2. Delaware Air Guard during the Korean War A first test, complete rosters of the men activated, those lost to combat, memories of mobilization, newspaper accounts, role of those who stayed in Delaware
3. Sabres Over Brandywine Rebuilding post Korean War, transitioning to F-86s, modernizing the Delaware ANG, Ricks Trophy Race, tragic losses to accidents
4. A New Mission; Strategic Airlift Arrival of C-97G, Group Status, Aeromedical Evacuation mission, Communications Flight added, race riots, Atkinson appointed as Adjutant General
F-86, Sabrejet, 142nd Fighter Squadron, Delaware Air National Guard, 4th Fighter Wing, at New Castle Air Base, 336th Fighter Squadron at Dover AFB
C-97 Stratofreighter, 166 Airlift Group, Delaware Air National Guard
C-130 Hercules, 166 Airlift Wing, Delaware Air National Guard
On September 6, 1946, the formal federal recognition and activation of Delaware's first Air National Guard Unit (142nd Fighter Squadron) took place at a ceremony in the Wilmington Armory. The ceremony was conducted by Brigadier General Paul R. Rinard, the Adjutant General and Colonel John B. Grier, U.S. Property and Disbursing Officer for Delaware. Shortly afterwards the squadron received it first fighter planes, F-47N "Thunderbolts." In late 1946, two L-5s and two AT-6s training aircraft were received to assist in the training of new pilots. 1947 brought the addition of several more airplanes including C-47's and a B-26.
Prior to being federalized for Korea on February 1, 1951, the unit received F-84C's. In February 1951, Colonel Spruance was assigned the task of reorganizing the air section of the state staff and establishing the Headquarters, Delaware Air National Guard. On May 17, 1951, the unit was redesignated the 142nd Fighter-Interceptor Squadron and in September 1951 the unit exchanged its F-84C (Thunder jet) for the F-94 "Starfire" aircraft to fit the unit's new mission.
On November 1, 1952, the 142nd Fighter-Interceptor Squadron was released from active duty in Korea and reorganized as the Delaware Air National Guard. On December 1, 1952 the unit was redesignated the 142nd Fighter Bomber Squadron and reverted to propeller-driven aircraft, the F-51H "Mustang."
In 1954 a brand new T-33, the trainer version of the F-80 "Shooting Star," was received by the 142nd Fighter- Bomber Squadron and later that year the unit received F-86 "Saberjets" replacing the F-51H "Mustang." The F-86 was the same plane the active Air Force flew at the Greater Wilmington Airport prior to activation for Korea.
In July 1956, Major David F. McCallister (142nd Fighter Bomber Squadron Commander) set a fighter record by flying his F-86 Sabre jet 1,922 miles in three hours, 30 minutes, to win the Earl T. Ricks Memorial Trophy.
On November 10, 1958 the unit was redesignated the 142nd Tactical Fighter Squadron and was reassigned from the Air Force's Air Defense Command to the Tactical Air Command.
On June 4, 1961, Colonel David F. McCallister (Commander, 142nd Tactical Fighter Squadron) and Brigadier General William W. Spruance (Assistant Adjutant General for Air) were flying a T-33 jet trainer out of Scott AFB, when the aircraft exploded. Colonel McCallister died and General Spruance received serious injuries.
In March 1962, Lt Colonel Clarence E. Atkinson was named Commander of the 142nd Tactical Fighter Squadron. On April 7, 1962 the Delaware Air National Guard enlarged to "group status" as the 166th Air Transport Group and was reassigned from the Tactical Air Command to the Military Air Transport Service. The Delaware Air National Guard gave up its F-86 jets for the four engine C-97 "Stratofreighter" cargo planes. On October 22, 1962 a new unit "142nd Aeromedical Evacuation Flight," was added to the Delaware Air National Guard.
During the period from 1964-1974 the Delaware Air National Guard flew missions to Vietnam.
In September 1965, only three years after receiving the C-97, the Delaware Air National Guard received the McCallister Trophy as the Air National Guard Outstanding Transport Unit.
