196th Reconnaissance Squadron
|196th Reconnaissance Squadron|
196th Reconnaissance Squadron General Atomics MQ-1 Predator 03-33123 takes its first flight on 25 February 2009.
|Active||1943 – present|
|Branch||Air National Guard|
|Part of||California Air National Guard|
|Garrison/HQ||March Joint Air Reserve Base, Riverside, California|
|Engagements||World War II|
|196th Reconnaissance Squadron emblem|
The 196th Reconnaissance Squadron (196 RS) is a unit of the California Air National Guard 163d Reconnaissance Wing located at March Joint Air Reserve Base, Riverside, California. The 120th is equipped with the MQ-1 Predator.
In November 2006, the squadron's parent wing, formerly the 163rd Air Refueling Wing, was redesignated the 163rd Reconnaissance Wing (163 RW) and operational claimancy was transferred from the Air Mobility Command (AMC) to Air Combat Command (ACC). As the operational flying squadron in the wing, the 196 RS was the first Air National Guard (ANG) unit to receive the MQ-1 Predator and was the first to become a fully functional ANG Flying Training Unit (FTU) and Field Training Detachment (FTD) for the Predator. The FTU falls under the Air Combat Command and trains pilots and sensor operators to become Predator aircrew. The FTD, which falls under the Air Education and Training Command (AETC), trains enlisted personnel to assemble, disassemble, maintain and repair the Predator.
Unit Emblem: Ultramarine blue and Air Force yellow are the Air Force colors. Blue alludes to the sky, the primary theater of Air Force operations. Yellow refers to the sun and the excellence required of Air Force personnel. The stars represent all directions within air space. The shooting star over the globe symbolizes air defense of the world and throughout the skies.
World War II
- see: 373d Fighter Group for expanded World War II history
Formed at Westover Field, Massachusetts in August 1943. During World War II the 411th Fighter Squadron was assigned to the European Theater of Operations (ETO), Ninth Air Force in Western Europe. It was equipped with P-47 Thunderbolts.
The 411th flew its first combat mission on 8 May 1944, a fighter sweep over Normandy. It then took part in preinvasion activities, e.g., escorting B-26 Marauders to attack airdromes, bridges and railroads in Occupied France. The squadron patrolled the air over the beachhead when the Allies launched the Normandy invasion on 6 June 1944, and hit troops, tanks, roads, fuel depots and other targets in the assault area until the end of the month.
The 411th moved to the Continent in July 1944 where it struck railroads, hangars, boxcars, warehouses and other objectives to prevent reinforcements from reaching the front at St. Lo, where the Allies broke though on 25 July 1944. The squadron bombed such targets as troops in the Falaise-Argentan area in August 1944. During the Battle of the Bulge, December 1944 - January 1945, the 411th concentrated on the destruction of bridges, marshalling yards and highways. It flew reconnaissance missions to support ground operations in the Rhine Valley in March 1945, hitting airfields, motor transports, etc. The squadron continued tactical air operations until 4 May 1945.
Returned to the United States and prepared for transfer to the Pacific Theater during the Summer of 1945, the Japanese Capitulation in August led to the squadron's inactivation in November 1945.
California Air National Guard
The wartime 411th Fighter Squadron was re-activated and re-designated as the 196th Fighter Squadron. It was allotted to the California Air National Guard, on 24 May 1946. It was organized at Norton Air Force Base, California on 9 November 1946. The 195th Fighter Squadron was entitled to the history, honors, and colors of the 411th. The squadron was equipped with F-51D Mustangs and was assigned to the 146th Fighter Group, at Van Nuys Airport by the National Guard Bureau.
As part of the Continental Air Command Fourth Air Force, the squadron trained for tactical fighter missions and air to air combat. In June 1948, the unit received 25 F-80C Shooting Star aircraft. The 196h was one of the first Air National Guard Units to receive these new jets.
