149th Fighter Squadron
|149th Fighter Squadron|
192d Fighter Wing’s F-22 Raptor flagship
|Active||1 October 1942–Present|
|Branch||Air National Guard|
|Part of||Virginia Air National Guard|
|Garrison/HQ||Joint Base Langley–Eustis, Hampton, Virginia|
|Nickname(s)||Gentlemen from Richmond|
|Tail Code||"FF", 192d FW underneath|
|Lieutenant Colonel James Cox|
|149th Fighter Squadron|
The 149th Fighter Squadron (149 FS) also known as the Gentlemen from Richmond is a unit of the Virginia Air National Guard's 192d Fighter Wing located at Joint Base Langley–Eustis, Virginia. The 149th is the first Air National Guard fighter squadron to fly the F-22 Raptor.
World War II
Activated in September 1942, the squadron trained with P-47 Thunderbolts under First Air Force in northeast United States. It deployed to the European Theater of Operations (ETO) in July 1943 as part of VIII Fighter Command and was based in England, operating as a B-17 Flying Fortress heavy bomber fighter escort squadron. In July 1944, the squadron converted to long-range P-51D Mustangs, while its P-47s were reassigned to IX Fighter Command for tactical fighter-bomber missions supporting Allied ground forces in France. The squadron later deployed to Belgium in December 1944 to supplement IX Fighter Command tactical air forces during the Battle of the Bulge, before returning to England from where they flew long-range escort missions until April 1945. Afterwards, the squadron demobilized in England during the summer of 1945. Its personnel returned to the United States and the squadron was subsequently inactivated as an administrative organization, in November 1945.
Virginia Air National Guard
The wartime 328th Fighter Squadron was re-designated as the 149th Fighter Squadron, and was allotted to the Virginia ANG, on 24 May 1946. It was organized at Byrd Field, Richmond, Virginia and was extended federal recognition on 21 June 1947. The 149th Fighter Squadron was entitled to the history, honors, and colors of the 328th. The squadron was equipped with F-47D Thunderbolts and was allocated to the Fourteenth Air Force, Continental Air Command by the National Guard Bureau.
The unit was called to active federal service on 1 March 1951. This activation temporarily resulted in the dissolution of the Virginia Air National Guard, as members were sent to various places, including for many, duty in the Korean War. The squadron was sent to Turner AFB, Georgia where it was assigned to the federalized 108th Fighter-Bomber Group with a mission to provide fighter escorts to Strategic Air Command B-50 Superfortress bombers on training missions. In December 1951 it was moved to Godman AFB, Kentucky where it replaced a unit deployed to England. It was released from active duty and returned to Virginia state control on 10 November 1952.
Upon return to state control, the squadron was reorganized as a B-26 Invader light bombardment squadron and allocated to Tactical Air Command. In June 1957 a jurisdictional tug-of-war began between Air Defense Command and Tactical Air Command occurred for control of the squadron. The unit was redesignated the 149th Fighter Interceptor Squadron and was scheduled to get F-86E Sabre jets. However, later that year, the unit became the Tactical Air Command-gained 49th Tactical Fighter Squadron, and F-84F Thunderstreaks began replacing the obsolescent B-26s.
At the height of the Cold War in 1961, the squadron was federalized as a result of tensions concerning the Berlin Wall. Part of the squadron remained at Richmond in an active-duty status for about a year before being released. Twenty-two Virginia ANG members were sent to Chaumont-Semoutiers AB, France, in December 1961 to support the USAFE 7108h Tactical Wing, a deployed unit of the 108th Tactical Fighter Wing, New Jersey ANG. They spent eight months in Europe.
On 15 October 1962, the 149th was authorized to expand to a group level, and the 192d Tactical Fighter Group was established by the National Guard Bureau. The 149th TFS becoming the group's flying squadron. Other squadrons assigned into the group were the 192d Headquarters, 192d Material Squadron (Maintenance), 192d Combat Support Squadron, and the 192d USAF Dispensary.
During 1971, the squadron was assigned the F-105D Thunderchief, a battle-hardened supersonic fighter-bomber that was the backbone of America's fighter element during the Vietnam War. The group's special tasking during the next 10 years included several deployments to Red Flag live-fire exercises at Nellis AFB, Nevada and a Crested Cap NATO deployment to RAF Lakenheath, England, in 1976.
In 1981, the unit transitioned to the Vought A-7D Corsair II, a subsonic jet designed primarily for close-air support. The 10-year A-7 era included several deployments, to Ecuador, Norway, and to Panama, in support of the defense of the Panama Canal. A Virginia contingent competed in Gunsmoke '85, the Air Force's tactical fighter competition, and the 149th was named the world's "Best A-7 Unit." The squadron also earned the General Spruance Safety Award and was recognized as having had the best Operational Readiness Inspection in the Ninth Air Force during 1985. That string of accomplishments helped the squadron earn its first USAF Outstanding Unit Award, which was presented in 1987.
On 20 December 1989, the United States unleashed Operation Just Cause – the emergency dispatch of U.S. forces to Panama to try to oust Panamanian Dictator Manuel Noriega, break up his army and pave the way for democratic elections. The Virginia Air Guard flew 59 Guardsmen and five A-7s to Howard AFB, near Panama City, on Jan. 20, 1990 for its turn in the rotation. The 149th replaced the Ohio ANG's 180th Tactical Fighter Group, whose A-7 pilots had flown 76 sorties in support of Operation Just Cause. Virginia was to send a similar contingent two weeks later to replace its first group. The Virginia Guard's mission differed from previous ones. Some elements of the Panamanian Defense Forces and the Dignity Battalions were suspected to be at large in provinces, and the squadron pilots supplied air cover for field operations and air reconnaissance of areas where enemy activity was suspected.
