- 23d Wing
Infobox Military Unit
caption= 23d Wing Shield
U.S. Air Force
Close Air Support
48 A-10/OA-10 aircraft
current_commander=Colonel Henry Santicola
Moody Air Force Base, Georgia
Liberation and Defense of Kuwait
Defense of Saudi Arabia
Operation Enduring Freedom
Operation Iraqi Freedom
Claire L. Chennault
James V. Hartinger
Bruce K. Holloway
The 23d Wing is a front-line
United States Air Force Air Combat Commandwing currently assigned to Moody Air Force Base, Georgia.
The mission of the 23d Wing is to organize, train and employ combat-ready
A-10, HC-130and HH-60, as well as pararescuemen and force protection assets. It consists of approximately 6,100 military and civilian personnel, including geographically separated units (GSU) at Nellis AFB, Nevada, Davis-Monthan AFB, Arizona. The 23d Wing comprises the following operational groups:
23d Fighter Group(A/OA-10A)
347th Rescue Group(HH-60G, HC-130P)
563d Rescue Groupa GSU at Davis-Monthan AFB, Arizona
* 563d Rescue Group, Operating Location-Alpha, a GSU at
Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada
The 23d Fighter Wing was activated on
August 10, 1948at Northwest Guam AFB, Guamas part of the "Wing" or "Wing-Base" plan, which prescribed a standard organizational setup for all USAF bases worldwide. The plan called for the creation of a wing headquarters that established policy and supervised four functional groups: an operational group, an air base group, a maintenance and supply group, and a medical group. The 23d Fighter Groupwas assigned as the operational group under the new 23d Fighter Wing. The wing was assigned to Far East Air Forces.
The 23d's mission on Guam was to provide air defense of the island. The 23d Fighter Group was assigned the 74th, 75th and 76th Fighter Squadrons, being equipped with Republic F-47 Thunderbolts.
The 23d Fighter Wing was reassigned to
Howard Air Force Base, Canal Zone, in April 1949, where it also acquired a squadron of Lockheed RF-80 Shooting Stars. The 23d Fighter Wing conducted air defenseof the Canal Zone under the Caribbean Air Commanduntil it was again inactivated on September 24, 1949.
January 12, 1951, at Presque Isle Air Force Base, Maine, the group was re-designated the 23d Fighter-Interceptor Wing with the 74th and 75th Fighter-Interceptor Squadrons assigned, as part of the Air Defense Command. Equipped with North American F-86 Sabre, F-51 Mustang, and F-80 Shooting Star aircraft, its mission was to provide air defense for the northeastern United States during the Korean Warand conduct basic training for about 500 Air Force recruits. The 23 FIW was inactivated February 6, 1952along with the 23d Fighter Interceptor Group.
The "23d Fighter Wing (Air Defense)" was activated
August 18, 1955, at Presque Isle with the 75th and 76th Fighter Squadrons assigned directly to wing, since the 23 FG was not active. It flew Northrop F-89 Scorpions as part of the Air Defense Commanduntil again inactivated July 1, 1959.
23d Tactical Fighter Wing
McConnell Air Force Base
Following its longest period of inactivation, the group was re-activated as the 23d Tactical Fighter Wing on
January 28, 1964, at McConnell Air Force Base, Kansas, under Tactical Air Commandand Twelfth Air Force. The 23 TFW was activated to replace the 388th Tactical Fighter Wing at McConnell after its deployment to Korat RTAFB Thailand. Squadrons of the 23 TFW were:
* 561st Tactical Fighter Squadron
* 562d Tactical Fighter Squadron
* 563d Tactical Fighter Squadron
* 560th Tactical Fighter Squadron (28 Jan 64 - 25 Sep 68)
* 4519th Combat Crew/Tactical Fighter Training Squadron (1 Aug 67 - 16 Oct 69)
* 419th Tactical Fighter Training Squadron (15 Oct 69 - 8 May 71)
Squadron markings on the natural metal / silver lacquered aircraft included the following: 561 TFS - black/yellow checkerboarding on rudder; 562 TFS - a red, white and black "sharkmouth" on the nose of the aircraft; 563 TFS red and white stripes on the rudder, wingtips and stabilizers with a white band on the top of the vertical fin.
