The unit began in 1942 as the 440th Bombardment Squadron, Light. This was a B-26 unit, working from North Africa , Sicily , Italy and France during the war in Europe . For precision bombing over Casino and Naples , it received a Presidential Unit Citation. With the end of the war in Europe , the 440th was transferred to Okinawa , where it took part in the bombardment of Japan .

In October of 1945, with the end of the war, the 440th was deactivated by the Army Air Force. The Squadron was then reorganized as the 117th Bombardment Squadron, Light, of the Pennsylvania Air National Guard, stationed at Philadelphia Municipal Airport . In April 1951, the 117th was called to active duty for the Korean War. It served as a training unit at Langley Air Force Base, Va. With the end of the war, the Squadron was returned to the Pennsylvania Air National Guard, and redesignated a Fighter Interceptor Squadron. Over the next few years, though, the 117th was unable to maintain the minimum required strength, (60% of authorized). Finally the decision was reached to remove the unit from the Pennsylvania quota, and add it to that of Kansas , which seemed to offer more hope.