145th Airlift Wing [145th AW]
On 8 December 1942, as part of the rapidly expanding United States Army Air Corps, the 360th Fighter Squadron was formed and assigned to the 1st Air Force. On 24 May 1946, at the end of World War II, the 360th Fighter Squadron was redesignated the 156th Fighter Squadron and allocated to the National Guard.
On 15 March 1948, almost two years later, the 156th Fighter Squadron was extended federal recognition and the North Carolina Air National Guard was born. The 156th Fighter Squadron was the largest unit assigned to the North Carolina Air National Guard at that time. The 156th Fighter Squadron's mission aircraft was the P-47 Thunderbolt. At the time of federal recognition, the 156th Fighter Squadron had three units attached to it. They were the 156th Weather Station, 156th Utility Flight, and the 218th Service Detachment. In August 1948, the North Carolina Air National Guard increased in size when the 118th Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron was organized to man eight radar stations. These radar stations were located in Charlotte, Badin, and Wadesboro, North Carolina. The 118th Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron was the forerunner of the 263rd Combat Communications Squadron located in Badin, NC.
In December 1949, the 156th Fighter Squadron replaced its P-47 Thunderbolt with the faster P-51 Mustang fighter.
When the Korean Conflict broke out in July of 1950, units of the North Carolina Air National Guard were all alerted for and subsequently called to active duty. The 156th Fighter Squadron was assigned to the 123rd Fighter Bomber Wing and was transferred from Charlotte to Godman Air Force Base near Louisville, Kentucky. During the next 13 months, approximately 25% of the unit's officers and 15% of its airmen were assigned to Korea as individual replacements.
The 123rd Fighter Bomber Wing and the 156th Fighter Bomber Wing were equipped with F-84 Thunderjet fighters. In November 1951, they were transferred to Manston Royal Air Force Station in southeastern England. During this time period, a number of personnel from the 156th Fighter Squadron were reassigned to Korea. In July 1952, the 156th Fighter Squadron was returned from active service and re-established as part of the North Carolina Air National Guard. The unit was assigned an air defense mission and was under the operational control of the Air Defense Command. Although personnel came back after the Korean call up, their jets were left in active service and the unit was re-equipped with the P-51 Mustang fighter.
While the unit was on active duty, the National Guard Bureau started work on extending the main runway at Charlotte's Municipal Airport by 2,500 feet with a parallel taxiway. When this project was completed, the main runway had been extended to 7,500 feet and could accommodate jet aircraft.
In the fall of 1952, personnel assigned to the 118th Aircraft and Warning Squadron were released from active service. However, many of their personnel returned to duty with the 156th Fighter Squadron. Many of these personnel, subsequently became members of the 263rd Communications Squadron in Badin or Wadesboro, North Carolina. The 118th Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron was not returned to state control after the Korean War.
In October 1953, the 156th Fighter Squadron received its first jet. The T-33 Shooting Star trainer. In January 1954, the first F-86A Sabrejet arrived opening the jet age for the North Carolina Air National Guard and Charlotte's Douglas Municipal Airport. The ever expanding North Carolina Air National Guard found itself outgrowing its facilities. Most of the buildings on base were old, non-permanent, World War II structures. These buildings were used by the Third Air Force of the old Army Air Corps during World War II.
In July 1955, a change in designation from fighter-bomber to fighter-interceptor took place. Early in 1956, the North Carolina Air National Guard announced plans to build a parallel runway. This project was completed in 1957. Additional improvements were made that same year including repaving the main runway and repainting the entire runway with all-weather markings. Additional improvements that year included completion of a Motor Service Shop and plans were drawn up to construct an Operations and Training Building.
By July 1957, the North Carolina Air National Guard, known as the 145th Fighter Group had the following units assigned to it; the 156th Fighter Squadron, 145th Material Squadron, 145th Airbase Squadron, and the 145th USAF Dispensary. The 145th Fighter Group and it's subordinate units were all assigned to the 123rd Fighter Interceptor Wing.
In October 1957, the 156th Fighter Squadron converted to F-86E Sabrejets. Meanwhile, the 156th Fighter Squadron was assigned to the Air Defense Command (ADC) and stood regular runway alerts for them. Under the operational control of active ADC Control Centers, 156th Fighter Squadron pilots scrambled day and night to check out unknown aircraft and violations of restricted flying areas such as the Atomic Energy facilities at Oak Ridge, Tennessee and the Savannah River project.
In March 1959, the 156th Fighter Squadron converted to the F-86L Sabrejet all-weather fighter. This aircraft was designed for air defense and gave the North Carolina Air National Guard it's first rocket-firing aircraft. In October 1960, the mission of the 145th Fighter Group changed from air defense to aeromedical transport. Along with a new mission came a new name; the 145th Fighter Group became the 145th Aeromedical Transport Group.
In January 1961, the North Carolina Air National Guard received its first C-119C Flying Boxcar and the unit was transferred to the Military Air Transport Service (which later became the Military Airlift Command).
