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314th AW: How LRAFB became 'Home of Herk Nation'

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Kristine M. Gruwell
  • 19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

The C-130 has a legacy dating back to World War II when the C-47 Skytrain was used to airlift supplies to troops during the war. Lessons learned from the C-47 informed the design of what would become the C-130. Almost 80 years later and after constant improvements to the airframe, the Herk is still being utilized for numerous missions across the Air Force and around the world.

Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas, is known as the ‘Home of Herk Nation’ and is steeped in mobility heritage. Regardless of component, total force pilots, loadmasters and maintainers assigned to the C-130 all complete initial training at the 314th Airlift Wing, creating a center of gravity for combat airlift.  

“Airmen always remember their original training function, so this being the original training function for the entire C-130 enterprise, Herk Nation really does start here,” said Ben Herrington, 314th AW historian.

In 1970, the 64th Tactical Airlift Wing arrived at Little Rock AFB as the host unit, bringing the first C-130 as both a training function and operational function for Combat Airlift. Before completing a full year, the 64th TAW was de-activated and replaced by the 314th TAW returning from Taiwan where they were supporting U.S. military operations in Vietnam.

The 314th TAW became the 314th AW in 1991 and was transferred across multiple major commands over the course of approximately 30 years. Despite having numerous operational squadrons, the 314th AW’s primary mission was training aircrew for the C-130. As such, it was finally nested under Air Education and Training Command in 1997.

In 2008, Air Mobility Command assumed all operational components of the 314th AW, which led to the activation of the 19th Airlift Wing the current host unit of Little Rock AFB.

Regardless of the many changes to the base structure, the 62nd Airlift Squadron, the only flying squadron in the 314th AW, has remained the constant foundation for training pilots and loadmasters in excellence.

“Having training here for almost 50 years means everyone flying the Herk came through this wing and this squadron,” Herrington said. “Everyone who flies a Herk or has flown one are all tied together in Herk Nation through the 62nd Airlift Squadron.”

Every person who comes through the doors of the 314th AW walks beneath the words “We are Herk Nation” as they begin their career.

“Our mission is to create the best combat-minded C-130 professionals, and as we do that we are going to grow this nation of people,” said U.S. Air Force Col. Stephen Hodge, 314th AW commander. “This gives us a chance to find some common ground in which to grow and include others as we work with joint and international partners.”