When Southeast Asian camouflaged, the squadrons carried the following tail codes: 561 TFS "MD"; 562 TFS "ME"; 563 TFS "MF", and later the 4519th and 419th TFTS "MG".
Flying the Republic Aviation F-105D/G "Thunderchief" aircraft, the mission of the 23 TFW at McConnell was to provide training for Thud pilots prior to their deployment to
Southeast Asia. The 560th acted as a combat training squadron, while the other three squadrons began rotational TDY deployments to Southeast Asia beginning in November 1964.
In February 1965, when the 23 TFW deployed three squadrons to Southeast Asia for combat, these units were initially under the control of the 2d Air Division. Later, the 6441 TFW (P) was activated at Takhli RTAFB in July 1965, taking control of the 23d's squadrons deployed there. In addition to the deployments to Thailand, detachments of the 561 TFS also deployed to
Da Nang Air BaseRVN for operations within the borders of the Republic of Vietnam.
1 August 1967, the 4519th Combat Crew Training squadron was added to the 23 TFW, and the 560 TFS was deactivated on 25 September 1968.
The wing maintained proficiency in tactical fighter operations, and later also functioned as an F-105 replacement training unit and assisted
Air National Guardunits in their conversion to the F-105 when the Thunderchief left first-line service. For the dual role it played from June 1970 to June 1971 as both an operational and a training unit, the wing received the Air Force Outstanding Unit Awardin March 1971. Two of its squadrons, the 562d and 563d, also received the same award for their duty in Vietnam during 1965.
During combat operations in Southeast Asia, the 562 TFS lost three aircraft, while the 563 TFS lost eleven aircraft.
1 July 1972the 23 TFW was transferred to England AFB Louisianaand the 561, 562 and 563 TFS were assigned to the 35 TFW at George AFB California.
England Air Force Base
The 23d Tactical Fighter Wing moved "on paper" without people or equipment to
England Air Force Base, Louisiana, July 1, 1972 and took over the assets and personnel of the 4403d Tactical Fighter Wing. Assigned to the Ninth Air Force, the wing activated all three of its original World War II fighter units — the 74th, 75th and 76th Tactical Fighter Squadrons for the first time since 1949, and began operations with the Ling-Temco-Vought A-7D Corsair IIaircraft.
Squadron markings were a blue tail stripe, later adding white stars and a "74" in 1979 for the 74 TFS; s white outlined black tail stripe, later changed to black and white checkered for the 75 TFS, and a red tail stripe with white stars and a "76" for the 76 TFS. All 23 TFW aircraft carried the "EL" tail code at England AFB.
5 July 1973, the 74 TFS deployed to Korat Royal Thai Air Force Base, Thailand, on temporary duty with the 354 TFW (Deployed) from Myrlte Beach AFB South Carolina. The 74th replaced the 354 TFS from Davis-Monthan AFB Arizonathat had completed its temporary duty. For just over a month, until the cessation of all U.S. bombing on 15 August 1973, the 74 TFS supported the air war activities in Cambodia, accounting for the destruction of 311 enemy structures, 25 ground artillery and missile sites, three bridges and 9,500 cubic meters of supplies. The 74 TFS returned to England AFB on 28 December 1973.
The 23 TFW took part in a variety of operational exercises both in the United States and overseas, including tactical bombing competitions against the
Royal Air Forceat Lossiemouth, Scotland, during October 1977 and July 1978. In both events, A-7D teams captured the Sir John Mogg Team Trophy.
