131st Bomb Wing

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131st Bomb Wing
131st Bomb Wing B-2 Spirit 82-1070 Spirit of Ohio.jpg
The B-2 "Spirit of Ohio" returns from a training mission, June 27, 2012
Active 25 May 1943–present
Country  United States
Allegiance  Missouri
Branch US-AirNationalGuard-2007Emblem.svg  Air National Guard
Type Strategic Bombardment
Role Wing
Part of Missouri Air National Guard
Garrison/HQ Whiteman Air Force Base, Knob Noster, Missouri
Motto Parati ad Agendum - "Ready for Action"
Engagements World War II Operation Northern Watch
Decorations Air Force Outstanding Unit Award
Commanders
Current
commander
Colonel Michael J. Francis
Insignia
131st Bomb Wing emblem Emblem - 131st Bomb Wing, Missouri Air National Guard.jpg

The 131st Bomb Wing is a unit of the Missouri Air National Guard, stationed at Whiteman Air Force Base, Knob Noster, Missouri. If activated to federal service, the wing is gained by the United States Air Force Global Strike Command. It is an associate unit of the active-duty 509th Bomb Wing, which falls under the Eighth Air Force.

The 131st Bomb Wing is the only Air National Guard wing to fly the B-2 Spirit, as well as the only nuclear-capable Air National Guard bomb wing.

The 110th Bomb Squadron, which is assigned to the wing's 131st Operations Group, is a descendant organization of the World War I 110th Aero Squadron, established on 14 August 1917. Demobilized in November 1918, it was re-established on 23 June 1923 as the 110th Observation Squadron. The unit is one of the 29 original National Guard Observation Squadrons of the United States Army National Guard formed before World War II. It is the oldest unit in the Missouri Air National Guard, with over 90 years of service to the state and nation. Charles Lindbergh was a pilot of the 110th, Missouri National Guard, when he made his famous 1927 flight.

Mission[edit]

The 131st Bomb Wing's mission is to train and equip skilled and proud Airmen who provide full spectrum, expeditionary, B-2 global strike combat support capabilities to geographic commanders and the US Strategic Command combatant commander. The wing also organizes, trains, and prepares a community-based force of ready Citizen-Airmen to defend and serve the people of Missouri.[1]

Units[edit]

  • 131st Operations Group
110th Bomb Squadron
  • 131st Maintenance Group
  • 131st Mission Support Group
  • 131st Medical Group

History[edit]

World War II[edit]

Lockheed P-38J-10-LO Lightnings including 42-67978 "Mim / Betty A II" N2-K of Lt. Loren R. Wilson in the 383rd FS, 364th FG
North American P-51D-15-NA Mustang 44-15493 (5E-J) and P-51K-5-NT Mustang 44-11619 (5E-O) of the 385th FS, 364th FG. 5E-J, "Jeanne II" was flown by Capt. Gerald W "Jerry" Fine, and was named for his wife. 5E-O, "Boilermaker Special" was flown by Lt. Robert W. Boydston.

During World War II, the unit that would eventually be known as the 131st Bomb Wing, the 364th Fighter Group, organized and trained in California during 1943 before moving to England in January 1944 where it was assigned to VIII Fighter Command. The 364th FG flew escort, dive-bombing, strafing, and patrol missions in France, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Germany. At first the group operated primarily as escort for B-17 and B-24 Liberator heavy bombers. The group patrolled the English Channel during the Normandy invasion in June 1944, and while continuing escort operations, supported ground forces in France after the invasion by strafing and bombing locomotives, marshalling yards, bridges, barges, and other targets.

In the summer of 1944, the 364th converted from P-38s to P-51 Mustangs and until the end of the war flew many long-range missions including escorting heavy bombers to attacked oil refineries, industries, and other strategic objectives at Berlin, Regensburg, Merseburg, Stuttgart, Brussels, and elsewhere. The 364th received a Distinguished Unit Citation for an escort mission on 27 December 1944 when the group dispersed a large force of German fighters that attacked the bomber formation the group was escorting on a raid to Frankfurt.

