109th Airlift Wing History

The 139th Fighter Squadron was established and federally recognized as a fighter base on Nov. 18, 1948, A group of 22 officers and 43 Airmen, mostly World War II veterans, mustered in the Naval Training Center at the Scotia Naval Supply Depot.


Only a year after the Air Force itself was born, the 109th was established in 1948 as a fighter unit. Through six different types of aircraft, the leadership of 11 outstanding commanders, and ever-changing missions, the men and women of the 109th have succeeded in deploying statewide, worldwide and from North Pole to South Pole.

The first Lockheed C-130 Hercules turbo-prop transport arrived at Schenectady in the spring of 1971. Its ability to land and take off in unimproved areas has proven invaluable under battle conditions in the evacuation of wounded and in the delivery of troops, supplies and weapons. In peacetime, the function of the aircraft includes evacuation of earthquake and flood victims as well as food and medical airlift or airdrops to troubled areas throughout the world.

In 1975, the 109th was entrusted with the first and only active mission in the Air National Guard: Supply of the Distant Early Warning (DEW Line) radar sites in Greenland on the polar ice cap. We assumed the mission from the Air Force's Alaskan Command receiving their eleven C-130s, five of which had those strange looking skis with which we are now so familiar. In October 1984, our C-130D aircraft were replaced by eight new C-130 H models, of which four were LC-130's (ski equipped). The last flight to radar site DYE 3 in December 1989 marked the end of the DEW Line mission. Operational science support missions and training still continue to this day on the Greenland ice cap.

Our first mission to Antarctica was in January 1988 in support of the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Navy's VXE-6 unit. The 109th continued to augment the Navy's Antarctic flying operations for the next eight years. Early in 1996, it was announced that the 109th Airlift Wing was assigned the Antarctic mission, thus beginning a three-year transition process. On February 20, 1998, responsibility for airlift support to the United States Antarctic Program (USAP) was passed over to 109 AW from VXE-6, during a ceremony in Christchurch, NZ. The 109 AW now provides open field airlift support to the National Science Foundation scientific research mission in both the Arctic and Antarctic. The 109th is now the only LC-130 ski unit in the world.

The Wing's high operational tempo increased dramatically with the surprise attack on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. The 109th provided immediate support deploying 49 Civil Engineers, Services and Public Affairs personnel to Ground Zero within the first 24 hours. Since that time, the men and women of the 109th AW have continued to voluntarily deploy in support of military operations in Southwest Asia and around the world.

109th Timeline

Spring, 1949: Unit moves to Schenectady County Airport.

Fall, 1951: The 139th FS grew to about 350 men, including 35 pilots to fly the F-51s; the mission was Air Defense and Tactical Support.

1957: In November, the 139th Fighter Squadron is redesignated as an Air Tactical Flying Squadron and converts to tanker missions.

Jan. 18, 1960: 109th is on its way to the global transport business as the first C-97 arrives at Schenectady County Airport.

April 1971: Unit receives first C-130As, becoming the Tactical Airlift Group.

Summer, 1975: 109th TAG converted to C-130Ds, assuming responsibility for Volant DEW resupply mission on the Greenland ice cap.

1988: First trip to Antarctica. The unit provides airlift support to National Science Foundation's South Pole research program, augmenting the Navy VXE-6 program.

March 4, 1989: Base named Stratton Air National Guard Base in honor of retired 10-term Congressman Samuel S. Stratton of Schenectady.

1990-91: 109th AW members called to duty in support of Desert Shield/Desert Storm.

September 1994: 139th Aeromeds deploy to Rwanda in support of Operation Provide Support.

Feb. 20, 1998: Responsibility for airlift support to the United States Antarctic Program (USAP) was passed over to the 109th AW from VXE-6 during a ceremony in Christchurch, NZ.

October 1999: 109th AW aides in the rescue of Dr. Jerry Nielsen, a doctor with breast cancer symptoms and based at isolated Amusden-Scott Research Center in Antarctica.

Sept. 11, 2001: 109th provides immediate support after the World Trade Center is attacked. Nearly 50 civil engineers, services and public affairs personnel are deployed to Ground Zero within the first 24 hours. Since then, the 109th has continued to voluntarily deploy in support of military operations in Southwest Asia and around the world.

July 2007: A 109th C-130 and crews deploy to Afghanistan, marking the first time since Vietnam that aircraft from the unit flew their own aircraft in a combat theater of operations.

September 2008: Crews able to get C-130 fuselage onto C-5 Galaxy and transport to the base for training purposes.

Sept. 16, 2008: Crews take off for first time using 8-bladed props.

March 2012: A 109th C-130 and crews deploy to Afghanistan, marking the second combat AEF deployment for the unit.

Jan 2013: Unit celebrates 25th anniversary of continuous annual deployments to Antarctica in support of Operation DEEP FREEZE.

November 2023  The 75th anniversary of the unit being established

109th Historic Leadership

Past to Present
Senior Enlisted Advisors/Command Chiefs.
Past to Present 
Maj. William J. Flavin 1948-1950
Lt. Col. Frederick J. Zilly Jr. 1950-1962
Col. John C. Campbell 1962-1971
Col. Stanley W. Hemstreet 1971-1985
Col. Douglas B. Morey 1985-1990
Col. John F. Ammerall 1990-1991
Col. Archie J. Berberian II 1991-1995
Col. Jonathan E. Adams 1995-1998
Col. Marion G. Pritchard 1998-1999
Col. Max DellaPia 1999-2006
Col. Anthony P. German 2006-2010
Col. Timothy J LaBarge 2010-2012
 Col. Shawn A. Clouthier 2012-2017
Col. Michele L. Kilgore


Col. Christian Sander 2020- Present
Command Chief Years served as Command Chief
Senior Master Sgt. Dave Getty FSA Scott 1985-1987
Senior Master Sgt. Anthony Manupella 1987-1989
Chief Master Sgt. Giacomo Ricci 1989-1994
Chief Master Sgt. Frederick Johnson 1994-1998
Chief Master Sgt. Louis Aldi 1998-2002
Chief Master Sgt. Joseph A. Fedor 2002-2005
Chief Master Sgt. Charlie R. Lucia Jr. 2005-2008
Chief Master Sgt. Michael T. Cristiano 2008-2013
Chief Master Sgt. Amy R. Giaquinto 2013-2016
Chief Master Sgt. Denny Richardson  2016-2020
Chief Master Sgt. Jeff Trottier 2020- 2023
Chief Master Sgt.             Karolyn De Vito 2023- Present

ANG: A Short Story

The Air National Guard as we know it today -- a separate reserve component of the United States Air Force -- was a product of the politics of postwar planning and interservice rivalry during World War II. The men who planned and maneuvered for an independent postwar Air Force during World War II didn't place much faith in the reserves, especially the state-dominated National Guard.


History of the ANG