The Fighting Sixth: a century of excellence

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Shannon Bowman

Sept. 30 marks 100 years of service for the unit presently designated the 6th Air Mobility Wing.  Though the unit’s missions, locations and designations have changed over the last century, its commitment to the nation remained unwavered. 


According to Stephen Ove, the 6th AMW historian, the Sixth’s ability to adapt to the constant change of the Air Force has allowed the unit to cement its position as one of history’s most renowned wings.


“Air Force operations are established and modified based upon the needs of the United States,” said Ove. “The Sixth has continuously evolved for over 100 years and has helped the Air Force continue to meet its objectives.” 


Originally established as the 3rd Observation Group by the U.S. Army Air Service Sept. 30, 1919, the unit was redesignated as the 6th Observation Group in 1921 and has held its lineage with the Sixth, ever since.  The Sixth was among the first units activated when the Air Service expanded from squadrons into group level command. Then again when the newly independent Air Force expanded into wing level command, again the Sixth was among the first wings activated. This allowed the Sixth to share the heritage and bestowed honors of its predecessors.


As one of the Air Force’s original combat groups, and through its history, the Sixth has distinguished itself for dynamically delivering airpower, whenever and wherever it was needed, explained Ove.


“From defending the Panama Canal, to becoming one of the nation’s premier bombardment groups, to providing strategic reconnaissance and deterrence, to supporting airlift and refueling, the Sixth has served in dozens of different capacities all over the planet,” said Ove.  “The name the “Fighting Sixth” has truly been earned through the unit’s readiness to step up to the fight, and by doing whatever it takes to support the Air Force.”


The sixth has been active through every major U.S. conflict since World War I and has stood ready to do what’s necessary to ensure mission success for the Air Force and the security of the nation.


“The Sixth has built a legacy of excellence over the course of 100 years,” said Col. Steve Snelson, the 6th AMW commander. “No matter the mission, no matter the designation, we will continue to carry on the Fighting Sixth’s legacy to win any fight, at any time.”