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111th Reconnaissance Squadron
Ace in the Hole
Active 14 August 1917-19 August 1919
29 June 1923 - present
Country United States
Branch Texas Air National Guard
Type Squadron
Role Reconnaissance
Part of Air National Guard/Air Combat Command
Garrison/HQ Ellington Field Joint Reserve Base
Houston, Texas
Nickname The Ace in the Hole Squadron
Engagements World War II

The 111th Reconnaissance Squadron is an MQ-1 flying squadron attached to the 147th Operations Group, 147th Reconnaissance Wing based at Ellington Field Joint Reserve Base in Houston, Texas, and part of the Texas Air National Guard & 1st Air Force. In continuous operation since 1923, the Squadron has seen combat in World War II (1942-1945), the Korean War (1951-1952), and the Iraq War (2005, 2007).



The mission of the 111th Reconnaissance Squadron is Tactical Reconnaissance.



Early years

The 111th Reconnaissance Squadron began as the 111th Aero Squadron on 14 August 1917 at Kelly Field in San Antonio, TX.[1] The unit, composed of teamsters and laborers, was on special duty at Kelly Field and was known as the "Post Headquarters Squadron." The squadron deactivated 19 August 1919 but was called to service again, receiving Federal Recognition on 29 June 1923 in the old Houston Light Guard Armory, as the 111th Observation Squadron, 36th Division, Texas Air National Guard.[1]'

Lt. Walter Reed, unit active duty instructor (left) and Major Bernard Law, first commander (right) by the instructor's DH-4B in the summer of 1926.

The squadron had no airplanes, so the hot summer of 1923 was devoted to close-order drill and classroom sessions. That was remedied, however, in September of that year when the 111th became airborne in the Curtiss JN-6H Jenny.

In September 1927 the Curtiss JN-6Hs were retired and the squadron gained Consolidated PT-1s and several other trainers until June 1928 when new Douglas O-2H observation aircraft arrived. These planes were replaced with new Douglas O-38 observation planes in January 1931. By 1938 the squadron was flying both Douglas Douglas O-43As and North American O-47s.

World War II

With the onset of World War II, the unit was called into federal service 25 November 1940 and trained with the 36th Division at Brownwood Airfield Texas[2] until Pearl Harbor was bombed, it was sent to the Mexican border, Fort Clark Springs Texas. The border patrol was short, and on 14 February 1942, the squadron left Texas for Daniel Field in Augusta, Georgia, and became part of the 68th Observation Group. Pilots trained on Douglas O-43A, Vultee/Stinson O-49/L-1 Vigilant and Douglas A-20B Havoc aircraft in preparation for deployment to the European Theater of Operations (ETO).

In 1942 the ground echelon and some pilots made their way to Scotland then England in preparation for landing on the Algerian beaches as part of Operation Torch, their shiny new P-39 Airacobras had to be assembled and tested before flying from England to Algeria. Some of the pilots of the 68th Group flew their A-20s directly across the Atlantic on the "Southern Route" and immediately began flying over the Mediterranean in anti-submarine patrols, sinking at least one submarine. As the invasion force moved inland, the three squadrons of the group divided up the A-20s and P-39s by squadron and the 111th took on the Fighter Reconnaissance role in the P-39.

111th Tactical Recon Squadron F-6A (photo variant of P-51C) Northern France December 1944.

In March 1943, the 111th left the 68th Group to defend against a possible invasion of French Morocco from Spanish Morocco while the rest of the group was selected to support the Tunisian Campaign of the Army’s II Corps. In June 1943 the newly redesignated 111th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron, flying Allison engined P-51’s, became the eyes of the 7th Army in Sicily, Operation Husky. They were temporarily assigned to the 5th Army in Italy, but returned in July 1944 in time to support the 7th Army’s invasion of Southern France, Operation Dragoon. The 111th remained with the 7th Army through the end of the war. From VE Day until December 1945, the Squadron served in the occupation force, and conducted postwar photo-mapping of the devastation in France.

