Unidentified members of the 110th Observation Squadron pose with a Missouri Mule at Robertson Field, Saint Louis, MO, 1925. The Missouri Mule has long been identified with the 110th Bomb Squadron and 131st Bomb Wing as the mascot of the unit and appears on patches and aircraft. (131st Bomb Wing file photo/RELEASED)
Members of the 110th Observation Squadron, Missouri National Guard, fly a North American O-47A observation plane with pilot, navigator, and photographer onboard, circa 1938. (131st Bomb Wing file photo/RELEASED)
Members of the 110th Observation Squadron, Missouri National Guard, fly a Douglas O-38E observation plan with pilot and photographer onboard, circa 1936. The photographer is using a K-17 Observation camera. (131st Bomb Wing file photo/RELEASED)
Aviator Capt. Charles Lindbergh, 110th Observation Squadron, 35th Division, Missouri National Guard (now 131st Bomb Wing, Missouri Air National Guard) poses beside the "Spirit of Saint Louis" at Robertson Field with a representation of how much fuel was required to complete his historic 33 1/2 solo flight from New York to Paris in the "Spirit of Saint Louis" on May 21, 1927. He had to seek permission from his commanders at the 110th to make this flight. (131st Bomb Wing file photo/RELEASED)
An aerial view of Camp Lambert at Robertson Field, August 1928. The training site of the 110th Observation Squadron, Missouri National Guard, Hanger 1 on the top right is under construction. Towards the center of the photo by the darker colored hangers is an aircraft which some have identified as Lindbergh’s “Spirit of Saint Louis.” (131st Bomb Wing file photo/RELEASED)
Aircraft maintainers of the 110th Observation Squadron service a North American O-47A observation aircraft in Hanger 1 at Robertson Field, Saint Louis, circa 1939. (131st Bomb Wing file photo/RELEASED)
Airman 1st Class Banjo A. Burro, the beloved mascot of the 131st for many years could often be as stubborn as a…well, you know. Banjo, actually a Missouri Mule, joined the wing in the late 1950’s and appeared at many wing events and parades. Nominated for the First Sgt. position at one time, but recommended by Director of Personnel to "Second Sgt." position since First Sgt. position was presently filled. The Missouri Mule has long been identified with the 110th and 131st as the mascot of the unit and appears on patches and aircraft, including the "Spirit of Saint Louis." (131st Bomb Wing file photo/RELEASED)
Republic F-84F “Thunderstreaks” and North American F-100C “Super Sabres” of the 131st Light Bombardment Wing, Missouri Air National Guard, parked at Robertson Field, Saint Louis, 1962. (131st Bomb Wing file photo/RELEASED)
Betty Robertson-Uhl, one of the nation’s earliest pilots, takes part in the ribbon cutting ceremony at the dedication of the Missouri Air National Guard’s Robertson Building 131 at Lambert Air National Guard Base, Aug 22, 1922. She is the sister of the Robertson brothers, who founded the 110th Observation Squadron on June 23, 1923. (131st Bomb Wing file photo/RELEASED)
A McDonnell Douglas F-4-E of the 131st Tactical Fighter Wing, Missouri Air National Guard, flies high in 1989. It is painted in celebration of the 30th anniversary of the F-4 Phantom. (131st Bomb Wing file photo/RELEASED)
The Northrup Grumman B-2 Stealth “Spirit of Pennsylvania” becomes the first B-2 to ever land at Lambert Air National Guard Base, Sept 9, 2006. 131st Missouri Air National Guardsmen were given the opportunity to see the aircraft up-close and be introduced to the wing’s upcoming mission.(131st Bomb Wing file photo/RELEASED
by Senior Master Sgt. Mary-Dale Amison
131st Bomb Wing Public Affairs
6/25/2013 - WHITEMAN AFB, Mo -- From Jennies to jets to stealth bombers, the 131st Bomb Wing's history really began with its co-located flying squadron, now the 110th Bomb Squadron, which traces its roots back to the 110th Observation Squadron.
The 110th OS was organized by Maj. Bill Robertson and his brothers, Lieutenants Frank and Dan Robertson, owners of Robertson Aircraft Company. The Robertsons were aviation pioneers, noted for being the first two pilots from Missouri to enlist in World War I. Among their associates were a number of former Army Air Corps veterans and visionary young men who shared an interest in organizing a National Guard unit in St. Louis.
They strove to make this vision a reality; they worked with local newspapers to get the word out.
These outlets informed the public that "enlistments would not be limited to aviators but a number of young men who wanted to learn to fly or maintain flying equipment would also be taken."
Members would be paid for a maximum of 60 "drills" a year, which were described as periods of instruction in ground work, machine-shop practice and flying. They would receive instruction in war maneuvers, and conduct bombing and machine-gun firing practice with targets on the nearby Missouri River. Personnel assigned to the photo section would learn to "make pictures for use in war" and intelligence personnel would be "trained as Scouts of the Air (observers) and probably will have radio equipment."
A five-day "recruiting drive" enlisted a total of 110 men, most of whom were World War I veterans. On June 23, 1923, the 110th OS, 110th Photo Section and 110th Intelligence Section (35th Division Aviation Section) from the Missouri National Guard were federally recognized and Maj. Robertson became the first commanding officer.
The first headquarters for the unit was located in a gas station on Manchester Avenue in St. Louis. From there, it moved to a small room over a grocery store on Olive Street Road in St. Louis County. Members participated in training at the airport, which at that time was little more than a pasture.
At first there were no uniforms for the enlisted men. Their first flying equipment was a Curtiss JN-4 "Jenny," which was purchased through officer donations and used for flight training until early 1924, when they received three additional World War I-surplus JN-4Hs. The pilots were eager to train; they would often fly three men to an aircraft, with one man strapped to a wing so they could switch off in midflight without having to take time to land.
The planes were housed in corrugated sheet-metal hangars erected on the field that had been built for the International Air Races of 1923. The 110th received additional aircraft and equipment throughout 1924, and by year's end, they had established a well-planned training program.
(This is Part 1 of a 3 part series. Additional content provided for this story by Tech. Sgt. Christopher Boehlein, 131st Bomb Wing, and Mr. Charles Machon, Missouri National Guard Museum Curator)