119th Fighter Wing [119th FW]
The 119th Fighter Wing, also known as the "Happy Hooligans," began operations with the F-51D in 1947. On April 1, 1951, the Hooligans were mobilized for federal service and ordered to active duty during the Korean conflict.
Happy Hooligan pilots flew the F-51D until 1954, the F-94 A/C from 1954-60, the F-89D/J from 1960-66, the F-102A from 1966-69 and the F-101B from 1969-77.
In 1977, the Hooligans began flying the F-4D Phantom, accumulating more than 51,000 hours from 1977 to 1990 without a Class A mishap. Since converting to the F-16A in April 1990, the Hooligans have flown an additional 30,000 accident-free flight hours.
Air Defense alert has been a major part of the North Dakota Air National Guard's tasking since September of 1953. The unit provided alert coverage at Fargo, with either two or four aircraft continuously on status, until March 1990 when home station alert was discontinued. A permanent alert detachment at Kingsley Field, Oregon, was assigned to the 119th beginning October 1, 1989. The detachment, staffed by 18 members, was relocated to March Air Force Base, California, in July of 1994.
The first overseas deployment of the North Dakota Air Guard occurred in 1983, with six F-4s and 120 support personnel deploying to Keflavik, Iceland. Eight Russian TU-95 Bear bombers were intercepted by Hooligan pilots during the deployment. In 1986, the 119th Fighter Group became the first core unit to assume the USAF Zulu alert mission at Ramstein Air Base, Germany. Referred to as "Creek Klaxon", the 119th and other Air Defense units stood continuous alert for one year, providing air sovereignty in Europe for NATO. During Desert Storm, 107 Happy Hooligans were mobilized and deployed in support of operations at numerous CONUS locations. The C-130 support aircraft assigned to the North Dakota Air National Guard and aircrew also provided stateside airlift of crucial, war-related personnel and equipment to support Desert Storm.
The unit has amassed a nearly insurmountable record. Most recently...the Hooligans earned first place at the October 1994 William Tell competition, a worldwide weapons meet which tests pilots and ground crews from the U.S. Air Force's top units in realistic, air-to-air combat situations. This was the Hooligans third William Tell victory, winning in 1970, 1972, and 1994, in addition to placing first among F-4 William Tell units in 1986.
In 1994 the NDANG won the prestigious Hughes Trophy which recognizes the most outstanding air-to-air unit in the U.S. Air Force. The only Air National Guard unit to win the award twice, the Hooligans are also the only F-16 unit to ever win the Hughes Trophy.
The 119th FW has earned seven Air Force Outstanding Unit Awards. This includes four consecutive periods covering April 1990 through July 1995.
The announcement was made in March 1999 that the 119th Fighter Wing would convert from an air defense mission to a general purpose mission with 15 F-16A/B aircraft while activating an alert detachment at Langley AFB, VA.
In its 2005 BRAC Recommendations, DoD recommended to realign Hector International Airport Air Guard Station, ND. The 119th Fighter Wing's F-16s (15 aircraft) would retire. The wing's expeditionary combat support elements would remain in place. Hector (125) ranked low in military value. The reduction in F-16 force structure and the need to align common versions of the F-16 at the same bases argued for realigning Hector to allow its aircraft to retire without a flying mission backfill.
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