During 23 months of continuous combat flying, from June 1943 through May 1945, the 111th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron flew 3,840 reconnaissance missions. While keeping Army Headquarters informed of enemy movements, the 111th destroyed 44 enemy aircraft, damaged 29 others and claimed 12 probable kills. The squadron received eight Battle Stars, a Distinguished Unit Citation, and the French Croix de Guerre for its World War II accomplishments.[3]

Korean Conflict

The 111th Fighter Squadron was reformed at Ellington AFB in 1947 as part of an expanded Air National Guard. On 27 June 1950 the 136th Fighter Bomber Wing was formed to fight in Korea, and was made up of the 111th Fighter-Bomber Squadron, the 182nd Fighter-Bomber Squadron, and the 154th Fighter-Bomber Squadron. The 111th initially operated from Itazuke Airbase, Japan. Later that summer the 111th joined the rest of the 136th Fighter Bomber Group at Taegu, Korea.[4]

22 of 27 Air National Guard Wings and 67 of 84 flying squadrons were called to active Federal service between October 1950 and April 1951. Only two Air Guard wings, the 116th Fighter Bomber Wing (Georgia) and the 136th Fighter Bomber Wing (Texas) fought in Korea, entering combat in May 1951. Both wings had to transition from outdated aircraft to the F-84 Thunderjet before shipping off to war. Most of the missions assigned to the 111th Fighter-Bomber Squadron were close air support, and aerial interdiction of enemy troops and supplies.[5]

The squadron flew over 6,000 escort, interdiction, and close air support sorties for the United Nations Troops and 111th Fighter-Bomber Squadron pilots destroyed at least two Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-15 fighter jets.[6]

The 111th Fighter-Bomber Squadron returned to the Houston Municipal Airport without aircraft or personnel in July 1952 and began to rebuild. In July 1956 the F-80 Shooting Stars of the 111th Fighter Squadron went on "Dawn to Dusk" alert at the Houston Municipal Airport.[3]

F-86D Sabre Texas Air National Guard.

Cold War

With the squadron's conversion to all weather F-86D Sabre interceptors in August 1957, plans were made to reorganize the 600 man Augmented Squadron to an Air Defense Command group structure. On 16 May 1958 the 147th Fighter Interceptor Group was formed with five new squadrons to support the 111th Fighter Interceptor Squadron.[3]

F-102A Delta Dagger Texas Air National Guard.
F-101F Voodoo Interceptor Texas Air National Guard.

In June 1959 the squadron traded their F-86D Sabre for the upgraded F-86L Sabre with uprated afterburning engines and new electronics.

In August 1960 the unit became one of the first to transition to the F-102A Delta Dagger all-weather fighter interceptor and began a 24-hour alert to guard the Texas Gulf coast. By January 1970 the group was starting a new mission: training all F-102 pilots in the United States for the Air National Guard.

On 6 May 1971 the unit received F-101F Voodoo fighter interceptors and became the training center for all Air National Guard interceptors. In August 1974, after 14 years of service, the unit's F-102s were retired, but the unit maintained a full fleet of F-101s.

The squadron converted to F-4C Phantoms in 1982 and converted to F-4D Phantoms starting in November 1986.

In September 1989 the 111th converted to the F-16 Fighting Falcon, and by June 1992 the jets were being converted to F-16 air defense fighters, later converting to F-16 Fighting Falcon beginning in September 1996; a transition completed by February 1997.[7]

In October 2000, elements of the 111th Fighter Squadron and the 147th Fighter Wing deployed to Prince Sultan Air Base in Saudi Arabia for Operation Southern Watch.[3]

Global War on Terror

Symbol of the 111th

Following the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks, four 111th Fighter Squadron aircraft were launched to escort President George W. Bush, onboard Air Force 1 from Florida to Louisiana, Nebraska and finally back to Washington DC that same day. December 2001 saw the 111th deploy to Atlantic City, New Jersey, to fly Air Defense Combat Air Patrol missions over New York, Philadelphia and Washington DC in support of Operation Noble Eagle.[7]

In August 2005 components of the 111th Fighter Squadron and 147th Fighter Wing deployed to Balad Airbase, Iraq to conduct combat operations in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and the Global War on Terrorism. The men and women of the 111th FS/147th FW once again distinguished themselves by flying 462 sorties and almost 1,900 hours in a two-month span; with a perfect record of 100% maintenance delivery (zero missed sorties), 100% mission effectiveness, and 100% weapons employment/hits under the most challenging combat conditions.[7]

The 2005 Base Realignment and Closure Commission recommended the retirement of the Block 25 F-16 aircraft from the Air National Guard. This prompted the Texas Governor Rick Perry to assign the newly acquired MQ-1 Predator reconnaissance mission to the 147th Wing.

