Military Wiki
185th Air Refueling Wing
185th Air Refueling Wing KC-135s Sioux City IA.jpg
Eight KC-135R Stratotanker aircraft assigned to the 185th Air Refueling Wing of the Iowa Air National Guard are on the ramp at Sioux City AFB, Iowa.
Active 1 October 1962-Present
Country  United States
Allegiance  Iowa
Branch US-AirNationalGuard-2007Emblem.svg  Air National Guard
Type Wing
Role Aireal Refueling
Size 900+
Part of Iowa Air National Guard
Garrison/HQ Sioux City Air National Guard Base, Sergeant Bluff, Iowa
Tail Code Yellow Tail Stripe "Sioux City" in black letters
Col. Brian Miller
185th Fighter Wing emblem 185th Fighter Wing.png

The 185th Air Refueling Wing (185 ARW) is a unit of the Iowa Air National Guard, stationed at Sioux City Air National Guard Base, Sergeant Bluff, Iowa. If activated to federal service, the Wing is gained by the United States Air Force Air Mobility Command.


The mission of the 185 ARW is to provide mid-air refueling and mobility sustainment in direct support of the global mission of the Air Force. As a community based organization the wing and its subordinate units are also tasked to support the state of Iowa in the event of a state emergency.


The 185th Air Refueling Wing consists of the following major units:

  • 185th Operations Group
174th Air Refueling Squadron
  • 185th Mission Support Group
  • 185th Maintenance Group
  • 185th Medical Group


Established on 1 October 1962 when the 174th Tactical Fighter Squadron was expanded to a Group level. This reorganization nearly doubled the authorized personnel of the unit to over 800 officers and airmen. This era would also mark the longest continuous period of flying one aircraft. The 185th flew the F-100 from its establishment until 1977, a period of 15 years.

Vietnam era

On 26 January 1968, the 185th was recalled to active Federal service as a result of the "Pueblo Crisis". The 174th Tactical Fighter Squadron of the 185th augmented by many of the other personnel from the Group, deployed with their F-100s to Phu Cat Air Base, South Vietnam on 11 May 1968. During the course of the next 90 days, the balance of the 185th was deployed to six military bases in South Korea and several others within the continental United States. During their year in South Vietnam, the 174th flew 6,539 combat sorties totally 11,359 hours of combat time. The unit was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation and the Air Force Outstanding Unit Award. Individually, its members were awarded 12 Silver Stars, 35 Distinguished Flying Crosses, 30 Bronze Star Medals, 115 Air Force Commendation Medals, 325 Air Medals, and 1 Purple Heart.

While in Phu Cat AB, one distinguished Air Force pilot that flew one of our planes was Dick Rutan. Dick went on to become the first pilot to take a non-stop un-refueled trip around the world. In 2005, Mattel toys introduced a die-cast model of the Sioux City-based F-100 that Dick Rutan flew in Vietnam, tail # HA 076. Dick was also one of the famous Misty pilots, a top-secret squadron that flew high-risk missions during their tours. Another member of this famous squadron was Medal of Honor recipient Colonel George "Bud" Day, for whom the airfield in Sioux City is named. As for the 174th, on 28 May 1969, the personnel and aircraft were recalled with the 185th and returned to Sioux City and released from active duty. In 1969, the 174th Fighter Squadron won the Air Force Outstanding Unit award with a designation of valor. Vietnam also spawned the nickname Bats. The "Bat" depicted on the tails of the aircraft and the shoulder patch of the pilots became a legendary symbol of the 185th when its 174th Tactical Fighter Squadron was called to duty in Vietnam. "Bat" was the call sign of the 174th. The "Bats" became renowned for their outstanding performance. The other symbol often associated with been the Indian Chief that is part of the unit patch as well as part of the paint work on the aircraft. The Indian Chieftain is symbolic of the brave Indian warriors, like War Eagle, who once lived in the Siouxland area. The pride, courage and determination found in these "First Americans" are traits emulated by the members of the 185th.

A-7D Corsair IIs

In 1977, the 185th converted to the A-7D Corsair II While flying the A-7Ds, the unit won the Spaatz trophy for the second time in 1990, recognizing them as the best Air Guard unit in the Country. The Unit also was awarded the Air Force Outstanding Unit award five times -1985, 1986, 1987, 1989, and 1991. In addition, the 185th's Logistic Group is a two-time winner of the Daedalian Trophy which recognizes the best maintenance team in the ANG. In 1989, the 185th won the 12th Air Force A-7 gunnery meet for the second time. Also in 1989, the 185th received the Gunsmoke A-7 Maintenance Team Award for its aircraft.

Modern era

On December 19, 1991, they received F-16 Falcons. On March 16, 1992, the 185th Tactical Fighter Group was re-designated the 185th Fighter Group. One month later, the unit was rated operational. As the Air Force and Air Guard standardized unit structures, the 185th was designated the 185th Fighter Wing. The F-16 "Fighting Falcon" would be the last jet that the unit would fly before conversion to KC-135E tankers in 2003. The 185th continued to be an award-winning unit. In 1994, the unit picked up the Winston P. Wilson Award as well as the Air Force Association Outstanding Air National Guard Unit Award. In 1999, Congress appropriated $6.5 million for the Air National Guard Aircraft Paint Facility located on base. The facility at the 185th has become top-notch, reflecting the quality of work that has been synonymous with the unit for over 50 years. They were re-designated the 185th Air Refueling Wing. In November 2003, the first all Sioux City crew flew a KC-135 out of Sioux City. Within a year, the 185th was flying refueling missions out of Geilenkirchen, Germany supporting NATO AWACS. In 2007, the 185th began transitioning from the KC-135E to the KC-135R model.

Today, the 185th consists of nearly 900 members that includes; traditional guardsman, full-time military, air technicians and state contract employees.

Operations and Decorations

  • Spaatz Trophy (1990)
  • Presidential Unit Citation (1968)
  • Air Force Outstanding Unit Award (1968, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1989, 1991, 2008, and 2009)
  • 185th Logistics Group-Daedalian Trophy (2 time winner)
  • Winston P. Wilson Award (1994)
  • Air Force Association Outstanding Air National Guard Unit Award (1994)


  • Established as 185th Tactical Fighter Group, and activated, 1 October 1962
Ordered into active service, 26 Jan 1968
Re-designated: 185th Tactical Fighter Group, 12 May 1969
Relieved from active duty and returned to Iowa ANG, on 28 May 1969
Re-designated: 185th Fighter Group, 16 March 1992
Status changed from Group to Wing, 1 May 1992
Re-designated: 185th Fighter Wing, 1 May 1992
Re-designated: 185th Air Refeling Wing, 1 November 2003


Operationally gained by: Tactical Air Command
Unit in non-operational status entire period
Operationally gained by: Tactical Air Command
Operationally gained by: Air Combat Command, 1 June 1992
Operationally gained by: Air Mobility Command, 1 November 2003-Present





 This article incorporates public domain material from the Air Force Historical Research Agency website

External links

This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia (view authors).