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Korean War

March 09, 2011

By the time World War II ended, all State enlistments in the National Guard had expired, and little was returned to the State except the unit designations and a small cadre of officers. The difficult task of reorganizing began in June 1946 and 15 months later, the Guard had fully organized the 198th Anti-Aircraft Artillery Group Headquarters and the 736th and 945th Anti-Aircraft Artillery Battalions. In 1946 the Delaware Air Guard was organized as the 142nd Fighter Squadron and was a separate State service.

In 1949, the Delaware Army Guard was authorized to expand to brigade strength. Units consisted of the 261st Anti-Aircraft Artillery Brigade, the 160th Anti-Aircraft Artillery Group, the 156th expanded from the 736th and a new 945th (later the 280th) was a reorganization of the pre-war 261st Coast Artillery. The former 945th in Kent County (the old second battalion of the 198th Coast Artillery) was redesignated the 193d Anti-Aircraft Artillery Battalion.

The reorganization was hardly underway when in June 1950 North Korea moved south across the 38th Parallel and the United States was at war again - though "police action" was the favored term. The 736th Anti-Aircraft Artillery Battalion was at summer camp when word came of its order into Federal service, along with several other small detachments. About one-third of the Army National Guard, both in Delaware and nationwide, went on active duty.

Delaware's entire Air Guard was also ordered to active duty, and though the 142nd Fighter Squadron remained at New Castle County Airport, its pilots were all rotated to the Far East and most saw combat against Russian-built jets in what came to be known as "MIG Alley" over Korea.

The 736th served first at Fort Stewart, Georgia, then moved to Fort Meade, Maryland, where with its 90mm guns, it became one of the first units in the newly-established Air Defense of Baltimore and Washington. By the time the unit was returned to the State in 1952, few of its original members were still with it. Most had been transferred out and many saw combat service in Korea with other units under the policy of individual replacement then in effect. Similarly, when the 142nd was returned to State control, it was minus most of its men and all of its first-line jet aircraft, which were retained for the active Air Force.