137th Air Refueling Wing

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137th Air Refueling Wing
465th Air Refueling Squadron Boeing KC-135A-BN Stratotanker 58-0121.jpg
465th Air Refueling Squadron Boeing KC-135R-BN Stratotanker 58-0121
Active 1950-1952; 1952–Present
Country  United States
Allegiance  Oklahoma
Branch US-AirNationalGuard-2007Emblem.svg  Air National Guard
Type Wing
Role Air Refueling
Part of Oklahoma Air National Guard
Garrison/HQ Will Rogers Air National Guard Base, Oklahoma.
Motto Tontrinus e Caelo, then Thunder from the Sky[1]
Maj Gen Stanley F.H. Newman
137th Air Refueling Wing emblem 137th Airlift Wing.png
137th Fighter-Bomber Wing emblem (Approved 6 June 1952)[2] 137th Fighter-Bomber Wing 1952 Emblem.jpg
Tail Marking Blue tail stripe "Tinker" in yellow
Aircraft flown
Fighter P/F-51, F-80, F-84, F-86
Transport C-97, C-124, C-130
Tanker KC-135

The 137th Air Refueling Wing is a unit of the Oklahoma Air National Guard with facilities at both Tinker Air Force Base and Will Rogers Air National Guard Base, Oklahoma. If activated to federal service, the wing is gained by Air Mobility Command. During World War II, its predecessor, the 404th Fighter Group, flying Republic P-47 Thunderbolts, provided close air support to troops following the Operation Overlord, the Normandy landing until the close of the war. The wing is entitled to the honors won by the group by temporary bestowal.

The wing was activated during the Korean War and deployed to France. The unit later engaged in strategic and tactical airlift before being redesignated as an air refueling wing.


Media related to 137th Air Refueling Wing (Oklahoma Air National Guard) at Wikimedia Commons

The 137th Air Refueling Wing's KC-135 Stratotanker mission is to provide the core aerial refueling capability for the U.S. Air Force and the Air Guard. This unique aircraft enhances the Air Force's capability to accomplish its primary missions of Global Reach and Global Power. It also provides aerial refueling support to Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps, and allied nation aircraft. The KC-135 is capable of transporting litter and ambulatory patients using patient support pallets during aeromedical evacuations.

The wing is associated with the 507th Air Refueling Wing. Under this Air Force Reserve Command - Air National Guard Guard associate organization, the 507th is the host wing with all 12 KC-135 aircraft. The Oklahoma Air National Guard maintains separate administrative and operational control of the wing, but it is associated with the 507th, working together to fly and maintain all aircraft. For deployable tasking, both wings will function with six primary aircraft assigned. However the wing is in the process of converting to a special operations mission and returning to Will Rogers Air National Guard Base.


The 137th Air Refueling Wing consists of the following units:

  • 137th Operations Group
  • 137th Maintenance Group
  • 137th Mission Support Group
  • 137th Medical Group
  • 137th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron


Korean War federalization[edit]

The 137th was activated as the 137th Fighter-Bomber Wing on 26 October 1950 during the Korean War. It was the headquarters for the federalized 137th Fighter-Bomber Group and newly-formed support units under the wing base organization system. The wing was assigned to Tactical Air Command, with the 137th Air Base Group, 137th Maintenance and Supply Group and the 137th Medical Group also assigned. The 137th was programmed to reinforce USAFE and be moved to Chaumont-Semoutiers Air Base, France, one of the new air bases in France that was then under construction.

By 27 November, the wing assembled at Alexandria Municipal Airport, Louisiana, for conversion training in the newer Republic F-84 Thunderjets. Deployment of the wing was delayed, however, by the need to transfer pilots to Korea from training and delays in receiving engines for the F-84Gs, as well as the ongoing construction at Chaumont Air Base. Training and delays continued throughout 1951. Due to the delays, many of the activated National Guard airmen were released from active duty and never deployed to France.

With mostly regular Air Force personnel and all the delays behind them, the remaining Guardsmen departed Louisiana on 5 May 1952 for Europe; however, the 137th inherited a base that was little more than acres of mud where wheat fields used to be. The only hardened facilities at Chaumont were a concrete runway and a handful of tar-paper shacks. The 137th was stationed by USAFE at Neubiberg Air Base, West Germany until the facilities in France were suitable for military use. The aircraft arrived at Chaumont on 25 June, being the first USAF tactical air fighters to be based permanently in France, albeit working mostly in tents and temporary wooden buildings on their new base.

The 137th was inactivated on 10 July 1952 and its personnel, mission and equipment were transferred to the 48th Fighter-Bomber Wing, which was activated the same day at Chaumont. The wing was allotted to the Oklahoma Air National Guard, which activated it the same day at Will Rogers World Airport.

Oklahoma Air National Guard[edit]

Fighter-Interceptor mission[edit]

The 137th was gained by Tactical Air Command (TAC), and its squadrons were equipped with North American F-51D Mustangs again, due to the shortage of jet aircraft in the United States (almost all were in Korea). In the spring of 1953 they received reworked F-80A Shooting Star aircraft, brought up to F-80C standards.

In 1955 the Oklahoma Air National Guard was redesignated '137th Fighter-Interceptor Wing and given a fighter-interceptor mission with Air Defense Command (ADC) becoming its gaining command.

