Library Fact Sheets
77TH FIGHTER SQUADRON|
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Known as the "Gamblers," the 77th Fighter Squadron was born Feb. 20, 1918, during World War I as the 77th Aero Squadron at Waco Field, Texas. Only nine months later, it demobilized in November 1918. Army Air Corps officials, however, on Nov. 15, 1930, created the 77th Pursuit Squadron at Mather Field, Calif., as one of the first units of the 20th Pursuit Group then stationed at Mather. It had only four officers. Then in 1936, officials reconstituted the 77th Aero Squadron which absorbed the 77th PS.
From 1930 until 1943, the squadron moved back and forth across the country with the renamed 20th Fighter Group, flying several different aircraft, including the Boeing P-12, Boeing P-26 Peashooter, Curtiss P-36 Hawk, Curtiss P-40 Warhawk, Republic P-43 Lancer and the Bell P-39 Airacobra.
The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor plunged the United States into World War II. However, it wasn't until January 1943, that the 77th settled at March Field, Calif., with the 20th FG, flying the Lockheed P-38 Lightning and training for combat.
With training completed, the 77th joined the 20th FG in a move to the European Theater of Operations. The 77th, designated a fighter squadron, arrived at Northamptonshire, England, in August 1943 and commenced flying the P-38. First combat came in November 1943. Gamblers distinguished themselves in the sky over Europe, flying combat missions until April 25, 1945, when, equipped with North American P-51 Mustangs, they escorted heavy bombers to Pilsen, Czechoslovakia, in one of the last raids of the war.
The 77th was instrumental in the 20th achieving destruction of 432 enemy aircraft, 400 train engines, 1,555 freight cars, 94 ammunition cars and 536 motor vehicles. The 77th also took top honors in the group with the two, top- scoring aces. The 77th left King's Cliffe, England, and joined the ranks of inactivated units in October 1945.
Once again equipped with P-51s, the 77th and the 20th reactivated in July 1946 at Biggs Field, Texas, and a short time later moved to Shaw Field, S.C. The squadron entered the Jet Age in February 1948 when it started converting to the Republic F-84B Thunderjet. It became the 77th Fighter-Bomber Squadron in 1950. Next came a move to Langley Air Force Base, Va., in 1951 and transition to the G-model F-84. The new aircraft was to enable the wing's new mission of nuclear weapons delivery. The 20th was the world's first fighter unit capable of delivering nuclear weapons.
In May 1952, the 77th moved with the 20th to Royal Air Force (Base) Wethersfield, England. Gamblers began flying the North American F-100 Super Sabre in 1957, and a year later the squadron gained the word "tactical" in its name. Gamblers kept the "Hun" for 11 more years as they supported North Atlantic Treaty Organization commitments.
In 1969, the 77th and the 20th moved to RAF Upper Heyford. With the move, they converted to the variable sweep wing, General Dynamics F-111E Aardvark.
Combat returned for the Gamblers in February 1991, as elements of the 77th deployed to Incirlik Air Base, Turkey during Operation Desert Storm, where they flew combat sorties over Iraq without a loss. Their attacks neutralized key facilities throughout northern Iraq and helped to liberate Kuwait.
The squadron, still flying the F-111E, reorganized and incorporated 250 maintainers on Feb. 1, 1992. The 77th inactivated Sept. 30, 1993. Two years later, on Jan. 1, 1994, the 77th colors transferred to the reactived squadron at Shaw AFB, S.C., now flying the General Dynamics F-16C Fighting Falcon.
Each year from 1996 through 2001 the 77th deployed to Southwest Asia, and flew missions over Iraq in support of Operations Southern or Northern Watch. The squadron also took part in support of Operations Allied Force and Desert Fox in 1999.
In 2003 the squadron again deployed to Southwest Asia and conducted combat operations over Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. During this operation the squadron flew over 400 combat sorties and engaged some 350 targets destroying surface to air missiles, radars, launchers, anti-aircraft artillery pieces, tanks and aircraft during these ground attacks. In 2008 and 2010 the squadron deployed to Iraq again in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
In April 2011 the squadron deployed to Aviano Air Base, Italy and conducted combat operation over Libya in support of Operation Unified Protector during which time the squadron successfully engaged and neutralized the Libyan air defense system. During this deployment the squadron flew over 5,377 combat hours, engaged and destroyed hundreds of Libyan air defense components.
The 77th earned the 20th FW's fighter squadron of the year distinction in 1998, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2008, 2010, 2011 and 2013. Today its primary mission is suppression of enemy air defenses, for which it is equipped with the Lockheed-Martin F-16CM Fighting Falcon.
A complete list of squadron decorations can be found at: http://www.afhra.af.mil/factsheets/factsheet.asp?id=11204.