History of the 193rd

From its inception as a pace-setting fighter squadron during World War II, to its present role as the only Air National Guard special operations flying unit, the 193rd Special Operations Wing has remained at the tip of the spear.

Originated as the 347th Fighter Squadron, Oct. 1, 1942, by the U.S. Army Air Corps, the unit helped to establish air superiority for Allied Forces in Europe. On Nov. 7, 1945, the 347th was deactivated as an active duty unit. On May 24, 1946, the mission was turned over to the newly allocated 148th Fighter Squadron, an Air National Guard unit located at Spaatz Field, Reading, Pennsylvania.

The 148th Fighter Squadron, flying P-51 "Mustangs," was federally recognized Feb. 27, 1947.

On Dec. 22, 1950, the 148th Fighter Interception Squadron was notified it would be called to duty for the Korean Conflict. From February 1951 to October 1952, the squadron became attached to the 26th Air Division as a part of the Eastern Air Defense Force, Dover, AFB, Delaware.

In 1956, the end of era came for the 148th as propeller-driven fighters were rapidly being replaced by larger aircraft. The 148th converted to the 140th Air Transport Squadron with the main airframe being the C-46 "Commando" transports and later to the C-119 "Flying Boxcar."

By the late 1960s, the 140th was notified that it would be converting once again to the much larger and faster C-121 "Constellation". Due to runway requirements, the C-121s could not fly from Spaatz Field and the unit moved to Olmstead Air Force Base at its present-day location in Middletown, Pennsylvania. It was later renamed the 168th Air Transport Unit, Feb. 16, 1964.

Threatened by the closure of their host base and by downsizing of all conventionally powered transport aircraft, the National Guard Bureau volunteered the unit for a psychological warfare capability named "Coronet Solo."

Following the Arab-Israeli War of June 1967, psychological warfare once again became a U.S. military priority. The unit converted to the 193rd Tactical Electronic Warfare Group.

Although the "Solo" mission was to remain consistent throughout the 40 years to follow, the capabilities of the 193rd remained shrouded in secrecy until it was partially declassified in 1989.

The first MC-130J Commando II aircraft arrived at Middletown, Pa., Feb 2, 2023, achieving a major milestone in the 193rd Special Operations Wing’s mission conversion. The 193 SOW is the first, and currently the only, Air National Guard unit to receive the Commando II mission, a flagship mission of Air Force Special Operations Command.

ANG: A Short Story

The Air National Guard as we know it today -- a separate reserve component of the United States Air Force -- was a product of the politics of postwar planning and interservice rivalry during World War II. The men who planned and maneuvered for an independent postwar Air Force during World War II didn't place much faith in the reserves, especially the state-dominated National Guard. 

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