Savannah Guard Dawgs

Savannah Air National Guard Base is home of the 165th Airlift Wing/158th Airlift Squadron. This Georgia Air National Guard unit operates the C-130H Hercules cargo plane to carry out its mission: global air transportation of equipment and supplies during times of war and for peacetime training exercises. This includes providing safe, comfortable and reliable transportation of military personnel or dignitaries anywhere in the world. Additional missions include Command and Control, Air Support Operations and Tactical Air Control Party. The nickname of the 158th is Savannah Guard Dawgs.

The unit resides at Hilton Head International Airport, a commercial and military-use airport, located just 13 km northwest of Savannah’s Historic District. The military part of the airport was originally named Travis Field and became home of the 165th on 10 July 1958. At first the 165th was a fighter unit, flying the F-86 Sabre, and after a reorganization in 1962 it transitioned to the airlift mission. In the following decades it operated the C-97 Stratofreighter, C-124 Globemaster and C-130 Hercules.

165th AW missions
A typical 165th AW flying mission difference a bit from the active duty airlift units. The 165th mostly flies two ship tactical airdrop missions. They practice low level airdrops for a few runs, some patrols and go back to base in less than two hours. Active duty units make longer missions with more crews on board, so they change crew during the mission. Landing on rough strips is another skill the wing often practices, and which requires great skill from the pilots. The 165th also performs a lot of ‘Guard-Lift’: when a unit is going on an exercise somewhere in the US, their equipment and maintenance gear is being moved by them. But of course the unit does also deploy outside the US to perform its missions.

Our full report can be found in the April 2016 issue of Combat Aircraft Monthly,