The 92nd Air Refueling Wing at Fairchild Air Force Base has a proud, rich history and has been vital part of our nation’s defense since its activation March, 1942 at Barksdale Field, La. Originally called the 92 Bombardment Group (BG), the 92 flew the B-17 Flying Fortress. During the war years, the 92nd completed more than 300 combat missions. The 92nd BG was inactivated on February 28, 1946 at Istres, France and remained inactive until August 4 of that same year when it was reactivated as the 92nd BG (very heavy).
The Group arrived at what was then called Spokane Army Air Field flying the advanced bomber of their day, the B-29 Super Fortress, July 15, 1947.
With the outbreak of hostilities in Korea, the group deployed to Japan and Okinawa. After only a few months, General Douglas MacArthur released the 92nd to return to the states. Upon its return to Spokane, the 92nd was re-designated the 92nd Bombardment Wing (Heavy). Spokane AFB was renamed Fairchild AFB in November 1950, in memory of the late Air Force Vice Chief of Staff General Muir S. Fairchild, a native of Bellingham, WA.
The formal dedication ceremony was held July 20, 1951 to coincide with the arrival of the wing's first B-36.
By 1956, the wing had begun a conversion that brought the B-52 Stratofortress and later, the KC-135 Stratotanker to Fairchild. In 1961, the 92nd became the first aerospace wing in the nation with the acquisition of the Atlas E intercontinental ballistic missile. With the new role and the addition of missiles, the 92nd Bomb Wing was re-designated the 92nd Strategic Aerospace Wing. However, the designation remained longer than the missiles, as the last Atlas missile was on alert in March 1965 and was retired the next month.
The 92nd deployed a total of 560 personnel to DESERT SHIELD and DESERT STORM from August 1990 to March 1991. The 43rd and 92nd Air Refueling Squadrons flew a combined total of 4,004 hours, 721 sorties, and off loaded a total of 22.5 million pounds of fuel in support of Operations DESERT EXPRESS, DESERT SHIELD, DESERT STORM, DESERT CALM, and PROVIDE COMFORT. The two squadrons' crews and aircraft also flew 200 combat sorties.
On September 1, 1991, under Strategic Air Command’s realignment, the 92nd Bombardment Wing (Heavy) was re-designated the 92nd Wing, emphasizing a dual bombing and refueling role.
In June 1992, as a result of the Air Force’s reorganization, the wing became part of the newly formed Air Combat Command and was re-designated the 92nd Bomb Wing. As Strategic Air Command (SAC) finished up 46 years of service to the nation, Fairchild bomber and tanker crews took top honors at Proud Shield '92. This was SAC's final Bombing/Navigation Competition. The wing won the Fairchild Trophy for best bomber/tanker team as well as the Saunders Trophy for the tanker unit attaining the most points on all competition missions.
December 7, 1993 marked the beginning of perhaps the largest change and transition in the history of both Fairchild AFB and the 92nd Bomb Wing when the first B-52 left Fairchild to be turned over to another unit. The 92nd Bomb Wing's B-52s had been assigned to ACC, while the KC-135s were assigned to AMC. During the spring of 1994, B-52s were transferred to other units and flown to other bases with the last bomber leaving May 25, 1994. The bomber mission of the 92nd had ended after 52 years, giving over to the new refueling mission.
On July 1, 1994, the 92nd Bomb Wing was re-designated the 92nd Air Refueling Wing, and Fairchild AFB was transferred from Air Combat Command (ACC) to Air Mobility Command (AMC), in a ceremony marking the creation of what was then the largest air refueling wing in the Air Force. Dubbed as the new “tanker hub of the Northwest,” the wing is capable of maintaining an air bridge across the nation and the world in support of US and allied forces.
The wing is designated as one of five Air Force Lead Mobility Wings on September 1, 2000, responsible for providing rapid response to worldwide humanitarian assistance or disaster relief contingencies. The wing can deploy anywhere in the world with a 32 member Initial Response Team, assess a situation and prepare for follow-on forces. Lead mobility wing duty ended in November 2001.
Fairchild currently has more than 50 active duty and 8 Air National Guard KC-135 aircraft assigned. These aircraft and the dedicated members of Team Fairchild continue to actively support Operations IRAQI FREEDOM, ENDURING FREEDOM, NOBLE EAGLE and missions throughout the world. The 92nd ARW is proud to provide the best Global Reach for America, helping to make the world safe for our future.