23 September 1980, the 74 TFS received the 23 TFW's first operational Fairchild Republic A-10 Thunderbolt IIaircraft. The 75 and 76 TFS received A-10s within the next few months, and the 23 TFW took top honors in Ninth Air Force’s tactical bombing competition (Gunpowder 1981) in July, and advanced to TAC’s worldwide Gunsmoke 1981 competition at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, in September. The Flying Tigers won six of nine events, including top maintenance and munitions awards, and was the top A-10 unit in the competition. The wing’s maintenance complex was also awarded the 1981 Daedalian runner-up trophy, and earned the 1984 Daedalian Aircraft Maintenance Trophy.
Eight of the 23d's A-7Ds were transferred to the 4450th Tactical Group, based at
Nellis Air Force Base, Nevadain June 1981, during the transition to the A-10. The 4451st Tactical Squadron at Tonopah Test Range Airportused these aircraft to train F-117 pilots and to provide a cover story for F-117A development.
The wing set Air Force records for "mission capable" and "fully mission capable" (meaning an aircraft can meet any mission tasking) rates during fiscal year 1985. The marks, 93.1 percent in MC and 92.8 percent in FMC, topped records set by the wing in 1981, 1982, 1983 and 1984.
The wing won its fourth Air Force Outstanding Unit Award for the period
April 1, 1989, to March 31, 1991.
Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm
In response to the buildup of forces following the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in August 1990, the 74th and 76th Tactical Fighter Squadrons deployed with numerous support personnel to
King Fahd International Airport, Saudi Arabia, attached to the 354th Tactical Fighter Wing (Provisional) as part of Operation Desert Shield. The A-10 deployment was the largest ever fielded and consisted of: Tail Code Squadron Wing Home AFB AR 511 TFS 10 TFW RAF Alconbury, UK EL 74 TFS 23 TFW England AFB, LA EL 76 TFS 23 TFW England AFB, LA MB 353 TFS 354 TFW Myrtle Beach AFB, SC MB 355 TFS 354 TFW Myrtle Beach AFB, SC NO 706 TFS 926 TFG NAS New Orleans, LA NF 23 TASS 602 TACW Davis-Monthan AFB, AZ
A total of 144 A/OA-10 aircraft were deployed.Using forward operating locations near the
Kuwaitiborder as well as King Fahd AB, A-10s made their combat debut in Operation Desert Stormon January 15, 1991. The 23 TFW flew more than 2,700 combat sorties over Iraqand Kuwait while maintaining a mission-capable rate of 95 percent. In addition to providing close air support for ground units, the A-10s performed Combat Search and Rescue (CSAR) and SCUD-hunting missions. The combined efforts of the A-10 units resulted in the confirmed destruction of 987 tanks, 926 artillery pieces, 500 armored personnel carriers, 1,106 trucks, 112 military structures, 96 radars, 72 bunkers, 57 SCUD missile launchers, 50 anti-aircraft artillery batteries, 28 command posts, 11 FROG missiles, nine surface-to-air missile sites, eight fuel tanks and 12 aircraft.
Both squadrons returned to England Air Force Base at the end of March 1991. Support personnel continued to arrive for months after the aircraft redeployment. In October 1990, the
Base Realignment and ClosureCommission decided that England Air Force Base would be closed by September 1992. A draw down of equipment and personnel began almost immediately.
On October 1, 1991, as part of an Air Force-wide reorganization, the wing designation became 23d Fighter Wing, and on
November 1, 1991, the squadrons also dropped "tactical" from their designations.
2 December 1991, the 75th Fighter Squadron was inactivated. The 74 FS was inactivated on 13 February 1992, and the 76 FS on 29 May. The 23d Fighter Wing's A-10 aircraft were sent to Air National Guardunits, and the wing was inactivated on 1 June 1992. England AFB was closed the same day.
Pope Air Force Base
The collapse of the
Soviet Unionin 1991 and the end of Cold Wartensions led senior defense planners to conclude that the structure of the military establishment which had evolved during the Cold War years was not suited to the new world situation. Senior planners reviewed numerous options before agreeing on the final conclusion -- a merger of most strategic and tactical air resources and a reorganization of the Military Airlift Command (MAC). In addition, the number of Air Force wings was to be reduced by about one-third to reflect the financial constraints of the post Cold War environment.
