354th Fighter Wing


354th Fighter Wing

Infobox Military Unit
unit_name= 354th Fighter Wing


caption= 354th Fighter Wing Insignia
dates= November 15, 1942
country= United States
allegiance=
branch= United States Air Force
type=
role= Fighter
size=
command_structure= Pacific Air Forces
current_commander= Brigadier General Mark Graper
garrison= Eielson Air Force Base
ceremonial_chief=
colonel_of_the_regiment=
nickname=
patron=
motto= Valor in Combat
colors=
march=
mascot=
battles=


* World War II Victory Medal
European Campaign (1943-1945)
* Vietnam Service (1972-1973)
* Southwest Asia Service (1990-1991)
* Afghanistan Campaign (2002-Pres)
decorations=


* Distinguished Unit Citation (ETO)
* Presidential Unit Citation
* Air Force Outstanding Unit Award
* French Croix de Guerre with Palm
* Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation
battle_honours=
notable_commanders= Ronald Keys
anniversaries=
command structure
name=354th Fighter Wing
date=August 20, 1993-present
parent=11th Air Force
subordinate=354th Operations Group
354th Maintenance Group
354th Mission Support Group
354th Medical Group

The 354th Fighter Wing is the host wing at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, and is assigned to the 11th Air Force.

Overview

The wing replaced the 343d Fighter Wing on 20 August 1993 as part of a service-wide effort to preserve the lineage of the Air Force’s most honored wings. Prior to its inactivation, the 343d was the oldest surviving air combat unit in Alaska, with a lineage dating back to the Aleutian Campaign.

The 18th Fighter Squadron, whose history also dated back to World War II, remained active, but the 355th Fighter Squadron replaced the 11th TASS.

Also changing names were the 3rd Fighter Training Squadron, which became the 353rd Fighter Squadron (later Combat Training Squadron). The 353rd FS and 355th FS had long associations with the new host unit.

All 354th Fighter Wing Aircraft carry the tail code "AK". 18th FS F-16s carry a blue tail stripe, while 355th FS A-10s carry a black tail stripe.

Prior to its move to Alaska, the 354th FW was based for more than 35 years at Myrtle Beach Air Force Base, South Carolina.

ubordinate units

354th Operations Group

The 354th Operations Group directs operations, training, and standardization of F-16CG and A/OA-10 weapons systems providing day-night combat ready forces for worldwide deployment conducting air-to-air and air-to-ground missions. Provides training and support for expeditionary combat employment of wing assigned aircraft across a full spectrum of aerospace operations. Functions as primary liaison between the FAA, Army, and Air Force on all airpower applications.

The 354th Operations Support Squadron trains for and supports worldwide expeditionary combat employment for wing assigned F-16CG and A/OA-10 aircraft. Support includes airspace and flying hour programming, life support, operations training, weapons and tactics, intelligence, operations plans, and theater battle management systems. Responsible for local air traffic control, weather service, and airfield management.

The 18th Aggressor Squadron is a combat-ready fighter squadron that equips and trains for worldwide deployment and combat employment of 18 F-16CG aircraft in support of JCS Operations Plans and contingency taskings. Prepares for expeditionary employment in day/night air interdiction, close air support, forward air control, counter-air, and combat search and rescue roles primarily using precision-guided munitions.

The 355th Fighter Squadron is a combat-ready fighter squadron that equips and trains for deployment and combat employment of 18 A/OA-10 aircraft in support of JCS Operations Plans and contingency taskings. Prepares for worldwide expeditionary employment in day/night close air support, forward air control, air interdiction, and combat search and rescue missions. Provides six pilots to serve as air-to-ground liaison officers, controlling and employing conventional munitions in the Joint Air-Land-Battle.

The 3d Air Support Operations Squadron supports the 172d Stryker Brigade Combat Team (172 SBCT), four subordinate battalions, and a separate Airborne Task Force. Functions as the primary liaison between Army and Air Force on all tactical air power applications. Advises and assists ground commanders. Coordinates and controls close air support (CAS), theater airlift, and reconnaissance. Operates the airfield weather station and provides combat weather support.

The 353d Combat Training Squadron is responsible for the Pacific-Alaska Range Complex and orchestration of joint and combined major force exercises. A one time subordinate of the 11th Air Force it is, as of October 2006, a part of the 354th Operations Group, based at Eielson AFB, Alaska.

