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North Carolina Air National Guard Celebrates 66th Anniversary

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Patricia F. Moran
  • 145th Public Affairs
In commemoration of the 66th anniversary of the North Carolina Air National Guard, U.S. Representative Richard Hudson (NC-08) toured the 145th Airlift Wing at the NC Air National Guard base in Charlotte, N.C.

The North Carolina Air National Guard origins go back to March 15, 1948 with the establishment of the 156th Fighter Squadron, the oldest unit of the North Carolina Air National Guard. It was federally recognized and activated at Morris Field, near Charlotte and was equipped with F-47D Thunderbolts. Its mission was the air defense of the state.

Then Lt. Col. William J. Payne, who ran a furniture store in downtown Charlotte, was asked to start the unit which received federal recognition on March 15, 1948. In 1961 Payne was assigned as the Assistant Adjutant General, Air and promoted to the rank of Brigadier General but continued to command the unit until his retirement in 1976.

On 24 May 1946, the United States Army Air Forces, in response to dramatic postwar military budget cuts imposed by President Harry S. Truman, allocated inactive unit designations to the National Guard Bureau for the formation of an Air Force National Guard. These unit designations were allotted and transferred to various State National Guard bureaus to provide unit designations and re-establish them as Air National Guard units.

In 1950 the 156th was re-equipped with former World War II F-51 Mustangs, now designated RF-51D which had been used in the United States in a training role. The squadron became part of Tactical Air Command (TAC) as a Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron. The 156th Fighter Squadron was federalized due to the Korean War on 10 October 1950. During its federalization period, the 157th was deployed to Toul-Rosières Air Base, departing for Europe in January 1952. On 9 July 1952 the activated North Carolina Air National Guard was released from active duty and returned to state control.

In 1955 the facilities at Morris Field were expanded. Two years later the 145th Fighter Group was organized consisting of the 156th Fighter Squadron and subordinate units. In 1960 the 145th FG group was re-designated the 145th Aeromedical Transport Group flying evacuation missions. In 1964 the 145th ATG was re-designated 145th Air Transport Group (Heavy). From 1966 to 1971 the 145th ATG was deployed to Vietnam, flying over 20 million km without an aircraft accident.

In 1990 North Carolina Army and Air National Guard units were mobilized for Operation Desert Shield, followed by Operation Desert Storm in 1991. Personnel from the 145th Airlift Wing were deployed to Germany and other locations. In 1995 North Carolina Army and Air National Guard troops were mobilized for service in Bosnia, Hungary, and Germany.

NC Air National Guard now flies C-130 H-3 "Hercules" aircraft, performing federal and state missions to include aerial firefighting, with 145th Airlift Wing's C-130s equipped with the Modular Airborne Firefighting System (MAFFS) and the 156th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron missions to respond when natural disasters happen. The 145th AW has deployed in support of joint operations related to Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita in 2005 and continues to serve proudly deploying overseas in support of the war on terrorism.