Combat in Korean War
The 116th Fighter Group was federalized on 10 October 1950 due to the Korean War. It was assigned to Tactical Air Command (TAC) on 1 November and was moved to George AFB, California. At George AFB, the 116th was changed in status to become the 116th Fighter-Bomber Wing on 11 November. The wing was formed with the following operational squadrons:
- 128th Fighter Squadron (Georgia ANG)
- 159th Fighter Squadron (Florida ANG)
- 196th Fighter Squadron (California ANG)
At George the three fighter squadrons were equipped with F-80C Shooting Stars and began operational training. After losing many of their F-80 pilots to assignment to Far East Air Force (FEAF) as replacements, all three squadrons were forced to transfer pilots between themselves in order to maintain a balance of qualified pilots, and they were no longer individual squadrons of Georgia, Florida and California. In April 1951 116th FBW began receiving brand new F-84E Thunderjets directly from Republic. On 14 May the 116th FBW received a Warning Order for an impending transfer, and they expected to be transferred to Europe. With a Readiness Date of 25 June, the 116th FBW was ready to move, and by 1 July they had sent their seventy-five F-84Es to the New York POE for shipment to France. However, on 3 July 1951 they received orders transferring them to Japan. Fifty-four F-84Es had to be obtained from Bergstrom AFB, Texas and Langley AFB, Virginia as partial replacements for these Thunderjets.
The 116th FBG with the 158th and 159th FBS's departed from San Diego on the transport aircraft carrier USS Windham Bay on 12 July, white the 196th FBS had preceded them by two days on the USS Sitkoh Bay. The USAF, having learned from the expensive previous experience with open air transportation of the F-84 on an aircraft carrier deck, heavily protected their F-84s this time with cosmoline and tarpaulins. The Wing off-loaded at Yokosuka Naval Base, Japan between 24–27 July, with their aircraft being barged to Kisarazu, Japan for cleaning and preparation for flight. Regardless of the care taken, thirty-three F-84s suffered some degree of salt damage.
Two squadrons, the 158th and 159th FBS's were then sent to Misawa Air Base, Japan while the 196th was established at Chitose Air Base, Japan. Their initial role was to serve as an augmentation of Japanese air defenses, and their op¬erational training began on 6 August. The 116th FBW remained on garrison duty in Japan into the Fall of 1951. During this period they concentrated on providing air-to-ground support to Army units training in Japan as well as assisting in providing aerial defense of northern Japan as a supplement to the other air defense units.
On 30 November 1951 the 159th FBS was alerted for a combat role, and on 2 December they dispatched sixteen F-84Es to Taegu AB (K-2), South Korea. The 159th FBS flew their first combat mission of twelve Thunderjets to rail targets at Wonsan in southeastern North Korea that morning. Three F-84s suffered flak damage. They then returned again that afternoon. The following day they again returned to Wonsan two fly two more strikes. Further missions were flown on 4 and 5 December, and then on 6 December they sent twelve F-84s to Sinanju and Sunchon, also in North Korea on a rail cutting mission, and then returned to Misawa AB.
On 12 December the 1116th FBW pilots flew eighty-eight effective combat sorties. On 25 December 15 the 158th FBS was attacking a train when they were jumped by North Korean MiG-15s that attacked from 20,000 feet in pairs from the F-84s Six O'clock High position. Captain Paul Mitchel, flying as "Able 3" saw two MiGs behind two F-84s, so he came in behind them and closed to 100 feet, firing on the MiG leader's wingman. The MiG pilot bailed out, and his leader slowed down to see what was happening, so Mitchel fired on him, too, scoring some hits. Mitchel was credited with 1-0-1, obtaining the last officially credited F-84 MiG kill during the Korean War, and the only "kill" for the 116th FBW. The following day, 16 December the 158th FBS lost their only aircraft attributed to enemy action during the conflict. While strafing ox carts south of Pyongyang Captain David Mather, "George 3," was hit by antiaircraft fire and his F-84 burst into flames. His wingman told him to bailout, and Mather's canopy was seen to come off, but the F-84 crashed before he could get out. On 18 December the 158th FBS returned to Japan.
The 196th FBS, started for Taegu AB (K-2) on 26 December for their turn, but didn't get there until 28 December, because of weather problems. The 196th FBS flew missions from K-2 until 3 January 1952, mostly close air support, with a 70% accuracy, and returned to Japan on 4 January 1952. The 116th FBG returned to combat on 26 May 1952. The first mission was with sixteen F-84Es that flew from Misawa to Chitose AB for a pilot briefing, and then after arming with 500 pound General Purpose bombs, they took off for an attack against Sariwon, in southwestern North Korea. The F-84s were refueled en route by KB-29 Superfortress tankers near Taegu, South Korea upon their return from the target, which gave any aircraft unable to be aerial refueled an alternate landing spot. After refueling the mission landed at Johnson Air Base, Japan and resumed the air defense mission.
