The 147th Air Refueling Squadron boasts more than 50 years of distinguished service. The 147th Fighter Interceptor Squadron continued operating fighter aircraft while preparing to convert to an aeromedical transport squadron, equipped with C-119J transport aircraft, under the Military Air Transport Service, in May 1961. By late 1963 the C-121G Super Constellation arrived on base. In February 1964 the 171st Air Transport Group was formed with the 147th as its flying squadron. Then in 1968 it was redesignated as the as the 171st Aeromedical Airlift wing.
The 171st AAW was called to active duty on May 13, 1968 through December 12, 1968 to provide additional airlift capabilities. Patients were moved from casualty staging bases and military installations to destination treatment hospitals. The 171st AAW was redesignated as an Air Refueling Wing and received the KC-97L aircraft on October 4, 1972. The 171st ARW was redesignated as a Tactical Air Command unit to Strategic Air Command in 1976 and began flying the KC-135A Stratotanker retrofitted to the “E Model” engines in 1977.
The 171st ARW was awarded the Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross with Palm for duty during the Vietnam Conflict. They received the Outstanding Unit Award in 1977, 1984 and 1991. The 171st was rewarded first and second place in the prestigious Air Tattoo competition in England in 1983 and 1985.
The 171st ARW began participating in Operation Desert Shield in August 1990. The unit became a vital part of the air bridge formed by air refueling and airlift support in the Southwest Asian Theatre. Five months later the wing was activated and deployed to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates as part of the 1713th ARW (Provisional). Operation Desert Storm began shortly after their arrival. The 171st flew nearly 600 Desert Storm Sorties and maintained a perfect 100 percent mission effectiveness rating throughout the entire war. The 171st also played a vital role in in support of Operation Restore Hope in December 1992. In October 1993 the 147th ARS united with the 146th ARS under the 171st ARW colors as the 112th Air Refueling Group inactivated. The squadron also flew in support of Operation Allied Force in 1999 and continues to support worldwide contingencies on a daily basis. The combined aircraft and crews of the 146th and 147th ARS 414 sorties in support of Operation Allied Force in 1999, offloading over 18 million gallons of fuel to NATO receivers.
The 147th ARS helped make history on September 11, 2001 when the 171st ARW became the first National Guard unit to fulfill both its state and federal missions simultaneously, performing air refueling for combat patrols over the nation’s cities in support of Operation Noble Eagle while supporting ground recovery operations at the crash site of Flight 93. The 147th ARS continued to support the war on terrorism during 2001 and 2002 in Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Northern Watch. Despite the increased demands made on the squadron, the 147th ARS enjoys nearly 60 years of accident free flying thanks to the tireless efforts of its members. The 147th ARS truly personifies “Americans at their best.”