There was a tradition in China , enduring over man centuries, which neither biographies nor histories were to be written in the lifetime of the subject. This principal had much to recommend it. There is little as embarrassing as writing an analysis of the character of a man or unit, only to be contradicted by the next day's headlines.

Nonetheless, it is impermissible to study something for half a year and not arrive at some sort of conclusion. As I write these lines, the unit is its 20th year of operation. In those 20 years, it has carried out a wide range of missions in Fighter-Interceptor, photoreconnaissance, tactical bombardment, and electronic warfare. It has never in those years been put to the ultimate test, combat performance. This, after all, is the ideal summarized to the world by the work "deterrence" - to be so strong, and so obviously strong, that one is never required to use that strength.

To say that the ultimate test has not yet come, though, is not to say that there have been no tests. Every year, the 117th/190th has been evaluated according to the standards of the finest Air Force in history, and has never failed to measure up. Disregarding ORI's, there have been practical tests as well; re-equipment and retraining for four missions as far removed from one another as is readily imaginable; movement without any active duty support, of the base of operations in a two-week period; and always the ultimate test: performance of the unit mission. Especially since the conversion to EB-57s, the 190th has been continually operating in support of the active duty air elements, and Army and Navy anti-aircraft forces, providing a "sparring partner" to show up weaknesses before they become fatal ones.

Its efficient performance of that mission, with high operational readiness rates and few accidents in aging aircraft is a reflection of the high standards maintained by every section of the unit.

It has also endured. The 117th left Pennsylvania because the unit could not find and keep enough men, even in a draft environment, to keep it functioning. By the time this history is published, the last of the men who volunteered under the threat of the draft will either have separated from the unit, or reenlisted voluntarily. Nonetheless, the 190th remains strong enough to perform the unit mission. For this accomplishment, credit is very widespread indeed. Every man who spoke highly of the 190th to his friends, every guardsman who served his fellows a good meal on a UTA, or saw to it that they weren't overwhelmed by paperwork, and above all, every guardsman who brought in a recruit, may claim some of the credit.