Commentary: 9th ATKS celebrates 76th anniversary

9th ATKS celebrates 76th anniversary

Col. Houston Cantwell, 49th Wing commander, pins streamers to the 9th Attack Squadron’s guidon during an anniversary celebration at Holloman Air Force Base, N.M., Oct. 20, 2017. This was the 76th anniversary of the 9th Atks and its inception in 1941. Ten streamers were added to 9th‘s guidon to reflect the squadron’s presence during past conflicts. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Chase Cannon)

9th ATKS celebrates 76th anniversary

Lt. Col. Timothy Monroe, 9th Attack Squadron commander, addresses base leadership and members of the 9th Atks during their 76th anniversary event at Holloman Air Force Base, N.M., Oct. 20, 2017. Ten streamers were added to 9th‘s guidon to reflect the squadron’s presence during past conflicts. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Chase Cannon)

9th ATKS celebrates 76th anniversary

Base leadership and members of the 9th Attack Squadron gather to celebrate its 76th anniversary at Holloman Air Force Base, N.M., Oct. 20, 2017. Ten streamers were added to 9th‘s guidon to reflect the squadron’s presence during past conflicts. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Chase Cannon)

9th ATKS celebrates 76th anniversary

Chief Master Sgt. Barrington Bartlett, 49th Wing command chief, pins a streamer to the 9th Attack Squadron’s guidon during an anniversary celebration at Holloman Air Force Base, N.M., Oct. 20, 2017. This was the 76th anniversary of the 9th Atks and its inception in 1941. Ten streamers were added to 9th‘s guidon to reflect the squadron’s presence during past conflicts. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Chase Cannon)

9th ATKS celebrates 76th anniversary

Col. Jeffery Patton, 49th Operations Group commander, pins a streamer to the 9th Attack Squadron’s guidon during an anniversary celebration at Holloman Air Force Base, N.M., Oct. 20, 2017. This was the 76th anniversary of the 9th Atks and its inception in 1941. Ten streamers were added to 9th‘s guidon to reflect the squadron’s presence during past conflicts. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Chase Cannon)

9th ATKS celebrates 76th anniversary

Col. Brian Patterson, 49th Wing vice commander, pins a streamer to the 9th Attack Squadron’s guidon during an anniversary celebration at Holloman Air Force Base, N.M., Oct. 20, 2017. This was the 76th anniversary of the 9th Atks and its inception in 1941. Ten streamers were added to 9th‘s guidon to reflect the squadron’s presence during past conflicts. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Chase Cannon)

HOLLOMAN AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. --

This October, we at the 9th Attack Squadron pause to celebrate the squadron’s immense history and proud heritage.  The squadron, originally the 9th Pursuit Squadron, celebrated its 76th anniversary in 2017.

In 1941, the 9th Pursuit Squadron was established in Selfridge Field, Michigan, as one of the three original squadrons assigned to the 49th Pursuit Group. To this day, the 9th ATKS holds the honor of being the highest combat decorated unit in the 49th Wing.

Earlier this year, the 9th ATKS conducted an audit of the streamers affixed to the unit’s guidon.  Not normally a practice or procedure, we were surprised at what we found. 

Capt. Evan, 9th ATKS pilot instructor, led the audit for our beloved guidon and was stunned to learn that we were missing 10 streamers earned in years past.  The original intent was to validate that all streamers were true and correct, we did not expect find so many missing. 

Evan and the 49th Wing Historian, Martha Whipple, worked with historians at Air Combat Command and Headquarters Air Force to verify the unit’s decorations.  The streamers missing included combat decorations earned during conflicts in Kosovo, Vietnam, and dating back to the China Offensive and Air Offensive against Japan in World War II.

In addition to the anniversary ceremony, the squadron hosted spouses for simulator and Remotely Piloted Aircraft flight observations, a curated display of historic unit artwork, and social events to allow the squadron members to connect and celebrate the unit’s heritage.

In conjunction with the anniversary, the 9th ATKS conducted a much needed facelift to our building.  Walls were painted, artwork was brought back to the squadron, and the heritage room was completely remodeled. 

This was a revitalization effort driven from the grassroots of our squadron. These are Remotely Piloted Aircraft warfighters owning their identity and upholding the reputation of the most powerful Air Force in the world.

As the commander of the Flying Knights, I am in awe of the legacy of such a highly decorated and historic Air Force squadron.  I am reminded daily of our responsibility to honor our heritage and charge forward with the mission to protect and defend our nation.