The 364th also flew air-sea rescue missions, engaged in patrol activities, and continued to support ground forces as the battle line advanced through France and into Germany. Took part in the effort to invade the Netherlands by air, September 1944; the Battle of the Bulge, December 1944 – January 1945; and the assault across the Rhine in March 1945.

Although the last mission by the 364th FG took place on 25 April 1945, the group did not depart until November, returning to Camp Kilmer New Jersey for inactivation

Missouri Air National Guard[edit]

The wartime 364th Fighter Group was re-activated and re-designated as the 131st Fighter Group, and was allotted to the Missouri Air National Guard, on 24 May 1946. It was organized at Lambert Field, St Louis, and was extended federal recognition on 15 July 1946 by the National Guard Bureau. The 131st Fighter Group was bestowed the history, honors, and colors of the wartime 364th Fighter Group.

Assigned to the Missouri ANG 57th Fighter Wing, the 131st Fighter Group controlled the 110th Fighter Squadron in St. Louis and the 180th Bombardment Squadron at Rosecrans Memorial Airport, St Joseph. The status of the 131st was changed from a Group to a Wing on 31 Oct 1950 when the 71st Fighter Wing was inactivated and the 131st took over the organization and mission of the 71st.

Korean War activation[edit]

131st TFW F-84F Thunderstreaks at Toul AB, France, 1961

On 1 March 1951 the 110th was federalized and brought to active-duty due to the Korean War. It was initially assigned to Strategic Air Command (SAC) and transferred to Bergstrom AFB, Texas. The 131st Fighter-Bomber Group was composed of the 110th Fighter Squadron, the 192d Fighter Squadron (Nevada ANG), the 178th Fighter Squadron (North Dakota ANG), and the 170th Fighter Squadron (Illinois ANG). At Berstrom, its mission was a filler replacement for the 27th Fighter-Escort Group which was deployed to Japan as part of SAC's commitment to the Korean War.

The unit was at Bergstrom until November when it was transferred to Tactical Air Command (TAC) and moved to George AFB, California. At George, the unit was scheduled to be re-equipped with F-84D Thunderjets and was programmed for deployment to Japan, however the F-84s were instead sent to France and the 131st Fighter-Bomber Wing remained in California and flew its F-51 Mustangs for the remainder of its federal service. The 110th Fighter-Bomber Squadron was released from active duty and returned to Missouri state control on 1 December 1952.

Tactical Air Command[edit]

110th TFS F-100C 54-1825, about 1965

Returning to Lambert Field, the 131st was re-formed as a light bombardment squadron in January 1953 and came under Tactical Air Command. It received B-26 Invaders that returned from the Korean War and trained primarily in night bombardment missions, which the aircraft specialized in while in Korea.

With the removal of the B-26 from bombing duties in 1957 as they neared the end of their service lives, the 110th entered the "Jet Age." The 110th received its first jet aircraft in the spring of 1957 when it received some F-80 Shooting Stars, then in June 1957, it transitioned to the F-84F Thunderstreak fighter-bomber.

On 1 October 1961, as a result of the 1961 Berlin Crisis, the mobilized Missouri Air National Guard 131st Tactical Fighter Wing deployed to Toul-Rosières Air Base, France as the 7131st Tactical Fighter Wing (Provisional). When activated as the 7131st TFW, it consisted of the 110, 169 and 170 TFS, from Lambert Field, St. Louis MO, Peoria Municipal Airport, Peoria IL, and Capitol Airport, Springfield IL, respectively. The designation 7131st was used as the Wing, composed of three federalized ANG squadrons, only deployed the 110th Tactical Fighter Squadron to France. The 169th and 170th TFS rotated personnel to Toul during their period of activation due to budget restraints, however only one squadron's worth of aircraft and personnel were at Toul at any one time.

F-4E "30 Years of Phabulous Phantoms".

