Minnesota Air National Guard celebrates a century in the sky

Ben Henry
Updated: January 16, 2021 09:46 PM
Created: January 16, 2021 06:19 PM

This weekend marks a century of service for the Minnesota Air National Guard. 

Sunday will be exactly 100 years since a squadron at the 133rd Airlift Wing became federally recognized on Jan. 17, 1921 — and according to the 133rd Airlift Wing, it was the first Air National Guard in the country. 

Based at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, the 109th Airlift Squadron is a direct descendant of the original 109th Observation Squadron. One hundred years ago Sunday, U.S. Army Gen. Walter Rhinow, Lt. Col. William Garis and Capt. Ray Miller flew to Washington D.C. in what was considered a daring seven-day journey at the time to receive the recognition. 

'We were the first': Centennial flight celebrates 100 years of Minnesota Air National Guard

“I think it took a lot of the imagination and grit of those three men to fly in an open-air airplane and go out there,” said Brig. Gen. Retired Greg Haase, who was the commander of the 133rd Airlift Wing from 2006 to 2013.

“They took some initiative to make this a reality,” he added. 

Current commander Lt. Col. Dana Novinskie — the first female flying squadron commander in the 133rd Airlift Wing’s history — is proud to carry on the tradition into the next century of service. 

“My favorite part of the guard is the people,” Novinskie said. “You deploy with people, you get to know them very well – I have a lot of really great coworkers and we have a lot of really interesting missions, but what makes it is the people."

The Minnesota National Guard had a busy 2020 — getting called upon to help fight COVID-19, keep the peace following civil unrest and now helping secure the U.S. Capitol after a deadly riot. The Wing had quite a year as well – helping its fellow soldiers with those same missions while logging 2,000 flying hours that include work overseas. 

5 EYEWITNESS NEWS is partnering with the Minnesota Air National Guard on plans to celebrate the 100th Anniversary this summer at Mall of America. 

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