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Commander's Welcome

  • Published
  • By Colonel Peter Nezamis
  • 126 ARW
Hello, and welcome to the 126th Air Refueling Wing. I'm Colonel Peter Nezamis and on behalf of the more than 900 men and women of the 126 ARW, I want to thank you for your interest in our Wing.

The 126 ARW is the oldest Air National Guard unit in Illinois and also holds the distinction of being the first Air Refueling unit in the Air National Guard. The Wing's roots are in Chicago where we spent 77 years evolving from the 108th Observation Squadron flying the PT-1 "Trusty," and O-2H, O-38, and O-47 Biplanes; to a Fighter-Bomber Wing flying the B-26 Marauder, the C-47 Skytrain, and the F-51 Mustang; to a Fighter-Interceptor Wing flying the F-84 Thunderstreak and the F-86L Sabre Jet; and finally our transition in 1961 from an Air Defense Wing to the 126th Air Refueling Wing flying the KC-97 Stratotanker, with the 108th Air Refueling Squadron (the previous 108th Observation Squadron) under its direct control. Today the 108 ARS continues its assigned flying mission with more than 80 years of experience.

In 1976, the Wing received the KC-135A Stratotanker and has flown that aircraft to the present day transitioning to the KC-135E in 1983, completing a Pacer CRAG or glass-cockpit modification in 2000, and receiving its currently assigned 8, KC-135R Stratotankers in 2008.

Due to a 1999 BRAC-directed action, the 126 ARW was relocated from O'Hare Air Reserve Station in Chicago to Scott Air Force Base in Belleville. During our nearly 10 years at Scott AFB we have seen many changes and will continue our evolution into a true total Joint Force key player for the 21st century.

In 2010 our Wing celebrated its 60th anniversary and while we looked back fondly on our legacy and accomplishments, today we remain focused on current operations and the future challenges and missions that lie ahead. The 126th Air Refueling Wing continues to be driven forward by professional men and women who seek a greater calling - the dedicated service to our local communities, the State of Illinois, and the United States of America.