174th Attack Wing Names Headquarters Building in Honor of Former Commander

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Duane Morgan
  • 174th Attack Wing
The 174th Attack Wing (ATKW) on Hancock Field dedicated the wing headquarters building in honor of the late Brig. Gen. Curtis J. Irwin during a ceremony Sunday, Oct. 4.
The headquarters building will now be called the Curtis J. Irwin Headquarters Building.

Irwin began his military service in August 1942 and entered pilot training the following year. After earning his wings, he commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Army Air Corps in May 1944. He served in the Pacific theatre of Operations as a P-47 Thunderbolt pilot. During that time, he was a part of the China offensive, Western Pacific, Air Offensive of Japan and the Ryukyus Islands campaigns. For his wartime service, Irwin received the Air Medal and Oak leaf Cluster and four battle stars.

Irwin was one of the original members responsible for the organization of the Air National Guard in Syracuse. He served as the Commander of the 174th Tactical Fighter Group at Hancock Field from 1958 to 1973 and again from 1975 to 1977. Between those times the 174th became the first unit to operate jet aircraft in the state of New York. The 174th was also recognized by the National Guard Bureau as the most combat-ready unit in the country.

When asked about Irwin, Col. Greg Semmel, 174th ATKW commander said that he felt that Irwin was a father figure of the unit and that he was always very interested in what was going on with not only the unit and the equipment but more importantly, what was happening with the airmen.

"He would do anything for the members of the 174th," said retired Brig. Gen. Paul Schempp. "He would be here for the members before and after every deployment, he just thought the world of them."

Attending the dedication ceremony were Irwin's three daughters Laurinda (Laurie) Irwin, Sheila Austin, and Lisette (Lisa) Damon.

"Sheila, Lisa and I are so just honored and proud of dad," said Laurie Irwin. "He was just doing his job and he loved every minute of it and he loved the unit so much."

After being promoted to Brigadier General and serving over 35 years of military service, Irwin retired in 1978.

He remained an active member in the community and stayed close to the members at the 174th Attack Wing.