354th Maintenance Group

The "354th Maintenance Group" provides aircraft and munitions maintenance support to the 354th Fighter Wing’s F-16 and A-10 aircraft as well as Red Flag - Alaska, transient and special mission aircraft operating at Eielson AFB. Aircraft maintenance in Alaskan temperatures ranging from 90 degrees in the summer to –60 degrees in the winter can be demanding, but no matter what conditions prevail in this beautiful land of extremes the men and women of the Maintenance Group “keep ‘em flying.” The 354th Maintenance Group staff includes command, quality assurance, information management, engineering technical services and weapons training functions. In addition, three squadrons are assigned under the group:

The "354th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron" provides aircraft sortie production and weapons loading support for the Wing’s F-16 and A-10 aircraft. In addition to a command staff, the Aircraft Maintenance Squadron has two Aircraft Maintenance Units aligned with each of the Wing’s Fighter Squadrons. The 18th Aircraft Maintenance Unit supports the 18th Fighter Squadron’s F-16 aircraft while the 355th Aircraft Maintenance Unit supports the 355th Fighter Squadron’s A-10 aircraft. In each of these Aircraft Maintenance Units are the aircraft crew chiefs, system specialists, weapons loaders, maintenance schedulers, support personnel and production leaders who are tasked to deploy and generate aerospace power anytime and anywhere. The "354th Maintenance Squadron" provides heavy aircraft maintenance and munitions support for the Wing’s F-16 and A-10. In addition, the squadron provides aircraft maintenance and munitions support to Cope Thunder, transient, and special mission aircraft operating at Eielson AFB. In this squadron are the command staff, avionics, propulsion, accessory maintenance, armament, fabrication, aerospace ground equipment, munitions maintenance and support personnel who are also tasked to deploy and support aerospace power anytime and anywhere.

The "354th Maintenance Operations Squadron" is responsible for all of the group's maintenance training, aircraft engine data management, maintenance operations as well as maintenance plans and programs. The squadron also provides administrative support for the group staff functions and is also tasked to deploy and support aerospace power anytime and anywhere.

354th Mission Support Group

The 354th Mission Support Group supports the 354th Fighter Wing by providing combat-ready forces, equipment, and essential services while sustaining base infrastructure and providing programs to improve quality of life for the Eielson community. From family services to construction and security, the 354th Mission Support Group keeps the physical installation and its personnel performing at peak efficiency, despite the challenging Arctic weather conditions presented by interior Alaska. The group also provides a comfortable home for Eielson's associate units.

Eielson operates much like any town and boasts a population of nearly 10,000 people. A big part of the 354th mission is to provide all the services and facilities necessary to make Eielson safe, comfortable, and pleasant for the Iceman Team.Skilled craftsmen operate a coal-fired heat and power plant, water plant and wastewater treatment facility, making this installation entirely self-sufficient. Security Forces and Fire Department personnel provide a safe environment for our families.

The 354th Mission Support Group manages and maintains over 1,500 military housing units and over 400 dormitory rooms. Other activities such as the dining facility, fitness center, library, skills centers, child development center and clubs are vital to the health and morale of everyone who calls Eielson "home." Logistics Readiness packs, crates, and ships aircraft parts, household goods, freight, and personal automobiles. It manages and maintains the entire base vehicle fleet, including the repair and upkeep of mission essential snow removal equipment. Additionally, it provides all transportation support to Clear Air Force Station, to Red Flag - Alaska personnel, and to the Arctic Survival School. Logistics Readiness also provides fuel, supplies and mobility support to accomplish mission requirements. In addition, manages the war reserve/mobility readiness spares packages and base mobility bags, issues cold weather clothing to all military personnel, and provides aircraft equipment/spares for Red Flag - Alaska exercises. Contracting leads market research; provides business advice and acquisition planning for solicitation, executes award, and performs contract administration; and ensures performance management for all installation acquisition requirements relating to the alteration, repair and maintenance to existing facilities, architect-engineering design requirements, and brand new construction.The squadrons assigned to the 354th Mission Support Group include the 354th Civil Engineer Squadron, 354th Communications Squadron, 354th Contracting Squadron, 354th Logistics Readiness Squadron, 354th Mission Support Squadron, 354th Security Forces Squadron, and 354th Services Squadron.

354th Mission Support Group Units
* 354th Civil Engineer Squadron
* 354th Communications Squadron
* 354th Contracting Squadron
* 354th Logistics Readiness Squadron
* 354th Mission Support Squadron
* 354th Security Forces Squadron
* 354th Services Squadron

354th Medical Group

area. In addition, its dental clinic provides care for all active-duty military members.

The medical clinic operates two primary care panels; one staffed by the primary care clinic and the other by the flight surgeons office. In addition, specialty clinics are available for pediatrics, optometry, physical therapy, immunizations, and life skills support. Pharmacy, laboratory and x-ray services are located in the clinic.

Bassett Army Community Hospital (BACH) on Fort Wainwright serves as the Eielson clinic's referral source for some specialty and inpatient care. Fairbanks Memorial Hospital, located twenty miles north of Eielson AFB, is a Level-II trauma center and is utilized as a local referral source for procedures beyond our scope of care. Other specialty services are available by referral to the 3d Medical Group at Elmendorf AFB in Anchorage, Alaska, Madigan Army Medical Center at Fort Lewis, Washington, or civilian care in the Anchorage area as needed. Dental services available for active-duty members include the full spectrum of general dentistry care, including endodontics, oral surgery, periodontics, and prosthetics. The dental staff also provides educational services to base schools and assists other organizations with dental disease prevention programs. Dental care for dependents is provided through the United Concordia Dental Plan.