The unit soared into a new era of aviation technology in 1991, when it became the first Air National Guard unit to receive the Air Force's upgraded F-16 Fighting Falcon, the F-16C/D block 30. The 149th designation shortened somewhat during 1992 from 149th Tactical Fighter Squadron to 149th Fighter Squadron. This change reflected the adoption of the Objective Wing concept. The unit was initially assigned 24 single-seat F-16C models and two F-16D models. By early 1994, defense cutbacks had reduced the unit's assigned inventory to 18 F-16s, and eventually to only 15 fighter jets.
After the 149th FS became fully operational with the F-16, it was chosen as the lead unit in a four-state Air National Guard F-16 "rainbow" detachment deployed to Incirlik Air Base, Turkey, to support Operation Provide Comfort II.
During that operation between 1 December 1993, and 15 January 1994, ANG pilots patrolled the no-fly zone over northern Iraq to prevent Iraqi forces from inflicting damage on the villages of Kurdish minorities. This was the first time Air National Guard units had been called to active duty to serve in a peacekeeping role in the Mideast, following Iraq's defeat in 1991. The unit returned to Incirlik AB in February 1996 for another round of patrols over Iraq.
During October 1995, the parent 192d's designation was again modified to reflect unit restructuring within the Air Force and Air National Guard. This time the unit designation was changed from 192d Fighter Group to 192d Fighter Wing. The 149th was assigned to the new 192d Operations Group.
In December 2000, the squadron deployed to Southwest Asia and other locations in support of Operation Southern Watch. In addition to Turkey and Kuwait, they were deployed to Prince Sultan Air Base and Eskan Village, Saudi Arabia; Aviano Air Base, Italy; and Qatar.
Also in December 2000, elements of the squadron were deployed on its first Aerospace Expeditionary Force assignment. A 130-person detachment went to Curaçao in the Netherlands Antilles as part of Operation Nighthawk, an effort to stop drug smuggling into the United States. Aside from strictly operational matters, the fighter wing also focused on community support, humanitarian assistance and military heritage.
In October, 2005, Lt. Col. Phillip Guy became the first VANG pilot to transition to Langley AFB and fly the new F-22A Raptor in training missions and sorties alongside active duty Air Force pilots stationed there. The first two ship flight of VANG piloted F-22A's taking off from Langley AFB was successfully completed by 192nd FW pilots Lt. Col. Guy and Maj. Patrick DeConcini on 18 February 2006. Later in May, active duty personnel and Virginia guardsmen successfully completed tasking of a first ever joint-exercise requirement.
The last Unit Training Assembly was held in Richmond in September, 2007. Remaining base personnel solemnly attended the 'Stand-down' ceremony in the main hangar and watched as the unit flag was rolled-up by Col. Jay Pearsall and then put away. Afterwards a single F-16 took off, turned and passed over the flight deck. The pilot dipped the wings of his jet and made a final fly-by, then continued on to bring the aircraft to its new location. This marked the closing chapter for an era of excellence as the 192d FW began its future with Langley's 1st Fighter Wing.
On 13 October 2007, the 192d FW was reactivated in a ceremony held at the 27th Fighter Squadron, Langley AFB. Integration with the active duty 1st FW allows the Air National Guard to be at the forefront of the latest design of fighter craft. Set-up as a classic 'associate wing' the 192nd FW works directly with the 1st FW yet maintains its own unit identity and command structure. It shares in the support of mission requirements for the F-22A Raptor, but does not own any of the aircraft on station.
- Established as 328th Fighter Squadron on 29 Sep 1942
- Activated on 1 Oct 1942
- Inactivated on 10 Nov 1945
- Re-designated 149th Fighter Squadron, and allotted to Virginia ANG, on 24 May 1946.
- 149th Fighter Squadron extended federal recognition on 21 Jun 1947
- Federalized and placed on active duty, 1 March 1951
- Re-designated: 149th Fighter-Bomber Squadron, 1 Dec 1951
- Released from active duty and returned to Virginia state control, 10 November 1952
- Re-designated: 149th Bomb Squadron (Light) on 10 Dec 1952
- Re-designated: 149th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron on 15 Jun 1957
- Re-designated: 149th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron on 10 Apr 1958
- Re-designated: 149th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron on 14 Jun 1958
- Re-designated: 149th Tactical Fighter Squadron on 10 Nov 1958
- Federalized and placed on active duty, 1 October 1961
- Released from active duty and returned to Virginia state control, 30 August 1962
- Re-designated: 149th Fighter Squadron on 15 Mar 1992
- Inactivated: 30 September 2007
- Activated on 13 October 2007
- 352d Fighter Group, 1 Oct 1942-10 Nov 1945
- 55th Fighter Wing, 21 June 1947
- 121st Fighter Group, 1 November 1950
- 108th Fighter-Interceptor Group, 1 Mar 1951
- 121st Fighter-Bomber Group, 30 Nov 1952
- 121st Fighter-Interceptor Group, 1 November 1952
- 121st Fighter-Bomber Group, 1 November 1957
- 121st Tactical Fighter Group, 1 September 1961
- 7108th Tactical Wing, 1 October 1961 – 30 August 1962
- 121st Tactical Fighter Group, 1 September 1962
- 192d Tactical Fighter Group, 15 October 1962
- 192d Fighter Group, 15 March 1992
- 192d Operations Group, 11 Oct 1995-30 September 2007; 13 October 2007 – Present
- Became associate unit integrated with 27th Fighter Squadron, 13 October 2007