These changes led to Pope Air Force Base being transferred to the new
Air Combat Commandupon its activation on 1 June 1992. Also, the existing 317th Airlift Wing at Pope was blended with the transferred 23d Fighter Group from the deactivated England AFB into the new 23d Wing on 1 June 1992.
In April 1992, A/OA-10 Thunderbolt II aircraft were transferred to the 75th Fighter Squadron from the 353d FS / 354th FW at Myrtle Beach AFB prior to the wing's deactivation and the bases closure in January 1993. In June 1993, Block 40 F-16C/Ds were transferred to the 74th Fighter Squadron from the 347th FW at Moody and 388th FW at Hill.
Operational squadrons of the 23d Wing at Pope were:
* 317th Group
2d Airlift Squadron(C-130E) ( 1 June 1992- 1 April 1997)
41st Airlift Squadron(C-130E) ( 16 July 1993- 1 April 1997)
* 23d Group
** 74th Tactical Fighter Squadron (
15 June 1993- 1 April 1997)
15 June 1993- 30 June 1996), (A/OA-10A 1 July 1996- 1 April 1997)
** 75th Tactical Fighter (
1 April 1992- 1 April 1997) (A/OA-10A)
All aircraft of the 23d Wing at Pope carried the tail code "FT" (Flying Tigers).
In December 1992,
C-130s from the 2d Airlift Squadrondeployed to Mombasa, Kenya, to participate in Operation Provide Relief. The aircraft and crews delivered tons of food and other relief supplies to small airstrips throughout Somalia. 23rd Wing C-130s have also been tasked to assist in other humanitarian relief efforts, to include Hurricane Andrewin Florida. They also airdropped relief supplies into Bosnia and Herzegovinaand flew relief missions into Sarajevofor more than 28 months.
In September 1994, its C-130s participated in what was to be the largest combat personnel drop since World War II,
Operation Uphold Democracy. They were to assist in dropping more than 3,000 paratroopers from the 82d Airborne Divisiononto Port au Prince Airport, Haiti. The invasion force was recalled at the last minute after word that the Haitian president had resigned upon hearing that the aircraft were on their way. The 75th Fighter Squadron's A-10s were deployed their aircraft to Shaw AFB, South Carolina, where they were scheduled to launch close air support operations for the invasion force before recovering in Puerto Rico.
The first operational deployment of a composite wing happened in October 1994, when Iraqi troops began massing near the Kuwaiti Border. Within 72 hours, 56 aircraft and 1,500 personnel deployed to the Persian Gulf region for
Operation Vigilant Warrior. Eventually, the 75th Fighter Squadron redeployed to Al Jabar AB, Kuwait, becoming the first U.S. fixed-wing aircraft to be stationed in that country since the end of the Gulf War.
1 July 1996, the 74th Fighter Squadron's F-16C/D Fighting Falcons were transferred to the 27FW / 524th FS at Cannon AFB New Mexico, and the squadron transitioned to A/OA-10 Thunderbolt IIs received from the 20FW / 55th FS at Shaw AFB South Carolina. This gave the 23d Group a 2nd A-10 squadron.
23d Fighter Group
On April 1, 1997, the 23d Wing was redesignated as the 23d Fighter Group. The 23 FG remained at Pope AFB as an operations group assigned to the Air Combat Command 347th Wing at
Moody AFB, Georgia but physically remaining at Pope as a Geographically Separated Unit (GSU).
C-130s and Pope Air Force Base were realigned to Air Mobility Commandunder the designation 43d Airlift Wing.