While in France, guardsmen assumed regular commitments on a training basis with the U.S. 7th Army as well as maintaining a 24-hour alert status. The 7131st exchanged both air and ground crews with the Royal Danish Air Force's 730th Tactical Fighter Squadron at Skydstrup Air Station, Denmark, during the month of May 1962. As the Berlin situation subsided, all activated ANG units were ordered to be returned to the United States and released from active duty. The 7131st TFW was inactivated in place in France on 19 July 1962, and left its aircraft and equipment to USAFE.

After returning to St. Louis, the unit was re-equipped with F-100C Super Sabres in late 1962. It trained with the F-100s for the next 17 years, and upgraded to the improved F-100D in 1971. Although not activated during the Vietnam War, many of the squadron's pilots were sent to F-100 squadrons in South Vietnam between 1968 and 1971. In 1977, Charles Lindbergh's widow gave permission to designate 110th Tactical Fighter Squadron as "Lindbergh's Own."

In 1978, the unit acquired the "home grown" McDonnell Douglas F-4C Phantom II, the aircraft primarily associated with the Vietnam War. It again upgraded to the more advanced F-4E Phantom II in 1985, and in 1991 was again upgraded to the F-15A/B Eagle air superiority aircraft with the retirement of the F-4s. The 131st was one of the last Air National Guard units to convert to the F-15.

Air Combat Command[edit]

More than 500 members from the 131st Fighter Wing and the tenant units located at Lambert International Airport were called into service to battle the Great Flood of 1993. In the post-Cold War era, the unit deployed to Incirlik AB, Turkey in support of Operation Northern Watch in 1996, 1997 and 1998.

110th FS F-15Cs St Louis 2008

Members of the 131st returned in October 2000 from duty rotations in Southwest Asia and Europe, while other unit members were still stationed overseas. Eventually, a total of about 430 wing members were scheduled to deploy, with the majority leaving in October 2000 for Prince Sultan AB, Saudi Arabia, in support of Operation Southern Watch. A little more than half of the deployed 131st Fighter Wing members and 12 F-15s made up the AEF-9's 110th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron (EFS). The 110th EFS primarily provides air superiority for Operation Southern Watch. AEF-9 was deployed from September through November 2000. In 2004, the improved F-15C Eagle arrived, replacing the older aircraft.

On 16 March 2006, the Air Force announced that elements of the 131st Fighter Wing would become an associate unit assigned to the 509th Bomb Wing. The 131st Fighter Wing transitioned from flying and maintaining the F-15C Eagle fighter to the B-2 Spirit bomber. The final flight of the F-15C Eagle by the 131st occurred in June 2009 from Lambert International Airport in St. Louis. The unit was redesignated as the 131st Bomb Wing on 1 October 2008. The 509th and the 131st joined forces according to what is known as a "classic associate wing" structure. In a classic association, the active duty 509th retains full ownership of the operational assets, including aircraft, maintenance facilities, and so on. However, each wing maintains its own chain-of-command and organizational structure, while the members of each unit perform their duties in a fully integrated manner. As a result, active duty and Air National Guard pilots and maintainers fly B-2 missions and sustain the aircraft as though they were one unit.[2]

On the morning of Wednesday, 30 May 2007, a Missouri Air National Guard F-15 pilot ejected safely from his aircraft just before it crashed during a training mission in rural Knox county, Indiana. The plane went down just before 11 am EDT south of Vincennes, near the Illinois border, as it conducted standard training maneuvers, according to a release from the National Guard. Investigators said the plane was flying at about 20,000 feet prior to the crash. The pilot had been with the 131st Fighter Wing for 12 years and was highly experienced, officials said. The unit had most recently enforced no-fly zones in Iraq. This crash decreased the 131st's aircraft strength from 20 to 19.

On 2 November 2007, another F-15C from the 131st crashed in Mark Twain National Forest near Boss, Missouri.[3] No property was damaged and no people on the ground were hurt, however the pilot broke an arm and a shoulder, despite ejecting from the plane. The pilot also was said to be in "shock" by the landowners who found him. After investigation, the crash was attributed to a flaw in a part of the plane's fuselage; this led to all F-15 aircraft being grounded between November and January 2008. After the accidents, the 131st's flights were reduced, which was also due to the wing's transition to flying B-2s.

