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OKLAHOMA AIR NATIONAL GUARD

The Oklahoma Air National Guard (OKANG) originated during the pre World War II formation of National Guard aviation units. In July 1940 the War Department allotted the 125th Observation Squadron to the Oklahoma National Guard. Organized in Tulsa, the squadron was equipped with 0-38 aircraft. It was federally recognized on January 31, 1941, and activated ten days later. The 125th was assigned to the 68th Observation Squadron at Fort Sill. In March 1942 the unit was transferred to the 77th Observation Group. It operated as the 125th Observation Squadron (Light) until July 1942, when it was again designated the 125th Observation Squadron. During the remainder of 1942 it trained with various aircraft at Fort Sill and other installations. In April 1943 the 125th was renamed the 125th Liaison Squadron. Transferred to Texas, it joined the Second Air Force Support Command and was re-equipped with L-5 Sentinel aircraft. In January 1944 the squadron became a part of the 76th Tactical Reconnaissance Group.

The 125th arrived in England in June 1944 and was assigned to the Ninth Air Force. Deployed to the Ninth Army, units of the 125th arrived in France in August 1944 and served with the Twelfth and Sixth army groups. In November 1944 the 125th was assigned to the Twenty-ninth Tactical Air Command (Provisional) and then to the Ninth Fighter Command. After V-E Day the 125th was transferred to the Twelfth Tactical Air Command of the Army of Occupation.

Returned to state control following the war, the OKANG was reorganized. In May 1946 the 185th Fighter Squadron was allotted to Norman, and the 125th Fighter Squadron was formed in Tulsa. Federally recognized in February 1947, the 125th was stationed adjacent to Tulsa International Airport. Both squadrons were equipped with P-51Ds. The Norman-based 137th Fighter Group provided command and logistical support. In March 1950 the 125th was reorganized as the 125th Fighter Bomber Squadron (Jet) and re-equipped with F-84 aircraft. In 1951 the 125th transferred to the Will Rogers Air National Guard Base at Oklahoma City's Will Rogers World Airport.

Both the 125th and the 185th were activated during the Korean War. The 137th Fighter Group and the 125th Fighter-Bomber Squadron were mobilized in October 1950, and were sent to Louisiana. Later the 125th was deployed to France. When the 185th was federalized in April 1951, it was reorganized as the 185th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron.

The 125th returned to Tulsa in July 1952 and was re-equipped with F- 80s. Tulsa's 138th Fighter Group was organized to provide command and logistical support. In December 1952 the 185th relocated to Oklahoma City as the 185th Fighter Bomber Squadron. It was issued F-80Bs and renamed the 185th Fighter Squadron (Single Engine) Jet in 1953. Later the unit received F-80Cs. In January 1954 the 205th Engineering Installation Squadron was federally recognized and assigned to Will Rogers Air National Guard Base. In 1960 the 219th Engineering Installation Squadron also was organized. It was transferred to Tulsa in 1982.

In 1957 the OKANG was given a fighter-interceptor role in the Air Defense Command. In August 1957 the 125th was equipped with F-86Ds. The 185th received F-86Ds in May 1958. New units included the 205th and 219th squadrons of the Air Force Logistics Command. Both were stationed at Will Rogers.

In January 1960 the 125th became the 125th Air Transport Squadron. The 185th became an Air Transport Squadron in April 1961. Both were assigned to the Military Air Transport Command and issued C-97 cargo planes. The 125th was activated during the Berlin Crisis of 1961. In addition, the 185th flew resupply missions to Europe. The 185th also deployed aircraft and crews to the Dominican Republic in 1965. With the increasing American involvement in Vietnam both the 125th and 185th started flying missions to Southeast Asia. In April 1968 the 137th and 138th Aerial Port Flights began. That same year the 125th and 185th were re-equipped with C-124Cs.

During the 1960s and 1970s the OKANG was involved in disaster relief missions and the riot at the state penitentiary at McAlester in 1973. The 125th was designated the 138th Tactical Fighter Group and received federal recognition in January 1973. The 138th was equipped with F-100Cs and A-7Ds. In 1975 the 137th Flying Group became the 185th Tactical Airlift Squadron of the 137th Tactical Airlift Wing and was issued C-130As. In June 1979 the 137th was the first Air National Guard unit to receive C-130H aircraft.

In subsequent years the OKANG served in humanitarian missions worldwide. During the 1990s the 137th Airlift Wing participated in operations against foreign illegal drug dealers. Following the Oklahoma City bombing in April 1995, Air Guardsmen provided site security and medical, rescue, and recovery personnel. In spring 1993 the 138th Tactical Fighter Group began flying F-16 aircraft, the Air Force's most advanced fighter. The 137th Airlift Wing provided operational support during the 1991 Gulf War, and contributed logistical assistance in Bosnia in the late 1990s. Between 1996 and 2000 the 138th Fighter Wing deployed F-16C aircraft and crew to enforce Iraq's Northern No Fly Zone. Other personnel were dispatched to the Middle East to repair equipment used in Operation Desert Storm.

SEE ALSO: OKLAHOMA NATIONAL GUARD.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Kenny A. Franks, Citizen Soldiers: Oklahoma's National Guard (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1984). Standley F. H. Newman, Oklahoma Air National Guard Pilots in the Korean War (Oklahoma City: 45th Infantry Division Museum, 1990). Historical Records, Oklahoma Air National Guard, Oklahoma Military Department, Oklahoma City. Oklahoma Military Department, Annual Report, 1966-2000 (Oklahoma City: Oklahoma Military Department, 1966-2001).

Kenny A. Franks

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