354th Medical Group Units
* 354th Dental Squadron
* 354th Medical Operations Squadron
* 354th Medical Support Squadron

History

Lineage

* 354th Fighter Group (November 1942 - March 1946)
* 354th Fighter-Day Wing (November 1956 - July 1958)*
* 354th Tactical Fighter Wing (July 1958 - October 1991)
* 354th Fighter Wing (October 1991 - March 1993, August 1993 - Present)

Notes:

.* Wing bestowed honors, lineage and history of World War II 354th Fighter Group on 19 November 1956.

.** The 354th Fighter Group was redesignated as the 117th Fighter Group and allotted to the Alabama Air National Guard on 24 May 1946. The redesignation and the allotment were, however, revoked and nullified on 26 September 1956. At the same time the 117th group was constituted and allotted to ANG, effective 24 May 1946. Thus the 117th group is not related in any way to the 354th group.

Stations assigned

United States Army Air Forces
* Hamilton AAfld, California (November 1942 - January 1943)
* Tonapah, Nevada, (January - March 1943)
* Santa Rosa AAfld, California (March - June 1943)
* Portland AAB, Oregon (June - October 1943)
* RAF Greenham Common, England (November 1943)
* RAF Boxted, England (November 1943 - April 1944)
* RAF Lashenden, England, (April - June 1944)
* Various ALGs, France & Germany (June 1944 - May 1945)
* Herzogenaurach, Germany, (May 1945 - February 1946)
* Bolling Field, Washington, D.C., (February - March 1946)
United States Air Force
* Myrtle Beach AFB, South Carolina (November 1956 - July 1968)
* Kunsan AB, South Korea, (July 1968 - June 1970)
* Myrtle Beach AFB, South Carolina (June 1970 - March 1993)
* Eielson AFB, Alaska (August 1993 - Present)

Major aircraft flown

* P-39 Airacobra (1943)
* P-51 Mustang (1943-1944, 1945-1946)
* P-47 Thunderbolt (1944-1945)
* F-100 Super Sabre (1957-1969)
* F-4 Phantom II (1969-1970)
* A-7 Corsair II (1970 - 1978)
* A-10 Thunderbolt II (1977-2007)
* F-16 Fighting Falcon (1993 - present)

Operational history

World War II



thumb|353d Fighter Group North American P-51B-1-NA Mustang43-12457The 354th Fighter Group was constituted on 12 November 1942 and activated on 15 November. Trained with Bell P-39 Airacobras and served as part of the Western Air Defense Force. Operational squadrons of the group were the 353d (FT), 355th (GQ) and 356th (AJ) Fighter Squadrons.

On 4 November 1943 the group arrived from Portland AAF, Oregon and they were informed they were to fly the North American P-51B Mustang. This was a change of equipment for the group. The Mustang was a far more capable aircraft, with excellent performance that was required to escort the heavy bomb groups of the Eighth Air Force.

The 354th FG stayed at Greenham Common for only a few days, being transferred to RAF Boxted in Essex on 13 November.

At Boxted, the 354th provided long-range escort for US heavy bombers and received a Distinguished Unit Citation for its activities up to mid-May 1944 during which the 354th was instrumental in the development of the P-51 for use in long-range missions to escort heavy bombers on raids deep into enemy territory. As a result, priority for the Mustang was shifted from the Ninth to the Eighth Air Force, which converted 14 of its 15 fighter groups to the P-51. The 354th also gained the distinction of destroying more enemy aircraft in aerial combat than any other USAAF fighter group (701).

During that same period Colonel James H. Howard won the Medal of Honor for his single-handed efforts to defend a bomber formation that was attacked by a large force of enemy planes while on a mission to Oschersleben, Germany on 11 January 1944. Colonel Howard attacked a formation of thirty German aircraft. Pressing home the attack for more than thirty minutes he destroyed three aircraft and. even when he was low on fuel and his ammunition was exhausted, he continued his aggressive tactics to protect the bombers.

In mid-April 1944, the 354th flew south to RAF Lashenden in Kent prior to moving to the Continent after the invasion of Normandy.

Although assigned to Ninth Air Force, the 354th was under the operational control of the Eighth Fighter Command and many misisons flown by the by the 354th in April and May were long-range escorts of Eighth Air Force heavy B-17 and B-24 bombers. It was on these occasions that the group displayed its expertise in air fighting.

On 25 April on an escort to Mannheim. the group returned to Lashenden with claims of 18 destroyed, five probably destroyed and 31 damaged. all for the loss of two Mustangs. On 11 May, claims of 11 Luftwaffe aircraft destroyed on another long-range escort included the 354th's 100th victory. Yet another high score resulted from an air battle near Magdeburg an 28 May when 19½ enemy aircraft were credited as shot down.

