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217th Engineering Installation Squadron

The 217th Engineering Installation Squadron became an active unit of the Air National Guard in November 1954 but its history goes back to 1942. Throughout its history and its many different affiliations, the 217th has been making outstanding contributions to the United States, Illinois and the Chicago community. Its "can do" attitude and tradition of "getting the job done" under any condition has won it several awards and recognition as a truly professional organization.

In early 1942, the 762nd Signal Platoon was activated at Duncan Field, Texas, and affiliated with the American Telephone and Telegraph Company (AT&T) Long Lines Department. This was the first known official organization, which later became the 217th. The 762nd, a part of the U.S. Army, was organized to support vital communication activity needed during WWII. Later, in July 1942, the unit's name was changed to the 80th Signal Company and transferred to Georgia.

April 1943 saw the unit redesignated as the 1080th Signal Company, and was then sent to England as apart of the U.S. Army Air Force's Eighth Air Force in the Eighth Bomber Command. It was in England that the 1080th distinguished itself during a period of combat, and was awarded the Meritorious Unit Commendation (red ribbon with gold border).

When WWII ended in 1945, the 1080th returned to the United States and was redesignated the 606th Signal Light Construction Company, Aviation and allotted to the National Guard. However, the unit was inactivated due to post-war demobilization.

In December 1948, the 606th was again organized on inactive status as cold war tensions began to build. And in November1950, the 606th began its long association with the Illinois Air National Guard, being assigned to the 126th Composite Wing.

The Korean War saw the 606th ordered to active duty, assigned to the 156th Aircraft Control and Warning Group. In 1952, the 606th was reorganized as the 606th Communications Construction Squadron, and in 1953 was relieved from active federal service and redesignated to the 217th Communications Construction Squadron. The unit was then inactivated since the Korean War had ended.

On 8 November 1954, the 217th was activated and assigned to the 126th Fighter Bomb Wing at Midway Airport in Chicago, since then, the 217th Engineering Installation Squadron moved from Midway Airport to O'Hare Airport in Chicago attached to the 126th Air Refueling Wing. On 31 July 1999, the 217th detached from the 126th ARW and is currently attached to the 183rd Fighter Wing located at Capital Airport in Springfield.

Since 1954, the unit has had several designations:

217th Communications Construction Squadron 8 Nov 54 - 30 Dec 58
217th Ground Electronics Engineering Installation Squadron 1 Jan 59 - 30 Apr 70
217th Electronics Installation Squadron 1 May 70 - 1 Nov 82
217th Engineering Installation Squadron 1 Nov 82 - Present