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VA Air Guard History
Virginia Air Guard Vanguard Archives
In May 1946, the Pentagon reactivated and redesignated the 328th Fighter Squadron, a heroic WWII unit. The 328th had been organized at Mitchell Field, New York, on Oct. 10, 1942, and saw action in the European theater. The newly designated 149th Fighter Squadron was assigned to the Virginia Air National Guard, which earned official recognition from the National Guard Bureau in June 1947. The 149th Fighter Squadron was entitled to the history, honors, and colors of the 328th.
The unit was called to active federal service on March 1, 1951. This activation temporarily resulted in the dissolution of the Virginia Air National Guard, as members were sent to various places, including for many, duty in the Korean War. The VANG was reorganized in November 1953 as a B-26 bomber outfit. In 1957, the unit was redesignated the 149th Fighter Interceptor Squadron and was scheduled to get F-86E Saber jets. However, later that year, the unit became the 149th Tactical Fighter Squadron, and F-84F Thunderstreaks began replacing the B-26.
At the height of the Cold War in 1961, the squadron was federalized as a result of tensions concerning the Berlin Wall. The squadron remained at Richmond in an active-duty status for about a year before being released. Twenty-two Virginia ANG members were sent to Chaumont AFB, France, in December 1961 to support the 7180th Tactical Fighter Wing, a deployed unit of the 108th Tactical Fighter Wing. They spent eight months in Europe.
In October 1962, the unit was redesignated as the 192nd Tactical Fighter Group, with the 149th TFS becoming the group's flying squadron. Other squadrons assigned into the group were the 192nd Headquarters, 192nd Material Squadron (Maintenance), 192nd Combat Support Squadron, and the 192nd USAF Dispensary.
During 1971, the 192nd was assigned the F-105D Thunderchief, a battle-hardened supersonic fighter-bomber that was the backbone of America's fighter element during the Vietnam War. The group's special tasking during the next 10 years included several deployments to Red Flag live-fire exercises in Nevada and a deployment to RAF Lakenheath, England, in 1976.
In 1981, the unit transitioned to the Vought A-7D Corsair II, a subsonic jet designed primarily for close-air support. The 10-year A-7 era included several deployments, to Ecuador, Norway, and to Panama, in support of the defense of the Panama Canal. A Virginia contingent competed in Gunsmoke '85, the Air Force's tactical fighter competition, and the 192nd was named the world's "Best A-7 Unit." The 192nd also earned the General Spruance Safety Award and was recognized as having had the best Operational Readiness Inspection in the Ninth Air Force during 1985. That string of accomplishments helped the 192nd earn its first USAF Outstanding Unit Award, which was presented in 1987.
On Dec. 20, 1989, the United States unleashed
Operation Just Cause
- the emergency dispatch of U.S. forces to Panama to try to oust Noriega, break up his army and pave the way for democratic elections. The Virginia Air Guard flew 59 Guardsmen and five A-7s to Howard AFB, near Panama City, on Jan. 20, 1990 for its turn in the rotation. The 192nd replaced the Ohio ANG's 180th Tactical Fighter Group, whose A-7 pilots had flown 76 sorties in support of Operation Just Cause. Virginia was to send a similar contingent two weeks later to replace its first group. The Virginia Guard's mission differed from previous ones. Some elements of the Panamanian Defense Forces and the Dignity Battalions were suspected to be at large in provinces, and the 192nd pilots supplied air cover for field operations and air reconnaissance of areas where enemy activity was suspected. Headquarters, 192nd Tactical Fighter Group, and 192nd Consolidated Aircraft Maintenance Squadron later were awarded campaign streamers in recognition of their participation in Operation Just Cause.
The unit soared into a new era of aviation technology in 1991, when it became the first Air National Guard unit to receive the Air Force's upgraded Fighting Falcon, the F-16C/D. The 192nd's designation shortened somewhat during 1992 from 192nd Tactical Fighter Group to 192nd Fighter Group. This change reflected the retirement of the former Tactical Air Command and creation of the multi-role mission of the new Air Combat Command. The unit was initially assigned 24 single-seat F-16C models and two F-16D models. By early 1994, defense cutbacks had reduced the unit's assigned inventory to 18 F-16s, and eventually to only 15 fighter jets.
After the 192nd FG became fully operational with the F-16, it was chosen as the lead unit in a four-state Air National Guard F-16 "rainbow" detachment deployed to Incirlik Air Base, Turkey, to support Operation Provide Comfort II.
During that operation between Dec. 1, 1993, and Jan. 15, 1994, ANG pilots patrolled the no-fly zone over northern Iraq to prevent Iraqi forces from inflicting damage on the villages of Kurdish minorities. This was the first time Air National Guard units had been called to active duty to serve in a peacekeeping role in the Mideast, following Iraq's defeat in 1991. The unit returned to Incirlik in February 1996 for another round of patrols over Iraq.
During October 1995, the 192nd's designation was again slightly modified to reflect unit restructuring within the Air Force and Air National Guard. This time the unit designation was changed from 192nd Fighter Group to 192nd Fighter Wing.
At the direction of the commander of Air Combat Command, in January the 192nd became a test regional repair center for F-16 engines. The 18-month assignment called for the 192nd propulsion section to strip and rebuild General Electric F110-GE-100 engines for its own F-16s as well as for F-16s assigned to Pope AFB, NC. With Pope designated to become a composite wing with several types of aircraft, ACC officials sought more efficient and economical ways of providing maintenance for its F-16 engines. By setting up a regional repair center at the 192nd, the Air Force reduced the number of F-16 maintenance people needed in this region, consolidated their training, reduced duplication of resources and equipment, and lowered maintenance costs per flying hour.