An increasing number of dive-bombing missions were flown during the weeks prior to the invasion, each Mustang carrying two 250 or 500 pound bombs on wing racks, the targets being frequently rail installations.

When D-Day arrived, the 354th's pilots were disappointed to he kept on the ground until 21:00 hours, when they took off to escort Douglas C-47 Skytrains towing gliders for a landing on the Cotentin Peninsula near Cherbourg. Following the invasion. the group's Mustangs found their primary task was to be patrols over the battlefield areas. These were often uneventful as far as contact with enemy aircraft was concerned.

The 354th group headquarters had learned that they would probably be one of the first Ninth Air Force flying units to move to one of the advanced landing strips being prepared in the Normandy bridgehead, and the advance party left Lashenden for Criqueville, France (ALG A-2) on 13 June. The main party moved on 17 June, although the group's P-51s continued to return to Lashenden throughout the following week.

During its stay at Lashenden, the 354th lost 23 aircraft but was credited with destroying 68 of the enemy. The group's operations from France assisted the Allied drive across France by flying close-support, armed-reconnaissance, fighter-sweep, dive-bombing, strafing, and escort missions.

The 354th Fighter Group received a Distinguished Unit Citation for a series of fighter sweeps in which the group destroyed a large number of enemy aircraft in the air and on the ground on 25 August. The unit flew missions to support the airborne attack on Holland in September, and it attacked and destroyed many enemy barges, locomotives, vehicles, buildings, and troops to assist the Allied assault on the Siegfried Line.

The group participated in the Battle of the Bulge by supporting ground forces and by conducting armed reconnaissance operations to destroy enemy troops, tank artillery, and rail lines. Assisted ground forces in their advance to and across the Rhine and was based at Herzogenaurach, Germany (ALG R-29) when V-E Day arrived.

After hostilities ended, the 354th Fighter Group served with United States Air Forces in Europe army of occupation until February 1946, being returned to the United States and inactivated on 31 March 1946.

Cold War

On 19 November, 1956 the Air Force redesignated the 342d Fighter Day Wing at Myrtle Beach AFB, South Carolina as the 354th Fighter-Day Wing. The 342d Fighter-Day Group's fighter squadrons were redesignated the 353d, 355th and the 356th Fighter-Day Squadrons. The non-flying support elements of the wing were consolidated into the 354th Air Base Group. The total manpower force of the 354th FDW at the time of its activation was 84 Officers, 3 Warrant Officers and 911 enlisted men. The history, battle honors and colors earned during World War II by the [http://www.354th.com 354th Fighter Group] were bestowed on the new Fighter Wing and subordinate groups and squadrons.

On activation, the 354th had several RF-80s and one B-26 Invader aircraft for training. On 15 March 1957, F-100D/F "Super Sabre" fighters were transferred to Myrtle Beach AFB from the 31st Fighter-Bomber Wing at Turner AFB, GA. Squadron identification of the 354th's F-100 aircraft could be determined by the tail color of the aircraft. The 353d was red, 355th blue and the 356th was green.

25 September 1957, a fourth fighter squadron, the 352 FDS was activated with the 354th FDW from F-100 aircraft drawn from the three existing squadrons. Aircraft of the 352d had yellow tails.

On 8 July 1958, the 354 FDW the wing’s name changed to the 354th Tactical Fighter Wing as part of a worldwide USAF naming reorganization. On 1 October 1962 the 354th Air Base Group support element was renamed the 354th Combat Support Group.

The 354th was committed to NATO, and deployed often to Europe with its F-100s. After the Lebanon Crisis, starting in July 1958, Tactical Air Command began a rotation of combat squadrons to Incirlik AB, Turkey and Aviano AB, Italy in support of NATO alert commitments and Air Force weapons training deployments to the nearby Maniago Range.

On 15 July 1958, the 355 TFS made the first deployment of the 354 TFW to Europe, deploying F-100D's to Aviano AB, Italy for 100 days. The 352 TFS deployed the next day (16 July), to stand by during a presidential overthrow in Lebanon.

On 4 September 1961 eighteen F-100 jets from Myrtle Beach were deployed to Hahn Air Base West Germany during the crisis over construction of the Berlin Wall.

NATO deployments were made by all four squadrons on a rotating basis until 1965. A deployment was also made by the 354 TFW to Elmendorf AFB, Alaska during Feb-Mar 1963.

During the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962, elements of all four fighter squadrons were deployed to McCoy AFB, FL. The 353d deployed on 8 October, the 352d, 355th and 356th deployed on 21 October. After the crisis ended, the 352d, 355th and 356th returned to Myrtle Beach on 1 December, the 353d remaining at McCoy until 20 January 1963.

