By SM Sgt. Wilbur Tackaberry
In the early summer of 1946, a group of World War II veterans and former members of the pre-war Guard unit met at the old Kingsway Hotel to formulate plans for organizations of the Air National Guard Fighter Wing. Unlike the pre-war unit which consisted of some 24 officers and 120 enlisted personnel, the Fighter Wing would have about ten times as many members in its ranks. An extensive recruiting drive was undertaken which attracted a large group of veterans including some of the outstanding fighter pilots of World War II. Federal recognition was granted to the 57th Fighter Wing and the 110th Fighter Squadron to September 1946.
Brigadier General Winston W. Kratz, pioneer aviator, early member of the Guard, and World War II night fighter specialist, took command of the Wing. The 110th commanded by Captain Albert W. Courtial, were equipped with the F-51 Mustang recognized as the fastest fighter aircraft of World War II.
The new unit was much too large for the original hangar at Lambert Field, therefore it was necessary to expand to a facility near Lindbergh Boulevard and Brown Road, which has been utilized as a contract activity during the war for training aircraft mechanics, and to the historic Army Post at Jefferson Barracks, Missouri.
Air Service Group, 1949 [Enlargement]
Major Charles DuBois, a World War II fighter ace and former member of the famed "Flying Tigers" succeeded Captain Courtial as commander of the 110th Fighter Squadron. As a young major then, and now a young major general, he is presently the Base Detachment Commander of Robertson Air National Guard Base, and also Chief of Staff for Air, for the State of Missouri . At a ceremony held at Lambert Field a few years ago General Dubois spoke of the history and future of the Air National Guard, the 110th Fighter Squadron, and general aviation. "The spirit of the 110th, like its equipment, was originally inherited from the airmen of World War I who first fought from the sky and from men like Billy Mitchell, Jimmy Doolittle, Eddie Rickenbacker, and the many others. Like all aviation, its roots are in the recent past, but its eyes look to the future of aerospace. The 110th Fighter Squadron grew up with general aviation and it is this theme that we intend to stress, that it is a part of a broad based civil and military aerospace program. Our purpose is to recognize the richness and glory of the past as generating the future of all phases of aviation and contributing to the health of every segment of flight."
Other fighter aces who joined the Missouri Air National Guard were 1st Lt. Robert L. Garlich whose record in the European Theater of Operations included the downing of six enemy aircraft, and Major Glennon T. Moran, another European Theatre fighter ace with 17 Ĺ victories to his credit. In 1947 the unit, redesignated the 71st Fighter Squadron
MSgt Jimmy Tate (right), WWI veteran, reactivated after WWII. Tate packed the parachutes for Lindbergh and was credited with saving the lives of over 26 flyers (including Jimmy Doolittle, who parachuted from a disintegrating aircraft over East St. Louis. Tate died at Lambert Field on April 15, 1949. [Enlargement]
Wing, was host to a three-day observance of the 40th Anniversary of the United States Army Air Corps in ceremonies held at Lambert Field and Scott Field, Illinois. A highlight of this event was the flight of 100 B-29 "Super-fortresses" over the City of St. Louis. Static displays of aircraft at Lambert Field included A-26ís, P-51ís, P-80ís and the new "Banshee" jet fighter developed by McDonnell Aircraft Corporation. A formation of C-47 transports and AT-6 trainers was included in the program, as well as a mock aerial attack led by Major Moran.
By 1949 the Air National Guard facility at Lambert Field, began to take on a new look. The hangar, with its complex of shops and offices, was modernized and the adjacent aircraft parking area was covered with pierced steel planking, the same material used in all theatres of operation during World War I to provide an operational surface for aircraft in undeveloped terrain. It was also the year in which the 110th Fighter Squadron won top honors in a Midwest Invitational Flying Contest for Reserve pilots at Kansas City, Missouri. The St. Louis team led by Captain Walter E. Stueck of Overland, flew F-51ís. Other team members included Lieutenants John Hill, St. Louis; Philip Houghton, Clayton; and Robert Little of Florissant, won the Purdome Trophy for Formation Acrobatic Flying. Lt. Little was later to become Chief Project Engineer for McDonnnell Aircraft Corporation for the F-101 "Voodoo". [Photo: Air Guard Facilities at Lambert as they appeared in 1949. Enlargement ]
Training and preparation for activation into military service in the event of a national emergency is the Air National Guardís primary mission. However, there are many public service activities in which Guard personnel frequently become involved. In 1949 the unit provided aircraft and crews to transport "Iron Lungs" from other cities to St. Louis where they were critically needed for polio treatment. Another community program initiated in 1947 by the Air National Guard was the annual Christmas party for orphans and underprivileged children of the St. Louis area. This program has continued throughout the years . Unit members have frequently volunteered in large numbers as emergency blood donors and are presently assisting a fellow Air Guardsmanís son who requires the use of an artificial kidney machine.
The invasion of South Korea by North Korean Communist forces resulted in the 71st Tactical Fighter Wings recall into active Federal service on March 1, 1951 for a period of 21 months. The unit was to write another chapter in its distinguished history for services during the Korean Conflict.
Lambert Field Airmen's Club Member Card (Master Sgt. James L. Brown)
Airmen's Club, Lambert Field, [Enlargement]
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