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History of the 117th Air Refueling Wing

The 117th Air Refueling Wing can trace its roots back to a World War I era flying club. The Birmingham Flying Club, also known as the Escadrille's, was the seventh federally recognized flying squadron on January 21, 1922 by the United States War Department. "Maj. James A. Meissner, a World War I ace who had flown with Capt. Eddie Rickenbacker, led the effort to form the unit and served as its first commander."*

During World War II the observation mission expanded to include fighters and bombers. After WWII the squadron was re-organized into the 117th Fighter Group, which quickly became the 117th Tactical Reconnaissance Wing. In 1994, the unit began flying the KC-135R Stratotankers and was re-designated as the 117th Air Refueling Wing.

Lineage of Aircraft*
1918-- 1-A-2
1922-1933-- JN-4, JN-6, DH-4, TW-3, PT-1, BT-1, O-2, O-11, and O-17
1933-1941-- O-38
1938-1942-- O-47
1941-1942-- O-49, A-20, and P-40
1942-- P-39, P-43, O-46, L-3, and L-4
1943-1945-- B-25
1946-1957-- B/RB-26
1957-1971-- RF-84
1971-1994-- RF-4
1994-Present-- KC-135

* http://www.ang.af.mil/shared/media/document/AFD-080404-037.pdf
* "Lineage and Honors History of the 106 Air Refueling Squadron (ANG)" by SSgt Matthew Scales

tabHistory of the Alabama Air National Guard 
 106th Air Refueling Squadron History
 117 ARW History Fact Sheet
 117 ARW the Early Years: World War I to Roberts Field
 117th Air Refueling Wing - History
 90th Anniversary Press Release
 A Brief History of the 117 ARW
 Major James A. Meissner
 Oct 1918 Major Meissner Info
 RF-4C Aircraft assigned to the 117 TRW
tabBefore we had KC-135s 
117ARW Historical Imagery

tabHistory of the ANG 
Air National Guard at 60: A HISTORY
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ANG Interviews graphic
ANG References graphic

 Inside 117ARW

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tabANG Heritage
tabAir National Guard: A Short Story
The Air National Guard as we know it today -- a separate reserve component of the United States Air Force -- was a product of the politics of postwar planning and interservice rivalry during World War II. The men who planned and maneuvered for an independent postwar Air Force during World War II didn't place much faith in the reserves, especially the state-dominated National Guard.

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