Happy Birthday 142nd Wing!

  • Published
  • By Terrence G. Popravak, Jr., USAF (Retired)
  • 142nd Wing / Historian's Office

It was on July 15, 1943 that the 371st Fighter Group was activated at Richmond Army Air Base, Virginia.  Equipped with the Republic P-47 Thunderbolt fighter, the group trained and then deployed for combat to the European Theater of Operations in February-March, 1944.

Beginning combat operations in April, 1944 the group participated in six military campaigns across Northwestern Europe, was awarded the Distinguished Unit Citation (called the Presidential Unit Citation today) for actions in Germany in March, 1945, the highest unit-level award, and was cited in the Belgian Army Order of the Day for actions between D-Day, June 6, 1944, and September 30, 1944.

The 371st celebrated its first birthday in the combat zone during the battles for Normandy after D-Day, and second birthday after the war ended on occupation duty in Germany.  These were festive occasions described in “The European Birthdays of the 142nd Wing,” here.

The group was inactivated after the war, on November 10, 1945.  But some six months later, on May 24, 1946, the 371st Fighter Group was redesignated as the 142nd Fighter Group and allotted to the State of Oregon in the postwar buildup of the air component of the National Guard.  The 142nd retains the lineage and all the battle honors earned by the 371st in World War II.  It’s the same unit, by a different number.  For more on this redesignation story, see “What’s in a Number Anyway? The Origins of the 142nd Fighter Wing,” here.

Since then, the wing has earned 11 Air Force Outstanding Unit Awards, received the Aerospace Defense Command “A” Award twice, and distinguished itself in ongoing service to the community, state and nation.  It served on active duty during the Korean War callup, and has maintained aerospace control alert operations defending the skies of the Pacific Northwest since 1958.  The unit served again overseas in Europe in the Cold War, and after the Cold War in Europe, SW Asia, Latin America and other places around the world.  It was redesignated from a group-level formation to a wing in 1995.

So Happy Birthday, 142nd Wing, our Hometown Air Force – Semper Vigilans!  And many happy returns of the day!