The 54th Troop Carrier Wing was activated in Australia on 13 May, 1943, and operated as part of the Fifth Air Force.
Prior to creation of the Wing, the 21st and 22nd Transport
Squadrons had been redesignated Troop Carrier Squadrons. Other Troop Carrier
Squadrons joining them were the 6th and the 33rd. All these squadrons were
assigned to the 374th Troop Carrier Group under Lt Col Erickson Nichols.
In December, 1942, when he returned to the states, Col Paul H Prentiss
(later brigadier general) was placed in command.
It was from the 374th Troop Carrier Group that the 54th Troop Carrier Wing was formed, and Col Paul H Prentiss remained in command.
Other groups and squadrons that later served under the 54th Troop Carrier Wing included the 2nd Combat Cargo; the 317th, 375th and 433rd Troop Carrier Squadrons; the 333rd and 415th Signal Companies; the 21st Service Group; and the 804th Medical Air Evacuation Squadron.
The book "Moresby to Manila via Troop Carrier," which was published in Australia in 1945, tells the story of the critical part the 54th played in enabling General MacArthur to return to the Philippines as he pledged to do. The book was edited by Richard Jacobson, Public Relations Officer. It contains many stories and pictures of the various campaigns. It also gives a good picture of how the men lived and worked all those years in the jungles of the Southwest Pacific.
The mission of the Troop Carriers was to fly from forward bases into front-line fields and drop supplies to infantry engaged in battle, and to carry paratroopers to fields of battle.
General George C Kenny, Allied Air Force chief in the Southwest Pacific, said, "The...railroad car of the last war has been replaced by the C-47 airplane...Men, food, munitions, and artillery now go by air...War as waged in New Guinea would be impossible without air transportation."
The 54th Troop Carrier Wing played an essential role in winning the war with Japan. The entire Wing, as well as its individual groups and squadrons, received many letters of commendation for jobs well done, before it was finally inactivated in the Philippines on 31 May, 1946.