July 7, 2017 (by SrA Shannon Hall) - Dyess witnessed a historic moment Thursday when the 317th Airlift Group was deactivated and then reactivated as the 317th Airlift Wing under a new wing commander, Col. David Owens.
Airmen, Abilene civic leaders and family members attend the 317th AW activation ceremony at Dyess AFB on July 6, 2017. Dyess now hosts two wings in support of the bomber and airlift missions. [USAFphoto by SrA Austin Mayfield]
The 317th AG's scope and size warranted its designation as an operational wing as it continuously generates and employs C-130J Super Hercules combat power. The redesignation will greatly improve leadership and resource management.
Owens took command of the 317th AG before it was deactivated and then activated as the 317th Airlift Wing. Prior to this assignment, Owens was the 62nd Operations Group commander at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash. Owens ensured the combat readiness of approximately 800 authorized personnel, four C-17 Globemaster III airlift squadrons and an operations support squadron to conduct all aspects of C-17 operations to include mission planning, command and control, life support, airfield operations and much more. Today he commands the largest C-130J unit in the world.
"I'm super excited to be a part of Team Dyess today, and I look forward to continuing the teamwork. It's going to be fantastic," Owens t during the activation ceremony. "From the day I found out I was coming here I received phone calls and emails about you. About how awesome the 317th maintenance and ops are. You are the leaders in of the C-130 community."
Lt. Gen. Giovanni Tuck, 18th Air Force commander, presided over the ceremony. He said this activation comes at just the right time.
"It is a really big deal that we're here," Tuck said. "The significance of today's activation has been in the works for some time. In future conflicts, we need to be prepared. And you need look no further than Dyess Air Force Base and the partnership we have with the 7th Bomb Wing. We will need to operate transregionally, across all domains. It will involve coalitions and be international. Standing up this wing at this time when our nation needs it couldn't be timed more perfectly."
The newly activated 317th Operations Group, commanded by Col. James Hackbarth and the 317th Maintenance Group, commanded by Col. William Maxwell, Jr., will fall under the new 317th AW. The wing also includes nine staff agencies with approximately 1,100 authorized personnel.
With the activation of the 317th AW comes new challenges, but more importantly it's a new beginning to continue its dedicated partnership with the 7th BW and Abilene community, Owens said.
"Today we will continue to project rapid global mobility to wherever we are sent around the world. I am humbled to be a part of you and I am honored to be your wing commander," Owens said. "The Owens family looks forward to serving with you and for you."
The 317th AG began its journey during World War II in San Antonio, Texas. It was deactivated in 1942 at Pope Air Force Base, N.C., and in 1997 was reactivated here, under Air Mobility Command. During its 20 years of service, the 317th AG has earned six Meritorious Unit Awards and ten Air Force Outstanding Unit Awards.