The 79th Fighter Squadron traces its history back to February 1918, when it was first organized as the 79th Aero Squadron. The unit inactivated from November 1918 until April 1933, when it became the 79th Pursuit Squadron, flying the Boeing P-12 at Barksdale Field, La. From 1940 to 1942, the squadron trained combat pilots and flew the P-40 Warhawk from bases on the east coast.
In 1943, the 79th converted to the P-38 Lightning, flying out of Northamptonshire, England, performing duty as bomber escorts and conducting fighter sweeps over Germany. Sept. 11, 1944, the squadron received P-51 Mustangs. The 79th remained at English bases throughout the war, supporting both the Normandy invasion and the allied drive into Germany. The squadron returned to the states and was inactivated Oct. 19, 1945.
The 79th was again brought to active service on July 29, 1946, at Biggs Field, Texas. The unit moved to Shaw Field, S.C., in October 1946. In 1948, the 79th transitioned to the F-84 Thunderstreak. The squadron moved to Langley Air Force Base, Va., in November 1951, and in June 1952, trained to support North American Treaty Organization ground forces in conventional and nuclear roles. In 1957, the squadron converted to the F-100 Super Sabre. The next change came in 1970, when the squadron transitioned to the F-111 Aardvark and moved to Royal Air Force Upper Heyford, England. The 79th received the Commander in Chief's Trophy in 1981, as the best tactical fighter squadron in U.S. Air Forces in Europe.
From 1990 to 1991, the 79th deployed to Southwest Asia to support Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. June 30, 1993, the squadron inactivated. Jan. 1, 1994, it was reactivated at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., transitioning to the F-16CJ Fighting Falcon and assuming the mission of suppression of enemy air defenses. Since that time, the "Tigers" continuously supported Operations Northern and Southern Watch in Southwest Asia.
In December 1998, the 79th took an active part in Operation Desert Fox in conjunction with Operation Southern Watch demands. The Tigers flew more than 1,000 successful combat sorties with these dual operational requirements. In January 1999, the 79th Fighter Squadron was awarded the South Carolina Air Force Association's Outstanding Air Force Unit of the Year award. Also in 1999, the squadron was honored with Air Combat Command's Maintenance Effectiveness Award. In June 1999, the 79th deployed F-16CJs in support of Operation Allied Force to a bare base in Southwest Asia.
A complete list of squadron decorations can be found at: http://www.afhra.af.mil/factsheets/factsheet.asp?id=11341