The history of the 502d Air Base Wing traces its roots as far back as the inception of Maxwell Air Force Base, which originally started with a plot of land used by Orville and Wilbur Wright who taught a civilian flying school in Montgomery, Alabama, in 1910.
When the U.S. entered World War I in 1917, the Army Air Service established an Aircraft and Engine Repair Depot, which became Maxwell Field in 1922.
In November 1947, the 502d Air University Wing was activated as the host unit at Maxwell Field. On Jan. 13, 1948, Maxwell Field became Maxwell Air Force Base.
On July 28, 1948, Air University replaced the 502d Air University Wing with the 3800th Air University Wing. On Oct. 1, 1992, Air University inactivated the 3800th Air Base Wing and replaced it with the newly activated 502d Air Base Wing. On July 1, 1993, Air University became a subordinate component of Air Education and Training Command.
On Oct. 1, 1994, the Air Force inactivated the 502d ABW and redesignated the 42nd Bombardment Wing.
In August 2009, the 502d ABW reactivated at JBSA-Fort Sam Houston to provide installation support to Joint Base San Antonio, which encompassed JBSA-Fort Sam Houston, -Lackland, -Randolph, -Camp Bullis and other DOD locations in and around San Antonio.
On Jan. 31, 2010, the 502d ABW achieved initial operating capability with the activation of the 802d Mission Support Group and inactivation of the 37th Training Wing’s 37th Mission Support Group at JBSA-Lackland; and the activation of the 902d Mission Support Group and inactivation of the 12th Flying Training Wing’s 12th Mission Support Group at JBSA-Randolph. At the same time, the USAF Band of the West was reassigned from the 37th TRW to the 502d ABW.
Initial operating capability at JBSA-Fort Sam Houston and -Camp Bullis followed April 30, 2010, when the wing assumed base support activities from the U.S. Army Garrison at Fort Sam Houston with the activation of the 502d Mission Support Group.
On Oct. 1, 2010, Joint Base San Antonio achieved full operational capability.
Each mission support group consisted of civil engineer, communications, comptroller, contracting, force support, logistics readiness, and security forces squadrons, and provided mission support at its location carrying the numerical designation of its parent group. In addition to these, the 802d Operational Support Squadron was assigned to the 802d MSG to support flying operations at JBSA-Lackland and Kelly Annex; and a trainer development office was assigned to the 902d MSG to design, develop, fabricate, assemble, modify, repair, refurbish and maintain training equipment in support of the command-wide AETC training mission.
In Fiscal Year 2012, the 502d ABW initiated a reorganization of the wing and its subordinate units along functional lines in order to better execute the installation support mission of JBSA. On Dec. 3, 2013, the reorganization came to fruition.
The 802d and 902d MSGs were inactivated. The 502d Installation Support Group and 502d Security Forces and Logistics Support Group were activated at JBSA-Lackland and JBSA-Randolph, respectively, and the 502d MSG at Fort Sam Houston was redesignated as the 502d Force Support Group.
The squadrons assigned to 802d and 902d MSGs, with the exception of the Security Forces Squadrons and the 802d Force Support Squadron, were inactivated. The squadrons assigned to the 502d MSG remained active, and the 502d Civil Engineer Squadron and 502d Communications Squadron were reassigned to the 502d ISG.
The 502d Logistics Readiness and Security Forces Squadrons were assigned to the 502d Security Forces and Logistics Support Group along with the 802d and 902d Security Forces Squadrons. The 502d Force Support Squadron remained under the newly redesignated 502d FSG, paired with the 802d Force Support Squadron. The 502d Comptroller and Contracting Squadrons were assigned directly to the wing.
Rounding out the transformation, the 502d Trainer Development Squadron was activated and assigned to the 502d Security Forces and Logistics Support Group, assuming the mission of the Trainer Development Section of the inactivated 802d MSG; and the 502d Operations Support Squadron was activated and assigned to the 502d ISG, assuming the mission of the inactivated 802d Operations Support Squadron.
In 2018, the JBSA and 502d ABW commander implemented another reorganization of the wing, groups and squadrons. Although the executive agents and their groups remained in place, the 502d FSG, which consisted of the 502d and 802d Force Support Squadrons, expanded its capabilities by adding the 502d FSG/Judge Advocate and Garrison Chaplaincy, to include oversight and governance of Camp Bullis.
The 502d ISG, consisting of the 502d Communications Squadron and 502d Operations Support Squadron, increased its scope of responsibility by gaining the 502d Logistics Readiness Squadron, Training Development Squadron and the ISG/JA, while losing the 502d Civil Engineering Squadron to the Civil Engineering Group.
The 502d Security Forces Logistic Support Group, and later the Security & Readiness Group, was renamed the 502d Security Forces Group, which continued to retain responsibility of the 502d Security Forces Squadron, 802d SFS and 902d SFS, while gaining the 502d SFG/JA. The 502d LRS and TDS were reassigned under the 502d ISG.
The wing added the 502d CEG to its support units, activated Sept. 1, 2018, consisting of the 502d, 802d and 902d CES. The JBSA 502d ABW also restructured the Wing Staff Agency which aligned with the organizational group structure, consisting of JBSA programs, P4 and Encroachment.
As of 2021, the present organizational structure remains.