The new medical mission required a number of new facilities such as nurse's quarters and a training hospital. In 1962, the North Carolina Air National Guard remodeled many of it's facilities. An extensive education and recruiting campaign was launched for medical personnel and the unit took on and trained over 30 nurses and 60 flying medical technicians. That same year, the 145th received eight C-121 Super Constellations to replace the C-119 because it was not ideally suited for aeromedical service.
In January 1964, the North Carolina Air National Guard's mission emphasis changed from aeromedical to air transport. The 145th Aeromedical Transport Group became the 145th Air Transport Group (Heavy) and was assigned a global transport mission which would eventually send North Carolina Air National Guard crews and airplanes around the world.
The new mission brought only minor training changes. Flight Traffic specialists were retrained as loadmasters and an Airlift Command Post took over the Aeromedical Evacuation Center as the "nerve center" of the North Carolina Air National Guard.
On 31 July 1965, the North Carolina Air National Guard was selected to fly the first Air National Guard "live" aeromedical airlift evacuation mission. In January 1966, the Military Air Transport Service became the Military Airlift Command and all heavy transport units were redesignated as military airlift units.
In January 1966, the 145th Air Transport Group (Heavy) became the 145th Military Airlift Group. During this period, a typical month for the North Carolina Air National Guard meant at least five trips to Europe and one to Southeast Asia. The 145th Military Airlift Group now had a worldwide airlift mission, with a secondary aeromedical evacuation mission.
In November 1966, the 145th Military Airlift Group received orders to prepare for a new aircraft, the C-124 Globemaster. In April 1967, the C-121 Super Constellations were phased out after nearly five years of operations with the unit. North Carolina Air National Guard crews logged 22,546 hours in the versatile C-121 flying support for the Army, Air Force, and Army National Guard throughout the United States and the world.
A major improvement in the effort to modernize the base facilities was the completion of a new C-124 Nose Dock and maintenance facilities, removing an old World War II hangar, construction of a new ramp and additional parking areas. This project started in 1967 and was completed in 1968 at a cost of over one million dollars.
In April 1967, the North Carolina Air National Guard made its first C-124 flight to Cam Rahn Bay, Vietnam. Between January 1964 when the unit was designated the 145th Air Transport Group (Heavy) and then redesignated the 145th Tactical Airlift Group in May 1971, the unit accomplished a great deal. They airlifted over 23 million ton miles of cargo, 18 1/2 million passenger miles, 1.1 million patient miles, and over 11 million miles with a safety record of over 65,000 hours without an aircraft accident. In 1968, the North Carolina Air National Guard received the 10-year flying safety award.
Early in 1971, the 145th Tactical Airlift Group was advised that they would be changing their mission once again. They would no longer be assigned to the Military Airlift Command. Their headquarters would be the Tactical Airlift Command and they would be equipped with the C-130B Hercules aircraft. The unit immediately started making plans for the conversion and slowly decreased the number of overseas missions. The C-124 was flown 23,028 hours to over 51 countries or locations, airlifting vitally needed cargo and supplies. The last C-124 trip to Vietnam was flown in February 1971 while the last overseas trip under the Military Airlift Command was to Taiwan in April 1971. The last C-124 departed the base on 14 July 1971.
On 11 May 1971, the first C-130B Hercules transport plane arrived to start another new era for the North Carolina Air National Guard. The 145th Military Airlift Group was the first Air National Guard unit to receive the C-130B aircraft and it's flight simulator. This aircraft was the mainstay of the Air Force in Vietnam.
During 1972 and 1973, crews and planes from the 145th began to fly missions in support of the Tactical Airlift Command's mission. Among these missions were "live" drops of airborne troops for exercises in the United States and Puerto Rico. The North Carolina Air National Guard airlifted military personnel and equipment as it became a full-fledged partner on the Tactical Airlift Command team. By 1973, 145th crews had acquired world wide capability to airlift and airdrop personnel and equipment anywhere in the world, on very short notice.
Since the end of the Vietnam War, the federal role of the North Carolina Air National Guard has been two-fold: (1) maintain a constant state of combat readiness in event of a national mobilization and (2) provide the Air Force with day-to-day support of its' worldwide mission. In accomplishing the latter, the North Carolina Air National Guard routinely provides personnel and aircraft to the Air Force for worldwide deployment.
In December 1974, the Military Airlift Command was assigned the responsibility of tactical airlift and the North Carolina Air National Guard fell under their control. One Military Airlift Command mission the 145th Tactical Airlift Group accomplished was "Volant Oak" which supported the US Southern Command in Panama. The unit also participated in "Operation Sandbag". The 145th airlifted sandbags and supplies from Charlotte to Grand Forks, North Dakota for flood control.
North Carolina Air National Guard personnel have participated in many major military exercises and missions such as "Bold Eagle", "Red Flag", Solid Shield", "Gallant Eagle", and "Volant Oak". In June 1986, the unit deployed to Europe for "Sentry Tarheel". The unit deployed over 672 men and women to Torrejon Air Base in Spain, Ramstein Air Base in Germany, and to Pisa Air Base and Aviano Air Base in Italy. The unit flew 170 airland sorties, 49 tactical sorties, flew 538.2 hours, air dropped 1,855 Italian paratroopers, and 21.7 tons of cargo. The exercise was highlighted by airlifting the United States Air Forces in Europe transportable hospital from Torrejon Air Base, Spain to Aviano Air Base, Italy for a major pre-planned exercise. This was the first time the hospital had ever been deployed.