During the Dominican Republic Crisis of April/May 1965, the 354th deployed the 353 TFS and more than 400 people and 18 F-100s to Ramey AFB, Puerto Rico, and San Isidro AB, Dominican Republic on 2 May. The squadron returned on 28 May.

Vietnam War

The Vietnam War drained the 354 TFW at Myrtle Beach, starting in 1965 with its flying squadrons and support personnel being deployed for several years to Spain, Japan, South Korea and South Vietnam. The 354th's first assignments to Vietnam started in July 1965 with the deployment of a sentry dog unit.

This practice of stripping away squadrons and aircraft from their home units and attaching them indefinitely to another wing was a common practice during the 1960s as squadrons (and replacement aircraft) were deployed to support Vietnam.

* The 356th Tactical Fighter Squadron was deployed to Misawa AB, Japan on 16 March 1965. At Misawa, it was attached to the 39th Air Division, whose mission was to support Misawa, Taegu AB and Kusan AB in South Korea which all had just been reactivated.

* The 353d Tactical Fighter Squadron was deployed and permanently reassigned to the 401st Tactical Fighter Wing at Torrejon Air Force Base, Spain on 27 April 1966.

* The 352d Tactical Fighter Squadron was deployed and permanently reassigned to the 366th Tactical Fighter Wing at Phan Rang Air Base, South Vietnam on 15 August 1966.

* On 3 February 1968 the 355th Tactical Fighter Squadron was deployed to support the 37th Tactical Fighter Wing at Phu Cat Air Base, South Vietnam on 3 February 1968.

Aftr having its fighter squadrons stripped away, the 354 TFW was reassigned on 1 July 1968 to Kunsan Air Base, South Korea. The 354th relieved the temporarily deployed 4th Tactical Fighter Wing.

At Kusan, the 354 TFW was a composite wing, consisting of the following operational fighter squadrons on rotating temporary duty deployments:

Squadron Assigned DatesWingHome Base/Aircraft TypeTail Code
127 TFS5 July 1968-10 June 1969184 TFWKansas ANG F-100CBO
166 TFS5 July 1968-10 June 1969121 TFWOhio ANG F-100CBP
68 TFS20 June-9 December 19694531 TFWHomestead AFB F-4EZG
560 TFS23 June-17 December 19694531 TFWHomestead AFB F-4EZF
335 TFS8 December 1969-23 May 19704 TFWSeymour Johnson AFB F-4ESB
334 TFS16 December 1969-31 May 19704 TFWSeymour Johnson AFB F-4ESA
478 TFS21 May-14 June 1970474 TFWTakhli RTAFB F-4EZE
l6 TFS29 May-14 June 197033 TFWEglin AFB F-4EED

Initially at Kusan, the 354th supported two F-100C Air National Guard fighter squadrons which were deployed to replace the Regular Air Force units that had been rushed there as a response to the Pueblo Crisis. The 354th Combat Support Group at Kusan consisted primarily of ANG and Air Force Reservists from other units, with these personnel being assigned to the headquarters, support, supply and maintenance squadrons.

In some respects, the Air Guardsmen in South Korea had much more difficult assignments than their counterparts in South Vietnam. With the exception of personnel in the two fighter squadrons, most Air Guardsmen in South Korea were individuals who had been transferred from their original units after mobilization and reassigned to new organizations. This wholesale violation of unit integrity had a severe impact on morale and required time-consuming reorganization.

Ironically, the ANG personnel assigned to the 354th at Kusan had to rebuild the support service units that had been stripped from them in the United States after their mobilization. This caused many public complaints by disgruntled Air Guardsmen. Although these problems were gradually resolved, many Air Guardsmen believed that they could have been avoided if their original units had deployed overseas intact.

The performance of the ANG units at Kusan in 1968-69 suggested the prerequisites of effective air reserve programs and paved the way for adoption of the total force policy in 1970 which exists today.

On 10 June 1968, the ANG squadrons returned to the United States after the men of the Pueblo were released, and for 10 days in South Korea the 354 TFW was again without tactical components.

The experience of the F-100's in Korea showed the Air Force that the F-100C was not a good air defense aircraft. The F-100s were aging and clearly unsuited to the most pressing operational responsibilities in the event of an attack by the North Koreans. In addition, the F-100's were slow in attaining altitude and lacked an affective all-weather, air-to-air combat capability, essential in Korea. Consequently, the 354th transitioned from the F-100s of the ANG to F-4E Phantoms deploying from CONUS-based Regular USAF units.

