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By Tech. Sgt. Barb Harbison, 108th Wing Public Affairs

When William Shakespeare wrote the famous quote that started, "What's in a name?" he might have been talking about the 108th Wing of the New Jersey Air National Guard.

The wing traces its heritage back to September 1917 as the 119th Aero Squadron formed during World War I as an active duty training squadron.

Since then it has been through many names – 119th Observation Squadron, 490th Fighter Squadron, 119th Fighter Squadron, 108th Tactical Fighter Wing, 348th Fighter Group, 108th Fighter Group, and 108th Air Refueling Wing.

The planes and missions have changed with the names – planes with names such as Thunderbolt, Thunderstreak, Thunderchief, Phantom and Stratotanker have filled their flightlines. Their pilots have flown in both World Wars, served during the Berlin Crisis, flew airlift missions to Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War, Operations Northern and Southern Watch and flown numerous refueling missions in support of Operation Desert Storm/ Desert Shield and the current Operation's Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom.

But the Base Realignment Commission's decision in 2005 for re-alignment of the 108th gave it a whole new mission in life.

Graphic by Tech. Sgt. Mark Olsen, N.J. Department of Military and Veterans Affairs Public Affairs

Going from a "super tanker wing" with 20-plus KC-135E aircraft assigned and a primarily air refueling mission to its current mission has put the wing through some growing pains. The wing, although it has reduced its numbers to eight KC-135R aircraft flying the skies of the world, is stronger from the process.

On Dec. 1, 2009, the 108th was redesignated as the 108th Wing in acknowledgement of its new missions. The 108th Contingency Response Group was added to the wing as was the 204th Intelligence Squadron.

Brig. Gen. Michael L. Cunniff, commander of the 108th Wing, said, "The excellent people that make up the 108th continue to stand out and show the Guard and the Air Force what a great job we do."

The 108th CRG is only one of two such groups in the Air Guard – the other is in Kentucky – and one of eight in the continental U.S., with three more spread throughout the world.

The CRG is the Air Force's rapid entry force designed to assess and open an air base, perform initial airfield operations and ensure a smooth transition to combat sustainment.

According to Col. Robert Brazel, commander of the 108th CRG, the group will do noncombat evacuations, humanitarian relief operations, and disaster response as well as full spectrum war airbase opening.

The 204th Intelligence Squadron is the first Air National Guard Squadron that is solely dedicated to providing intelligence instruction and training products to the Air Force Air Mobility Command. It is also the first course of its kind in the intelligence community that integrates active duty, National Guard and reserve students.

"Due to active duty deployment rotations, the 204th will be able to provide a level of continuity to AMC," said Lt. Col. David Zink, 204th Intelligence Squadron commander. "The 204th instructor staff will lend stability through our teaching and training requirements."

As Shakespeare wrote, the object is still the same no matter what the name. The 108th Wing proves that whatever its name, it will continue to do its part for the Air Guard.

Table of Contents
Volume 35 Number 1 Staff / Information
(c) 2010 NJ Department of Military and Veterans Affairs