In April 2007, components of the 111th Fighter Squadron and 147th Fighter Wing again deployed to Balad Airbase, Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and the Global War on Terrorism, where the men and women of the 111th FS/147th FW continued their distinguished combat tradition. On this deployment the 111th Fighter Squadron flew 348 tasked sorties, plus six no-notice Close Air Support (CAS) alert scrambles and four short-notice (less than 30 minute & not on the ATO[8]) pre-planned alert launches. With an average combat sortie lasting almost 4.42 hours, the unit accumulated a total of 1537.1 combat hours. Maintenance delivery effectiveness for this deployment was an astonishing 102% due to the inclusion of the unscheduled CAS scrambles. Mission effectiveness and weapons employment were both once again a perfect 100%.[9]


Major Command/Gaining Command

Previous designations

Bases stationed

Aircraft Operated[13]

Mission Support

Trainer & Utility

See also


  1. ^ a b AG 320.2 (9-8-36), War Department. Washington, DC: The Adjutant General's Office, 16 October 1936.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o Watson, W.E. Jr., ed. 111th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron 27 September 1942. Washington, DC: Office of Air Force History (AFHRC), c. 1945.
  3. ^ a b c d Hail, Mitchell T., ed. History of the Houston Air National Guard. Ellington Field, Texas: 147th Fighter Wing, 2007.
  4. ^ Air Force Historical Research Agency Access date:1 June 2007.
  5. ^ Korean War MemorialAccess date: 13 May 2007.
  6. ^ General Order Number 126, Headquarters Far East Air Forces, APO 925, 1. Tokyo, Japan: Headquarters Far East Air Forces, 3 March 1952.
  7. ^ a b c 111th History Access date: 13 May 2007.
  8. ^ Air Tasking Order - A method used to task and disseminate to components, subordinate units, and command and control agencies projected sorties / capabilities / forces to targets and specific missions. Normally provides specific instructions to include call signs, targets, controlling agencies, etc., as well as general instructions.
  9. ^ 147th Fighter Wing Public Affairs Office, Public release. Houston, Texas: 147th Fighter Wing Public Affairs Office, 10 June 2007.
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Hail, Mitchell T., ed. 111th Fighter Squadron Timeline. Ellington Field, Texas: 147th Fighter Wing, c. 1998.
  11. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z Jack McKillop's Combat Chronology of World War II
  12. ^ a b c Air Force Historical Research Agency
  13. ^ Hail, Mitchell T., ed. Aircraft of the Houston Army & Air National Guard 1923 to 1989 . Ellington Field, Texas: 147th Fighter-Intercepter Group, c. 1989.
  • Air Defense Aircraft
  • Ross, Steven T. U.S. War Plans 1938-1945. Boulder, Colorado: Lynne Rienner, 2002. ISBN 1-58826-008-9.
  • Rottman, Gordon L. Korean War Order of Battle: United States, United Nations, and Communist Ground, Naval, and Airforces, 1950-1953. Westport Connecticut: Praeger, 2002. ISBN 0-275-97835-4.
  • Scutts, Jerry. Mustang Aces of the Ninth & 15th Airforces and the RAF. London: Osprey, 1995. ISBN 978-1855325-838.
  • Tucker, Spencer C., Kim, Jinwung, Nichols, Michael R., Peirpaoli, Paul G. Jr., Roberts, Priscilla D. and Zehr, Norman R., eds. Encyclopedia of the Korean War: A Political, Social, and Military History. Oxford, UK: ABC-Clio Inc., 2000. ISBN 1-57607-029-8.

External links


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