No April fools in 1951

  • Published
  • By Vincent De Groot
  • 185th Air Refueling Wing

It was no joke on April 1, 1951 when pilots and crew chiefs assigned to the Iowa Air National Guard’s 174th Fighter Squadron in Sioux City, Iowa were recalled to active duty because of the Korean War.

The fledgling fighter squadron had only been officially organized for a few years, but included many veteran pilots from World War II.

Mobilizations of Air Guard units for the Korean War initially began the previous fall. By the time the 174th was activated in the spring of 51’ nearly 80 percent of the Air Guard had been mobilized, about 45,000 Air Guardsmen.

Sioux City’s 174th Fighter Bomber Squadron was equipped with the F-51 Mustang when they were activated and initially sent to Dow Air Force Base, Maine.

The unit’s pilots and equipment were initially used to train new pilots while at Dow AFB. Soon, however much of the unit integrity was broken up after the activation.  After a few months the aircraft were sent back to Sioux City, but pilots were being reassigned or volunteering for various overseas assignments.

Many Air Guard personnel, like those from Sioux City’s 174th were redeployed from their active-duty units as individual filler replacements and redeployed where ever needed. Individual unit members were sent to various places throughout the world in support of the Department of Defense goal to combat the global communist threat in places like Europe, Japan and Korea.

Several 174th pilots, volunteered for a top secret mission and became part of the world’s first nuclear fighter bomber wing. These pilots were attached to the 20th Fighter Bomber Wing in Europe and became a part of the first nuclear deterrence force in Europe during their time in England.

While most unit members returned to Sioux City after the activation, some remained on active duty and others chose not to reenlist.

Administratively the unit remained on active duty for nearly two years, officially being moved back to the Iowa Air Guard in January, 1953.

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