History of the South Dakota Air National Guard
Published April 01, 2010
On July 10, 1946, Medal of Honor recipient and Marine Ace, Joseph J. "Joe" Foss was appointed to form an Air National Guard Squadron at Sioux Falls, South Dakota. The mission of the squadron would be to recruit and train aircrews and ground crews to a level of operational proficiency, which would enable them to intercept and destroy enemy airborne weapons. The equipment slate for the proposed unit included 25 of the fast and maneuverable P-51 Mustangs, a first-line fighter of the day.
Colonel Foss called a meeting for those interested and plans were formulated for organizing the squadron. Authority to activate the 175th Fighter Squadron in South Dakota was issued and on September 20, 1946, the organization received federal recognition.
The 175th was reassigned to the 133rd Fighter Interceptor Wing along with units from Fargo, Duluth and Minneapolis in November 1950. The unit was called to active duty on March 1, 1951 and moved to Ellsworth AFB, Rapid City, South Dakota, to provide support for the B-36 bombers stationed there. The unit remained nearly intact and at the end of the active duty was returned to state control and reorganized on December 1, 1952.
Two T-33 trainers were assigned to the unit in July 1954 to start the transition of the pilots into jet aircraft. The assignment of jet fighters began with F-94A/Bs and in a short time, the pilots were all checked out in jets. On April 16, 1956, the 175th Fighter Interceptor Squadron became part of the newly constituted 114th Fighter Interceptor Group, headquartered at Sioux Falls.
In May 1956, the first F-94C Starfire was received and another aircraft conversion was underway. In 1958, the F-94s were retired for the more powerful and longer range F-89 Scorpions. After two successful years with the F-89, notification was received that F-102 Delta Daggers were on the way.
In 1960, the unit received the F-102s and was placed under the direct supervision of the Air Defense Command. The 114th Fighter Group was assigned to the 132nd Fighter Wing. As part of taking over a more active role in the defense of the continental United States, aircrews were placed on five-minute alert, and four aircraft were armed and ready to intercept and destroy enemy targets.
A significant change was encountered in May 1970 when the 114th Fighter Group, Aerospace Defense Command, was changed to the 114th Tactical Fighter Group, Tactical Air Command. The F-102s were replaced with F-100D Super Sabres. The mission became that of controlling the combat skies from enemy use and to reinforce the combat forces on the ground. News was received in March 1976 of the replacement of the unit's F-100D aircraft with A-7D Corsair II jets. The last Super Sabres left Joe Foss Field in June 1977.
In 1979, the unit began a 12-year era of participation in Operation Coronet Cove at Howard AFB providing for defense of the Panama Canal. Both aircrew and support personnel were extended there in the summer of 1979 during the Nicaraguan crisis. The unit was awarded the Armed Forces Expeditionary Streamer for combat duty as a part of Operation Just Cause during 1989-1990.
The 114 TFG received the first of its F-16C/D fighters in August 1991 with the official conversion from the A-7 to the F-16 occurring on January 1, 1992. The unit was redesignated as the 114th Fighter Group on March 16, 1992 and became a part of the newly formed Air Combat Command on June 1, 1992.
The unit was one of the first four Air National Guard units tasked to deploy in support of Operation Provide Comfort II based out of Incirlik AB, Turkey. Combat patrol missions were flown over the northern "No Fly" zone of Iraq from December 1993 to January 1994. The 114th Fighter Group was redesignated as the 114th Fighter Wing in October 1995. The unit subsequently supported Operation Northern Watch, based out of Turkey in 1995 and 2002, and Operation South Watch based out of Kuwait in 1998 and Saudi Arabia in 2001.
A new chapter was opened in the history of the Air National Guard with the terrorist attacks on America on September 11, 2001. In addition to the unit's ongoing tasking as part of the Air Expeditionary Force (AEF), unit members were also activated to support Operation Noble Eagle within the United States and Operation Enduring Freedom abroad.