181st Airlift Squadron

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181st Airlift Squadron
181st Airlift Squadron Lockheed C-130H-LM Hercules 85-1365.jpg
181st Airlift Squadron Lockheed C-130H-LM Hercules 85-1365
Active 1943-Present
Country  United States
Allegiance  Texas
Branch US-AirNationalGuard-2007Emblem.svg  Air National Guard
Type Squadron
Role Airlift
Part of Texas Air National Guard
Garrison/HQ Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Fort Worth, Fort Worth, Texas
Tail Code
  • Texas*
Insignia
181st Airlift Squadron emblem 181st Airlift Squadron emblem.jpg

The 181st Airlift Squadron (181 AS) is a unit of the Texas Air National Guard 136th Airlift Wing located at Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Fort Worth, Fort Worth, Texas. The 181st is equipped with the C-130H Hercules.

History[edit]

World War II[edit]

Established in mid-1943 as a P-47 Thunderbolt fighter squadron, trained under I Fighter Command on Long Island and Massachusetts. Moved to England, arriving in January 1944. Began operations with IX Fighter Command on 14 March and flew a fighter sweep over the English Channel coast of France. Made strafing and bombing attacks on airfields, rail and highway bridges, trains, vehicles, flak positions, and V-weapon sites to help prepare for the invasion of France.

Supported the landings in Normandy early in June 1944 and began operations from the Continent later the same month. Aided in the taking of Cherbourg, participated in the air operations that prepared the way for the Allied breakthrough at St Lo on 25 July, and supported ground forces during their drive across France.

Continued to support ground forces, participated in the assault against the Siegfried Line, and took part in the Battle of the Bulge (December 1944 – January 1945) by attacking rail lines and trains, marshalling yards, roads and vehicles, armored columns, and gun positions. Operated with the Allied forces that pushed across the Rhine and into Germany.

After V-E Day, served with the army of occupation, being assigned to United States Air Forces in Europe. Inactivated in Germany on 20 August 1946.

Texas Air National Guard[edit]

The wartime 395th Fighter Squadron was re-designated as the 181st Fighter Squadron, and was allotted to the Texas Air National Guard, on 24 May 1946. It was organized at Love Field Airport, Dallas, Texas and was extended federal recognition on 27 January 1947 by the National Guard Bureau. The 181st Fighter Squadron was bestowed the lineage, history, honors, and colors of the 395th. The squadron was assigned to the Texas Air National Guard 136th Fighter Group and was equipped with F-51D Mustangs.

Air Defense[edit]

181st FIS F-86D Interceptors, 1958

The mission of the squadron was the air defense of Texas. During the postwar years, the 181st primarily trained over the northern part of the state; the 111th Fighter Squadron, based at Ellington AFB, Houston covered the south east, and the 182d Fighter Squadron, based at Brooks AFB, near San Antonio covered the Hill Country and west Texas.

With the breakout of the Korean War in 1950, the 136th Fighter Group was Federalized by the President of the United States and went on active duty. The 136th, along with the 111th and 182d Fighter Squadrons were transferred to Langley AFB, Virginia, eventually being deployed to Far East Air Force and going into combat over Korea. The 181st Fighter Squadron remained in Texas and was assigned directly to Texas Air National Guard control; its mission was expanded to cover the air defense of the entire state. The 181st was re-equipped with the Very Long Range (VLR) F-51H Mustang, which had been developed to escort B-29 Superfortress bombers in the Pacific Theater from the Mariana Islands to the Japanese Home Islands. The F-51H would allow the squadron to intercept any un-identified aircraft over any part of Texas.

With the 136th Fighter-Interceptor Wing's return from the Korean War, the 111th and the 182d Fighter-Bomber Squadrons joined the 181st FBS with VLR F-51H Mustangs. The 136th Fighter-Bomber Wing was assigned to the Central Air Defense Force, Air Defense Command (ADC) and resumed its postwar mission of Texas air defense.

It wasn't until 1955 that the Texas Air National Guard received jets from ADC, receiving F-80B and F-80C Shooting Stars and the squadrons being re-designated as Fighter-Interceptor Squadrons. The 111th received F-80C-11 (modified F-80A to F-80C standards) Shooting Stars on 1 July 1955, and on 1 July 1956 the 111th FIS commenced to participate in the active ADC runway alert program at Ellington AFB. The 182d at Brooks AFB received F-80C Shootng Stars in August 1956, replacing some of the last F-51H Mustangs in the USAF inventory. The 181st at Love Field received F-80Cs in January 1955.

Four generations of Texas Air National Guard aircraft, about 1965

On 1 July 1957 the 136th Fighter-Bomber Wing was re-designated an Air Defense Wing and reorganized along Air Defense Command lines. Combat units of the-Wing were selected by the Air Defense Command to man a runway alert program on full 24-hour "Around the Clock" basis - with armed Jet Fighters ready to "scramble" at a moment's notice. This event brought the Wing into the daily combat operational program of the USAF, placing us on "the end of the runway" alongside regular USAF-Air Defense Fighter Squadrons. The obsolescent F-80 day fighters were upgraded to the all-weather/day/night F-86D Sabre Interceptor for all three squadrons by the end of the year.

