178th Reconnaissance Squadron

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178th Reconnaissance Squadron
First North Dakota ANG MQ-1 2010.jpg
178th Reconnaissance Squadron MQ-1B Predator
Active 1 February 1947-Present
Country  United States
Allegiance  North Dakota
Branch US-AirNationalGuard-2007Emblem.svg  Air National Guard
Type Squadron
Role UAV Reconnaissance
Part of North Dakota Air National Guard
Garrison/HQ Fargo Air National Guard Base, North Dakota.
Nickname "Happy Hooligans"
Tail Code Red fin stripe, "Happy Hooligans" in white letters
Insignia
178th Reconnaissance Squadron emblem 178th Reconnaissance Squadron - Emblem.png

The 178th Reconnaissance Squadron (178 RS) is a unit of the North Dakota Air National Guard 119th Wing located at Fargo Air National Guard Base, North Dakota. The 178th is equipped with the MQ-1A Predator.

Overview[edit]

The 178th Reconnaissance Squadron includes operations of the MQ-1 Predator, a medium-altitude, long-endurance, remotely piloted aircraft. The MQ-1's primary mission is interdiction and conducting armed reconnaissance against critical, perishable targets. When the MQ-1 is not actively pursuing its primary mission, it acts as the Joint Forces Air Component Commander-owned theater asset for reconnaissance, surveillance and target acquisition in support of the Joint Forces commander.

History[edit]

World War II[edit]

Organized as 392d Fighter Squadron and trained in California during 1943 on P-51 Mustangs. Moved to England in April 1944, being assigned to IX Fighter Command, but were assigned P-38 Lightnings upon arrival. Entered combat in May 1944, flying fighter sweeps, bomber escorts and dive bombing missions over Occupied France.

Supported the invasion of Normandy during June 1944 by maintaining low aerial cover over the invasion troops. Moved to France in late July, engaging enemy aircraft over France and supporting ground forces as they advanced, attacking the German Seventh Army which, to prevent being surrounded, was withdrawing eastward through the gap between Falaise and Argentan. Five convoys and 100 Tiger Tanks were destroyed on one day.

Continued combat operations until the German capitulation in May 1945. On July 1 it was announced the squadron was to go to the Pacific Theater of Operations, and returned to the United States to be re-equipped with long range P-47N Thunderbolts. Japanese Capitulation in August led to the unit becoming excess to requirements, and was demobilized at Seymour Johnson field, North Carolina. Was inactivated as a paper unit in November 1945

North Dakota Air National Guard[edit]

The wartime 392d Fighter Squadron was re-activated and re-designated as the 178th Fighter Squadron, and was allotted to the North Dakota Air National Guard on 24 May 1946. It was organized at Hector Field, Fargo and was extended federal recognition on 1 February 1947 by the National Guard Bureau. The 178th Fighter Squadron was bestowed the history, honors, and colors of the 392d Fighter Squadron. The squadron was equipped with F-51D Mustangs and was allocated to the Second Air Force, Air Defense Command with a mission of air defense of the State of North Dakota.

Korean War activation[edit]

On 1 March 1951 the 178th 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 and assigned to the Federalized Missouri ANG 131st Fighter-Bomber Group. The 131st FBG was composed of the 178th FS, the 192d Fighter Squadron (Nevada ANG), the 110th Composite Squadron (Missouri 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 a 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 178th Fighter-Bomber Squadron was released from active duty and returned to North Dakota state control on 15 October 1952.

Air Defense[edit]

F-16A ADF #81-0777 from the 178th FS piloted by Maj. Michael DePree takes off on a practice air defense scramble mission from Langley AFB, the same location from which F-16s were launched during the attacks of September 11th, 2001. Today's practice scramble brought the North Dakota Air National Guard past 70,000 hours of accident-free F-16 fighter operations. The aircraft was retired to AMARC as FG0518 Dec 5, 2006. Reported Mar 2004 to be destined for Jordanian AF, however was still on AMARC inventory Jan 15, 2008
178th Tactical Fighter Squadron McDonnell F-4D-26-MC Phantom 64-0965, 1979. Painted in ADTAC air defense motif.

Returning to Fargo, the unit was re-formed by 1 January 1953 and again was returned to the control of Air Defense Command (ADC). On 1 November 1953, the squadron was re-designated as the 178th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron. In September 1953 the runway alert program began with two F-51D Mustangs on alert 14 hours a day. The runway alert continued for over 50 years until the end of the F-16 era in the summer of 2007. On 1 November 1954, the 192d began the transition from the piston-engine, propeller driven F-51D to its first jet aircraft, the F-94A Starfire interceptor.

