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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

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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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