The 92nd ARW will once again have people supporting worldwide ops during Christmas

  • Published
  • By Dan Simmons
  • 92nd Air Refueling Wing Historian
The Christmas season is here, and once again, the 92nd Air Refueling Wing will have many wing members who will not be home for the holidays. In the 70-year history of the 92nd, this has been the case more often than not. During World War II, the 92nd Bombardment Group spent three Christmas seasons in Europe, helping to defeat the Nazi regime and liberate the continent. On Christmas Eve, 1944, the 92nd BG was involved in a "Maximum Effort" bombing mission over Giessen, Germany. Sadly, the 92nd lost 21 members and six aircraft during this mission. Despite the terrible losses, on Christmas Day Col. James Wilson, 92nd commander, addressed the group and was certain the unit's efforts were not in vain. "I am fully confident that a continuation of your superb efforts during the coming year will bring us all closer to complete victory and opportunity to return to our beloved ones."
     After WW II ended, the Cold War began. For the next four decades, wing members were on continuous airborne or ground alert to defend our nation against nuclear attack. In 1964, the 92nd became involved in the war in Southeast Asia, and the wing maintained a presence there until the Vietnam War ended in 1973. On Dec. 21, 1972, during Linebacker II ("Christmas Bombings"), a 92nd Bombardment Wing B-52 was shot down over Hanoi, resulting in five deaths and two prisoners of war. During the Cold War, KC-135 crew members and maintenance personnel were also continuously deployed in support of tanker task force operations around the world.
     With the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the dissolution of the Soviet Union, peace finally seemed to be at hand. That all changed in August 1990 when Iraq invaded Kuwait. Wing personnel deployed worldwide for Operation Desert Shield and stayed gone through the holiday season to prepare for Desert Storm. Even with a quick victory against Iraq in early 1991, the wing still had to maintain a continuous presence in Southwest Asia to deter further Iraqi aggression. Throughout the 90s, 92nd personnel were always deployed, supporting either Operation Southern Watch (Saudi Arabia) or Operation Northern Watch (Turkey).
     Following the attacks on our nation in September 2001, wing personnel have been deployed non-stop to locations around the world in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. That number of deployed personnel increased even more in 2003 with the start of Operation Iraqi Freedom (later Operation New Dawn). For the last seven years, the 92nd ARW has had anywhere from 15 to 20 percent of its people deployed during the holiday season.
     This year, the 92nd has more than 250 people deployed at more than 15 locations around the globe supporting contingency operations.
     Fairchild is a 24/7 operation which does not shut down on Christmas Day or New Year's Eve. Members may not be deployed, but many of them are still sacrificing by working on days that most people have off.
     The one constant over the years is that the wing has never had everybody home for the holidays. Christmas is a season of giving. 92nd personnel have a long history of giving a great gift - their unselfish and dedicated service has allowed the people here to enjoy peace, joy and hope of the holidays.