176th Wing [176th WG]
The Alaska Air National Guard (AKANG) was organized in 1952 as the 8144th Air Base Squadron at Elmendorf AFB, operating T-6 aircraft with the Alaskan Air Command (AAC) as its gaining command. In 1955, it moved to Kulis ANG Base (adjacent to Anchorage International Airport) and was designated the 144th Fighter Bomber Squadron flying T-33, F-80 and F-86 aircraft.
In 1957, airlift became its primary mission and the unit designation became the 144th Air Transport Squadron (ATS) Medium. C-47s were flown from 1957 until 1960. In that year, the unit upgraded to C-123J Providers which it operated for 16 years. In 1969, a parent organization was created and was designated the 176th Tactical Airlift Group (TAG) and the flying squadron was re-designated the 144th Tactical Airlift Squadron (TAS). The Military Airlift Command (MAC) became the gaining command in 1975, with 22AF headquartered at Travis AFB, CA as the unit's numbered Air Force. In 1976, the unit converted to 8 Vietnam veteran C-130E Hercules aircraft. In 1983, the aircraft were again upgraded to 8 new C-130Hs directly from the Lockheed factory. During the unit's MAC/AMC days, it also fell under the ANG's 146th Tactical Airlift Wing at Van Nuys, CA.
The next chapter of Alaska Air Guard history began in February 1986 when it was announced that the 176th would receive a second flying squadron operating 4 KC-135 Stratotankers at Eielson Air Force Base, North Pole, Alaska. The 168th Aerial Refueling Squadron (AREFS) was activated on 1 October 1986 with the Strategic Air Command (SAC) as its gaining command. Concurrently, the 176 TAG was redesignated the 176th Composite Group (COMPG), indicating the Group's unique mixed missions of airlift and aerial refueling. Subsequently, the 168th has received additional aircraft and has become autonomous of the 176th, today being designated the 168th Air Refueling Wing (ARW).
However, the 176th's mission has remained "composite". The next chapter of our history began in late 1987 when it was announced that the 176th would assume the Air Force Search and Rescue mission in the Alaska Theater because the USAF's 71st Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Squadron at Elmendorf AFB was being deactivated. The 210th Air Rescue Squadron (ARS) was activated in 1990 and assumed the Theater rescue alert on 1 April 1991. Its gaining command was also MAC, with HQ Air Rescue Service as an intermediate gaining agency. At activation, the 210th operated new Sikorsky MH-60 rescue helicopters and new HC-130 search/tanker aircraft. In 1992, the Military Airlift Command was re-designated the Air Mobility Command and rescue MH-60s were re-designated HH-60s. Also in 1992, the 210th received a third new HC-130 and new additional HH-60 helicopters.
The gaining command for the 176th and all of its subordinate units, except for the Aerial Port Flight and the 210 RQS, was changed to the Pacific Air Forces (PACAF) on 1 June 1992. 11AF, headquartered at Elmendorf AFB, became the unit's numbered Air Force. The flying units were concurrently re-designated the 144th Airlift Squadron (AS) and the 210th Rescue Squadron (RQS). The 210 RQS became PACAF-gained on 1 January 1993. At the same time, the Air National Guard reorganization was implemented and the 176th Composite Group was re-designated the 176th Group.
On 1 January 1994, Detachment 1 of the 210 RQS was activated at Eielson AFB. Det. 1 provides an HH-60 and aircrew on alert primarily during duty hours on weekdays, while additionally providing range support to the surrounding USAF gunnery/bombing ranges. In July 1994, the AKANG assumed command of the 11th AF Rescue Coordination Center (RCC) at Elmendorf AFB. Manning of the RCC came primarily from the 176th. The RCC moved from Elmendorf AFB to the AKANG Armory on Fort Richardson in 1995. On 1 October 1995, the 176th Group was re-designated the 176th Wing.
In early 1996, the 210 RQS received new HC-130(H)N aircraft from the Lockheed Factory and transferred its original C-130's to the New York ANG. In mid 1996, the 176th Aerial Port Flight was finally gained as a PACAF unit. Also in 1996, the Wing began conversion of the two flying squadrons to deployment tasking.
In 1997, the Wing was busy finishing its conversion from in-place generation to deployment tasking and conversion was completed on 1 Oct 1997. The remainder of 1997 was filled with preparations for an Operational Readiness Inspection (ORI) from HQ PACAF and HQ AMC Inspectors General scheduled for June of 1998 and with preparation for the 210th RQS deployment to Turkey for Northern Watch scheduled for January-March 1998.
In December 1997, the date for the 1998 ORI was moved up for the 144th AS, 210th RQS and 176 APF and these inspections took place 17-27 February 1998, during Exercise Northern Edge '98. The remainder of the ORI was to be administered to Support Group units during the originally scheduled dates in June 1998.
In its 2005 BRAC Recommendations, DoD recommended to close Kulis Air Guard Station (AGS), AK, and relocate the 176th Wing (ANG) and associated aircraft (eight C-130Hs, three HC-130Ns, and five HH-60s) and Expeditionary Combat Support (ECS) to Elmendorf Air Force Base, AK. This recommendation would distribute C-130, HC-130 and HH-60 aircraft from Kulis AGS (110) to Elmendorf Air Force Base (51), which had a higher military value. Moving these aircraft to Elmendorf Air Force Base would consolidate two installations in the same city, reducee infrastructure, create an active/ARC association, and retain the skilled, highly trained ANG personnel from Kulis AGS.
DoD also recommended to realign Dyess AFB, TX. The C-130 aircraft assigned to the 317th Airlift Group would be distributed to the 176th Wing (ANG), Elmendorf AFB, AK (four aircraft) and 2 other installations. Elmendorf Air Force Base would have an active duty/Air National Guard association in the C-130 mission. The C-130s would be distributed to Elmendorf (51-airlift) to facilitate active duty associations with the Guard and Reserve units.
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