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History of the Mississippi Air National Guard

The history of the Mississippi Air National Guard began with the 153rd Observation Squadron, which originated on September 27, 1939, at Key Field, Meridian, Miss. In less than thirteen months, on October 15, 1940, it was ordered to active service during World War II and was deactivated on December 15, 1945. Reinstated on August 19, 1946 as the 153rd Fighter Squadron, the unit was "probably the first National Guard unit to be reorganized" after the war. This unit, now known as the 186th Aerial Refueling Wing, has continued without interruptions to the present time.

On October 21, 1946, Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, Mississippi National Guard came into being with an inspection of the State Staff and State Detachment for Federal recognition. This State Staff contained both Army and Air personnel. On October 11, 1949, a National Guard Bureau letter authorized the formation of an Air Section within Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment. The present name Headquarters, Mississippi Air National Guard, was extended by the National Guard Bureau in a letter and certificate of Federal recognition dated December 17, 1951. Federal recognition was effective January 1, 1952.

Acting through the Adjutant General and the Mississippi Military Department, Headquarters, Mississippi Air National Guard had actively sought a second flying unit for the state. That goal was realized when the 183rd Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron held its first formation at Hawkins Field at Jackson, Miss. on July 1, 1953. Following mission and aircraft changes, the same unit continues today as the 172nd Airlift Wing, now located at Thompson Field, east of Jackson.

The Combat Readiness Training Center at Gulfport, formerly called the Gulfport Air National Guard Training Site, evolved from planning that started at least in early 1953. The Biennial Report for the period ending June 30, 1953, looked forward with eager anticipation to Gulfport being selected by National Guard Bureau as the location for a training site that was to be established somewhere on the Gulf Coast:

During the last few weeks of this biennium, the National Guard Bureau has been actively engaged in a plan to establish a permanent training site at the old Gulfport Air Base for Air National Guard troops in this and several adjoining states. At the close of the biennium this plan has progressed to a point that the establishing of this training site appears to be a certainty. This department, therefore, anticipates that our Mississippi Air National Guard units will, in future years, conduct its annual field training duty here in our own state.

Gulfport Air National Guard Training Site became a reality on February 1, 1954. National Guard Bureau, however, insisted that construction be completed by May of that same year. By June 12, 1954 when the first unit arrived for training, an 8,000 foot lighted runway, 50 barracks, 10 latrines, a two-wing mess hall, a medical building, an administrative complex, communication facilities, and a supply warehouse had all been completed plus renovation of a large World War II hangar.

The 238th Airways and Air Communications Service Flight, Mobile was organized November 1, 1953. Located as a tenant of the 186th ARW at Key Field, Meridian, Miss. this organization exists presently as the 238th Combat Communications Squadron.

On May 19, 1963 the 173rd Air Base Squadron was organized at the Gulfport Air National Guard Training Site as a non-flying unit with a mission of providing the Training Site with air base support services. On May 15, 1971 the 255th Mobile Communications Squadron was formed as an outgrowth of the 173rd Air Base Squadron and incorporated many of the 173rd Air Base Squadron's personnel. This unit at present is designated the 255th Air Control Squadron.

The 173rd Civil Engineering Flight was organized and received Federal recognition on October 18, 1969. The unit, a tenant organization of the Gulfport Air National Guard Training Site, is today the 209th Civil Engineering Squadron.
Headquarters, Mississippi Air National Guard, participated in the formation of all units except the 153rd at Meridian, which is older than Headquarters. By working with the Adjutant General and his military staff, as well as National Guard Bureau, these units have been continually updated as missions, equipment, and personnel manning authorizations have changed as the Air National Guard has taken a more significant position in the Total Force concept.

Additional units have also been a part of the Mississippi Air National Guard. These units, however, were of short duration and were either disbanded, integrated into one of the six present-day units, or provided a temporary special service to one of the six contemporary units. They are not treated in this history. Their existence and other rather specific data for the unit can be found in the applicable Biennial Report of the Adjutant General of the State of Mississippi.