Seven Decades of Success – the 115th Fighter Wing celebrates 70th anniversary.

Today, the 115th Fighter Wing celebrates a platinum anniversary. Seventy years ago, on October 6, 1948, the unit was federally recognized into the Air National Guard.

The theme of the anniversary is ‘Pillars of the Past, Foundations of the Future.’ Over the next seven days, the 115th will pay tribute to the pillars of its past by telling the historical story, by decade, from its inception in 1948 to the current mission and operations of today.

“Our legacy of excellence began on this day and we owe our success to the trailblazers who raised their right hand and had the foresight to create a foundation that would prove invaluable for decades to come. For 70 years, Truax Field has answered the call of our state and nation and we will continue to defend and protect our freedoms stateside and abroad. Thanks to our founders and generations of committed airmen that followed since our inception, our roots are well-established, which have created a dedication of excellence that is the culture of the 115th Fighter Wing today,” said Col. Erik Peterson, 115th Fighter Wing commander.

Today, we begin the history of the 115th with the first decade, a pivotal time that is marked with the beginning of the Wisconsin Air National Guard. This decade would mark the start of constant transitions and numerous mission changes.

The 1940’s…

On October 4, 1948, the roots of the 115th Fighter Wing, which was then designated as the 176th Fighter Squadron (FS), received federal recognition. With meager beginnings, a squadron comprised of 13 officers and 20 enlisted men, these trailblazers would build the foundation of the unit and grow in numbers.

The very first commander of the newly established 176 FS was Major Charles Hinn. During his tenure from 1948 to 1949, the unit continued to expand in strength and equipment. The unit received three T-6s, a C-47 Gooney Bird, a B-26 and 14 F-51s, all traveling from Sioux Falls, S.D.

The focus was on preparing the newly assigned aircraft for flight operations, the retaining of pilots, and recruiting new members to join the ranks. By 1949, the unit’s second commander, Major Paul Fojik had arrived from the 126th Fighter Squadron (FS) based in Milwaukee, where he had commanded Detachment A. In July of 1949, the unit participated in its first Annual Training (Summer Camp) at Volk Field, Camp Douglas, Wis.

By the close of 1949, tensions were mounting on the Korean Peninsula, and in less than a year the U.S. would find itself embroiled in another conflict, a mere five years after Victory Over Japan Day, or VJ Day, and the end of WWII. The Korean War represented the first significant test of the training, experience, and vigilance of the members of the newly established 176 FS.

Stay tuned as we honor our history over the next week. Each day, a post that tells the incredible story of the 115th Fighter Wing, honoring our Pillars of the Past that have given us a Foundation to the Future.

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