June 27, 2000, the 23d Fighter Group was reassigned to the 4th Fighter Wing at Seymour Johnson AFBNorth Carolina also as a GSU and continued to operate from Pope, after the 347th Wing was redesignated the 347th Rescue Wing. The group as it exists in 2006 consists of the:
74th Fighter Squadron
75th Fighter Squadron
*23d Operations Support Squadron
*23d Maintenance Squadron
September 29, 2006, the 347th Rescue Wing at Moody AFB redesignated as the 347th Rescue Group, while the 23 FG was redesignated the 23d Wing. Along with the 347th Rescue Group, the original 23d Fighter Group was reactivated for only the second time in over fifty years. Both the 23 WG and 23 FG are charged with carrying on the historic Flying Tiger's heritage. [http://www.af.mil/news/story.asp?storyID=123028257 USAF Release ref 23rd Wing.]
The 23d Fighter Group was re-assigned to the 23d Wing as a second operations group in a ceremony held on
August 18, 2006. The 23d Fighter Group is in the process of transferring its personnel and equipment from Pope AFB in 2007, bringing two operational A/OA-10 squadrons to Moody.
In addition, twelve additional A-10 aircraft from the
355th Fighter Squadron/ 354th Fighter Wingat Eielson Air Force Base Alaskawill be transferred to the 23d Fighter Group as a result of BRAC 2005.
Operation Allied Force
In April 1999, the 74 FS deployed five aircraft and 60 personnel to
Operation Allied Force, the NATOair campaign against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, nominally intended to stop ethnic cleansing of Albaniansby Serbians. The US participation was known as Operation Noble Anviland officially spanned 24 March, 1999– 10 June, 1999. The 74th FS deployed initially to Spangdahlem Air Baseand then forward deployed to Gioia Del Colle Airbase, Italy. Designated the 74th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron, the unit co-located with the 81st EFS of the 51st Fighter Wing, Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, to form an expeditionary fighter wing.
The A-10A aircraft provided
close air supportduring missions over the region, provided short-notice alert for combat search and rescue missions and also provided Airborne Forward Air Control for NATO fighters attacking Serbian targets found in the Kosovo area.
Operation Enduring Freedom
In March 2002, the 23d Fighter Group landed the first fighter aircraft inside
Afghanistan. They deployed from Al Jaber AB, Kuwait, to Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan. 23d Fighter Group personnel operated simultaneously in support of Operation Enduring Freedomand Operation Southern Watchfor nearly seven months.
Operation Iraqi Freedom
In February 2003, the 23d Fighter Group deployed to Al Jaber Air Base in preparation of
Operation Iraqi Freedom, there they launched aircraft to attack Baghdaduntil the major fighting ceased. They then deployed forward to Tallil Air Base, near An-Nasiriyah.
In 2002 an A-10 of the 75th Fighter Squadron passed the 9,000 flying-hour mark, becoming the most flown attack aircraft in Air Force history. This was exceeded in 2005 by another A-10 from the 75th FS that passed the 10,000 flying-hour mark.
835th Air Division, 1 Jul 1964-30 Jun 1971
* Donald, David, "Century Jets - USAF Frontline Fighters of the Cold War".
* Endicott, Judy G., USAF Active Flying, Space, and Missile Squadrons as of 1 October 1995. Office of Air Force History
* Fletcher, Harry R., Air Force Bases Volume II, Active Air Force Bases outside the United States of America on 17 September 1982, Office of Air Force History, 1989
* 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
* Menard, David W., Before Centuries. USAFE Fighters 1948-1959
* Ravenstein, Charles A., Air Force Combat Wings Lineage and Honors Histories 1947-1977, Office of Air Force History, 1984
* Rogers, Brian, "United States Air Force Unit Designations Since 1978", 2005
* [http://public.pope.amc.af.mil/main/Tenants/A10_Demo/history/history.htm Official History of the Flying Tigers]
* [http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/agency/usaf/23fg.htm Global Security site about the 23d Fighter Group]
* [http://www.flyingtiger.org/23d/index.htm Flying Tiger Association Website]
* [http://www.maxwell.af.mil/au/afhra/rso/wings_groups_pages/0023fg.asp Official Honors and Lineage of the 23d Wing]
* [http://www.talkingproud.us/HistoryEarthquakeMcGoonA.html They found the Earthquake, Jim McGovern has come home]
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