Our dual role KC-135s regularly refuel U.S. and NATO aircraft as our primary mission. Our secondary mission of cargo and passenger transportation has increased dramatically because of recent downsizing within the Air Force, which has resulted in a shortfall of airlift capability. In performing this secondary mission, our tankers are continuously called upon to airlift cargo and passengers worldwide. It is not unusual for several of our aircraft to be deployed simultaneously to various locations around the globe performing real-world missions (refueling and airlift).
In addition to our primary flying mission, the 171st ARW personnel are regularly called upon to assist state agencies during natural disasters such as floods, heavy snowstorms, and tornadoes. The 171st ARW is also called upon to assist during civilian transportation disasters.
Drawing personnel from the Tri-State Area, the 171st ARW provides an economic stimulus of more than $56 million annually. This stimulus includes employment, purchases and construction expenditures from our unit directly into the local economy. The 171st ARW employs approximately 400 full-time employees and 1000 traditional guard members.
National Guard Symbol: The Minuteman
Oldest Military Legacy, Citizen-Soldier
In colonial times, Minutemen were the soldiers who agreed to turn out for immediate service in defense of their communities. Today, these Minutemen are the Air National Guard, an elite volunteer force of citizen-Airmen maintained in a high state of operational readiness as a reserve component of the United States Air Force.
The Air National Guard's history goes back to 1908 with the First Aero Company, Signal Corps, and New York National Guard. It began with 25 aviation enthusiasts who volunteered to learn ballooning. Though the Air Guard had a very slow beginning in aviation, in 1916 two National Guard aviation companies were mobilized. In 1940, the Air Guard was again ordered into federal service. Since this sparse beginning the Air National Guard has played an increasingly important role in the total Air Force structure. It saw mobilization in almost all conflicts where the United States was involved, including Vietnam, Korea and Desert Storm. Citizen-soldiers have also played a large role in humanitarian efforts, such as the Berlin Airlift and Bosnia. These same citizen-Airmen are also often integrated into the active duty Air Forces daily operations, hence the total force concept. It is through Air Force reserve components such as the Air National Guard that the Air Force maintains the ability to carry out its global military missions.
Another facet of the Air Guard is its state mission. Each Air National Guard unit is under the daily control of the Governor. Throughout history these troops have responded to many local disasters such as floods, hurricanes, snowstorms and riots. The Pennsylvania Air National Guard had its beginning January 17, 1947, when it received federal recognition. This year is the 58th anniversary of the Air Guard in Pennsylvania. Today, the PA Air National Guard is comprised of 9 units in six different communities across the Commonwealth, with more than 4,400 members.1
Adapted from Dr. Charles J. Gross' Book, "Prelude to the Total Force: The Air National Guard 1943-1969".