A Mark of Distinction for the MBAFB
by Melissa LaScaleia
At different points throughout the last century, various wings were stationed at the Myrtle Beach Air Force Base, leaving their footprint and making history. One of these was the 113th Tactical Fighter Wing. The wing was called to active duty on February 1, 1951, in response to the invasion of South Korea by the North Koreans on June 25, 1950. As the South was surprised by the attack, their military was slow to mobilize to their defense, and most of the U.S. Air National Guard was called to come to their aid.
The 113th was assigned to Air Defense Command, and redesignated as the 113th Fighter-Interceptor Wing. The group was comprised of pilots from the District of Columbia Air National Guard 121st and the Delaware Air National Guard 142nd Fighter-Interceptor Squadrons. They flew Republic F-84C Thunderjets along with F-51D Mustangs; the wing served for 21 months.
In October 1961, the 113th was called into action for the Berlin Crisis. And in 1964, they made history when they became the first Air National Guard tactical fighter unit to fly to Europe non-stop, in operation “Ready Go.” The unit completed three air-to-air refuelings of their F-100 aircraft (supported by Air National Guard tankers) after taking off from Andrew Air Force Base, Maryland, and landing at Hahn Air Base in Germany. The accomplishment earned them accolades, as it demonstrated the Air National Guard’s ability to deploy immediately and successfully in support of regular forces.
On April 22, 1968, the 113th replaced the 354th Tactical Fighter Wing at the Myrtle Beach Air Force Base, as the 354th deployed to Korea for the Korean War. The 113th Tactical Fighter Wing had once more been recalled to active duty that January. The 113th included the 119th Tactical Fighter Squadron from Andrews Air Force Base, Maryland, as well as the 121st Tactical Fighter Squadron from Atlantic City Airport, New Jersey. The 113th was assigned the task of establishing a replacement training unit (RTU) for the F-100 pilots in Mrytle Beach while their regular wing was overseas. In September 1968, the first 15 pilot students arrived and training commenced.
The arrival of the 113th in Myrtle Beach was not without a certain measure of pride for the Myrtle Beach Air Force Base, as the wing was considered one of the top Air National Guard units in the country. It was one of three which was designated by the secretary of defense as having achieved “peak combat readiness.”
In 1959, the 113th was also one of the first Air National Guard wings in the country to be equipped with the North American F-100 Super Sabre. Pending the return of the 354th and their reactivation and reinstatement at Mrytle Beach in April 1969, the Air National Guard members who had been assigned to Myrtle Beach Air Force Base returned to their original bases. For several years, the Myrtle Beach Air Force Base was a proud recipient of the skill and military prowess of this renowned guard unit.