The 13° WING MISSILES
In 1957, as part of its obligations vis-à-vis NATO, Belgium decided to equip its armed forces with unmanned surface-to-air vehicles. The Air Force has the honor of implementing the weapon that is both the most effective, the most precise and also the most delicate there is. In November 1957, a first contingent of specialists left Belgium and joined the United States by Sabena DC-6 to receive adequate technical training at Hunstville, Fort Bliss, Fort Mamouth, Fort Belvoir and Fort Gordon. On January 28, 1959, the soldiers who were to constitute the vast majority of the operational personnel of the future squadrons joined Fort Bliss to receive their training there. In May 1959, all personnel assembled at Fort Bliss. It is divided into the four batteries which will form the first battalion. Tradition obliges this battalion will bear the name of 3 Wing of Sol-Air Remote Control Vehicles (3 WETSA). This new unit will be honored on May 19, 1959 with the visit of H.M. King Baudouin. In July, each unit completes its training with a qualification test at the Mac Gregor site. The results are spectacular: out of 12 missiles fired (8 Ajax and 4 Hercules) eleven destroy their target. On July 21, Belgian National Day, the US government officially hands over the Nike equipment to Lieutenant-General Burniaux, Chief of Staff of the Air Force representing Belgium, and to the four Squadron Commanders. The personnel leaves Fort Bliss to join Belgium. The first squadrons will be set up at Elsenborn pending the end of the construction of the definitive sites. The 51 and 53 Squadrons settled on the Roderhöhe site while the 50 and 52 Squadrons deployed part of their equipment in the courtyard of the Malmedy barracks.
On December 22, 1959, the first European wing of surface-to-air unmanned vehicles, the 3 WETSA, was presented to the high military authorities and received its standard from the hands of General Burniaux on the Place de Malmedy. From January 26, 1960, the WETSA squadrons ensured their first service role. May 30, 1960 marks not only the visit of HM King Baudouin but also that of the Shah of Iran to the missile units but also the modification of the name of 3WETA to 13 WETSA. The living conditions in Malmedy not being ideal and the definitive sites in Germany not being finished, the Wing Staff and the two non-operational squadrons were redeployed to Bierset. The units of 13 WETSA stationed in Elsenborn continue to benefit from the domestic means of the camp. The material still stored in Wevelgem will be transferred to Bierset. In 1962 the squadrons installed in Bierset and the General Staff of 13 WETSA moved towards Düren. On May 28, 1962 the 13 WETSA badge and squadron badges came into effect. 1963 was a banner year for 13 WETSA. It ranks second in the Stikker challenge, and one of its squadrons ranks first in the Paul-Henri Spaak trophy, with another squadron ranking second. On April 17, 1964 the BOC is operational and controls the squadrons of the two wings while waiting for the installation of that of 9 WETSA. The General Staff of 13 WETSA moved to the Bodart district, and on September 1, 13 WETSA was renamed 13 Wing Missiles (13 W MSL). 1966 proved to be another prosperous year for the 13 W MSL, the wing being considered the best unit evaluated by the 2 ATAF tactical evaluation team. In addition to this result, let's add to the prize list the acquisition of the Stikker trophy rewarding the best result of a Nike wing from Central Europe. In 1967 the 13 W MSL did it again and won this trophy for the second time. On August 19, 1968, after more than a year of procrastination, the HIPAR infrastructure work finally began in Niddegen. They will last over a year and will be followed by the Wing Ops expansion of 13 W MSL. The third quarter of 1973 the units of the 13 W MSL will be after the modification of the operations center of the Wing Ops completely integrated into the NADGE system. The equipment of the 13 W MSL will still undergo modifications between 1975 and 1981. In 1982 the commander of the 13 W MSL becomes the Commander of the Place of Düren. This function had been exercised by the commander of W S MSL after the departure of the Land Force. The year 1983 will be marked by an increased awareness on the part of the whole framework of the current problems of the time: importance of the pacifist movements, the electronic magnetic pulse, etc... 1983 see also the installation of the General Staff of 13 W MSL in the Handzaeme district of Düren. On June 30, 1985, 13 W MSL was disbanded. On July 1, it took the name of 13 Operations Group and included two squadrons (50 and 51) and a Wing Ops. In 1988 the 13 Operations Group prepared the reintegration of its personnel into the various units through an intensive program of information visits to the units of the Air Force in Belgium. The squadrons are also training for their last shooting period in Crete. On August 3, 1988, the 43rd US Arty Det finally took leave of the 13th Operations Group. In September the 13th Operations Group undergoes its last tactical evaluation (TACEVAL). The latter is also one of the best and the praise for the staff and their motivation a few months before its dissolution is not lacking. The year 1989 saw the disappearance of the 51 Squadron. The premises begin to empty, and the staff increasingly restricted. On May 12, 1990 a great farewell ball brought together in Kreuzau all those who during their career passed through the 13th. The last parade of arms took place on June 21 and the group left the role of air defense on June 30 at midnight . The dismantling of the group's equipment begins at the beginning of July while the staff take advantage of the months of vacation to move. The operations group was definitively dissolved on October 30, 1990.