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133rd Test Squadron plays vital role in national defense

Hometown unit has major impact

The sign in front of a brick building near Fort Dodge Regional Airport identifies it as the home of the 133rd Test Squadron. An old jet fighter sits nearby. Anyone passing by the place might notice an antenna or two reaching toward the sky.

But for many, what the members of that Iowa Air National Guard unit actually do remains a mystery.

The short answer is that they help to make the United States of America safe.

And they have been doing so for 75 years.

That milestone was marked Saturday with an open house and ceremony.

Maj. Gen. Stephen Osborn, who as adjutant general commands all Iowa Army and Air National Guard units, concisely summed up what the event was truly all about when he said “We are here to honor those men and women who dedicate a part of their lives to this organization.”

Since the squadron was established in 1948, hundreds of guardsmen have served in it as fulltime members or traditional guardsmen who serve one weekend a month and two weeks a year.

The squadron is unique in the American military. It is the only Air National Guard unit charged with testing radar, radio, satellite communications and other electronics for the entire Air Force. When the Air Force is considering some new gear, the squadron gets it first and works it hard to see what it can and cannot do. If the gear successfully survives everything the squadron members do with it, it is fielded to the Air Force.

If that isn’t enough, the squadron also maintains an air control mission of directing American and allied military aircraft.

Obviously, much has changed since 1948 when the squadron was established. The unit moved from the former Enos Airport to its current location. It has had several different names, although it always had the number 133.

The radars and radios the unit started with were pretty basic. It is likely that one of the unit’s current laptop computers has more capability than a room full of that 1948 gear.

One of the unit’s most dramatic accomplishments came after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. At that time, the squadron members used commercially available equipment to improve the nation’s radar picture

Squadron members continue to apply their talent and work ethic to accomplish many other things that most civilians will never learn about. But each of those accomplishments help to protect them from those who seek to harm our nation.

We salute the members of the 133rd Test Squadron for their outstanding service.

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