561st Fighter Squadron

561st Fighter Squadron

The 561st Tactical Fighter Squadron was an F-4 Phantom II Wild Weasel fighter squadron, stationed at Nellis Air Force Base in Las Vegas, Nevada. It was deactivated in 1996, and was self-styled as "The Last Great Fighter Squadron".

Squadron History

Formation - 1950

The 561st Fighter Squadron was first activated at Gowen Field, Idaho on December 24, 1942, as the 561st Bombardment Squadron-Heavy, a training squadron for B-17 Flying Fortress crews destined for Europe during World War II. The unit was active in the organized reserve from June, 1947 to June, 1949, being stationed first at Orchard Place Airport in Park Ridge, Illinois, and later at Gen. Mitchell Field in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

1951 - 1960

In November 1953, the 561st Fighter-Bomber Squadron started flying F-86 Sabres at Clovis Air Force Base in New Mexico. The entire wing shipped to Europe during November, 1954. Never out of action, the crisis in the Suez Canal area and the takeover of Hungary in 1956 provided flying time for the crews of the 561st out of Fürstenfeldbruck Air Base in Germany.

After the squadron completed transition training and became combat ready in F-100 Super Sabres, it was deactivated on December 10, 1957.

Reactivation - 1980

The life of the 561st was resumed when the 23d Tactical Fighter Wing renumbered its squadrons to the 560th, 561st, 562d, and 563d Tactical Fighter Squadrons. "Wild Weasel" operations became the squadron’s primary mission in mid-1970, when the squadron exchanged its F-105B/D models for F-105/Gs. In April 1972, the 561st was deployed to Korat Royal Thai Air Force Base in Thailand. Throughout Linebacker I and Linebacker II, the 561st flew over 1,900 combat sorties accumulating nearly 6,000 combat hours. On July 1, 1973, the 561st moved to George Air Force Base and joined the 35th Tactical Fighter Wing. The 561st transitioned from the F-105/G when the base received its first shipment of the F-4G Advanced Wild Weasel in 1978.

1981 - 1996

In August, 1990, the Wild Weasels deployed to Sheikh Isa Air Base in Bahrain and during Operation Desert Storm flew over 2,400 sorties logging more than 8,000 combat hours. Deactivated at George AFB after the war, and reactivated at Nellis Air Force Base on February 1, 1993, the 561st soon deployed to Incirlik Air Base in support of Operation Provide Comfort and returned to Southwest Asia at Dhahran Air Force Base in Saudi Arabia, supporting Operation Southern Watch and Operation Vigilant Warrior. In 1994, the 561st became the largest fighter squadron in the United States Air Force. The 561st's presence over Iraq was continuous from just after the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. However, despite their mission over Iraq, the 561st was also employed as an "Aggressor" squadron during RED FLAG exercises. With the retirement of the F-4G Phantom II from the USAF on March 26, 1996, the 561st deactivated and the SEAD mission was assumed by F-16s in different squadrons.

See also

* Wild Weasel
* List of United States Air Force squadrons
* List of Wings of the United States Air Force

External links

* [http://www.airwarvietnam.com/561tfs.htm The 561st]
* [http://wildweasels.org/units/ Society of Wild Weasels]

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