In 1985 and 1987, the aircraft of this unit were extremely busy supporting disaster relief in the United States. During September of 1985 the 145th Airlift Wing provided help to those recovering from Hurricane Gloria and in 1987, the 145th transported tons of hay to the farmers in the Midwest. A severe drought had reduced the feed supply for live stock an many cattle were on the verge of starvation before the haylift helped stove off the disaster.
During 1990 and 1991, 193 members of the 145th Tactical Airlift Group and the 263rd Combat Communications Squadron deployed in support of Operation Desert Shield/Storm. The 156th Aeromedical Evacuation Flight was one of the first Air National Guard units called up in support of Operation Desert Shield. Medical personnel from this unit were deployed the first week of the operation and subsequent deployments kept members of the 156th Aeromedical Evacuation Flight in theater until the end of Operation Desert Storm. Their mission consisted of airlifting and providing medical care for allied soldiers and Iraqi POWs.
The 263rd Combat Communications Squadron deployed in support of Operation Desert Shield. After deploying to Saudi Arabia, they played a vital role in the war by providing critical telephone communication switching for the Marine Corps Headquarters. Other members of the North Carolina Air National Guard performed many duties in support of Operation Desert Storm from airlifting equipment and supplies within the continental United States, to backfilling Air Force bases for deployed active duty personnel.
Since 1972, members of Chapter 7, ANG NCO Academy Graduates Association, have annually hosted Operation Santa Claus for physically/mentally handicapped, senior citizens, disadvantaged children, and disabled veterans. Air National Guard members and their families have annually raised 3 to 5 thousand dollars for food, clothing, fuel oil, and toys for small children, senior citizens, and disabled veterans.
In September 1993, the NCANG began the STARBASE program which is a youth program focusing on science, math, drug demand reduction, and goal setting skills. Fifth grade students attend five complete days of study and team building activities at the North Carolina Air National Guard (NCANG) base using a STARBASE staff and volunteer NCANG members who instruct, assist, and serve as positive role models. From 1993 through 1995, over 2,000 students have participated.
On Thursday, 5 September 96, Hurricane Fran slammed into the coast of North Carolina with devastating winds that caused massive damage to the state as far inland as Raleigh. Within hours, the North Carolina Air National Guard was providing manpower, generators, and aircraft to support the people of this state. Approximately, 35 generators with operators were dispatched into the hardest hit areas to provide power to emergency management offices, police stations, and hospitals. Aircraft were pressed into service to move Army Guard personnel and their equipment to quickly get them into the affected areas. Air National Guard personnel manned operations centers, built tent cities for the Army Guard, and cooked over a thousand meals a day for the Department of Transportation.
The 145th Airlift Wing is one of only four units in the United States Air Force equipped and trained to provide airborne fire fighting suppression. Since 1985, this unit has spent weeks each year working with the U.S. Forest Service combating woodland fires when life and property are at risk. During 1996, we sent two aircraft, crews, and maintenance personnel to California for nearly a month. 1993 was a busy year as two aircraft supported the Yellow Stone fires and were deployed for a total of 79 days. The Governor of North Carolina can also activate this mission because North Carolina is one of only two states that has a formal agreement with the U.S. Forest Service permitting this. The 145th Airlift Wing has in fact been mobilized for state fires on several occasions in both the eastern and western parts of the state.
When President Clinton sent troops into the former Yugoslavia to help bring peace to the area, a massive logistic supply line had to be developed. The support for twenty thousand troops required an extensive amount of transportation, done with the use of trains and aircraft. The Air Force fulfilled this air requirement from December 1995 until March 1996 when the Air National Guard and Air Force Reserves assumed the mission. The North Carolina Air National Guard became the designated lead unit for the Air National Guard and took command of the operation from early April 1996 until the end of May that same year. During that time, this composite unit flew nearly 1100 sorties, carried 4,031 tons of equipment, 7,039 passengers, and flying 2,142 hours over 300 of which were considered combat hours. As the lead unit, North Carolina routinely had nearly four hundred personnel from as many as fifteen states under its command at any one time.
The mission of the 145th Airlift Wing is to maintain operational readiness and provide the capability to deploy and redeploy air and ground forces to any area of the world. It can further provide resupply missions, routine airlift and combat missions in the war zone by airland or airdrop as well as aeromedical and refugee evacuation. The wing provides other support services to its subordinate units which include chaplain, financial management, history, legal, plans, public affairs, quality, safety, social actions, and overall command and control.
In its 2005 BRAC Recommendations, DoD recommended to realign New Castle County Airport Air Guard Station (AGS), DE by distributing the 166th Airlift Wing's (AW) eight C-130H aircraft to the 145th AW (ANG), Charlotte/Douglas IAP (four aircraft), and 165th AW (ANG), Savannah IAP AGS, GA (four aircraft). Charlotte (33) was selected to receive aircraft because of higher military value rankings compared to New Castle and avoiding conversion training costs.
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