On 10 June 1952 the 116th FBW was relieved from assignment to Tactical Air Command and reassigned to Far East Air Force without personnel. The Guardsmen were returned to the United States, the jets and equipment of the Wing were then re-designated as the 474th Fighter-Bomber Wing and assigned to Fifth Air Force.
After the Korean War, the squadron was re-organized and re-formed by January 1953. It was equipped with the long-range F-51H Mustang and remained a part of Tactical Air Command
The squadron moved from Norton AFB to the Ontario Municipal Airport, California on 1 January 1954. In February 1954, it was equipped with F-86A Sabre. By July 1955 the transition from the F-51H Mustang to the F-86A Sabre was complete. The squadron was re-designated a Fighter Interceptor unit with an air defense mission for the Los Angeles area and transferred to Air Defense Command. With the F-86A, the squadrons began standing dusk-to-dawn alerts, joining its Air Defense Command active-duty counterparts. The squadron received newer F-86F Sabres in 1957
On 17 May 1958, the California Air National Guard 196th FIS was authorized to expand to a group level, and the 163d Fighter-Interceptor Group was established by the National Guard Bureau. The 196th FIS becoming the group's flying squadron. Other squadrons assigned into the group were the 163d Headquarters, 163d Material Squadron (Maintenance), 163d Combat Support Squadron, and the 163d USAF Dispensary.
ADC upgraded the squadron to F-86H Sabre day interceptors in 1959 and F-102 Delta Daggers in 1965. The F-102 was being phased out of active-duty units in the early 1960s, the 196th being one of the last units to replace their F-86 Sabres. The aircraft, however, was obsolete as an interceptor by the time it was received by the 196th. The Delta Darts soldiered into the early 1970s with the squadron as they were being retired to AMARC at Davis-Monthan AFB.
Serving with distinction, the unit received two Air Force Outstanding Unit Awards for extended periods ending in 1964 and 1974.
Tactical Air Command
On 8 March 1975, the unit once again took on the challenge of a new mission and was reassigned under the Tactical Air Command as the 163d Tactical Air Support Group. The 163d received the 0-2A/B "Super Skymaster" to accomplish the unit's new role.
In October 1982, the 163d officially assumed a tactical fighter role flying the F-4C Phantom II. The group concurrently moved to March AFB, near Riverside into new facilities built for the unit. The 163d transitioned to the upgraded F-4E on 1 April 1987. This newer aircraft incorporated more sophisticated electronics and weaponry.
On 21 March 1987, Captain Dean Paul Martin (son of entertainer Dean Martin), a pilot in the 196th Tactical Fighter Squadron crashed his F-4C into San Gorgonio Mountain, California shortly after departure from March AFB. Both Martin and his weapons system officer (WSO) were killed.
In July 1990, the unit once again changed missions and was redesignated the 163d Tactical Reconnaissance Group. The 163d was equipped with RF-4C Phantom II unarmed reconnaissance aircraft and maintained a dual state/federal mission. The unit's primary mission was to provide tactical reconnaissance to all friendly forces. The unit was also actively involved in state wide missions. This was accomplished by using a system of visual, optical, electronic, and other sensory devices. During this time the aircrews accumulated over 30,000 hours of flying time and the unit deployed across both the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans.
After the end of Operation Desert Storm in 1991, the phaseout of the RF-4C Phantom II with the Air National Guard was accelerated In 1993, the 163d was transferred to Air Mobility Command and the RF-4s were retired to Davis-Monthan AFB. It became an Air Refueling Group and was equipped with KC-135E Stratotankers.
In 1999, the 163rd deployed nearly 100 members and three KC-135R aircraft in support of Operation Allied Force. The 163d flew combat missions around-the-clock refueling NATO aircraft, including complex night formation sorties with the F-117A.
1999 also saw the 163d's Pacer CRAG conversion begin in June and complete by the end of the year. This extensive aircraft modernization project meant intensive aircrew training and is expected to extend the life of the 40 year-old Boeing jet beyond the year 2020.
In one of the highest profile military events of the year, nearly 100 members and three KC-135R aircraft from the 163d Air Refueling Wing deployed in support of Operation Allied Force. The 163d flew combat missions around-the-clock refueling NATO aircraft, including complex night formation sorties with the F-117A Nighthawk Stealth Fighter.
