Air National Guard units fly again


POSTED: Sunday, December 21, 2008

Three Hawaii Air National Guard legacy units were recently reactivated at Hickam Air Force Base to support the Pacific Air Forces air and space operations.

The new 250-member Hawaii Air Guard units will augment the 13th Air Force's 613th Air Operations Center at Hickam Air Force Base. The 109th Air Operations Group and its two subordinate units - the 150th Air Operations Squadron, commanded by Col. Jackie Mathis; and the 202nd Air Mobility Operations Squadron, led by Lt. Col. Robert Hoffman - were reactivated Nov. 1.

Col. Mike Compton, who commands the 109th Air Operations Group, said his unit shares the same building as its active-duty counterpart - the 613th Air Operations Center.

Compton, 47, a pilot for Hawaiian Airlines, said the Air Operations Center is responsible for the command and control of the air space from the West Coast and Alaska to India and the Indian Ocean and Antarctica.

Compton said his unit can be called on almost immediately when the operations exceed the capability of the Air Force's 613th Air Operations Center.

“;Stationed so close to Hickam, said Mathis, 56, “;means we are more responsive and more efficient. There is no added expense, such as flying us in from another state, or delay.”; Mathis has been in the Air Force Reserve and Air Guard for 36 years and has served as a F-4 weapons systems officer and F-105 electronic warfare officer.

  The 109th Air Operations Group will be staffed by approximately 130 airmen and will include pilots, navigators, weapons controllers, flight nurses and intelligence specialists. The 150th Air Operations Squadron will have approximately 70 airmen, which will include intelligence, network, strategy and airspace branches. The 202nd Air Mobility Operations Squadron will have approximately 50 airmen split between tanker, airlift, logistics and aeromedical branches.

“;These people have years of experiences participating in tactical operations,”; said Compton, who has spent the last 25 years flying F-16 and F-15 jet fighters and C-130 and C-17 cargo planes.

“;Now these people will be involved in planning air missions,”; Compton added.

The Hawaii Air Guard units have a colorful history, starting out in 1950 when Hawaii was a territory.

The 109th Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron was organized in December 1950. The unit has been stationed at Battery Clossom at Fort Kamehameha, on Hickam, and Koko Head Crater.

  In 1955 the unit moved to the former federal quarantine station on Sand Island which had been used as prisoner of war compound in World War II. A year later the 109th was designated to be part of the Hawaii Air National Guard's mission to defend the air space around the Hawaiian islands.

Twenty-six years later a detachment of 12 officers and 77 enlisted airmen from the 109th was assigned to Mount Kokee on Kauai to provide around-the-clock air defense surveillance for Hawaii.

On Oct. 21, 1961 that detachment was deactivated and replaced with the 150th Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron, which now exists as the 150th Air Operations Squadron.

The 202nd Air Mobility Operations Squadron can trace its lineage to the 201st Mobile Communications Squadron organized in 1967. In 1976, the 201st Communications Squadron was upgraded to the 201st Mobility Communications Group and given an additional unit - the 202nd Air Traffic Control Flight.

The 202nd was stationed on Kauai and shared the Kekaha Armory with the 150th Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron until it moved Pacific Missile Range Facility at Kauai's Barking Sands.