On April 15 1969, a Navy EC-121 reconnaissance plane was shot down by North Koreans about 90 miles southeast of the North Korean port of Chongjin. U.S. radar tracked two NKAF MiGs before the aircraft was shot down. They attempted to warn the aircraft, but the MiGs caught up with the slow-flying aircraft. All of its 31 crew members were killed. The bodies of only two crew members were recovered. Error was blamed on a North Korean ground-to-air controller's command and control error to the pilot. As a result of the heightened tensions, on 23 April the 421 Tactical Fighter Squadron was established at Kusan and attached to the 354 TFW. F-4Es from Eglin AFB were deployed to Kusan and assigned to the 421st, with support personnel from the 4th TFS - deployed from Eglin to Da Nang Air Base South Vietnam were sent TDY to Kusan to support the 421st.

At the end of tensions on 26 June 1969, the 421 TFS was deactivated at Kusan, with the aircraft being sent to Da Nang as replacements along with the TDY personnel.

On 14 June 1970, the 354 TFW at Kusan was deactivated with the new 54th Tactical Fighter Wing being activated in place. The 16th and 478th TFSs were transferred and attached to the 54th.

Activated as A-7 Corsair wing

The 354th Tactical Fighter Wing was re-activated and transferred (without personnel or equipment) to Myrtle Beach AFB, SC on 15 June 1970, absorbing the resources of the 4554th TFW at Myrtle Beach AFB, SC. The 354 TFW was charged with combat crew training in T-33s and with becoming proficient in A-7D aircraft, with the first aircraft arriving in November 1970

On 1 November 1970, the 355 TFS was reactivated and was reassigned to the 354 TFW, being the first Myrtle Beach squadron to be equipped with A-7D's.

The 4456th Tactical Figher Squadron was activated as placeholder unit on 15 January 1971 to receive new A-7D aircraft. On 15 May 1971, the 356 TFS returned from Misawa AB Japan, and was reassigned to the 354 TFW, absorbing the assets of the 4556th TFS which was deactivated.

On 15 July 1971, the 353 TFS returned from Torrejon AB, Spain, and was reassigned to the 354 TFW, receiving its complement of A-7D's. The 511th TFS was inactivated and redesignated the 354th TFS at Davis-Monthan AFB, Arizona as part of the 355th TFW's reactivation.

Initially, separate tail codes were assigned to the various squadrons of the wing. These were: 353 TFS "MN", 355 TFS "MR" and 356 TFS "MB". In 1972, the squadron tail codes were abolished and all 354 TFW standardized on "MB" for Myrtle Beach AFB. Squadrons were identified by a painted color stripe on the tail of the aircraft, red for the 353d, blue for the 355th and green for the 356th.

On 15 May 1972 the 4554th Tactical Fighter Replacement Squadron was activated as a training squadron. The T-33's and T-29 were assigned for this mission. The 4554th was inactivated on 15 October 1975 and its aircraft sent to the Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Center.

However, the 354 TFW did not remain long at Myrtle Beach AFB. In September 1972 the wing split into rear and advance echelons. The 353 and 355 TFSs deployed 72 A-7D's to Korat Royal Thai AFB, Thailand, while the 356 TFS remained at Myrtle Beach. This was the first combat deployment of the A-7D into Southeast Asia. This operation was known as Constant Guard VI.

The 354 TFW (Deployed) commenced combat operations from Korat on 16 October 1972. In addition to the deployment to Korat, a small number of personnel from the 354th were deployed to Bien Hoa Air Base South Vietnam where they performed turnaround service on A-7Ds through 11 February 1973.

From Korat, the 354th interdicted lines of communications to halt the flow of North Vietnamese supplies to enemy units in South Vietnam, provided close air support to ground troops, and escorted surface ship convoys up the Mekong River to Phnom Penh, Cambodia. In November 1972, the 354th took over the Combat Search and Rescue role formerly assigned to the A-1 "Sandy" aircraft, and during the Linebacker II campaign assisted in 22 rescues of downed airmen while simultaneously flying over 4,000 combat sorties. The wing earned the Presidential Unit Citation for its Vietnam war service from September 1972 through January 1973.

In March 1973, A-7D aircraft drawn from the deployed Myrtle Beach squadrons were formed into the 3d Tactical Fighter Squadron and permanently assigned to the host 388 TFW at Korat. The 3 TFS's A-7D's were tail coded "JH" and remained at Korat until the base's closure. In May 1975, former Myrlte Beach A-7D's were used in the SS Mayaguez operation, the last combat action of the United States in Southeast Asia.

In addition to its Myrtle Beach squadrons, the 354 TFW (D) had the following temporary squadrons attached while at Korat:


Squadron Assigned DatesWingHome Base/Aircraft Type
354 TFS14 January-5 July 1973355 TFWDavis-Monthan AFB, AZ / A-7D
74 TFS5 July-28 December 197323 TFWEngland AFB, LA / A-7D
358 TFS28 December 1973-15 May 1974355 TFWDavis-Monthan AFB, AZ / A-7D

The 354 TFW flew combat operations in Vietnam until mid-Jan 1973, in Laos until 22 February 1973, and in Cambodia until 15 August 1973.