The 185th was designated a Fighter-Interceptor Squadron, and equipped with F-86D Sabre Interceptors. Their F-80s were transferred to the civilian Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for various experimental testing activities. With the Fighter-Interceptor mission assignment, the 185th also assumed ADC runway alert program on full 24-hour basis. This brought the 137th into the daily combat operational program of the USAF, placing us on "the end of the runway" alongside regular USAF Air Defense Fighter Squadrons. On 1 August 1957, the squadrons of its 137th Fighter Group were expanded into groups as Fighter Groups (Air Defenes) and the wing became the 137th Air Defense Wing, modeling its organization on that of ADC. In June 1959 the squadron traded their F-86Ds for the upgraded F-86L Sabre Interceptor with uprated afterburning engines and new electronics.

Strategic airlift[edit]

In April 1961, the 137th was reassigned to Military Air Transport Service as the 137th Air Transport Wing, trading in its Sabre interceptors for 4-engined Boeing C-97 Stratofreighter transports. The wing augmented MATS airlift capability world-wide in support of the Air Force’s needs. Throughout the 1960s, the 125th flew long-distance transport missions in support of Air Force requirements, frequently sending aircraft to the Caribbean, Europe, Australia, Hawaii, Japan, the Philippines, and during the Vietnam War, to both South Vietnam, Okinawa and Thailand. in 1966, MATS was replaced by Military Airlift Command,

Part of the 137th Wing mission was a specially equipped C-97E, 51-224, the "Miss Oklahoma City" also known as the "Talking Bird". From 1961 though 1963 the aircraft was used as an airborne command post to maintain constant secure communications between the nation's capital and President John F. Kennedy during his visits to foreign countries.

The C-97s were retired in 1968 and the wing was re-equipped with C-124C Globemaster II heavy transports. The Group continued to fly long-distance intercontinental airlift flights until the Globemasters were retired in 1975.

Tactical airlift[edit]

185th Airlift Squadron Lockheed C-130H, AF Ser. No. 78-0806, in 2000, wearing the new tactical grey paint scheme used by the unit

In 1975 the 137th Military Airlift Wing became the 137th Tactical Airlift Wing when it was re-equipped with the C-130A Hercules tactical airlifter. In June 1979 its 185th Tactical Airlift Squadron was the first Air National Guard unit to receive C-130H aircraft, receiving new aircraft direct from Lockheed.

In subsequent years the wing served in humanitarian missions worldwide. During the 1990s it provided Counter-drug support coordinated through the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs. As of mid-2001, numerous drug enforcement operations have resulted in the destruction of 7.2 million marijuana plants, estimated 4.1 billion dollars in destroyed drugs, 814 arrests, 165 seized weapons, and 1.1 million dollars in currency and assets seized.

Following the Oklahoma City bombing in April 1995, Air Guardsmen provided site security and medical, rescue, and recovery personnel, assisting in every aspect of the disaster rescue and recovery effort.

The 137th Airlift Wing provided operational support during the 1991 Gulf War, and contributed logistical assistance in Bosnia in the late 1990s. Personnel from the 137th Airlift Wing aided New Mexico ranchers faced with livestock devastation after severe winter storms covered the grasslands with snow. 137th aircrew delivered much needed hay to starving livestock, averting near disaster to New Mexico's livestock industry.

Current status[edit]

In its 2005 BRAC Recommendations, DoD recommended to realign the Will Rogers Air National Guard Station by relocating the 137th to Tinker Air Force Base and associate with the 507th Air Refueling Wing and redesignated it as the 137th Air Refueling Wing. The 137th's C-130H aircraft would be distributed to the Texas Air National Guard's 136th Airlift Wing at NAS JRB Fort Worth, TX (4 aircraft), and the Missouri Air National Guard's 139th Airlift Wing at Rosecrans Memorial Airport/Rosecrans Air National Guard Base, MO (4 aircraft). The other elements of the 137th's Expeditionary Combat Support Group would remain in place at Will Rogers Air National Guard Base.

Since October 2008, the 185th Air Refueling Squadron aircrews jointly operate the KC-135R Stratotanker aircraft at Tinker AFB with the aircrews of the Air Force Reserve 465th Air Refueling Squadron.

As of 2015, the 137th Air Refueling Wing is slated to transition from Air Mobility Command claimancy as a KC-135R unit at Tinker AFB, to Air Force Special Operations Command claimancy as an MC-12W unit, returning flight operations to Will Rogers Air National Guard Base at Will Rogers World Airport and with the wing being renamed as the 137th Special Operations Wing (137 SOW).[3][4]


  • Established as the 137th Fighter-Bomber Wing and activated on 26 October 1950
  • Inactivated and allotted to the Oklahoma Air National Guard on 10 July 1952
Activated on 10 July 1952
  • Redesignated 137th Fighter-Interceptor Wing on 1 July 1955
  • Redesignated 137th Air Defense Wing on 1 August 1957
  • Redesignated 137th Air Transport Wing, Heavy on 1 April 1961
  • Redesignated 137th Military Airlift Wing on 1 January 1966
  • Redesignated 137th Tactical Airlift Wing on 10 December 1974
  • Redesignated 137th Airlift Wing on 16 May 1992
  • Redesignated 137th Air Refueling Wing on 1 October 2008


Gained by Air Defense Command, 1 January 1960
Gained by Military Air Transport Service, 1 April 1961
Gained by Military Airlift Command, 1 January 1966
Gained by Air Mobility Command, 1 June 1992
Gained by Air Combat Command, 1 October 1993
Gained by Air Mobility Command, 1 April 1997 - Present



Operated from: Chaumont-Semoutiers AB, France, 13 May 1952 - 10 July 1952
Will RogersWorld Airport (later Will Rogers Air National Guard Base), Oklahoma, 10 July 1952


Citations and Decorations[edit]

See also[edit]




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

External links[edit]