In its 2005 BRAC recommendations, the Department of Defense recommended realignment of the 131st Fighter Wing. The 110th's F-15s (15 aircraft) were distributed to the 57th Fighter Wing, Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada (nine aircraft), and 177th Fighter Wing, Atlantic City International Airport AGS, NJ (six aircraft). After which, the unit moved to Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri and became the first Air National Guard B-2 Spirit Stealth Bomber unit.

The F-15s began to leave Lambert on 15 August 2008, and by January 2009 most of the 13 remaining aircraft were in the main hangar being stripped of markings. The final two F-15Cs departed on 13 June 2009 after a closing ceremony titled "The End of an Era," which was attended by over 2,000 people. Some pilots had already begun B-2 training, while others chose to move to different units or retire early. The 131st Fighter Wing was the most experienced F-15 Fighter Wing in the United States; out of the four pilots that flew over 4,000 F-15 flight hours, three of them were from the unit.


Global Strike Command[edit]

B-2 Spirit from Whiteman Air Force Base over St. Louis, the former home of the 131st Bomb Wing.

The 131st Bomb Wing's transition to Air Force Global Strike Command occurred on 4 October 2008 when the 131st Bomb Wing held a ribbon-cutting ceremony at Whiteman AFB. The ceremony celebrated the first official drill for traditional guardsmen at Whiteman and the grand opening of building 3006, the 131st Bomb Wing's first headquarters there. On 16 June 2009, the last F-15 departed Lambert Field.

In August 2013, the 131st Bomb Wing was deemed fully mission-capable, meaning that it fully completed the transition to Whiteman Air Force Base.

Lineage[edit]

  • Constituted as 364th Fighter Group on 25 May 1943
Activated on 1 June 1943
Inactivated on 10 November 1945
  • Re-designated: 131st Fighter Group and allotted to Missouri ANG on 24 May 1946
Extended federal recognition on 15 July 1946
Established as: 131st Composite Wing and allotted to Missouri ANG, 31 October 1950
Organized and received federal recognition, 1 November 1950, assuming personnel and equipment of 71st Fighter Wing (Inactivated)
131st Composite Group, assigned as subordinate unit
Re-designated: 131st Fighter Wing, 1 February 1951
Group re-designated 131st Fighter Group
Federalized and placed on active duty, 1 March 1951
Re-designated: 131st Fighter-Bomber Wing, 1 July 1951
Group re-designated 131st Fighter-Bomber Group
Released from active duty and returned to Missouri state control, 1 December 1952
Re-designated: 131st Bombardment Wing (Light), 1 December 1952
Group re-designated 131st Bombardment Group (Light)
Re-designated: 131st Fighter-Bomber Wing, 1 January 1953
Group re-designated 131st Tactical Bomber Group
Re-designated: 131st Tactical Fighter Wing, 1 January 1960
Group re-designated 131st Tactical Fighter Group
Federalized and placed on active duty, 1 October 1961
Released from active duty and returned to Missouri state control, 31 August 1962
131st Tactical Fighter Group inactivated 30 September 1974
Re-designated: 131st Fighter Wing, 15 March 1992
Group re-activated and re-designated as 131st Operations Group
Re-designated: 131st Bomb Wing, 4 October 2008

Assignments[edit]

Attached to: 1st Bombardment (later Air) Division, 15 September 1943 – 3 November 1945
Gained by: Tenth Air Force, Continental Air Command
Gained by: Tactical Air Command
Gained by: Tactical Air Command
Gained by: Air Combat Command, 1 June 1992
Gained by: Air Force Global Strike Command, 4 October 2008-Present
Associated with: 509th Bomb Wing, Eighth Air Force, 4 October 2008-Present

Components[edit]

World War II[edit]

Air National Guard[edit]

  • 131st Composite (later Fighter, Fighter-Bomber, Bombardment, Tactical Fighter) Group, 1 November 1950-30 September 1974
Re-designated: 131st Operations Group, 15 March 1992-Present

Stations[edit]

Aircraft[edit]

Decorations[edit]

References[edit]

 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the Air Force Historical Research Agency.

External links[edit]