The 196th ARS were widely recognized for Wing and Squadron achievements in 1999 and earned the prestigious Air Force Outstanding Unit Award for the fourth time. The award covers a period during which the unit deployed 300 personnel and three aircraft to Pisa Airport, Italy in support of Operation Decisive Endeavor and also flew as the lead unit in support of flight operations over Bosnia. The 163d Operations Support Flight, 163d Logistics Group, 163d Logistics Squadron, and the 196th Air Refueling Squadron all earned the Governor's Outstanding Unit Citation.
The 163d ARW provided support to NATO's Operation Joint Forge while deployed to Istres Air Base, France from 31 October through 3 December 2000, deploying three KC-135 Stratotanker air refueling aircraft along with nearly 210 personnel.
Under Air Expeditionary Force 9, the Grizzlies also sent personnel to Kuwait, Germany, France, Saudi Arabia and Turkey from October through December 2000
Unmanned Aerial Vehicle operations
The Air National Guard formally stood up the first of several units that will operate the MQ-1 Predator armed unmanned reconnaissance aircraft. During a ceremony 28 November 2007, at March Air Reserve Base in southern California, the 163d Air Refueling Wing officially became the 163d Reconnaissance Wing (RW), taking on the Predator mission in place of operating KC-135R Stratotanker aerial refueling aircraft. The wing's last KC-135R tanker left in April 2008 The Wing was the first Air National Guard unit to receive the MQ-1 Predator and was the first to become a fully functional ANG Flying Training Unit (FTU) and Field Training Detachment (FTD) for the Predator.
The FTU falls under Air Combat Command and trains pilots and sensor operators to become Predator aircrew. The FTD, which falls under Air Education and Training Command, trains enlisted personnel to build, maintain and repair the Predator.
- Constituted 411th Fighter Squadron on 25 May 1943
- Activated on 15 August 1943
- Inactivated on 7 November 1945.
- Re-designated 196th Fighter Squadron, and allotted to California ANG, on 24 May 1946.
- Extended federal recognition on 9 November 1946
- Re-designated 196th Fighter Squadron (Jet Propelled), 1 June 1948
- Federalized and placed on active duty, 10 October 1950
- Re-designated: 196th Fighter-Bomber Squadron, 11 November 1950
- Released from active duty and returned to California state control, 10 July 1952
- Re-designated: 196th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron, 1 July 1955
- Re-designated: 196th Tactical Air Support Squadron, 8 March 1975
- Re-designated: 196th Tactical Fighter Squadron, 1 October 1982
- Re-designated: 196th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron, 1 July 1990
- Re-designated: 196th Reconnaissance Squadron, 16 March 1992
- Re-designated: 196th Air Refueling Squadron, 1 October 1993
- Re-designated: 196th Reconnaissance Squadron, 1 November 2006
- 373d Fighter Group, 15 August 1943 – 7 November 1945
- 146th Fighter Group, 9 November 1946
- 146th Composite Wing, 1 October 1950
- 116th Fighter-Bomber Wing, 10 October 1950
- California Air National Guard, 10 July 1952
- Not Manned or equipped
- 146th Fighter Wing, 1 January 1953
- 146th Fighter-Interceptor Wing, 1 July 1955
- 163d Fighter-Interceptor Group, 17 May 1958
- 163d Tactical Air Support Group, 8 March 1975
- 163d Tactical Fighter Group, 1 October 1982
- 163d Tactical Reconnaissance Group, 1 July 1990
- 163d Reconnaissance Group, 16 March 1992
- 163d Air Refueling Group, 1 October 1993
- 163d Operations Group, 1 October 1995 – present
- Mauer, Mauer (1969), Combat Squadrons of the Air Force, World War II, Air Force Historical Studies Office, Maxwell AFB, Alabama. ISBN 0-89201-097-5
- Rogers, B. (2006). United States Air Force Unit Designations Since 1978. ISBN 1-85780-197-0
- Cornett, Lloyd H. and Johnson, Mildred W., A Handbook of Aerospace Defense Organization 1946 - 1980, Office of History, Aerospace Defense Center, Peterson AFB, CO (1980).
- TIOH 196th Reconnaissance Squadron