The roots of the Missouri Air National Guard and the 131st Bomb Wing trace back to the 110th Observation Squadron, organized June 23, 1923 by Major Bill Robertson and his brothers, Lieutenants Frank and Dan Robertson, owners of the Robertson Aircraft Company. The unit was originally equipped with one war surplus Curtiss JN-4 "Jenny", purchased through officer donations. Later, three JN-4s were replaced by the PT-1, TW-3, O-11 and the O-2H aircraft as the unit took on observation and reconnaissance duties. The Robertson Brother's chief pilot on the "St. Louis to Chicago" airmail run was a lanky young man named Charles A. "Slim" Lindbergh. Lindbergh became a member of the 110th OS in 1924 and was a Captain when he made his historic Trans-Atlantic solo flight in 1927.
Men, equipment and the unit's headquarters were consolidated from a small meeting room above a filling station on Grand Avenue to a new hanger at Lambert Field in 1931. Summer field training in the 1930s allowed 110th members to hone their skills on the K-17 Aerial Camera. The unit received new aircraft in the late 1930s, the O-38 and the O-47.
The unit was federally mobilized for World War II and redesignated as the 110th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron. The unit saw duty in Australia, New Guinea, the Philippines and Japan. During this time, the unit acquired the P-39 Aircobra, the P-40 Warhawk and the F-51 Mustang. Members distinguished themselves by destroying Japanese tonnage (credited with destroying 123 aircraft and at least 13 ships), earning the Squadron a Presidential Unit Citation in 1944.
The unit was also mobilized in 1951 for the Korean Conflict and was assigned as a component of the USAF as part of the nation's readiness posture. After the Korean War call-up, the unit received a new aircraft-- the B-26 Invader--and a new mission as the 131st Light Bombardment Wing.
The unit entered the "Jet Age" in 1957 with the acquisition of the T-33, F-80 and shortly afterward the F-84 Thunderstreak. As a deterrent, the Wing was mobilized in 1961 to augment NATO forces during the Berlin Crisis. The unit was assigned to Toul-Rosieres AFB in France. Upon return home in 1962, the Wing acquired another new aircraft, the F-100 Supersabre which remained a part of the unit for more than 17 years.
In 1977, Charles Lindbergh's widow gave permission to designate the 110thTactical Fighter Squadron as "Lindbergh's Own". In 1978, the unit began converting to the "home grown" McDonnell Douglas F-4C Phantom and upgraded to the F-4E model in 1985. In 1982, Betty Robertson, sister of the three Robertson brothers, helped dedicate a new Wing headquarters building in their memory.
In early 1991, the 131st Security Police Flight was mobilized in support of Operation DESERT SHIELD/DESERT STORM and in September 1991, the 131st Fighter Wing converted from the F-4 to the McDonnell Douglas F-15A/B Eagle. The conversion was completed in a minimal time frame and the Wing was back up to full speed within 18 months. Called to service again to assist in battling the Great Flood of 1993, more than 500 unit members served throughout the St. Louis area in support of this natural disaster.
The Wing deployed to Turkey in support of Operation Northern Watch in 1996, 1997 and 1998. The aircraft patrolled the no fly zone during this time while various squadrons provided ground support. In support of Aerospace Expeditionary Force (AEF) Operations, the 131 FW deployed more than 430 members in 2000. A majority deployed to Prince Sultan Air Base, Saudi Arabia in support of Operation Southern Watch while others were deployed to stations throughout Europe.
The dramatic events of September 11, 2001 led the 131 FW to stand up to full alert within 8 hours of the initial terrorist attack, and several units were mobilized within days. Throughout the months following, Wing members mobilized or deployed in support of Operations Noble Eagle and Enduring Freedom and eventually Operation Iraqi Freedom.
During the winter of 2001-2002, the 131 FW completed a 90-day Air Expeditionary Force rotation in Keflavik, Iceland, allowing other units to support other global operations.
In Fall 2004, the unit began its transition from the F-15A to the F-15C model aircraft, becoming the first combat-coded F-15 unit in the ANG to have the C-models.
In the late summer of 2005, 131 FW members were among those to deploy to the Gulf Coast to assist with hurricane relief efforts in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Here in St. Louis, wing personnel worked in concert with local officials to establish a shelter for evacuees here in St. Louis. Although it was ready, that shelter was never used.
Also in 2005, DoD's Base Realignment and Closure recommendations became law, realigning the 131 FW by moving its F-15 aircraft to other locations. Keeping 100% of the Missouri National Guard's manning in place left the MoANG open to accept new missions. In March 2006, DoD announced that the MoANG would indeed get a new mission--as an ANG associate unit at Whiteman AFB. While the active duty will have primary ownership over the aircraft, Missouri's Guardsmen will maintain and fly the B-2 Spirit stealth bombers alongside our active duty counterparts.
During the summer of 2006, severe storms swept through Missouri, resulting in massive power outages. Missouri called on its National Guard to provide equipment and manpower to support the community. Efforts were repeated after an ice storm struck the region in December 2006.
Many members from the 131 FW began transitioning to Whiteman in the summer of 2007. The 131 FW formally recognized it's transition to the 131st Bomb Wing in a ribbon cutting ceremony held Oct. 2007 at Whiteman, AFB.
Despite the demands of high tempo global operations, the 131 BW continues to fulfill its daily training missions and excel in higher headquarters-directed inspections. Today, dozens of unit members are activated or deployed, as we answer the call to duty in support of the Global War on Terrorism.
While we anticipate many changes over the next several years, our Airmen will continue to provide combat and civil support the state and nation.
"Air Superiority - Anywhere - Anytime"