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141st Air Refueling Wing [141st ARW]

In the 2005 BRAC Recommendations by DoD, the 141st Air Refueling wing was recommended to associate with the 92nd ARW at Fairchild and would lose its tanker aircraft (see below for details).

The lineage of the 141st Air Refueling Wing, Washington Air National Guard, began with receiving federal recognition on August 6, 1924, as the 116th Observation Squadron, 41st Division Air Services at Felts Field in the Spokane Valley. The 116th was a reorganization of the Army's 116th Aero Squadron that served in France in 1917-18 during World War I and is one of the oldest National Guard flying units in the United States.

When Washington state was offered one of the 19 National Guard Observation Squadrons authorized by the National Guard Bureau in the spring of 1924, Spokane beat Seattle and Tacoma for the squadron by raising the necessary $10,000 for hangars. The Spokane Chamber of Commerce contributed $5,000, the Spokane County Commissioners $2,500 and the Spokane City Commissioners gave another $2,500.

During the fall of 1927 Spokane sponsored the National Air Races utilizing Felts Field and the 116th. As a result of the air races, the northern route from Minneapolis to Spokane was established and later became the route used by Northwest Airlines.

Deemed the most modern aircraft hangar in the country, a 20,000 square foot brick hangar was completed at Felts Field in 1934 at a cost of $102,000. Decades later, an Ace of Spades unit insignia can still be seen hanging above the hangar doors long after the unit moved on to other locations.

The 142nd Air Defense Wing was created in the late 1940's. The 116th came under the 141st Air Defense Group with the headquarters in Spokane. The need for more space and longer runways prompted a move from Felts Field to Geiger Field at the Spokane Airport.

On February 1, 1951, as a result of the Korean Conflict, the 116th Fighter Squadron was called to active duty and received new F-86 Sabre jets. After four months of training, the unit was ordered to Sheppards Grove, England, to bolster NATO forces in Europe. The unit was released from active duty November 1952, but the aircraft remained in England.

In 1960 the 116th Fighter Interceptor Squadron was reorganized with the creation of the 141st Fighter Group. New units were formed: 141st Headquarters, 141st Fighter Group, Materiel Squadron, Consolidated Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, Air Base Squadron and the USAF Dispensary. A new headquarters building costing $1.5 million was completed in 1960 just inside the main entrance to Geiger. F-89J's were flown in the early 60's until 1965 when F-102 Delta Darts were received.

The year 1967 was a "trophy" year for the 141st Fighter Group. Trophies and awards received included the Spaatz Trophy for the most Outstanding Air National Guard Flying Unit, the Air National Guard Outstanding Unit Plaque, the Air Force Outstanding Unit Trophy and the Winston P. Wilson Award.

In July 1976 the 141 ARW became the fifth Air National Guard unit to join the Strategic Air Command and convert to KC-135 Stratotankers, necessitating the move to Fairchild Air Force Base. Refueling missions have taken the 141st Air Refueling Wing all over the world.

The unit's fleet of KC-135's began to be fitted with JT3D engines in 1984 at Boeing Aircraft in Wichita, Kansas. The new aircraft series was designated the KC-135E. This conversion to the KC-135 marked the 39th different type of aircraft flown by the unit since it's inception in 1924.

The first major deployment of six aircraft and 276 personnel took place in 1987 to Moron, Spain. This deployment provided an excellent training opportunity for all aspects of planning and managing an overseas wing deployment that proved valuable for years to come.

Aircrew, maintenance and support personnel responded to the invasion of Kuwait by Iraq on August 2, 1990, by rotating crews every two weeks to Jiddah, Saudi Arabia. Upon federal activation in December 1990, 307 members of the 141st and all eight KC-135's belonging to the unit deployed to the Persian Gulf. In support of Desert Storm, five aircraft were sent to Cairo, Egypt, and three aircraft were sent to Jiddah, Saudi Arabia. Members of the clinic deployed to various locations in the continental United States. Thirteen members of the Security Police Flight deployed to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Most of the unit members returned home by March and April 1991 and by June 1991 all were back home.

In September of 1992, the 141st was called to perform a variety of missions in support of relief efforts for victims of Hurricane Iniki, the worst hurricane to hit the Hawaiian Islands this century. In December the unit responded with aircrew and support personnel for "Operation Restore Hope," a United Nations relief mission to aid hunger victims in Somalia. Members deployed to Moron Air Base, Spain, to support the refueling air bridge to Somalia.

On June 1, 1992, the 141 ARW joined the newly created Air Mobility Command, leaving the deactivated Strategic Air Command.

The largest 141st deployment ever was conducted by sending 450 personnel and six aircraft to Volk Field Air National Guard training base in Wisconsin during April 1993. The realistic training encompassed the protection of all base-level resources and enabled personnel to survive and operate in a simulated chemical environment.

In June 1995 the first of several rotations of aircraft and personnel from the 141st deployed to Pisa, Italy, for Operation Deny Flight, NATO mission enforcing the no-fly zone over Bosnia-Herzegovina.

A fierce ice storm knocked out power to large sections of Spokane in November 1996. The unit responded by lending 24 generators to the community.

Following severe flooding in 1997, the 141st responded by manning checkpoints along a 105-mile stretch on the Pend Oreille River, allowing only authorized people to enter the areas to ensure property stayed safe until flood waters allowed residents to return to their water-soaked homes.

On January 13, 1999, one of the unit's KC-135E's crashed at Geilenkirchen Air Base, Germany, killing all four crew members. This was the first time the unit lost an aircraft or lives since beginning the aerial refueling mission in 1976.

In May 1999, the 141st activated 140 members and six aircraft to Budapest, Hungary, in support of Operation Allied Force deterring ethnic aggressions in Yugoslavia. The 141st became part of the 171st Expeditionary Operations Group that flew 411 sorties and refueled 2,157 receivers. All members returned home by the end of June 1999.

In June 2000, 45 members of the 141st Air Refueling Wing deployed to Ramstein Air Base, Germany, as part of their annual training. Their role, during the deployment, was to augment their active duty counterparts stationed at Ramstein Air Base.

As an Air National Guard unit, the 141st Air Refueling Wing has both a federal and state mission. When gained by Air Mobility Command, the federal mission is to train, equip and deploy quality mobility forces to forward operating locations in support of specific contingency plans and other short-notice taskings.

Under order of the governor of the state of Washington, the wing provides protection of life and property and preserves peace, order and public safety. Members of the wing served on state active duty following the eruption of Mount St. Helens in 1980 cleaning up ash in many of the smaller communities of eastern Washington and during fire storms, floods, and ice storms. The unit's Security Forces Squadron supported local law enforcement in Pullman following campus riots in 1998.

In its 2005 BRAC Recommendations, DoD recommended to realign Fairchild AFB, WA. The 141st Air Refueling Wing (ANG) would associate with the 92d Air Refueling Wing at Fairchild AFB, and the 141st Air Refueling Wing's eight KC-135R aircraft would be distributed to the 185th Air Refueling Wing (ANG), Sioux Gateway Airport AGS, IA.

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Page last modified: 05-07-2011 02:09:38 ZULU