Dr. Harold Brown, Secretary of the Air Force, announced that effective January 1, 1966, the Military Air Transport Service would be redesignated as the Military Airlift Command. In addition to the name change certain Air National Guard units were also redesignated, including Delaware. We were named the 166th Military Airlift Group. In April 1966, the unit was awarded the Outstanding Unit Trophy by the Air Force Association based on our impressive collection of achievements and safety record. On June 16, 1966 another unit, 166th Communications Flight, was added to the Delaware Air National Guard.
On April 9, 1968, the Delaware Air National Guard was called to state duty to quell civil disturbance and violence in the city of Wilmington, Delaware. The unit was released from state duty after several weeks. However, many individuals remained on state duty through 20 January 1969.
January 1969, Colonel Atkinson became the Adjutant General for Delaware - the first Air National Guard member to do so. Lt Colonel Charles R. Skinner became the new base detachment commander and Lt Colonel Robert L. Fuller became the Group Commander. On November 8, 1969 the 166th Civil Engineering Flight organized as a separate unit in the Delaware Air National Guard.
On May 12, 1971 the Delaware ANG changed its name from the 166th Military Airlift Group to the 166th Tactical Airlift Group and replaced its C-97s with C-130A "Hercules" prop-jet cargo plane, and began transition from the Military Airlift Command to the Tactical Airlift Command.
In September 1972 Colonel William F. Hutchison, Jr. was named Commander of the 166th Tactical Airlift Group, a position he held for 11 years.
On February 10, 1973 Staff Sergeant Linda VanVechten was the first enlisted female to enlist in the Delaware Air National Guard.
In March 1972, Captain Carolyn R. Doolittle became the first female to command a unit in the Delaware Air National Guard when she was appointed acting commander of the 142nd Aeromedical Evacuation Flight.
From February 6, 1978 through February 9, 1978 selected individuals from the Delaware Air National Guard were placed on state duty during a snow storm. These members assisted in removing snow from highways, transporting patients and staff to the local hospitals, and manning telephone lines for emergencies.
On July 1, 1979 the 166th Resource Management Squadron was added to the unit.
In 1983 the Delaware Air National Guard brought a new Commander, Lt Colonel Judson E. Wooding.
On July 1, 1985 the 166th Communications Flight was redesignated the 166th Information Systems Flight and took on the additional responsibility of data automation, and the 166th Civil Engineering Flight was redesignated the 166th Civil Engineering Squadron.
On October 16, 1985, the Delaware Air National Guard began replacing its aging, antiquated C-130A's with the delivery of a brand new factory fresh C-130H.
In January 1986 the unit received the last of eight C-130H aircraft. In September 1986 the Delaware Air National Guard celebrated its 40th Anniversary.
December 1, 1986 the 166th Information Systems Flight was redesignated the 166th Communications Flight.
On July 1, 1987 the Quad-Deputy reorganization of support units was implemented in the Delaware Air National Guard. The 166th Combat Support Squadron was redesignated the 166th Mission Support Squadron.
March 8, 1988 a new unit, the Mission Support Flight, consisting of Administration, Data Automation, Audio Visual, and Communications Maintenance was established. These sections were previously elements of the 166th Mission Support Squadron. December 3, 1988, Colonel James V. Dugar became Commander of the 166th Tactical Airlift Group.
From June 26, 1989 to June 28, 1989, selected unit members were placed on state duty to aid in the clean up of the Oil Spill in the Wilmington/Claymont, Delaware area. On November 22, 1989 the 166th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron was awarded the Air Force Outstanding Unit Award for the period covering March 1, 1987 through February 28, 1989.
On March 1, 1990 the 166th Weapons System Security Flight was redesignated the 166th Security Police Flight. During the period August 16, 1990 through October 1990 three aircraft, with supporting crews and many volunteers of the Delaware Air National Guard, participated in Operation Desert Shield.
On January 25, 1991 selected units of the Delaware Air National Guard were activated for the Persian Gulf War known as "Operation Desert Storm," (8 planes with crews and maintenance and support personnel.) A majority of the unit was stationed at Al Kharj Air Base, Saudi Arabia. Over 150 personnel deployed to six other locations in Europe and two stateside bases. The 166th Civil Engineer Squadron voluntarily deployed to Dover AFB and performed the monumental accomplishment of enlarging Dover's Mortuary capacity - the assignment was completed in a record 23 days. On June 30, 1991 the units/personnel were released from active duty performed in support of the Persian Gulf War.
