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148TH FIGHTER WING HISTORY|
Printable Fact Sheet
On September 17, 1948, a small group of 50 men were mustered in on the flight line of the Duluth municipal airport to become the nucleus of the newly formed Air National Guard unit - the 179th Fighter Squadron. This new unit came under the control of the 133rd Fighter Wing (FW) located in the Twin Cities until July 1, 1960 when the 148th Fighter Group was formed. In the beginning, there were no permanent buildings or full-time employees in the unit. Temporary Works Progress Administration (WPA) shacks and a couple of corners in the Duluth Armory had to serve the needs of the unit for several years.
Today, the base is located at the Duluth International Airport, adjacent to a 10,000-foot runway. Over 50 buildings are located on the 400-acre base at the end of Haines Road. Newer buildings include a motor vehicle complex, a remodeled headquarters facility, sound suppresser facility, a clinic, a dining hall, and a new Composite Maintenance Facility.
With the closing of the active duty Duluth Air Force Base in 1983, the Minnesota Air National Guard became the largest military organization in the Duluth area. Of the statewide strength of 2,500 Air Guard personnel, approximately 1,000 people are currently members of the 148 FW in Duluth. Of these 1,000, over 300 people are employed at the base on a full-time basis, making it one of Duluth's largest employers.
The current mission of the 148th Fighter Wing, flying the F16C fighter jet, is two fold -- a federal mission and a state mission. The unit's federal mission is a general purpose one that involves air-to-ground combat and delivering guided and unguided bombs. In times of peace, the state mission is to respond to state and local emergencies at the request of the governor.
The 148th Fighter Wing has been assigned a number of widely diverse aircraft since its inception. The first aircraft assigned was a distinguished World War II fighter, the F-51 Mustang. Called to active duty for the Korean conflict, the unit served with honor until those hostilities ended. In July 1954, the first jet aircraft arrived as the unit converted to the F-94 Starfire. It was soon replaced in 1957 by the F-94C, an aircraft capable of supersonic speeds. In 1959, the unit converted to the F-89J Scorpion.
On July 1, 1960, the 148 FW assumed a 24-hour alert status in support of the Air Defense Command mission in Duluth. In 1967, the F102 replaced the aging F-89J. The F-101 Voodoo came aboard in April of 1971 and remained until January 1976 when the unit again saw redesignation, becoming the 148th Tactical Reconnaissance Group with RF-4C Phantom aircraft. The new mission entailed all weather, high or low, day or night, selective reconnaissance. This mission also required the unit to have the capabilities to deploy to a wide variety of operating locations. In October 1983, the mission changed again and found the 148th back in air defense and being renamed the 148th Fighter Interceptor Group. The return to alert and air defense brought with it the F-4D.
The 1990s brought state-of-the-art aircraft to the 148th with the unit converting to the F-16A Air Defense Fighter. This conversion from the F-4D Phantom to the F-16 ADF Fighting Falcon provided a wealth of new opportunities and challenges for the personnel of the unit. The advanced degree of sophistication and technology represented by the F-16 enabled the people of the 148th to explore new frontiers in air defense and peace keeping.
In accordance with United States Air Force policy, the 148th and its flying squadron, the 179th, underwent a name change again on March 17, 1992. Previously know as the 148th Fighter Interceptor Group and the 179th Fighter Interceptor Squadron, they became the 148th Fighter Group (FG) and the 179th Fighter Squadron (FS) respectively.
Wing status came to the 148 FG on October 11, 1995. The unit was officially designated as the 148th Fighter Wing with a remote detachment, Det 1, in alert status at Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida.
On October 1, 1999, the 148 FW officially entered a mission conversion from the Air Superiority mission to the General Purpose (GP) mission. For the next two years, the unit trained in all the essentials of air-to-ground tactics and in the delivery of precision guided and unguided bombs. The GP mission included air superiority and air defense functions as well and officially encompassed "any mission the aircraft can accomplish, anywhere in the world." The 179th FS saw a first when they dropped live bombs during training exercises in March 2000.
On September 11, 2001, the 148th FW became very busy as a result of the tragedy that saw the collapse of the two World Trade Center towers in New York City. As an immediate aftermath, the 148th was tasked with air defense at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, with providing Combat Air Patrols over our nation's capital and New York City, and with deploying personnel and aircraft back to its detached alert facility at Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida.
By the end of 2003, the 148th had completed another aircraft conversion from the F-16A Block 15 aircraft to the upgraded F-16C Block 25 aircraft and also ended its Detachment 1 commitment at Tyndall.
The 148th Fighter Wing has always been an award-winning unit. Some of the more outstanding awards received by the 148 FW are the following: The Winston P. Wilson Award in 1957 for being the Outstanding Air National Guard All Weather Interceptor Unit, the Ricks Trophy for excellence in 1967, and first place in the 1970 William Tell Weapons Competition. The unit has also distinguished itself by receiving the Air Force Outstanding Unit Award in 1979, 1988, 1999, 2008, and 2009. In 2009 the 148th was presented with the distinguished Raytheon Trophy (formerly the Hughes Trophy), designating the unit "the best fighter unit in the U.S. Air Force." The honor marks only the fourth time an Air National Guard unit received the award and only the second time an F-16 unit took the honor since the award's inception in 1953.
The people in the unit have always taken pride in their work---thus the motto, "A Proud Tradition." The members regard themselves as an integral part of Duluth, and the 148th Fighter Wing has accepted no less than the highest standard of performance in fulfilling every requirement of the Air National Guard, the State of Minnesota, and the local community. With this in mind, the 148th looks confidently to any mission or tasking that the future will bring to the unit.