The 962nd Airborne Air Control Squadron (962 AACS) is an operational E-3 unit assigned to the 3rd Wing, Elmendorf Air Force Base (AFB), Alaska. It provides responsive employment of the Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) for surveillance, warning, and control in a variety of tactical, strategic, and special mission applications.

    The 962nd Airborne Early Warning and Control Squadron was first activated on July 8, 1955, as a unit of the 551st Airborne Early Warning and Control Wing, with headquarters at Otis AFB, Massachusetts. The squadron, equipped with various models of the propeller-driven C-121 Constellation aircraft, was a unit of the Air Defense Command.

    The 962nd Airborne Early Warning and Control Squadron participated in numerous operations to test the capability and readiness of the early warning system in order to extend radar coverage seaward beyond that provided by land radars. The unit provided navigational and communications assistance to U.S. and allied aircraft crossing the Atlantic Ocean and to units operating near Cape Canaveral, Florida.

    As an operational unit of the 551st Airborne Early Warning and Control Wing from 1955 to 1969, one of the 962nd’s missions was to conduct search and rescue operations. One result of this role was the popularization of search operation patterns used while searching for a missing Navy aircraft in late February 1958.

    The unit was inactivated December 31, 1969. Having been redesignated as the 962nd Airborne Warning and Control Squadron, the unit was reactivated on July 8, 1986, at Elmendorf AFB in support of the Alaskan North American Aerospace Defense (NORAD) Region. A tenant unit of the 21st Tactical Fighter Wing, the 962nd AWACS was assigned to the 552nd Air Control Wing, Tactical Air Command, with headquarters at Tinker AFB, Oklahoma.

    The mission of the 962 AWACS was to provide the 11th Air Force/Alaskan NORAD Region commander with a survivable radar platform that can extend the surveillance coverage of the land-based radar system operated by the Regional Operational Control Center. This enables battle commanders to see a threat at previously undetectable ranges and to position fighters to intercept them before they approach U.S. airspace. Since 1986, the squadron assisted in the interception of 68 Soviet aircraft.

    In October 1992, the squadron was redesignated to the 3rd Wing, Elmendorf AFB, under Pacific Air Forces, and acquired the additional mission of being ready to deploy in support of CINCPACOM. In August 1994, the 962 AWACS was redesignated the 962nd Airborne Air Control Squadron (962 AACS).

    On 22 September 1995, the squadron suffered the worst single accident in the Air force's longest-serving wing.  Yukla 27 rolled for takeoff at 0746 Alaska Standard Time (AST) remaining airborne only 42 seconds due to a massive birdstrike which resulted in catastrophic damage.

    Today, squadron aircrews take part in exercises such as COPE THUNDER, TEAM SPIRIT, GREEN FLAG, and TANDEM THRUST. The squadron has received many accolades, including four Air Force Outstanding Unit Awards, and the Joint Meritorious Unit Award for the period 6 April 91 to 30 April 92.


   Below is a list of former Airborne Early Warning commanders for the 962nd.


Time period

Lt Col Rollin R. Bullinger July 1955-December 1957
Lt Col James A. Harwell December 1957-September 1959
Lt Col Timothy W. Donahue September 1959-September 1960
Lt Col Max Sansing September 1960-June 1962
Maj Thomas L. Overton June 1962-February 1963
Lt Col James A. Geyer February 1963-September 1965
Maj Paul S. Evans September 1965-December 1966
Lt Col Earl E. Putnam December 1966-June 1967
Lt Col Raymond H. Kehl June 1967-December 1969
Lt Col Joseph C Moynihan July 1986-July 1988
Lt Col Thomas A Toops July 1988-August 1990
Lt Col Sammy S. Todd August 1990-August 1992

Lt Col Richard C. Strom

August 1992-February 1994
Lt Col John C. Newsom February 1994-December 1995
Lt Col William L. Carter December 1995-December 1997
Lt Col William R. Macbeth December 1997-Present

    The types of aircraft flown over the years has also varied from bombers to fighters to airborne early warning.

B-24H (1944), B-17G (1944-45), P-51 B/D (1945)

RC-121, RC-121D, EC-121 D/H, TC-121 C/H, EC-121 H, C-121 G/R (1955-69)



       Old Patch     




This information was extracted from http://www.topcover.af.mil/orgs/awacs/history.htm