Puerto Rico Air National Guard
|Puerto Rico Air National Guard|
198th Airlift Squadron - Lockheed C-130E 64-0510 at Muniz ANGB, San Juan. The 198th is the oldest unit in the Puerto Rico Air National Guard, having over 67 years of service to the state and nation
|Active||23 November 1947 - present|
|Allegiance||Constitution of the United States|
|Branch||United States Air Force|
|Type||Air National Guard|
|Role||"To meet Commonwealth and federal mission responsibilities."|
|Part of||Puerto Rico National Guard
United States National Guard Bureau
|Garrison/HQ||Puerto Rico Air National Guard, Muñiz Air National Guard Base, 200 Carr Sector Central Carolina, Puerto Rico 00986|
|Civilian leadership||President Barack Obama
Michael B. Donley
(Secretary of the Air Force)
Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla
(Governor of Puerto Rico)
|State military leadership||Brigadier General Juan Jose Medina Lamela|
|Emblem of the Puerto Rico Air National Guard|
The Puerto Rico Air National Guard (PRANG) —Spanish: Guardia Nacional Aérea de Puerto Rico— is the air force militia of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, an unincorporated territory of the United States of America. It is, along with the Puerto Rico Army National Guard, an element of the Puerto Rico National Guard.
As commonwealth militia units, the units in the Puerto Rico Air National Guard are not in the normal United States Air Force chain of command. They are under the jurisdiction of the Governor of Puerto Rico though the office of the Puerto Rico Adjutant General unless they are federalized by order of the President of the United States. The Puerto Rico Air National Guard is headquartered at San Juan commanded by BG Wayne Zimmet. The 156th Airlift Wing at Muñiz Air National Guard Base, Carolina, and its commander is Col Gilberto Cuevas-Gerena.
Under the "Total Force" concept, Puerto Rico Air National Guard units are considered to be Air Reserve Components (ARC) of the United States Air Force (USAF). Puerto Rico ANG units are trained and equipped by the Air Force and are operationally gained by a Major Command of the USAF if federalized. In addition, the Puerto Rico Air National Guard forces are assigned to Air Expeditionary Forces and are subject to deployment tasking orders along with their active duty and Air Force Reserve counterparts in their assigned cycle deployment window.
Along with their federal reserve obligations, as commonwealth militia units the elements of the Puerto Rico ANG are subject to being activated by order of the Governor to provide protection of life and property, and preserve peace, order and public safety. Commonwealth missions include disaster relief in times of earthquakes, hurricanes, floods and forest fires, search and rescue, protection of vital public services, and support to civil defense.
The Puerto Rico Air National Guard consists of the following major unit:
- Established 23 November 1947 (as: 198th Fighter Squadron); operates: C-130E Hercules
- Stationed at: Muñiz Air National Guard Base, Carolina
- Gained by: Air Mobility Command
Support Unit Functions and Capabilities:
- During exercises, contingencies, or actual war, the 141st Air Control Squadron's Command and Control mission is to provide meteorological support and deploy with, advise, and assist the ground force commander in planning, requesting, coordinating and controlling close air support, tactical air reconnaissance, and tactical airlift.
- 140th Air Defense Squadron. - Fixed Radar Unit, Punta Salinas - Toa Baja
- The mission of the 140th Air Defense Squadron involves work with a variety of satellites and systems to provide individuals in the field with real-time space situational awareness.
On November 23, 1947, the Puerto Rico Air National Guard came into existence as a result of the efforts led by Colonel Mihiel Gilormini also known as "El Gallo de Yauco", Colonel Alberto A. Nido and Lieutenant Colonel José Antonio Muñiz. Gilormini was promoted to brigadier general and served as commander until his retirement in 1975. Colonel Nido was promoted to Brigadier General and served at National Guard Headquarters as Chief of Staff for Air. Brigadier General Jose M. Portela, the youngest C-141 Starlifter aircraft commander and captain was the only reservist ever to serve as director of mobility forces for Bosnia, served as commander of the Puerto Rico Air National Guard from January 11, 2005 to November 2006.
The tactical aviation element of PRANG operates as the 156th Airlift Wing, 198th Airlift Squadron, flying C-130E aircraft. They operate out of Muñiz Air National Guard Base, which shares the runways with Luiz Muñoz Marín International Airport (SJU, originally San Juan International Airport). In the past, they have operated P-47 Thunderbolts, C-47 Skytrains, C-45, T-6 Texan, B-26 Invader, L-5 Sentinel, T-33 Shooting Star, F-86D, F-86E, and F-86H Sabre Jets, F-104 Starfighters, C-54, T-29, C-131, U-3, O-2, A-7D Corsair II, F-16 Fighting Falcons, C-26, and currently, C-130 Hercules type aircraft. Phasing out the F-16s left Puerto Rico with no air-to-air defense assets.