Another name change occurred on March 16, 1992 - the 166th Tactical Airlift Group was redesignated the 166th Airlift Group and the 142nd Tactical Airlift Squadron was redesignated the 142nd Airlift Squadron. In conjunction, the unit's gaining command (Military Airlift Command) was redesignated the Air Mobility Command. In September 1992, Colonel Dugar led a group of personnel as part of the Hurricane Andrew relief effort. Colonel Jacobs commanded a combined group from the 136th Airlift Wing (Dallas, TX) and 166th Airlift Group to Mildenhall, United Kingdom as part of exercise "Phoenix Partner."
On October 1, 1993 the 166th Communications Flight was deactivated and on October 26, 1993 the Gaining Command for the Delaware Air National Guard changed from Air Mobility Command to Air Combat Command.
In February 1994, several members of the Delaware Air National Guard were called to state duty as a result of severe ice storms, to assist residents and state agencies with clearing roads and restoring normal services. On March 1, 1994 the following units were redesignated: 166th Resource Management Squadron redesignated 166th Logistics Squadron; 166th Security Police Flight redesignated 166th Security Police Squadron; 166th Tactical Clinic redesignated 166th Medical Squadron; 166th Mobile Aerial Port Flight redesignated 166th Aerial Port Flight; 166th Civil Engineering Squadron redesignated 166th Civil Engineer Squadron, 166th Consolidated Aircraft Maintenance Squadron redesignated 166th Maintenance Squadron. July 1994, Captain Johnie A. Burton, Jr was appointed the 166th Aerial Port Flight Commander, becoming the first minority commander in the history of the Delaware Air National Guard. On August 30, 1994 the 166th Mission Support Squadron and the 166th Mission Support Flight were inactivated. In conjunction, the following units were activated: HQ 166th Operations Group; HQ 166th Logistics Group; HQ 166th Support Group; 166th Operations Support Flight, 166th Communications Flight and the 166th Mission Support Flight.
On May 23, 1995 the 166th Aircraft Generation Squadron and the 166th Logistics Support Flight were activated. On September 14, 1995, Colonel Jon D. Jacobs became Commander of the 166th Airlift Group and almost 40 years after Colonel McCallister received his "Earl T. Ricks" Award, a crew from the 142nd Airlift Squadron received theirs for heroism. On October 1, 1995, the 166th Airlift Group was renamed the 166th Airlift Wing. November 20, 1995 the 166th Airlift Wing (and all subordinate units) were awarded the Air Force Outstanding Unit Award for the period August 15, 1993 through August 14, 1995.
The Delaware Air National Guard celebrated its 50th Anniversary on September 6, 1996. The year 1996 brought about many firsts in our history. On May 25, 1996 Senior Master Sergeant Lynn M. Davis became the first female to attain the rank of Chief Master Sergeant (CMSgt). In October, CMSgt Joan Holder became the first female Senior Enlisted Advisor for Headquarters, Delaware Air National Guard and CMSgt Melvin "Sonny" Gershman became the first Senior Enlisted Advisor for the 166th Airlift Wing.
On April 1, 1997 the Gaining Command of the Delaware Air National Guard changed from Air Combat Command to Air Mobility Command.
On July 16, 1997 the 166th Security Police Squadron was redesignated the 166th Security Forces Squadron.
Would you like to know more? We recommend the following books available at local Delaware bookstores and from Arcadia Publishing.
Delaware Air National Guard The Delaware Air National Guard got its start when a group of World War II veterans formed a new National Guard unit composed of surplus airplanes, combat experience, a measure of hard work, camaraderie, and fun. Some called this assemblage a gentleman’s flying club, but in a few short years, it was tested for the first time in the Korean War. Since then, the Delaware Air National Guard has flown and fought in almost every corner of the globe. It answered the call in Vietnam, the Middle East, the Balkans, and most recently in Iraq and Afghanistan. Celebrating 60 years of service, it has become a well-known local institution. The “Blue Hen Air Force” has evolved into a professional organization that shoulders a significant operational role for the U.S. Air Force and serves as a versatile emergency resource for the state of Delaware.