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168th Air Refueling Squadron
Lineage. Constituted 437th Bombardment Squadron (Medium) on 19 Jun 1942. Activated on 26 Jun 1942. Redesignated: 437th Bombardment Squadron (Light) on 3 Feb 1945. Inactivated on 4 Jan 1946. Redesignated: 168th Bombardment Squadron (Light) and allotted to ANG on 24 May 1946. Extended federal recognition on 19 Oct 1947. Redesignated: 168th Fighter-Bomber Squadron on 1 Jan 1953; 168th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron on 1 Jul 1955. Inactivated on 31 May 1958. Redesignated 168th Air Refuling Squadron on 1 Oct 1986.
Assignments. 319th Bombardment Group, 26 Jun 1942; VII Bomber Command, 18 Dec 1945-4 Jan 1946. 126th Bombardment Group (Light), 19 Oct 1947; 126th Composite Group, Nov 1950; 126th Bombardment Group (Light), Feb 1951; 126th Fighter Bomber Group, 1 Jan 1953; 126th Fighter Interceptor Group, 1 Jul 1955-31 May 1958. AK ANG, 1 Oct 1986; 168th Air Refueling Group, 23 Oct 1990-Present.
Stations. Barksdale Field, LA, 26 Jun 1942; Harding Field, LA, 8-27 Aug 1942; Shipdham, England, 12 Sep 1942; Horsham St Faith, England, c. 4-22 Oct 1942; St Leu, Algeria, c. 10 Nov 1942; Tafaraoui, Algeria, 17 Nov 1942; Maison Blanche, Algeria, 26 Nov 1942; Telergma, Algeria, c. 13 Dc 1942; Oujda, French Morocco, 3 Mar 1943; Rabat/Sale, French Morocco, 25 Apr 1943; Sedrata, Algeria, 1 Jun 1943; Djedeida, Tunisia, c. 26 Jun 1943; Decimomannu, Sardinia, 1 Nov 1943; Serragia, Corsica, c. 20 Sep 1944-8 Jan1945; Bradley Field, CT, 25 Jan 1945; Columbia AAB, SC, c. 28 Feb-27 Apr 1945; Kadena AB, Okinawa, 2 Jul 1945; Machinato, Okinawa, 21 Jul-8 Dec 1945; Ft Lawton, WA, 2-4 Jan 1946; Orchard Place Airport (Later O’Hare IAP), 19 Oct 1947-31 May 1958; (operated from Langley AFB, VA, Jul 1951; Bordeaux-Merignac AB, Oct-Nov 1951; Laon-Couvron AB, May 1952-1 Jan 1953 for Korean War call-up). Eilson AFB, AK, 1 Oct 1986-Present.
Aircraft. B-26, 1942-1944; B-25, 1944-1945; A-26B/C, 1947-1954; F-51D, 1953-1955; F-84F, 1955-1957; F-86L, 1957-1958. KC-135E, 1986-1995; KC-135D, 1990-1995; KC-135R, 1995-Present.
Operations. Ground echelon in assault landing at Arzeu, Algeria, 8 Nov 1942. Combat in MTO, 28 Nov 1942-13 Feb 1943; withdrawn for reorganization and re-equipment, 27 Feb-31 May 1943; combat in MTO, c. 6 Jun 1943-30 Dec 1944; returned to US for reorganization and re-equipment, 25 Jan-27 Apr 1945; combat in Western Pacific, 16 Jul-12 Aug 1945. B-26 training and maneuvers for Korean War call-up. Training of KC-135R combat crews. Providing air refueling in support of PACAF Operations Plans (OPLANS) and worldwide refueling taskings to include all 11th Air Force AWACS and fighter aircraft, as well as alert tankers and crews to support Alaska NORAD Region (ANR) plans and Joint Chiefs of Staff-directed refueling requirements. Responding to emergencies declared or missions required within the State of Alaska.
Service Streamers. None.
Campaign Streamers. Algeria-French Morocco, with Arrowhead; Tunisia; Sicily; Naples-Foggia; Anzio; Rome-Arno; Southern France; North Apennines; Air Combat, EAME Theater; Air Offensive, Japan; Ryukyus; China Offensive.
Decorations. Distinguished Unit Citations: Rome, Italy, 3 Mar 1944; Florence, Italy, 11 Mar 1944. French Croix de Guerre with Palm; Apr, May and Jun 1944.
Emblem. The unit insignia of the 168th Air Refueling Squadron (ARS) has a long history. The original insignia of the 168th Bombardment Squadron (Bomb Sq), and later the 168th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron (FIS), depicted a skunk wearing a red baseball cap and red and white apron. The skunk stood on a cloud and served a bomb on a tray. Old-timers at O'Hare, the stomping ground of the 168 FIS, believe the skunk to be a Disney character, probably "Flower" from the film Bambi. Whatever his origin, the skunk became known as "Sweet Willie" in honor of the first Air Guard Commander, Lieutenant Colonel William Chum. In fact, the 168 FIS kept a live skunk as a mascot. According to Air Force Historian Mrs. Endicott, the 437th Bomb Squadron, predecessor to the 168th Bomb Squadron, registered no official insignia. The skunk has its roots in Chicago, where it was originated, and represents "defiance".
The word "Chicago" is Indian for "strong onion odor". The skunk's baseball cap is a replica of those worn by the aircrew of the squadron. When the 168 ARS inherited the honors and insignia of its past illustrious units, the insignia was changed slightly to correspond with the new mission of the unit, namely refueling instead of bombardment. Instead of the skunk serving a bomb, the skunk now holds a fuel nozzle, representing the mission of aerial refueling. However, the proud traditions of the 437th Bombardment Squadron, the 168th Bombardment Squadron, the 168th Fighter-Bomber Squadron, and the 168th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron go on unchanged.