Sunday, August 27, 2017

101st Intelligence Squadron celebrates centennial

JOINT BASE CAPE COD — The Massachusetts Air National Guard’s 101st Intelligence Squadron celebrated 100 years of service during a ceremony Saturday at its longtime home base on Cape Cod.

The squadron is the lead intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance organization within the 102nd Intelligence Wing, located at Otis Air National Guard Base.

The squadron’s roots stretch back to Texas, where it was established as the 101st Aero Squadron on Aug. 22, 1917, to provide air power for the U.S. Army’s 26th Infantry Division, known as the Yankee Division.

Those serving in the squadron, even then, were primarily from New England.

After the end of World War I, there was an interest in establishing aviation units under the National Guard. The Massachusetts National Guard and the 101st Observation Squadron built its own air base on land-filled tidal flats at Jeffries Point in East Boston, where it would remain for more than 45 years.

The field, with its two cinder runways, would one day become Logan International Airport.

The 101st unit flew to a small grass airfield on Cape Cod each summer for training. The field was renamed Otis Airfield in 1938 for 101st pilot and physician Dr. Frank Otis, who died when he crashed his aircraft during a training mission.

During World War II, the squadron served under the Ninth Air Force doing reconnaissance in France. After the war, the unit once again returned to its National Guard status doing post-war training, but the Korean conflict drew members back to active duty in the 1950s.

It wasn’t until 1968 that the air unit left its Boston home to become a tenant at Otis Air Force Base. Over the next several decades, the squadron protected the New England airspace and was periodically deployed, as needed, for missions farther afield.

In the 21st century, the 101st Fighter Squadron was the first military unit to respond to the 9/11 attacks in New York and pilots continued flying around-the-clock combat air patrols until February 2002.

After a change of mission prompted by the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure Commission, the 101st Squadron F-15s were transferred and the unit assumed the new role of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance. It was renamed the 101st Intelligence Squadron in 2008.

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