The 102nd Fighter Wing & 101st Fighter Squadron
A History of the 102nd Fighter Win and 101st Fighter Squadron
The 102nd Fighter Wing was born in the
spring of 1921 as the 101st Observation Squadron, Massachusetts National Guard.
By November of that year, the squadron was federally recognized.
The squadron secured its own training site on the landfilled tidal flats at Jeffries Point, East Boston. This humble field, with its two cinder runways, would later be known as Logan International Airport. The squadron quickly became one of New England’s major aviation centers playing a big part in the first around-the-world flight of the U.S. Army Air Service. It also housed and cared for the “Spirit of St. Louis” when Guardsman Lt. Col. Charles Lindbergh visited the Bay State.
In 1940, the 101st was inducted into federal service and was then moved from Logan Airport to Otis Field at Camp Edwards, Mass. During World War II the unit served under the Ninth Air Force as a reconnaissance unit. After serving in France, the squadron returned to the states in 1945 and was reactivated as a National Guard unit on July 29, 1946.
The 102nd Fighter Group with the 101st as its assigned fighter squadron, and subordinate to the 102nd Fighter Wing, was federally recognized on Oct. 15, 1946. It became the first Air National Guard unit to conduct post-war training and did so again at Otis Air Base.
In 1950, the 102nd and four other ANG Wings were recalled to active duty and assigned to the Air Defense Command. Remaining at home station, the Logan International Airport-based ANG unit stood runway alert throughout the Korean conflict. At Logan, the 101st flew the famous P-47 Thunderbolt and the F-51 Mustang. Also, jet fighters like the F-84A and B Thunderjet, F-94B Starfire, F-86H Sabre Jet, and the F-84F Thunderstreak also appeared on the Boston flightline.
When the Berlin wall was built in 1961, the 102nd Tactical Fighter Wing and all of its subordinate units (102nd Tactical Fighter Group, Boston, Mass.; 104th TAC Fighter Group, Westfield, Mass.; and the 174th TAC Fighter Group, Syracuse, N.Y.) were alerted and by Nov. 1st, 26 of the Wing’s F-86H aircraft were on the ramp at Phalsbourg Air Base, France. The Wing provided close air support to NATO’s U.S. Seventh Army.
By August 1962, the Wing was released from active duty and returned to Air National Guard control. In August of 1968, the 102nd left its Boston home of over 45 years and became a tenant unit at Otis Air Force Base.
The return to Otis for the 102nd was fitting indeed. The 101st Observation Squadron, forerunner of the 102d Fighter Interceptor Wing, was the original occupant of the Otis Field and was instrumental in its construction on the Camp Edwards property. The original intent of Otis Field was for utilization by National Guard aircraft. Otis was named after pilot, flight surgeon, and eminent Boston City Hospital surgeon, Lt. Frank Otis, a member of the 101st Observation Squadron who was killed while on a cross-country training mission.
The Wing flew the F-84F Thunderstreak until June 1971, when a squadron of F-100D Supersabres was transferred directly from the conflict in Vietnam. After making the transition to the “Hun,” a shift in Department of Defense military planning brought still more change to the 102nd and its mission. Mach 2, F-106 Delta Darts arrived on the 102nd’s parking ramp. On June 10, 1972, the unit officially became the 102nd Air Defense Wing (later changed to the 102nd Fighter Interceptor Wing). Upon completion of transition, the Wing commenced an air defense alert commitment on a 24-hour, 365-days-a-year basis.
On April 25, 1975, 102nd pilots Capt. Kenneth Peterson and 1st Lt. Arthur Bugbee were scrambled to intercept two Soviet TU 95 BEAR aircraft, 240 nautical miles off the Long Island coastline. Intercepts since that time have included everything from aircraft off course, additional intercepts of Soviet BEAR aircraft, and aircraft carrying illegal cargo.
In 1976, the 102nd Fighter Interceptor Group was deactivated with the 102nd Fighter Interceptor Wing assuming working command authority.
The101st Fighter Interceptor Squadron remained as the F-106 equipped working squadron. Additionally, for federalization purposes, the 102nd Fighter Interceptor Wing became the controlling authority for the 177th and 125th Fighter Interceptor Groups (flying F-106 aircraft) located at Atlantic City, NJ, and Jacksonville, Fla. respectively, and also for the 107th and 147th Fighter Interceptor Groups (flying F-4C aircraft) at Niagara, N.Y., and Ellington ANG Base, Texas.
The 102nd has figured prominently in several William Tell worldwide weapons competitions. The 102nd took first place in the 1978 shoot off competition and along with Great Falls, Mont., represented the Air National Guard F-106 units in the actual competition at Tyndall AFB, Fla. That year the 102nd placed fourth in the overall F-106 category, its first try at the William Tell Apple. Again in 1980, a team of pilots and aircraft maintenance personnel from the 102nd competed for the title of number one F- 106 unit in North America. In this event, the 102nd placed second to a unit from Fresno, Calif.
In 1981, the 102nd participated in its first major air defense deployment to the Canadian Forces Base, Goose Bay, Labrador, for a six-day Fertile Brave exercise. In 1982, a Checkered Flag deployment took the Wing to Canadian Forces Base Shearwater, Nova Scotia. The initial deployments to periodically test operating from distant locations has grown to increased worldwide responsibilities for the Wing.
The 102nd’s conversion to the F-15 marked the first Air National Guard air defense unit to receive the Eagle. The 102nd Fighter Interceptor Wing was redesignated the 102nd Fighter Wing in April 1992.
Examples of the Wing’s ability to function worldwide include a 1992 deployment of eight pilots, five F-15 Eagles, and 48 maintenance and security personnel, who deployed for five days to Canadian Forces Base, Goose Bay, Labrador, Canada. Another is the humanitarian deployment of 50 personnel from the 102nd Civil Engineering Squadron under field conditions, to the island of Eleuthera in the Bahamas in July 1993 to rebuild school buildings and municipal facilities damaged by Hurricane Andrew in 1992.
In the years 1991 through 1995 the Wing deployed to Panama as part of "Coronet Nighthawk," a drug interdiction operation. During the years 1995 through 1998 the Wing has deployed to Iceland for 45 days of air defense duty. During 1998 Otis Guard members trained for and performed real-world contingency assignments in Iceland, Canada, Korea, and Europe. In 1999 the Wing participated in Operation Northern Watch when it deployed with its F-15 Eagle aircraft to Turkey to patrol and enforce the no-fly zone north of the 36th parallel in northern Iraq. In the Fall of 2000 the Wing deployed over 350 of its members to various overseas locations in support of the Expeditionary Aerospace Force. Locations included Turkey, Italy, France, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait.
On 11 September 2001, two jets from the 102nd were scrambled in response to the hijacked aircraft, which crashed into the World Trade Center towers in New York City. Since that time, the unit has been a key player in the war on terrorism by flying combat air patrols in support of Operation Noble Eagle.
The 1,000 dedicated men and women of the 102nd Fighter Wing live out its motto, “Omnis Vir Tigris,” (Everyone a Tiger). We have pride in our past and faith in our future.
Text courtesy of the 102nd FW Website.
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