While that project was underway, the 192d was selected to evaluate and bring on line a new, portable reconnaissance pod designed for F-16s to take on the added mission of aerial reconnaissance. Due to the unit's many unique and high profile accomplishments and high-caliber results during an Air Force Quality Assessment during 1996, the wing was awarded its second Air Force Outstanding Unit Award in December of that year.
Iraq remained a thorn in the side of U.S. policy makers as Saddam Hussein defied United Nations efforts to inspect suspected chemical and biological weapons plants. U.S. forces flew regular patrols over both the northern and southern no-fly zones, and the 192nd Fighter Wing assisted.
In April-May 1999, a number of 192nd munitions personnel deployed to Incirlik Air Base, Turkey, with personnel from the Florida Air National Guard to fill critical munitions slots in maintaining the northern no-fly zone. At the same time, personnel from the 192nd Communications Flight, Military Personnel Flight, Security Forces Squadron, Services Squadron and Civil Engineer Squadron deployed to Al Jaber Air Base, Kuwait, to support Air Force contingency activities to guard and protect the southern no-fly zone.
In December 2000, 29 members of the 192d deployed to Southwest Asia and other locations in support of Operation Southern Watch. In addition to Turkey and Kuwait, they were deployed to Prince Sultan Air Base and Eskan Village, Saudi Arabia; Aviano Air Base, Italy; and Qatar.
Also in December 2000, the 192nd was deployed on its first Aerospace Expeditionary Force assignment. A 130-person detachment went to Curacao in the Netherlands Antilles as part of Operation Nighthawk, an effort to stop drug smuggling into the United States. Aside from strictly operational matters, the fighter wing also focused on community support, humanitarian assistance and military heritage.
The pace of activity for the 192nd received a jolt on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, when terrorists hijacked four commercial airliners and used them in major attacks against our country.
The United States' responses to those attacks, Operations Noble Eagle and Enduring Freedom, dominated the 192nd's agenda in the following months. More than 400 unit members were called to active duty for time frames ranging up to two years, marking a period of prolonged intensity at the Air Guard base unmatched since the Berlin call-up of 1961-62.
The wing's home station in Sandston took on the look of an active-duty Air Force base. Beginning in mid-September, combat air patrols were flown day and night for 218 consecutive days until mid-April 2002 for a total of 820 operational sorties and 3,515.5 flying hours.
US efforts to oust Saddam Hussein as Iraqi dictator kept the United States on a war footing in 2003. A coalition of U.S. and British forces invaded Iraq in March, and although President George W. Bush declared military victory on May 1, it was apparent that U.S. forces would maintain a presence in Iraq for some time. In September-October 2003, in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, the 192nd Fighter Wing deployed more than 300 personnel to an undisclosed base in Southwest Asia.
The Security Forces Squadron provided support for a number of CONUS assignments during FY2004. Unit members were sent to Bolling AFB, D.C.; Andrews AFB, MD; Patrick AFB, FL; Charleston AFB, SC; Langley AFB, VA; and Cheyenne Mountain, in Colorado. In addition, fourteen members of the Medical Squadron deployed to the Detroit Receiving Hospital, a level 1 Trauma Center in downtown Detroit. They worked to provide support for those in-residence while completing the final phase of their Nursing Services training plan.
On Jan. 14, 2004, a milestone was reached as the Propulsion section of the 192nd Maintenance Group completed assembly of the 300th jet engine since production started in 1994. As the year unfolded, an emphasis was placed on new mission requirements, and the future of the 192nd FW. Guard members were given news about plans to relocate the unit to nearby Langley AFB as the role of the 192d FW would change and become more complex.
In October, 2005, Lt. Col. Phillip Guy became the first VANG pilot to transition to Langley AFB and fly the new F-22A Raptor in training missions and sorties along side active duty Air Force pilots stationed there. The first two ship flight of VANG piloted F-22A's taking off from Langley AFB was successfully completed by 192nd FW pilots Lt. Col. Guy and Maj. Patrick DeConcini on February 18, 2006. Later in May, active duty personnel and Virginia guardsmen successfully completed tasking of a first ever joint-exercise requirement.
The last Unit Training Assembly was held at Sandston in September, 2007. Remaining base personnel solemnly attended the 'Stand-down' ceremony in the main hanger and watched as the unit flag was rolled-up by Col. Jay Pearsall and then put away. Afterwards a single F-16 took off, turned and passed over the flight deck. The pilot dipped the wings of his jet and made a final fly-by, then continued on to bring the aircraft to its new location. This marked the closing chapter for an era of excellence as the 192nd FW began its future with Langley's 1st Fighter Wing.
On October 13, 2007, the 192nd FW was reactivated in a ceremony held at the 27th Fighter Squadron, Langley AFB. Integration with the active duty 1st FW allows the Air National Guard to be at the forefront of the latest design of fighter craft. Set-up as a classic 'associate wing' the 192nd FW works directly with the 1st FW yet maintains its own unit identity and command structure. It shares in the support of mission requirements for the F-22A Raptor, but does not own any of the aircraft on station.
Members of the VANG have integrated into support and medical groups, and also into the 480th Intelligence Wing. As of October 2007 the 192nd Intel Squadron has grown to approximately 100 members. With ever changing mission requirements needed to combat the Global War on Terror, the Virginia Air National Guard continues to grow in size and strength, in all areas as required.