HARRISBURG – The Pennsylvania Air National Guard is marking the 60th anniversary of its inception this year with celebrations at professional baseball fields across the commonwealth.
“From the greatest generation to the latest generation of combat airmen, the Pennsylvania Air National Guard has been proud to serve the commonwealth and the nation,” said Brig. Gen. Stephen M. Sischo, commander, Pennsylvania Air National Guard. “Celebrating our diamond anniversary gives us the opportunity to honor these airmen and to thank the community for their unparalleled support for more than six decades.”
To mark the 60th anniversary, Pennsylvania Air National Guard units will conduct “Operation Shining Diamond,” a community outreach program designed to thank the state’s citizens for their support during the Global War on Terror.
Celebrations for “Operation Shining Diamond” will take place in major and minor league baseball stadiums throughout the commonwealth, and are aimed at uniting citizens and airmen in recognizing the past and looking to the future of the Pennsylvania Air National Guard. Events will include airmen singing the national anthem, throwing out the first pitch, and military aircraft flyovers from each of the wings.
In 1947, Congress passed the National Security Act and created a Department of the Air Force. This led to the creation of a separate Pennsylvania Air National Guard. Federal recognition of the organization was first observed on Jan. 17, 1947, in a formation at the state-owned hangar at the Harrisburg State Airport, now known as Capital City Airport, New Cumberland. The 53rd Fighter Wing was the forerunner of the present day 171st Air Refueling Wing, located at Pittsburgh International Airport. The 171st is includes more than 1,400 airmen who serve in numerous roles and missions worldwide. The unit supports, maintains and operates 16 KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft serving in air refueling and transport sorties around the world.
Today, the 171st ARW stands with the 111th Fighter Wing at the Joint Reserve Base, Willow Grove, and the 193rd Special Operations Wing at Harrisburg International Airport, to form the fourth largest Air National Guard in the country, totaling more than 4,000 airmen.
On Feb. 27, 1947, General Richard B. Posey, a Camp Hill resident known as the “Father of the Pennsylvania Air National Guard,” took command of 148th Fighter Squadron during ceremonies at Spaatz Field, Reading. The 148th is the forerunner of today’s 193rd SOW, which is comprised of more than 1,700 airmen. The 193rd SOW operates the U.S. military’s only airborne broadcasting mission focusing on information operations used in combat and humanitarian missions throughout the world.
Using a specially modified EC-130J model aircraft, this elite unit has the capability to control the electronic spectrum of radio, television, and military communication bands in a focused area. Known as “Commando Solo,” this aircraft can prepare the battlefield through psychological operations and civil affairs broadcasts.
The 111th Fighter Wing received its federal recognition Dec. 20, 1948, at Philadelphia International Airport. Currently, the unit maintains a highly trained, well-equipped and motivated military force providing combat-ready A- 10 aircraft and support elements in response to wartime and peacetime tasking under state or federal authority. The unit is comprised of more than 1,000 airmen and has played an integral role in combat operations throughout the Global War on Terror.