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131st BOMB WING HISTORY – MISSOURI AIR NATIONAL GUARD

Historical Highlights
The 131st Bomb Wing traces its roots to the 110th Aero Squadron, organized at Kelly Field, Texas, Aug. 14, 1917. After demobilization in November 1918, the 110th was formally re-established in Saint Louis by Maj. Bill Robertson and his brothers Frank and Daniel, who owned the Robertson Aircraft Corporation.

A five-day "recruiting drive" enlisted a total of 110 men, most of whom were World War I veterans. On June 23, 1923, the 110th Observation Squadron, 110th Photo Section and 110th Intelligence Section (35th Division Aviation Section) of the Missouri National Guard were federally recognized, and Maj. Robertson became the first commanding officer.

The 110th was first headquartered in a filling station on Manchester Avenue in St. Louis before moving to a small room over a grocery store on Olive Street Road in St. Louis County, and finally to the airport, which was then little more than empty pasture.

Initially there were neither airplanes for the fliers nor uniforms for the enlisted men. The 110th's first aircraft was a Curtiss JN-4 "Jenny," purchased by the officers of the squadron and used for flight training until early 1924, when three wartime JN-4s were received. These were housed in a corrugated sheet metal hangar erected on the field for the 1923 National Air Races. The unit held its first summer encampment in 1924 at Camp Clark in Nevada, Missouri, and by the end of the year a well-received training program was in effect.

Capt. Charles Lindbergh was a pilot of the 110th Observation Squadron when he made his famous Orteig Prize-winning 1927 non-stop 33½ hour trans-Atlantic solo flight from New York to Paris in the "Spirit of Saint Louis" - an aviation first.

The squadron flew 10 different aircraft from 1925 to 1940, including the De Havilland D-4, the Consolidated PT-1 "Trusty" and TW-3. Aircraft such as the Curtiss Falcon O-11, Douglas 0-2H and O-38B were employed for observation and reconnaissance missions. Squadron photographers honed their skills using the K-17 observation camera.

The unit entered active service at the outset of World War II, during which time it was equipped with the A-10 bomber, P-39 and P-40 fighter aircraft before converting to the P-51 late in the war. The unit distinguished itself in sinking Japanese shipping vessels and aircraft, and was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation . The 131st Fighter Group, under the 57th Fighter Wing, along with the 110th Fighter Squadron, were granted Federal Recognition in the summer of 1946.

Through subsequent name changes, the wing was eventually re-designated the 131st Fighter Wing in 1951, and was called to active service as a result of the Korean War. The 131st moved to George Air Force Base, California, before returning to the Air National Guard in 1952, at which time it was re-equipped with the B-26 Light Bomber. In 1957 and 1958, the 131st transitioned to F-80 and T-33 aircraft, and then to the F-84F.

During the Berlin Crisis, the 131st Tactical Fighter Wing was recalled to active service at Toul-Rosières Air Base, France, from 1961 to 1962, when it returned to St. Louis. The wing then received the F-100C, which it held for the next seventeen years. In 1978, the 131st received the F-4C, and eventually converted to the F-4E in 1985, which it kept until September 1991, when it converted to the F-15 A/B Eagle. The last F-4 flown by the 131st was the aircraft that shot down two MiG-21 aircraft over North Vietnam, as well as the aircraft that flew the F-4 line's 10-millionth hour in January 1990.

In 2004 the unit transitioned to the more advanced F-15C. In 2006, the Air Force announced that elements of the 131st Fighter Wing would become an associate unit assigned alongside the active duty 509th Bomb Wing. As a result, the 131st Fighter Wing transitioned from the F-15C to the B-2 Spirit bomber. The unit was re-designated as the 131st Bomb Wing Oct. 1, 2008. The last F-15 left Lambert-St. Louis International Airport in June 2009, and most of the wing was subsequently transferred to Whiteman Air Force Base.

The 131st Bomb Wing successfully passed the Initial Nuclear Surety Inspection and achieved full operational capability Aug. 2, 2013.

Today, the 131st Bomb Wing serves as the only Air National Guard unit associated with the B-2 Spirit bomber, as well as the only Air National Guard Bomb Wing certified for nuclear operations.

Current as of July 2014.