West Virginia Air National Guard

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West Virginia Air National Guard
167th AS C-5A Galaxy.jpg
167th Airlift Squadron C-5 Galaxy at Martisburg AGB. The 167th is the oldest unit in the West Virginia Air National Guard, having over 60 years of service to the state and nation
Active 7 March 1947 - present
Country  United States
Allegiance  West Virginia
Branch US-AirNationalGuard-2007Emblem.svg  Air National Guard
Role "To meet state and federal mission responsibilities."
Part of West Virginia Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety
United States National Guard Bureau
Garrison/HQ West Virginia Air National Guard, 1703 Coonskin Drive, Charleston, West Virginia, 25311
Commanders
Civilian leadership President Barack Obama
(Commander-in-Chief)
Governor Earl Ray Tomblin
(Governor of the State of West Virginia)
State military leadership Major General Hoyer
Insignia
Emblem of the West Virginia Air National Guard West Virginia Air National Guard HQ patch.svg
Aircraft flown
Transport C-130H Hercules  C-5 Galaxy

The West Virginia Air National Guard (WV ANG) is the air force militia of the State of West Virginia, United States of America. It is, along with the West Virginia Army National Guard, an element of the West Virginia National Guard.

As state militia units, the units in the West Virginia Air National Guard are not in the normal United States Air Force chain of command. They are under the jurisdiction of the Governor of West Virginia though the office of the West Virginia Adjutant General unless they are federalized by order of the President of the United States. The West Virginia Air National Guard is headquartered Charleston, and its commander is Major General Hoyer.

Overview[edit]

Under the "Total Force" concept, West Virginia Air National Guard units are considered to be Air Reserve Components (ARC) of the United States Air Force (USAF). West Virginia 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 West Virginia 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 state militia units the elements of the West Virginia 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. State 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.

Components[edit]

The West Virginia Air National Guard consists of the following major unit:

Established 1 October 1955; operates: C-130E Hercules
Stationed at: Charleston Air National Guard Base, Charleston
Gained by: Air Mobility Command
The 130th Airlift Wing provides tactical airlift in support of the United States Air Force and the State of West Virginia.[1]
Established 7 March 1947 (as: 167th Fighter Squadron); operates: C-5 Galaxy
Stationed at: Shepherd Field Air National Guard Base, Martinsburg
Gained by: Air Mobility Command
The 167th Airlift Wing flies the C-5 Galaxy with its tremendous payload capability, provides the Air Mobility Command airlift in support of United States national defense.[2]

History[edit]

On 24 May 1946, the United States Army Air Forces, in response to dramatic postwar military budget cuts imposed by President Harry S. Truman, allocated inactive unit designations to the National Guard Bureau for the formation of an Air Force National Guard. These unit designations were allotted and transferred to various State National Guard bureaus to provide them unit designations to re-establish them as Air National Guard units.[3]

West Virginia ANG F-51D Mustang. The 167th Fighter Squadron flew the F-51 from 1948 to 1957. The West Virginia ANG was the last Air National Guard unit to be equipped with the Mustang in squadron service. The last F-51 (44-72948) was retired to serve as a museum piece at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base on 27 January 1957.

The West Virginia Air National Guard origins date to 7 March 1947 with the establishment of the 167th Fighter Squadron and is oldest unit of the West Virginia Air National Guard. It was federally recognized and activated at Kanawha Airport, Charleston, and was equipped with F-51D Mustangs. Its mission was the air defense of the state. 18 September 1947, however, is considered the West Virginia Air National Guard's official birth concurrent with the establishment of the United States Air Force as a separate branch of the United States military under the National Security Act.[3]

On 10 October 1950, the unit and all personnel were sworn in for 21 months of active duty during the Korean War. Most personnel and all aircraft became part of the 123d Fighter-Bomber Wing, located at Godman AFB, Kentucky. Some members transferred to RAF Manston near London, England, flying F-84 Thunderjet aircraft. Other seasoned (experienced) pilots transferred to Far East Air Force for combat dury in the Korean War. Released from active duty on 9 July 1952, the 167th Fighter Interceptor Squadron returned to Charleston, West Virginia and the F-51 Mustang aircraft.

Because of limitations at Kanawha Airport at that time, that could not accommodate jet aircraft, a search for a new home in West Virginia began. Shepherd Field at Martinsburg received approval as the new site on 21 September 1955. The official move came on 3 December 1955, when the 167th left Charleston and for Martinsburg.

The West Virginia Air National Guard was authorized to expand to two squadrons in 1955 by the National Guard Bureau. On 1 October, the 130th Troop Carrier Squadron had been organized at Kanawha Airport, Charleston and was extended federal recognition. The squadron was assigned to Tactical Air Command, which placed it under its Eighteenth Air Force. It was equipped with Grumman HU-16 Albatross amphibians and C-46 Commando troop transports. The mission of the 130th TCS was primarily Air Commando special operations missions.

Today, the 130th Airlift Wing (130 AW) provides tactical airlift support to Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps and allied nation aircraft. The 167th Airlift Wing (167 AW) provides global airlift to Air Mobiity Command, with its C-5 Galaxy transports operating globally in support of the active-duty missions of the Air Force. .

West Virginia ANG C-130H Hercules flying over Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, the junction of the Potomac and Shenandoah (left) rivers.

After the September 11th, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States, elements of every Air National Guard unit in West Virginia has been activated in support of the Global War on Terrorism. Flight crews, aircraft maintenance personnel, communications technicians, air controllers and air security personnel were engaged in Operation Noble Eagle air defense overflights of major United States cities. Also, West Virginia ANG units have been deployed overseas as part of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan and Operation Iraqi Freedom in Iraq as well as other locations as directed.

On 13 May 2005, the Department of Defense released its Base Realignment and Closure, 2005 (BRAC) report, and the 130th Airlift Wing was one of the units slated to be eventually decommissioned. Its complement of eight C-130H aircraft would be realigned to Pope Air Force Base, and its complement of expeditionary combat support (ECS) personnel to the 167th Airlift Wing.

Upon learning of this, several former commanders of the 130th Airlift Wing along with members of the local Kanawha County Commission and the Yeager Airport Board of Directors formed the Keep 'Em Flying grassroots organization to try to prevent the unit from being decommissioned. Following an outpouring of community support, money was raised for newspaper ads and radio ads, and to hire analysts familiar with BRAC, all in an attempt to save the unit. On June 13, 2005, members of the BRAC commission came to Charleston to evaluate the base and talk to General Tackett, Governor Joe Manchin, Senator Robert Byrd, Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito and Col. Bill Peters, Jr., former commander of the 130th and chair for Keep 'Em Flying.

Following this visit, and taking in all the information that was presented to them during that time, the BRAC commission voted unanimously, 9–0, to keep the unit intact.

References[edit]

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

External links[edit]