19901 July 19933 years, 147 days
Whaley, Wallace W.Major General
Wallace W. Whaley
1 July 19937 August 20007 years, 37 days
Czekanski, James P.Major General
James P. Czekanski
7 August 20007 September 20033 years, 31 days
Duignan, Robert E.Major General
Robert E. Duignan
7 September 2003c. January 2009c. 5 years, 130 days
Crabtree, Eric W.Major General
Eric W. Crabtree
c. January 2009c. March 2011c. 2 years, 59 days
Kyle, Mark A.Major General
Mark A. Kyle
c. March 2011October 2013c. 2 years, 230 days
Major General
John C. Flournoy Jr.
3 November 20137 February 20173 years, 96 days
Major General
Randall A. Ogden
7 February 20177 April 20203 years, 60 days
Major General
Jeffrey T. Pennington
~7 April 2020August 2022~2 years, 116 days
Brigadier General
Derin S. Durham
10 September 2022Incumbent1 year, 10 days

References Edit

  This article incorporates public domain material from the Air Force Historical Research Agency.

  1. ^ a b c d e Musser, James (7 February 2022). "Fourth Air Force (AFRC)". Air Force Historical Research Agency.
  2. ^ a b "Fourth Air Force Fact Sheet". Fourth Air Force. January 2023.
  • Maurer, Maurer (1983). Air Force Combat Units of World War II. Maxwell AFB, Alabama: Office of Air Force History. ISBN 0-89201-092-4.
  • Ravenstein, Charles A. (1984). Air Force Combat Wings Lineage and Honors Histories 1947–1977. Maxwell AFB, Alabama: Office of Air Force History. ISBN 0-912799-12-9.
  • A Handbook of Aerospace Defense Organization 1946–1980, by Lloyd H. Cornett and Mildred W. Johnson, Office of History, Aerospace Defense Center, Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado
  • Winkler, David F. (1997), Searching the skies: the legacy of the United States Cold War defense radar program. Prepared for United States Air Force Headquarters Air Combat Command.

External links Edit

  • Fourth Air Force Factheet
  • March Field Air Museum Official site
The Museum is located off the grounds of the Base and displays in its aircraft collection examples bombers, fighters, cargo, refueling and reconnaissance aircraft, many of which served at March Field, March AFB and/or March ARB.