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Fairchild to celebrate 75th anniversary

B-52 crews at Fairchild scramble during an alert in 1961. (Courtesy photo)

B-52 crews at Fairchild scramble during an alert in 1961. (Courtesy photo)

B-52 maintainers work on an engine at Fairchild in 1962. (Courtesy photo)

B-52 maintainers work on an engine at Fairchild in 1962. (Courtesy photo)

A 92nd Bombardment Wing B-29 drops its bombs on North Korean enemy troop concentrations in 1950.  The 92d’s efforts enabled the U.S. Eighth Army to break out of the Pusan Perimeter and rapidly advance to Seoul. (Courtesy photo)

A 92nd Bombardment Wing B-29 drops its bombs on North Korean enemy troop concentrations in 1950. The 92d’s efforts enabled the U.S. Eighth Army to break out of the Pusan Perimeter and rapidly advance to Seoul. (Courtesy photo)

92nd Bombardment Group B-17s drop their munitions over Germany in 1944. (Courtesy photo)

92nd Bombardment Group B-17s drop their munitions over Germany in 1944. (Courtesy photo)

92nd Bombardment Group B-17s on their way to their target in Nazi-occupied Europe during WWII. The 92 BG operated from airfields in England during the war. (Courtesy photo)

92nd Bombardment Group B-17s on their way to their target in Nazi-occupied Europe during WWII. The 92 BG operated from airfields in England during the war. (Courtesy photo)

A 92nd Bombardment Group B-17 bomb loader straddles one of his bombs on the flightline in England in the early 1940s (Courtesy photo)

A 92nd Bombardment Group B-17 bomb loader straddles one of his bombs on the flightline in England in the early 1940s (Courtesy photo)

FAIRCHILD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. --

Before the 92nd Air Refueling Wing existed, the 92nd Bombardment Group was created, beginning the revolution of air refueling. On March 1, 1942, the 92nd BG was activated at Barksdale Field, Louisiana, existing only on paper before ultimately moving to MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, and then to Sarasota, Florida, where people were eventually assigned.

“When the 92nd BG started they had nothing,” said Duane Wolfe, retired 92nd BG command chief. “There was no structure. In six months, the crews had obtained a (base) structure and received the equipment and training.”

After training was completed, the ground unit of the 92nd BG went to Fort Dix, New Jersey, the staging area, then took a ferry to Staten Island, New York, to an Army transport. During this time, the air unit made their first successful non-stop flight from Newfoundland to Scotland. A few days after, they flew to England, making a headway into history.

When crews arrived to England, members weren’t sure what to expect. The 92nd BG conducted the first bombing mission and carried out more than 300 bombing missions from 1942 to 1945. During those years, the 92nd was involved in many famous missions over Nazi-occupied Europe, including both Schweinfurt raids and the D-Day invasion.

During this time, one of the most famous members of the 92nd BG was 2nd Lt. John “Red” Morgan, who earned the Medal of Honor as part of his heroic actions during a bombing mission over Germany. Red was raised in Vernon, Texas, and was the son of an oil tycoon. He was a rebellious child and was sent to military school in New Mexico. Once the war began, he wanted in on it, but the U. S. Army wouldn’t take him.

“He went to Canada and became a pilot,” Wolfe said. “He was sent to England and transferred to the Royal Air Force. When the Americans arrived, he joined the U.S.”

On April 25, 1945, the 92nd BG led the 8th AF on its last bombing mission over Europe. Following the end of the war, the group's work didn't end. The 92nd transported POWs from Stalag Luft I to U.S. military control and also transported troops to Air Transport Command Centers. The group inactivated at Istres, France, in February 1946 and activated again in August 1946 at Fort Worth Army Airfield, Texas. The 92nd moved to Smoky Hill Army Airfield, Kansas, in October 1946 before heading to its permanent Spokane home in the summer of 1947.

“It’s important that everybody understands what was accomplished during that time period,” Wolfe said. “These guys established a legacy of excellence and they were just like you and me.”

Today, the wing provides global reach airpower and deploys expeditionary forces in support of worldwide combat, contingency, and humanitarian requirements. The wing operates 35 KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft performing refueling, airlift and aeromedical evacuation missions supporting US and coalition contingency operations and USSTRATCOM strategic deterrence missions.

(Editor's Note: Daniel Simmons contributed to this article)