The last shot fired in anger by United States military forces in Southeast Asia was fired by an A-7D of the deployed 353 TFS assigned to Korat RTAFB on 15 August 1973. In October the wing rotated personnel at Korat once again, but with the establishment of the 3 TFS in Thailand and the end of American combat in Southeast Asia, the mission of the 354th was ended. Some additional aircraft and equipment were transferred to the 388 TFW, and on 23 May 1974 the wing returned from Thailand and was recombined at Myrtle Beach AFB.

Post-Vietnam Era

On 1 February 1974, the 354th began a 15-month deployment to Howard AFB in the Panama Canal Zone to support operation "Coronet Cove". This entailed rotating a contingent of aircraft, aircrews and maintenance technicians to Panama on 45-day cycles to provide close air support for US Army training exercises for the air defense of the Panama Canal.

In April 1974, A-7D's were deployed from Myrtle Beach to Barbers Point NAS, Hawaii for exercises with Army and Marine units. Also T-33A aircraft were deployed to McConnell AFB, Kansas, to support the USAF Tactical Air Weapons Center's comparative flight evaluation of the A-7D and the A-10A aircraft.

354th TFW A-7D's To ANG Units
StateUnitLocation
Colorado140 TFW/120 TFSBuckley ANGB
Iowa132 TFW/174 TFSDes Moines IAP
Michigan127 TFW/107 TFSSelfridge ANGB
Ohio121 TFW/166 TFSRickenbacker ANGB
Oklahoma138 TFG/166 TFSTulsa IAP
Pennsylvania112 TFG/146 TFSGreater Pittsburgh IAP
South Carolina169 TFG/157 TFSMcEntire ANGB
South Dakota114 TFG/175 TFSSioux Falls IAP
Virginia192 TFG/149 TFSRichmond IAP/Byrd Field

A phaseout of the A-7D at Myrtle Beach AFB started in the summer of 1974, with the A-7D's being transferred to Air National Guard units. These transfers continued until 1978, when the last A-7D was sent to the South Carolina ANG. In addition, the T-33's and VT-29 of the deactivated 4554th were retired and sent to AMARC in 1976. The former Myrtle Beach A-7D's continued service in the Air National Guard until the late 1980s, with the last at Rickenbacker ANGB (Ohio), Des Moines (Iowa), Tulsa (Oklahoma) and Springfield (Ohio) being replaced by the F-16 by mid-1993. By the end of 1998, all were disposed of by AMARC.

On 22 March 1975 an agreement was made for joint civilian-military aviation activities at the base. Construction began of what is today known as Myrtle Beach International Airport on the northeast side of the runway on 19 July 1975. On 20 April 1977 an agreement between the City of Myrtle Beach and the United States Department of Defense was signed which incorporated the area of Myrtle Beach International Airport into the city.

The 354th converted to A-10A aircraft in 1977, with the 354th being the first operational A-10A wing in the USAF, achieving initial combat readiness with the Thunderbolt II during the summer of 1978.

With the A-10 aircraft, the 354th returned to its pre-Vietnam era North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) commitment, deploying aircraft and personnel to Europe supporting the COMET, CORONET and CRESTED CAP exercises. These deployments were designed to exercise CONUS based Air Force squadrons long range deployment capabilities and to familiarize the personnel with the European theatre of operations.


354th TFW NATO Deployments 1970s/1980s
Squadron Deployment DatesDeployed To StationExercise NameAircraft Type (Number)
356 TFSAugust - September 1976Lechfeld FRG [http://www.sharpshooter-maj.com/Images/twtd04/1976/70004.jpgCoronet REDCOAT] A-7D (18)
355 TFSJan - February 1979Nordholz FRGCoronet HOOFA-10A (18)
353 TFSSeptember 1980Leck FRG [http://www.sharpshooter-maj.com/Images/twtd04/1980/760541.jpgCoronet MACH] A-10A (12)
354 TFWOctober 1981Hohn FRGCoronet FRONTIERA-10A (8)
353 TFSOctober - November 1981Nordholz FRGCoronet BOOTA-10A (12)
353 TFSAugust - September 1982Leck FRGCrested CapA-10A (12)
355 TFSAugust - September 1984Nordholz FRGCrested STEELERA-10A (12)
353 TFSJuly - August 1985RAF Woodbridge UKCrested CometA-10A (12)
355 TFSApril - May 1987RAF Bentwaters UKCornet DELTAA-10A (12)
353 TFSJune - July 1989RAF Bentwaters UK [http://www.sharpshooter-maj.com/Images/twtd04/1989/790126.jpgCornet PYTHON] A-10A (12)
356 TFSAugust - September 1989RAF Bentwaters UK [http://www.sharpshooter-maj.com/Images/twtd04/1989/790098.jpgCornet VENOM] A-10A (12)
355 TFSApril - May 1990Verona - Villafranca IT [http://www.sharpshooter-maj.com/Images/twtd04/1990/800662.jpgCoronet Rodeo] A-10A (8)

During these NATO deployments, exercises with Army infantry and armored units were conducted to enhance the Close Air Support role in Europe.