Muñiz Air National Guard Base
Muñiz Air National Guard Base or "Base Muñiz" in Carolina, Puerto Rico was formally named in 1963 to honor of one of the initial members of the unit who was killed in the line of duty. Lieutenant Colonel José Antonio Muñiz (full name: José Antonio Muñiz Vazquez) was lost on July 4, 1960 when his F-86D lost power on climbout for a formation fly-by. Major General Orlando Llenza, then a fellow aviator in the unit, later described the loss in the following translation:
We were short one pilot and Joe offered to stand in. I was formation lead. Right after departing the runway, his afterburner nozzles failed open, indicating a loss of power. The ejection seats in use at the time could not safely extract a pilot at low altitude and Joe went in little after takeoff. No one in the flight mentioned the event; we executed the flyover and were notified of the loss upon our return to base. Shortly after that, we received the F-86H which did not use afterburning and could fly non-stop from homestead AFB (in Florida) to San Juan unlike the previous D and E models, which had to stop for fuel at Guantanamo, Cuba. .
1981 Terrorist Attack
On 12 January 1981, the Ejército Popular Boricua (Boricua Popular Army), a Puerto Rican terrorist organization, carried out multiple bombings at the Muniz Air National Guard Base. At the time, it was the largest attack on U.S. military forces since the Vietnam War. The attack was timed to coincide with the birthday of the Puerto Rican independence advocate Eugenio María de Hostos. The attack incurred approximately $45,000,000 damage to ten A-7D aircraft and a single F-104 by eleven terrorists of the Popular Army of Puerto Rico, also known as "The Macheteros." The unit was equipped with eighteen A-7D and one F-104 aircraft.
Eleven saboteurs, disguised in military uniforms, penetrated the security fence and infiltrated the A-7 parking ramp through a hole cut in the perimeter chain link fence. Investigators believe that some, if not all, arrived near the ramp in a boat surreptitiously guided along a nearby channel. The operation occurred during security police (SP) shift changeover. Security was provided by contracted, operations and maintenance-funded guards. The perpetrators exited using the reverse of their entry method. Choosing to strike at shift change indicates the possibility of prior surveillance or insider information. The terrorists placed approximately 25 explosive devices on the aircraft.
The planes were destroyed using individual satchels containing four sticks of Iremite (an emulsion explosive) with detonators and incendiary charges. They were time-delayed using a simple but effective watch and battery combination.
The explosives were stolen from a Puerto Rican explosives factory, with the theft traced to Ejército Popular Boricua. The AFOSI (United States Air Force Office of Special Investigations) called the explosives “sophisticated”. The entire operation took less than eight minutes, and this group of semiskilled intruders was able to inflict severe damage to mission capability.
Press coverage was substantial at the time of the incident, but died down quickly. This was the first peacetime incident in which USAF aircraft were destroyed by a terrorist act, and the first time terrorists had attacked a USAF installation on US soil. It was greatest material loss from any single act of terrorism perpetrated against the USAF anywhere in the world. The National Guard Bureau (NGB) was aware of the shortfalls in security at Muniz and of the threat, yet corrective actions had not been implemented at the time. The bombings resulted in increases in base security. It was revealed that there were to be 22 personnel, up from 11, guarding the base, funded entirely by the federal government as well as electric devices added to the fence.
Destroyed aircraft were A-7D serial numbers 70-1050; 72-0189; 72-0219; 72-0221; 72-0222; 73-0994; 73-1005; 74-1748, and 74-1755
- Vicens (2012; in Spanish) "[...] la Guardia Nacional cuenta con aproximadamente 7,200 soldados en la rama del ejército, 1,200 en la fuerza aérea, para un total de 8,400 ciudadanos-soldados y aviadores federales y 368 empleados civiles en apoyo a la fuerza militar federal [...]"
- Vicens, Antonio (2012). "Ponencia Vista de Transición Gubernamental 2012" (in Spanish). Retrieved February 27, 2014.
- 140th ADS goang.com
- GlobalSecurity.org: 156th Airlift Wing
- National Guard Bureau biography of Brigadier General Jose M. Portela
- Why is the PRANG base at SJU called Muñiz?
- Anderson, Sean and Stephen Sloan. The Historical Dictionary of Terrorism, Scarecrow Press, 2009 ISBN 081085764, Pg. 409
- Operation/event name: Sabotage to A-7 Aircraft at Muniz ANGB, PR, Jan 81
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