On 1 July 1955, the 178th was authorized to expand to a group level, and the 119th Fighter Group (Air Defense) was established by the National Guard Bureau. The 178th FIS becoming the group's flying squadron. Other squadrons assigned into the group were the 119th Headquarters, 119th Material Squadron (Maintenance), 119th Combat Support Squadron, and the 119th USAF Dispensary.

The "Happy Hooligan" pilots were upgraded by ADC to the F-89 Scorpion in 1958, being one of the last units to fly the aircraft in 1966 when it received the supersonic F-102A Delta Dagger interceptor in 1966. It was again upgraded in 1969 to the F-101B Voodoo interceptor. In 1979, Aerospace Defense Command (ADCOM) was merged into Tactical Air Command (ADTAC) and the unit continued its air defense mission for ADTAC component of TAC with the F-4D Phantom II, transferring to First Air Force when ADTAC was replaced in 1985.

The first overseas deployment of the North Dakota Air Guard occurred in 1983, with six F-4s and 120 support personnel deploying to NAS Keflavik, Iceland. Eight Soviet Tupolev 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, West Germany. Referred to as "Creek Klaxon", the 119th and other Air Defense units rotated to Ramstein and stood continuous alert for one year, providing air sovereignty in Western Europe for NATO. During Operation Desert Storm in 1991, 107 Happy Hooligans were mobilized and deployed in support of operations at numerous CONUS locations.

The 178th FS converted from the F-4 Phantom to the F-16A/B Fighting Falcon in mid-1990. The first aircraft were older block 5 and 10 models with some block 15 aircraft also being delivered to the squadron. Main task for the unit was air defense, as with many ANG units who were equipped with the F-16. In 1991 the F-16s were brought up to the Air Defense Fighter (ADF) variant. This meant a serious leap in performance and capability of this squadron in their defensive role.

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.

A permanent alert detachment was established at Kingsley Field, Oregon, beginning 1 October 1989. The detachment, staffed by 18 members, was relocated to March Air Force Base, California, in July of 1994 when the Oregon ANG took over full operation of Kingsley. An announcement was made in March 1999 that the squadron 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, Virginia.

Current status[edit]

In its 2005 BRAC Recommendations, DoD recommended to realign the mission of the North Dakota Air National Guard. The 119th Fighter Wing's F-16As (15 aircraft) would retire, with the aircraft reaching the end of their operational life. 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 the 119th Fighter Wing to allow its aircraft to retire without a flying mission backfill. In Jan 2007, the 119th officially retired the F-16 mission after 60 years of successful air defense interceptor missions.

Replacing the F-16s in 2007, the squadron began to receive the C-21A Learjet, being re-designated as an Airlift Squadron. The C-21 has with room for eight VIP passengers and 42 ft³ (1.26 m³) of cargo. In addition to its normal role, the aircraft is capable of transporting litters during medical evacuations.

Later in 2007, it was announced that C-21 operations would be transferred to the newly activated ND ANG 177th Airlift Squadron, and the 179th would convert to the MQ-1 Predator, being re-designated as a Reconnaissance Squadron. In 2008 the first Predator was received.

Lineage[edit]

Legacy Emblem of the World War II 392d Fighter Squadron
178th Fighter Squadron emblem
  • Constituted 392d Fighter Squadron on 26 May 1943
Activated on 15 Jul 1943
Inactivated on 7 Nov 1945
  • Re-designated 178th Fighter Squadron, and allotted to North Dakota ANG, on 24 May 1946.
Extended federal recognition on 1 February 1947
Federalized and placed on active duty, 1 March 1951
Re-designated: 178th Fighter-Bomber Squadron on 9 April 1951
Released from active duty and returned to North Dakota state control, 15 October 1952
Re-designated: 178th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron, on 1 Nov 1953
Re-designated: 178th Fighter Squadron, on 16 Mar 1992
Re-designated: 178th Airlift Squadron, 1 October 2007
Re-designated: 178th Reconnaissance Squadron, 11 March 2008

Assignments[edit]

Stations[edit]

Aircraft[edit]

Operations and Decorations[edit]

  • Combat Operations: Combat in ETO, 9 May 1944-8 May 1945
  • Campaigns: Air Offensive, Europe; Normandy; Northern France; Rhineland; Ardennes-Alsace; Central Europe; Air Combat, EAME Theater.
  • Decorations: Distinguished Unit Citations: France, 25 Aug 1944; Germany, 19 Mar 1945. Cited in the Order of the Day, Belgian Army: 6 Jun-30 Sep 1944; 16 Dec 1944-25 Jan 1945. Belgian Fourragere.

References[edit]

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

External links[edit]