Desert Shield/Storm

In 1980, the 354th was allocated to President Jimmy Carter's Rapid Deployment Force, formally known as the Rapid Deployment Joint Task Force (RDJTF). In 1983 the RDJTF became a separate unified command known as the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM), focusing on the Middle East.

Within CENTCOM, The 354th was assigned to the United States Central Command Air Forces (USCENTAF). Starting in 1985, the 354th's A-10 aircraft and personnel were deployed to Cairo West AB, Egypt for BRIGHT STAR exercises. BRIGHT STAR deployments also occurred in 1987 and 1989 from Myrtle Beach AFB.

With the outbreak of the Kuwait crisis in August 1990, Myrtle Beach AFB deployed the 353 and 355 TFS on 15 August 1990 to King Fahd International Airport, near Dammam, Saudi Arabia. At the time of the deployment, King Fhad was under construction. At King Fahd, the The 354 TFW (Provisional) was formed. The 354 TFW was one of the first USAF units deployed to the Persian Gulf for Operation Desert Shield.

During Operation Desert Storm, aircraft assigned to the 354th initially flew against early-warning radar and Scud missile sites, as well as search-and-rescue missions of downed coalition pilots. When the ground attack began in late February 1991, the 354th performed its ground support mission, inflicting heavy damage to Iraqi armor and artillery emplacements, as well as cutting off enemy supply lines.


The 354 TFW (P) consisted of 131 A/OA-10A aircraft from the following bases:

Tail CodeSquadronWingHome AFB
AR511 TFS10 TFWRAF Alconbury UK
EL74 TFS23 TFWEngland AFB LA
EL76 TFS23 TFWEngland AFB LA
MB353 TFS354 TFWMyrtle Beach AFB SC
MB355 TFS354 TFWMyrtle Beach AFB SC
NO706 TFS926 TFGNAS New Orleans LA
NF23 TASS602 TACWDavis - Monthan AFB AZ

The 354th returned home from the Gulf on 25 March 1991

On 1 October 1991, the 354 TFW was redesignated the 354th Fighter Wing with the inactivation of Tactical Air Command (TAC) and the wing's reassignment to the new Air Combat Command (ACC).

BRAC Deactivation/Reactivation

After the end of the Cold War, reductions in defense spending led to the military reducing the size of the armed forces, and the number of facilities both in the United States as well as overseas. In July 1991, the Base Realignment and Closure Commission recommended the closure of Myrtle Beach Air Force Base and that the Air Force redistribute all aircraft to modernize other Active and Reserve Component units.

The disposition of the A-10 aircraft was as follows:

* 31 March 1992 - 355th Fighter Squadron inactivated. Aircraft sent to 21 TFS / 353 TFW Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina.
* 30 June 1992 - 356th Fighter Squadron inactivated. Aircraft sent to existing A-10 Air National Guard units.
* 15 December 1992 - 353d Fighter Squadron inactivated. Aircraft sent to 75 FS / 23d Wing Pope Air Force Base, North Carolina.

The 354th Fighter Wing and all supporting groups and squadrons were deactivated on 31 March 1993. Myrtle Beach AFB was closed as scheduled, ending military control over the facility.

On 20 August 1993, the 354th Fighter Wing was re-established at Eieleson AFB, Alaska, with a new mission and organization. No personnel or equipment were affected by the change. This change was part of a service-wide effort to preserve the lineage of the Air Force’s most honored wings. The 353d and 355th Fighter Squadrons were also reactivated at Eieleson.

ee also

* Ninth Air Force
* Tactical Air Command
* Eleventh Air Force
* Alaskan Command
* Pacific Air Forces

References

* Ravenstein, Charles A., "Air Force Combat Wings Lineage and Honors Histories 1947-1977", Office of Air Force History, 1984
* Mueller, Robert, "Air Force Bases Volume I, Active Air Force Bases Within the United States of America on 17 September 1982", Office of Air Force History, 1989
* Endicott, Judy G., "USAF Active Flying, Space, and Missile Squadrons as of 1 October 1995". Office of Air Force History
* Maurer Maurer, "Air Force Combat Units Of World War II", Office of Air Force History, 1983
* Martin, Patrick, "Tail Code: The Complete History Of USAF Tactical Aircraft Tail Code Markings", 1994
* [http://home.att.net/~jbaugher/usafserials.html USAAS-USAAC-USAAF-USAF Aircraft Serial Numbers--1908 to present]

External links

* [http://www.eielson.af.mil 354th Fighter Wing] (official site)
* [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NL0zpKRdwU4&feature=related Heores of the 354th Fighter Group (Video)]
* [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=itMJlcOktMU Historic 354th Fighter Wing Reactivated (Video from 1956)]


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