General Mitchell Air National Guard Base
|General Mitchell Air National Guard Base
Billy Mitchell Field
|Part of Wisconsin Air National Guard (WI ANG)|
|Located near: Milwaukee, Wisconsin|
A KC-135R from the 128th Air Refueling Wing, General Mitchell Air National Guard Base
|Controlled by||United States Air Force|
128th Air Refueling Wing
|IATA: MKE – ICAO: KMKE – FAA LID: MKE|
|Elevation AMSL||723 ft / 220 m|
The 128th Air Refueling Wing, Wisconsin Air National Guard, has had a long and illustrious record of service to the State of Wisconsin and the United States of America. From natural disasters to service in the Korean War, Desert Storm, Restore Hope and Deny Flight, the men and women of the 128th Air Refueling Wing have responded to changing world events and tasking requirements with dignity, honor and courage.
On October 5, 1926, the Milwaukee County Board approved the $150,000 purchase of a new airport facility. The land was owned by Thomas Hamilton, a local aviator who operated a propeller manufacturing business and small airport. Soon after the Hamilton land purchase, aviation activity at the Currie Park site ceased and was transferred to the new location.
The first airport terminal, the Hirschbuehl Farmhouse, opened on the Hamilton Airport site in July 1927. That same month Northwest Airlines, Inc., initiated air service from Milwaukee to Chicago and Minneapolis-St. Paul. World-famous aviator Charles A. Lindbergh visited the Milwaukee airport on August 20, 1927.
During the late depression years (from 1938 to July, 1940), a new two-story terminal building was constructed by the Works Progress Administration (WPA). In 1941, the name of the Milwaukee County Airport was changed to "General Mitchell Field" after Milwaukee's military advocate, Brigadier General William "Billy" Mitchell.
Air Force Reserve units have been flying from what was then called General Mitchell field since 1952. The 440th Airlift Wing has a long tradition of service and award winning excellence and traces its heritage back to World War II. The original 440th was a Troop Carrier Group, established in June 1943. After a year of flying training and preparations for duty overseas, the unit began operations on the 6th of June 1944: D-Day.
Using C-47 Skytrains, and Waco CG-4A "Hadrians" the 440th flew paratroop drop and glider missions during the first critical days of the Normandy Invasion. For this, the 440th TCG earned the Distinguished Unit Citation. It went on to participate in the invasion of Southern France, Operation Market Garden missions into the Netherlands, the re-supply of the trapped 101st Airborne Division during the Battle of the Bulge, and the crossing of the Rhine in March 1945, earning seven Bronze Battle Stars in the process.
Established as a Reserve unit in 1949, the 440th moved to Minneapolis-St. Paul where it assumed the airlift mission until 1 May 1951, when it was activated for the Korean War. Three days later it was decided to use the personnel assigned to the 440th to supplement other Troop Carrier Wings and the unit was inactivated. After the Korean War the 440th was reactivated as a Fighter-Bomber Wing at Minneapolis-St. Paul, and re-equipped with F-80, and T-33 jet aircraft. It performed this role until 1957, when it recaptured the airlift mission and was re-designated the 440th Troop Carrier Wing and transferred to its present home at General Mitchell Air National Guard Base, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.