188th Fighter Squadron - History - New Mexico Air National Guard - Cold War

Cold War

After the Korean War ended, the 188th was re-equipped with F-80C Shooting Star jet aircraft, and became part of Air Defense Command, being assigned to the Western Air Defense Force.

On 1 July 1957, the 188th was authorized to expand to a group level, and the 150th Fighter-Interceptor Group was established by the National Guard Bureau. The 188th FIS becoming the group's flying squadron. Other squadrons assigned into the group were the 150th Headquarters, 150th Material Squadron (Maintenance), 150th Combat Support Squadron, and the 150th USAF Dispensary. Also, the 188th Fighter Interceptor Squadron assumed 24-hour Air Defense alert status at Kirtland Air Force Base. In April 1958, the first Air National Guard unit to receive the North American F-100A Super Sabre was the 188th TFS of the New Mexico ANG, which received these planes in April 1958. This conversion raised unit strength to 956 officers and airmen.

In April 1961, an aircraft malfunction caused an AIM-9 Sidewinder air-to-air missile to launch and shoot down a B-52B Stratofortress bomber near Grants, New Mexico. The B-52B (AF Ser. No. 53-0380, aircraft nickname "Ciudad Juarez") from the 95th Bomb Wing took off from Biggs Air Force Base, at El Paso, Texas on a practice mission. During an intercept by two New Mexico ANG F-100As, an AIM-9B shook loose and impacted one of the engine pods on the left wing, taking the B-52's left wing off in the subsequent explosion. Three B-52 crewmembers died; the F-100 pilot was absolved of any blame. In the fall of 1962, the Cuban missile crisis put the 150th on an alert status that lasted for 90 days.

In 1964, the F-100As were retired and the 188th received newer F-100C and twin-seat F-100F Super Sabre trainers; being reassigned from Aerospace Defense Command to Tactical Air Command.

In January 1968, the group was activated as a result of the Pueblo Crisis, and in June of that year the 188th Tactical Fighter Squadron and approximately 250 maintenance and support personnel were deployed to Tuy Hoa Air Base, Republic of Vietnam. Remaining group members were assigned to various bases in South Korea. The unit flew over 6000 combat sorties in the F-100C Super Sabre and amassed over 630 medals and decorations before release from federal active duty in June 1969. Captain Michael Adams was killed in action and Major Bobby Neeld and First Lieutenant Mitchell Lane remain listed as missing in action. The unit received the AF Outstanding Unit Award with a bronze "V' for valor. After its Vietnam War deployment, the 188th was relieved from active duty and returned to New Mexico State Control on 4 June 1969.

In 1973, after the United States withdrew its forces from South Vietnam, the 188th TFS became the first Air National Guard squadron to receive A-7D Corsair II subsonic tactical close air support aircraft from Tactical Air Command units that were preparing to receive the new A-10 Thunderbolt II. Receiving its aircraft from the 354th TFW at Myrtle Beach AFB and the 355th TFW at Davis-Monthan AFB, Arizona. The aircraft had excellent accuracy with the aid of an automatic electronic navigation and weapons delivery system. Although designed primarily as a ground attack aircraft, it also had limited air-to-air combat capability.

In 1977, the unit participated in the "Coronet Ante" exercise, which was part of the NATO "Coldfire" exercise in Europe. The 150th TFG deployed nine A-7Ds to Gilze Rijen Air Base, The Netherlands, from 2 September through 27 September 1977. Close air support missions were flown over The Netherlands, France, the United Kingdom, Germany, Belgium, and the North Sea. In 1980, the 188th received the new twin-seat A-7K trainer.

In 1980, the 150th Tactical Fighter Group was first ANG to be assigned to the prestigious Rapid Deployment Joint Task Force (RDJTF); the first ANG unit to participate in Bright Star joint service exercises in Southwest Asia; the first ANG unit to receive the Low Altitude Night Attack modification to the A-7D; the first ANG unit to participate in a deployed bare base operational readiness inspection, and the first ANG unit to have a crew chief as a member of the Air Force Thunderbirds.

Additionally, the 150th TFG set an A-7D and first endurance record of 11 1/2 hours non-stop from Pease AFB, New Hampshire to Cairo West Air Base, Egypt. Over the years, the 150th received the following awards: (1) Spaatz Trophy in 1956, (2) Winston P. Wilson Trophy in 1980, (3) Air Force Outstanding Unit Awards in 1989 and February 1996, (4) Top A-7 Team at Gunsmoke in 1989 and 1991, (5) Distinguished Flying Unit Award in 1991, and (6) Outstanding ANG Unit in 1991.

The 150th Fighter Group was partially activated in support of Operation Desert Storm, although no A-7D aircraft were sent to Southwest Asia. On 11 December 1990, 44 members of the 150th Security Police Flight and other unit members were deployed to Saudi Arabia. All members returned home by May 1991.

Read more about this topic:  188th Fighter Squadron, History, New Mexico Air National Guard

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