The 54th Air Refueling Squadron traces its lineage to the constitution of the 54th Transport Squadron on May 30, 1942, and its activation June 1st of that year.
As is typical of many Air Force units, several name changes occurred over the years. That first name lasted only a month, when it was re-designated as the 54th Troop Carrier Squadron July 4, 1942. On July 20, 1948, the unit became known as the 54th Troop Carrier Squadron (Heavy) and it was renamed the 54th Flying Training Squadron on April 14, 1972.
The 54th was originally based at Hamilton Field, Calif., but moved to Bowman Field, Ky., in June 1942. Successive reassignments were to Florence, S.C., in August 1942 and to Elmendorf Field, Alaska, until deactivation March 5, 1949. That deactivation lasted only six months and on September 20, 1949, the unit was activated again at Elmendorf, remaining in service until June 25, 1965.
The squadron moved from Alaska to Donaldson Air Force Base, S.C., in July 1956, until deactivation in 1965. While there the 54th deployed to Rhein-Main Air Base, Germany, to support the Berlin Airlift.
On April 14, 1972, the 54th received a new mission and name. It became the 54th Flying Training Squadron, and was reassigned to Reese Air Force Base, Texas, with an official activation date of October 1st. Here personnel trained new pilots in the T-38 until the 54th was once again deactivated in April of 1997.
The 54th Air Refueling Squadron was reactivated at Altus Air Force Base, Okla., January 16, 1998 where it remains today. The 54th Air Refueling Squadron is the sole Air Education and Training Command KC-135R flying training squadron and provides KC-135R initial and advanced flight qualification. As the tanker Formal Training Unit (FTU), the squadron's mission continues to encompass the training of all active duty, guard, reserve and international KC-135 crew members. Over 100 elite aircrew instructors and support staff execute a $84 million, 7,721 hour flying program to train 892 pilot and boom operator students annually for Department of Defense and international customers.