Air Refueling[edit]

In August 1961, as part of an Air Defense Command re-organization, the 136th's assignment to Air Defense Command was terminated, and the wing was transferred to Tactical Air Command. As part of the reorganization, the Houston and San Antonio units of the Wing remained with ADC. The Dallas-based 136th Air Defense Wing became the 136th Air Refueling Wing and the 181st Fighter-Interceptor Squadron became the 181st Air Refueling Squadron under the TAC Ninth Air Force. The 181st ARS was equipped with KC-97L Stratotankers, its mission becoming the air refueling of primarily Tactical Air Command fighter aircraft. Also, the 181st was moved from Dallas Love Field to Naval Air Station Dallas (Hensley Field), which ended a debate about the Texas Air National Guard operating from the expanding civilian airport.

With the transfer of the interceptors and no previously qualified aircrew or maintenance personnel assigned the 136th went though a year of transition to the new mission and to achieve operational status. They did so in eight months, the previous "normal" time for the conversion was two years. In 1966 the squadron began a rotational deployment to Ramstein Air Base in support of Operation Creek Party. which provided USAFE an air refueling capability. The Creek Party deployment rotations lasted until 1976, and over the decade the 136th saw millions of pounds of jet fuel off-loaded and millions of miles flown, all accident free. In July 1976 the KC-97s were retired and the 136th was transferred to Strategic Air Command, receiving jet KC-135A Stratotankers. Under SAC, the 181st Air Refueling Squadron mission included the air refueling of B-52 Stratofortress intercontinental bombers along with TAC and Aerospace Defense Command interceptors.

Airlift mission[edit]

181st TAS C-130B 58-0734 about 1980

On 1 April 1978, the 136th was reassigned from SAC to Military Airlift Command (MAC), and was realigned to a Tactical Airlift Wing, being re-equipped with C-130B Hercules transports. The new 136 TAW mission was airlift of troops, military equipment, cargo and aeromedical support.

The 136th TAW and its subordinate units participated in numerous Cold War military exercises such as Team Spirit, Volant Oak, Red Flag, and Reforger. Other Joint Chief of Staff exercises included "Ember Dawn IV" in Alaska and "Brave Shield" in Europe. In 1979, the Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve assumed full responsibility for airlift operations in Panama.

In mid-December 1989, and continuing for several weeks, wing aircraft, air crews, and support personnel on deployment for exercise Volant Oak at Howard AFB, Canal Zone, Panama, flew combat airlift missions for U. S. Southern Command during Operation Just Cause in Panama. More than 100 combat sorties were flown by 146th aircraft and crews, with no casualties or damage to aircraft.

181st Expeditionary Airlift Squadron C-130H 85-1367 taking off from an airfield in Afghanistan, 2012

In August 1986 the Wing received the new C-130H aircraft. In August 1990, the world was moving swiftly toward armed confrontation in the Persian Gulf. By late January 1991, the 136th Airlift Wing had provided U. S. Central Command and U. S. Air Forces in Europe personnel, voluntarily and involuntarily activated, who participated in Operation Desert Shield and Operation Desert Storm. Aircraft and air crews from the 181st Airlift Squadron flew two month-long tours of duty in Operation Volant Pine, a backfill of military airlifters to Europe by Air National Guard C-130s.

In 1997, wing members deployed supporting State and Federal missions. During the period the unit played critical roles in support of DoD missions deploying to Oman and Saudi Arabia in support of Southern Watch, and in peacetime humanitarian airlift, among the many missions accomplished by the wing during the award period.

On 1 October 1998 with the closure of Hensley Field, the 136th Airlift Wing moved to the former Carswell Air Force Base, now designated as Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Fort Worth.

As part of the Global War on Terrorism, the 136 AW has deployed numerous times totaling more than 6,000 Airmen since 9/112001 in support of Operation Noble Eagle, Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation New Horizons, an average of six deployments per unit member.

Lineage[edit]

181st Air Refueling Squadron patch
Legacy 181st Fighter/Fighter-Bomber/Fighter-Interceptor Squadron patch
  • Constituted 395th Fighter Squadron on 24 May 1943.
Activated on 1 June 1943
Inactivated on 20 August 1946
Re-designated 181st Fighter Squadron and allotted to Texas Air National Guard on 21 August 1946
Extended federal recognition on 27 January 1947
Re-designated 181st Fighter-Bomber Squadron, 1 January 1953
Re-designated 181st Fighter-Interceptor Squadron, 1 July 1957
Re-designated 181st Air Refueling Squadron, 1 September 1961
Re-designated 181st Tactical Airlift Squadron, 1 July 1978
Re-designated 181st Airlift Squadron, 16 March 1992
Components designated as: 181st Expeditionary Airlift Squadron when deployed as part of an Air and Space Expeditionary unit after June 1996.

Assignments[edit]

Gained by: Tactical Air Command

Stations[edit]

Aircraft[edit]

References[edit]

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