137th Air Refueling Wing History Fact Sheet
Published June 03, 2015
HISTORY OF THE 137TH AIR REFUELING WING, OKLAHOMA AIR NATIONAL GUARD
Originally formed in February 1947 as the 137th Fighter Group, the unit was based at Max Westheimer Field in Norman, OK, and flew the F-51 "Mustang". The Group remained in Norman until 1949 when many of its facilities were destroyed by a tornado. Because of the extensive damage to the airport and the need for better facilities and longer runways for jet aircraft, on Sept. 1, 1949, the unit relocated to the former site of the Will Rogers Army Air Field, adjacent to Will Rogers World Airport in Oklahoma City. The unit is still on this site, now known as the Will Rogers Air National Guard Base (WRANGB).
In 1953 the Oklahoma City based 185th Fighter Squadron transitioned to the F-80 "Shooting Star" and entered the jet age. In 1958, these fighters were replaced by the F-86 "Sabre" and the unit flew a fighter intercept mission. The 137th transitioned from single engine fighters to multi-engine cargo aircraft in 1961 when they received the C-97 and became a part of Air Transport Command. Also in 1961 the 185th received a specially modified C-97E aircraft, officially christened "Miss Oklahoma City" but better known as "Talking Bird," for use as an airborne command post. From 1961 to 1972, the prototype airborne command and control aircraft was tasked directly by Headquarters Air Force and deployed throughout the world on various communication missions. The 137th continued to fly the C-97s until February 1968 when they were re-equipped with the C-124C "Globemaster".
On December 10, 1974, the 137th Military Airlift Wing and its units were reorganized from a strategic to a tactical airlift mission. Subsequently the 185th traded its C-124s for the Lockheed C-130A. Together with the 185th Tactical Airlift Squadron, the 137th Consolidated Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, the 137th USAF Clinic, the 137th Combat Support Squadron, the 137th Civil Engineering Flight, the 137th Weapons Systems Security Flight, the 137th Mobile Aerial Port Flight, and the 137th Communications Flight were grouped under the 137th Tactical Airlift Wing, which also exercised supervision over the training of three other tactical airlift groups two in West Virginia and one in Missouri. Later the 137th Resources Management Squadron was added to the wing.
The C-130As were replaced on June 23, 1979 by C-130Hs, which were flown direct from the factory to WRANGB. In so doing, the 137th became the first Air National Guard unit to be issued factory new transport planes. The 185th flew these aircraft to every corner of the globe for over 28 years until September 2007 when the C-130Hs were transferred in accordance with Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) law.
Also by BRAC direction, on April 1, 2008, the 137th Airlift Wing was renamed the 137th Air Refueling Wing, and an associate relationship with the 507th Air Refueling Wing (AFRC) at Tinker Air Force Base was established. Currently the 185th Air Refueling Squadron and the 137th Maintenance Group reside at Tinker AFB where they operate and maintain the KC-135 "Stratotanker".
In addition to being the home of the 137th Air Refueling Wing, Will Rogers Air National Guard Base is home to three tenant units: the 205th Engineering Installation (EI) Squadron, Detachment 1, Company A, 249th AVN and the 146th Air Support Operations Squadron (ASOS).