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History of the 156th Airlift Wing

Federally recognized Nov. 23, 1947 as the 198th Fighter Squadron, the Puerto Rico Air National Guard was originally assigned to the Isla Grande Airport with 13 officers and 32 Airmen under the command of Capt. Alberto A. Nido. In May, 1956 the unit moved to the Puerto Rico International Airport.

Airmen adopted the name of the “Bucaneros” when flight operations began in 1947 after the delivery of twenty-five P-47 Thunderbolts, two B-26 Invaders, two T-6 Texans, and one C-47 Skytrain. 

Muñiz Air National Guard Base or "Base Muñiz" in Carolina, Puerto Rico, was formally named in 1963 to honor one of the initial members of the unit who was killed in the line of duty. Lt. Col. José Antonio Muñiz died July 4, 1960 when his F-86D lost power on climb-out for a formation fly-by.

Today, the Puerto Rico Air National Guard is made up of more than 1,000 Airmen. The 156th Airlift Wing is the primary unit located at Muñiz Air National Guard Base in Carolina, Puerto Rico.

The premiere missions for the PRANG are contingency response and combat communications, to provide combat ready, agile contingency response forces and flexible combat communication capabilities worldwide. The PRANG is advantageously located to build strategic partnerships by defending the homeland and supporting overseas contingency operations with a multilingual, professional force.

The contingency response mission enables Airmen to rapidly deploy to permissive and contested environments and establish air mobility operations while combat communications will provide voice, video and data capability to support units conducting overseas and local response operations.

The 156th Airlift Wing is comprised of the 156th Mission Support Group, the 156th Contingency Response Group, the 156th Operations Group, the 156th Medical Group, and wing staff agencies. There are three geographically separated units: Joint Forces Headquarters, the 140th Air Defense Support Squadron, and the 141st Air Control Squadron.

The 141st ACS is located at the Punta Borinquen Radar Site, Aguadilla, Puerto Rico. The State Mission is to provide personnel and equipment to protect life and property in support of local operations. To help preserve the peace, order, safety and well-being of the general public under the orders of the governor of Puerto Rico as directed through the adjutant general.

The 141st Federal Mission is to provide personnel and equipment to a Control and Reporting Center that is a deployable, adaptable and independent Command and Control system capable of conducting a wide array of battle management functions at the joint tactical level to meet the needs of a theater combatant commander, worldwide.

The 140th ADSS is located at the Punta Salinas Radar Station, Toa Baja, Puerto Rico. The mission is to deliver uninterrupted and reliable Caribbean radar data supporting the National Airspace System Defense Program, Eastern Air Defense Sector, Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Aviation Administration, ensuring a safe and secure airspace.

The PRANG has a rich history of devoted service to state and nation, beginning as early as the 1950 Puerto Rican Nationalist revolt. Airmen flew reconnaissance missions to lookout for possible infiltrators and delivered blood and ammunition to rural towns in need. They also secured the Isla Grande Airport and the Guillermo Esteves Bridge in San Juan.

Other major contingency and operations supported by the PRANG include hurricane relief support to Haiti in 1954, the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, support to the Agency for International Development for the Dominican Republic in 1966, support for Cornet Cove in Panama from 1979-1989, Hurricane Hugo recovery in 1989 and Desert Storm.

Throughout the 1980s the PRANG performed 26 deployments to Venezuela, Panama, Ecuador, Colombia, Guatemala, and Honduras in support of joint training missions, serving as ambassadors of goodwill, furthering US peace efforts in Latin America and the Caribbean.

The 156th AW was partially mobilized to participate in Operation ENDURING FREEDOM in 2006, flying personnel and cargo throughout Afghanistan, effectively conducting airdrops in hostile environments to support troops on the ground.

PRANG Airmen participated in Operation SENIOR SCOUT in Curaçao and Africa, providing airlift and equipment to intelligence. In 2011, the 156th AW once again supported Operation ENDURING FREEDOM, providing airlift to the Shadow Harvest system in support of the Defense Intelligence Agency, where the capability of identifying targets concealed under camouflage or foliage was provided to ground troops. In 2014 the 156th Maintenance Group mobilized to Kabul, Afghanistan to serve as U.S. Air Force Air Advisors, helping the Afghan Air Force develop into a professional, capable, and sustainable organization.

During the aftermath of hurricane Irma in 2017 the PRANG, in collaboration with the Kentucky and the New York ANG, evacuated over 1,000 U.S. citizens from the island of St. Maarten.  The PRANG also supported hurricane Maria response and recovery efforts providing life-saving and sustaining assistance to over 3 million Americans.

The Puerto Rico National Guard has state partnerships with the countries of Honduras and the Dominican Republic.

Feb. 24, 1958 - Constituted and allocated to the National Guard
April 10, 1958 - Activated as the 156th Fighter Group and allotted to the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico
June 22, 1958 - Federally recognized
March 15 1992 - Redesignated as the 156th Fighter Group
Oct. 16, 1995 - Redesignated as the 156th Fighter Wing
Oct. 1, 1998 - Redesignated as the 156th Airlift Wing

April 10, 1958 - Puerto Rico International Airport, San Juan, Puerto Rico
June 22, 1958 - San Juan International Airport, San Juan, Puerto Rico
1963 - Muñiz Air National Guard Base, Carolina, Puerto Rico

April 10, 1658 - National Guard Bureau/Governor of Puerto Rico
May 5, 1961 - Air Defense Command
April 1, 1964 - Tactical Air Command
June 1, 1992 - Air Combat Command
November 22, 1997 - Air Mobility Command

1947-1954 P-47N Thunderbolt
1954-1957 F-86E Sabre
1958-1960 F-86D Sabre Dog
1960-1967 F-86H Sabre Hog
1967-1975 F-104C Starfighter
1975-1992 A-7D/K Corsair II
1992-1998 F-16ADF Fighting Falcon
1998-2019 C-130E/H Hercules

Current as of Oct. 23, 2020