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133rd Airlift Wing Kicks Off Centennial Year

Historical items from the 109th Observation Squadron were placed on display in Falcon Heights, Minn., Sept. 26, 2020.

Historical items from the 109th Observation Squadron were placed on display in Falcon Heights, Minn., Sept. 26, 2020. The 133rd Airlift Wing hosted an anniversary ceremony to commemorate the historic flight that resulted in the 109th Observation Squadron's birth being the first federally recognized unit in the Air National Guard in 1921. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Amy M. Lovgren)

U.S. Air Force Col. Andy Burda, commander of the 133rd Maintenance Group, looks at historical items from the 109th Observation Squadron in Falcon Heights, Minn., Sept. 26, 2020.

U.S. Air Force Col. Andy Burda, commander of the 133rd Maintenance Group, looks at historical items from the 109th Observation Squadron in Falcon Heights, Minn., Sept. 26, 2020. The 133rd Airlift Wing hosted an anniversary ceremony to commemorate the historic flight that resulted in the 109th Observation Squadron's birth being the first federally recognized unit in the Air National Guard in 1921. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Amy M. Lovgren)

Jill Renslow, Executive Vice President of Business Development and Marketing for Mall of America announces partnership for the 133rd Airlift Wing’s centennial celebration in Falcon Heights, Minn., Sept. 26, 2020.

Jill Renslow, Executive Vice President of Business Development and Marketing for Mall of America announces partnership for the 133rd Airlift Wing’s centennial celebration in Falcon Heights, Minn., Sept. 26, 2020. The 133rd Airlift Wing hosted an anniversary ceremony to commemorate the historic flight that resulted in the 109th Observation Squadron's birth being the first federally recognized unit in the Air National Guard in 1921. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Amy M. Lovgren)

Roy Fuhrmann, Chief Operation Officer, Metropolitan Airports Commission provides the keynote speech in Falcon Heights, Minn., Sept. 26, 2020.

Roy Fuhrmann, Chief Operation Officer, Metropolitan Airports Commission provides the keynote speech in Falcon Heights, Minn., Sept. 26, 2020. The 133rd Airlift Wing hosted an anniversary ceremony to commemorate the historic flight that resulted in the 109th Observation Squadron's birth being the first federally recognized unit in the Air National Guard in 1921. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Amy M. Lovgren)

A C-130 Hercules from the 133rd Airlift Wing flies over a ceremony in Falcon Heights, Minn., Sept. 26, 2020.

A C-130 Hercules from the 133rd Airlift Wing flies over a ceremony in Falcon Heights, Minn., Sept. 26, 2020. The 133rd Airlift Wing hosted an anniversary ceremony to commemorate the historic flight that resulted in the 109th Observation Squadron's birth being the first federally recognized unit in the Air National Guard in 1921. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Amy M. Lovgren)

U.S. Air Force Maj. Brad Jordan renders a salute during the national anthem in in Falcon Heights, Minn., Sept. 26, 2020.

U.S. Air Force Maj. Brad Jordan renders a salute during the national anthem in in Falcon Heights, Minn., Sept. 26, 2020. The 133rd Airlift Wing hosted an anniversary ceremony to commemorate the historic flight that resulted in the 109th Observation Squadron's birth being the first federally recognized unit in the Air National Guard in 1921. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Amy M. Lovgren)

Falcon Heights, Minn. – On Sept. 26, the 133rd Airlift Wing hosted an anniversary celebration to commemorate the historic flight conducted by U.S. Army Gen. Walter Rhinow, Lt. Col. William C. Garis, and Capt. Ray S. Miller. The ceremony was held at Curtiss Field in Falcon Heights, Minnesota where on Sept. 26, 1920 the men departed for Washington D.C.

Roy Fuhrmann, the Chief Operating Officer of Metropolitan Airports Commission, was the keynote speaker for the ceremony. He addressed a crowd of airmen, soldiers, retirees, and distinguished visitors.

“Today, we remember a time a century ago in the very early days of aviation,” said Fuhrmann. “When three members of the 34th Infantry Division flew from here, Curtiss Field, to Washington D.C. via way of New York to lobby for the formation of a flying squadron.”

At 11:50 a.m., a C-130 Hercules from the 133rd Airlift Wing flew over Curtiss Field. The flyover occurred at the same time Rhinow, Garis, and Miller took off in their rented Curtiss Oriole biplane for the daring seven-day journey to the east coast 100 years ago.

“The flight also did something that people are not aware of,” said Fuhrmann. “It helped to establish the site that would become a major cornerstone for aviation activities in the Twin Cities and upper Midwest region.” 

The success of the trip ultimately led to the establishment of the 109th Observation Squadron, the first federally recognized Air National Guard unit in the nation. The 109th Airlift Squadron, the descendent unit of the 109th Observation Squadron, still exists today at the 133rd Airlift Wing in Saint Paul, Minnesota.

At the end of the ceremony, U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Shawn Manke, The Adjutant General of the Minnesota National Guard, and U.S. Air Force Col. James Cleet, the Commander of the 133rd Airlift Wing, dedicated a plaque in Curtiss Field to highlight the story of Rhinow, Garis, and Miller.

In July 2021, the 133rd Airlift Wing will host a two-day Air Force Open House and Air Expo event at the Minneapolis - St. Paul International Airport. The event will be open to the public at no cost.