The 172d Air Support Squadron is a unit of the Michigan Air National Guard 110th Airlift Wing located at Kellogg Air National Guard Base, Battle Creek, Michigan. The 172d was last equipped with the C-21A Learjet before the aircraft were transferred in 2013.
The squadron was first organized during World War II as the 375th Fighter Squadron. It saw combat in the European Theater of Operations as an element of VII Fighter Command before returning to the United States, where it was inactivated.
In May 1946, the squadron was allotted to the National Guard as the 172d Fighter Squadron. During the Korean War, the squadron was called into federal service and acted in an air defense role until being returned to the Michigan Air National Guard in 1952. It had various flying missions, including fighter, reconnaissance and airlift until 2013, when it was converted to a support unit.
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The squadron was first activated at Richmond Army Air Base as the 375th Fighter Squadron and equipped with Republic P-47 Thunderbolts. The squadron trained under I Fighter Command in the mid-Atlantic states. It also flew air defense missions as part of the Philadelphia Fighter Wing. The squadron deployed to the European Theater of Operations, where it became part of VIII Fighter Command in England during November 1943.
The unit served primarily as an escort organization, covering the penetration, attack, and withdrawal of Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress and Consolidated B-24 Liberator bomber formations that Eighth Air Force sent against targets on the European continent. The squadron also engaged in counter-air patrols, fighter sweeps, and strafing and dive bombing missions. It attacked such targets as airfields, marshalling yards, V-1 flying bomb and V-2 rocket launch sites, industrial areas, ordnance depots, oil refineries, trains, and highways. During its operations, the unit participated in the assault against the Luftwaffe and the German aircraft industry during Big Week, from 20 to 25 February 1944, and the attack on transportation facilities prior to Operation Overlord, the Normandy invasion. Following the invasion it supported ground forces thereafter, including providing cover during Operation Cobra, the Saint-Lô breakout in July.
The squadron supported the airborne attack on the Netherlands in September, 1944, and deployed to Chievres Airdrome, Belgium between February and April, 1945, flying tactical ground support missions during the airborne assault across the Rhine. The unit returned to RAF Little Walden and flew its last combat mission on April 20, 1945. The squadron returned to the United States and was inactivated at Camp Kilmer, part of the New York Port of Embarkation, in October.
In May 1946, the squadron was allotted to the National Guard as the 172d Fighter Squadron. It was organized and equipped with North American P-51D Mustangs at Kellogg Field, Battle Creek, Michigan in 1947. This was the same year the United States Air Force became an independent branch of the armed forces and the 172d received its federal recognition as an Air National Guard squadron.
In February 1951 the squadron was called to active duty for the Korean War and assigned to Air Defense Command (ADC). Upon activation it was redesignated the 172d Fighter-Interceptor Squadron and moved to Selfridge Air Force Base, Michigan, where it was assigned to the 128th Fighter-Interceptor Wing, then to the 56th Fighter-Interceptor Group. However, ADC experienced difficulty under the existing wing base organizational structure in deploying its fighter squadrons to best advantage. As a result, in February 1952 the squadron was reassigned to the 4708th Defense Wing, a regional organization. The squadron was released from active service and returned to the Michigan Air National Guard on 1 November 1952 and its mission, personnel and F-51 Mustangs were transferred to the 431st Fighter-Interceptor Squadron, which activated the same day at Selfridge.
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The 172d Fighter-Interceptor Squadron flew the F-51 Mustang until 1954. The 172d transitioned into the North American F-86 Sabre and became the 172d Fighter-Bomber Squadron. The Unit flew this aircraft only until 1955 before transitioned into the more sophisticated two seat Northrop F-89 Scorpion and returned to the inerceptor. In 1956, the squadron became part of the newly created 110th Fighter Group. The Unit flew the F-89 Scorpion until 1958. That year the 172d Squadron traded its F-89s for a new mission and a new aircraft, the Martin RB-57A Canberra. With the assumption of the reconnaissance mission the squadron became the 172d Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron.
The 172d flew RB-57A’s until 1971. In 1971, the unit’s mission changed again to forward air control, with the transition to the Cessna O-2 Skymaster, which it flew until 1980 when it transitioned to the Cessna OA-37 Dragonfly. The 172d was the last Air Force or Air National Guard unit to fly the Dragonfly. The dedicated forward air aontrol mission lasted until the 172d transitioned to the Fairchild Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II, or Warthog, in 1991 and was returned to its first name as a National Guard unit, the 172d Fighter Squadron.
The squadron served in several United Nations operations and contingencies throughout the world. From Bosnia, to Kosovo, to Alaska and most recently Iraq and Afghanistan, in support of Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom. In 2009, the squadron was realigned from a fighter squadron to become the 172d Airlift Squadron flying the Learjet C-21. On 12 July 2013, the last C-21 departed, and the unit became a support unit as the 172d Air Support Squadron as Battle Creek was named as the location of a control center for drone aircraft.Constituted as the 375th Fighter Squadron, single Engine on 28 January 1943
Activated on 10 February 1943
Inactivated on 10 November 1945
Redesignated 172d Fighter Squadron, Single Engine and allotted to the National Guard on 24 May 1946
Organized on 29 August 1947
Received federal recognition on 16 September 1947
Federalized and placed on active duty 10 February 1951
Designated 172d Fighter-Interceptor Squadron
on 10 February 1951
Inactivated on 1 November 1952 and returned to Michigan state control
Redesignated 172d Fighter-Bomber Squadron
on 1 November 1952 and activated
Redesignated 172d Fighter-Interceptor Squadron
on 1 July 1955
Redesignated 172d Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron
on 12 April 1958
Redesignated 172d Tactical Air Support Squadron
on 11 June 1971
Redesignated 172d Fighter Squadron
, 16 October 1991
Redesignated 172d Airlift Squadron
, 1 March 2009
Redesignated 172d Air Support Squadron
361st Fighter Group, 10 Feb 1943 – 10 November 1945
127th Fighter Group, 29 August 1947
128th Fighter-Interceptor Wing, 10 February 1951
56th Fighter-Interceptor Group, 1 May 1951
4708th Defense Wing, 6 February 1952 - 1 November 1952
127th Fighter-Bomber Group (later 127th Fighter-Interceptor Group), 1 November 1952
110th Fighter Group, 1 April 1956
127th Tactical Reconnaissance Group, 1 July 1958
110th Tactical Reconnaissance Group (later 110th Tactical Air Support Group, 110th Fighter Group), 1 October 1962
110th Operations Group, 1 October 1995 – present