Tulsa's 138th Fighter Wing of the Oklahoma National Guard has a proud history

Saturday, October 27th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

The 138th Fighter Wing has been in place for 60 years in the Tulsa community. It has received numerous awards and letters of commendation from dignitaries all over the world.

They flew in World War II, and now they're making their presence known in the war on terrorism. It's a mission they say they're ready for after so many years of practice. News on Six reporter Heather Brooker has a look at the history behind one of the most prestigious Guard Wings in the US. As these F-16's take off on practice flights, you might not know that the 138th didn't start out as a Fighter Wing. Lt. Col Willie Braggs: "Our unit has been through several different name changes and different missions in that 60 years."

The 138th was founded in 1941 as the 125th Observation Squadron, where it soon fought on D-Day in England. Since then it has transformed into a Fighter Squadron, a Fighter Bomber squadron, and an Air Transport Squadron. Lt Colonel Willie Braggs says over its sixty years, the 138th has participated in every major conflict in US history. "The 138th is one of the most active air National Guard units. We've gone to the Middle East 5 times in the past 5 years."

And on those missions, the 138th has been recognized as one of the premier multi-role fighter wings in the country. Braggs says that's because the Guard is only as good as the community it's surrounded by. "We are Tulsa. We represent the whole aspect of the Tulsa community. Look at some of the people we have in this unit. We have judges, lawyers, doctors teachers, steel workers, AA employees, it just goes on and on and on.” Now as they're preparing to face another mission, Braggs says the country is behind them, and he knows the community is too. "We're just an active unit. We've been there anytime the country has asked for us”

Now, the Air National Guard is called out whenever there's a danger at home or on a state or federal level. They handle recovery during floods, tornadoes, hurricanes and situations such as prison riots.