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55TH FIGHTER SQUADRON

Posted 7/10/2009 Printable Fact Sheet

The 55th Fighter Squadron's roots trace back to Aug. 9, 1917. Originally organized as the 55th Aero Squadron at Kelly Field, Texas, by November the squadron was deployed to Issoudun, France. The squadron was demobilized on March 16, 1919, following the war. The squadron was reactivated in November 1930, at Mather Field, Calif., flying Boeing P-12 biplanes, later joined by DH-4 aircraft in 1931. The squadron moved several times in the next decade, flying the P-26, P-36 and finally the P-40 at Hamilton Field.

At the beginning of World War II, the 55th sent its people to units fighting overseas and continued to train aviators for squadrons in Europe and the Pacific. In May 1942, it was redesignated a fighter squadron and transitioned to the P-39 Airacobra, operating from several locations in the United States before acquiring P-38 Lightnings.

The 55th was in the skies over Europe by August 1943, operating from Royal Air Force Wittering, England. The squadron flew 175 combat missions with the Lightning before acquiring the P-51 (F-6) Mustang in 1944. With the rest of the 20th Fighter Group, the 55th flew daily strafing, long-range-patrol and bomber-escort missions. In June, they provided air cover during the massive allied invasion at Normandy.

As the war progressed, the 55th performed escort and fighter-bomber missions supporting the Allied advance through Central Europe and the Rhineland. In December 1945, they took part in the Battle of the Bulge, escorting bombers to the battle area. The squadron's 175th and last combat mission in the P-51 was flown in April 1945, the day after American and Soviet forces met at the Elbe River. The 55th was demobilized Oct. 18, 1945, after the war's end, but was reactivated July 29, 1946, at Biggs Field, Texas, flying air power demonstrations and training operations in the P-51.

The 55th entered the jet age in February 1948, with the F-84G Thunderjet. In January 1950, it was redesignated the 55th Fighter-Bomber Squadron. The squadron returned to England at RAF Wethersfield in June 1952. The squadron transitioned to the F-100 Super Sabre in 1957 and in 1958 was redesignated the 55th Tactical Fighter Squadron.

The 55th moved with the 20th Tactical Fighter Wing to RAF Upper Heyford in June 1970. The next April, the 55th received its first F-111E Aardvark, becoming fully operational in November. Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, the 55th participated in countless North Atlantic Treaty Organization and U.S. exercises and operations, which directly contributed to containment of Soviet threats to Europe.

In January 1991, elements of the 55th deployed to Turkey during Operation Desert Storm. They flew more than 144 sorties, amassing 415 combat hours without a loss. These missions neutralized key facilities throughout northern Iraq and helped to liberate Kuwait and stabilize the region.

The squadron was inactivated in December 1993. It was transferred and reactivated on Jan. 1, 1994, to its present home, Shaw Air Force Base, flying the A-10 Thunderbolt II. In July 1996, the squadron transferred its aircraft to Pope Air Force Base, N.C., and stood down.

In July 1997, the 55th made history when it stood up as a combat-ready F-16CJ squadron in only 60 days. It has since made numerous deployments to Southwest Asia, continuing to contain the Iraqi threat. In the meantime, the squadron has earned awards and recognition, including the David C. Schilling Award in 1999 and 2000, as well as the Air Force Association Citation of Honor.

In the summer of 2000, the 55th deployed to Southwest Asia for Operation Northern Watch. It followed that deployment with Operation Southern Watch in the fall of 2001, and in the winter of 2002, deployed again in support of ONW. The 55th flew in the last mission for ONW before the operation officially ended in March 2003.

The "Fighting Fifty-fifth" has been awarded the Distinguished Unit Citation, Air Force Outstanding Unit Award, World War I Theater of Operations and World War II American Service Streamers, Air Combat European, Africa, Middle Eastern, Air Offensive Europe, and the Liberation and Defense of Kuwait Campaign Streamers. The rich and distinguished heritage of the 55th will always be a testament to the many men and women who served it well and the leaders who gave them direction. 
A complete list of squadron decorations can be found at: http://www.afhra.af.mil/factsheets/factsheet.asp?id=10452.







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