MACDILL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. --
Members of MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, welcome home the 50th Air Refueling Squadron, one of the most decorated units in Air Force history, during an assumption of command ceremony Oct. 2, 2017.
The 50th Red Devils were born in Tampa Bay during a time of war in 1942, five years before the Air Force was established, and have been recognized for their meritorious service ever since.
“I tell people the 50th is ranked number five in the Air Mobility Command and top 50 in the Air Force, so they can wrap their minds around the fact that this is not just another unit, this is the 50th AS!” exulted Stephen Ove, the historian of the 6th Air Mobility Wing. “Within a year of being activated, they were involved in the largest amphibious invasion for the U.S. at that time, which was the invasion of Sicily, as a part of the Army Air Corps.”
For the Red Devils, that was just the beginning, as they have been present in every major engagement in 21st century American military history.
“It has been continuously involved in humanitarian relief operations, Desert Shield, Desert Storm, Afghanistan, Vietnam, Korea, and World War II,” added Ove. “It has such a huge history and I can’t talk enough about it.”
With the relocation from Little Rock AFB, Arkansas, the 50th AS is being re-designated as the 50th Air Refueling Squadron and will swap airframes from the C-130 Hercules transport aircraft to the KC-135 Stratotanker aerial refueling aircraft. The 50th ARS will fall under command of Lt. Col. Ricardo Lopez as a part of the 6th Operations Group.
“I had the honor to deploy under the 50th’s leadership during my days as a C-130 Hercules pilot,” said Lopez. “I personally witnessed their professionalism, aviation expertise, excellence, and pride. I really admired them and wanted to join their ranks and even though I didn’t get to join the ‘Fighting Five-O’, I now have the honor and responsibility to stand-up and command the 50th Air Refueling Squadron.”
Lopez’s goals for the squadron are to make the transition as smooth as possible for the 250-plus incoming Airmen and their families and to ensure they continue the pattern of excellence set by the previous Red Devils.
“Opening a new squadron is extremely challenging and I don’t want my Airmen to feel that burden,” said Lopez. “I want to integrate our operations with the 91st and 63rd ARS quickly, because together, we will make Team MacDill an air refueling powerhouse.”
By expanding the 6th AMW’s refueling capabilities, this addition will boost our nation’s global reach for the U.S. Armed Forces as a whole. MacDill is proud to continue the prestigious heritage of the 50th.
“I am humbled for this new opportunity and I can’t wait to see the Red Devils back in the air taking care of our nation’s business,” concluded Lopez.