HomeAbout UsFact SheetsDisplay

55th Fighter Squadron

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.

Lineage

Designated as 55 Aero Construction Squadron on 25 Aug 1917. Redesignated as 467 Aero Construction Squadron on 1 Feb 1918. Demobilized on 16 Mar 1919. Reconstituted, and redesignated as 55 Pursuit Squadron, on 24 Mar 1923. Activated on 15 Nov 1930. Redesignated as: 55 Pursuit Squadron (Fighter) on 6 Dec 1939; 55 Pursuit Squadron (Interceptor) on 12 Mar 1941; 55 Fighter Squadron on 15 May 1942; 55 Fighter Squadron (Twin Engine) on 30 Dec 1942; 55 Fighter Squadron, Twin Engine, on 20 Aug 1943; 55 Fighter Squadron, Single Engine, on 5 Sep 1944. Inactivated on 18 Oct 1945. Activated on 29 Jul 1946. Redesignated as: 55 Fighter Squadron, Jet, on 15 Jun 1948; 55 Fighter-Bomber Squadron on 20 Jan 1950; 55 Tactical Fighter Squadron on 8 Jul 1958; 55 Fighter Squadron on 1 Oct 1991. Inactivated on 30 Dec 1993. Activated on 1 Jan 1994.

Assignments

U. S. Signal Corps, 28 Aug-Nov 1917; Third Aviation Instruction Center, Nov 1917; Aerial Gunnery School, May 1918; 2 Air Depot, Nov 1918-Feb 1919; unkn, Feb-16 Mar 1919. 2 Bombardment Wing (attached to 20 Pursuit Group), 15 Nov 1930; 8 Pursuit Group (attached to 20 Pursuit Group), 1 Apr 1931; 20 Pursuit (later, 20 Fighter) Group, 15 Jun 1932-18 Oct 1945. 20 Fighter (later, 20 Fighter-Bomber) Group, 29 Jul 1946 (attached to 20 Fighter-Bomber Wing, 15 Nov 1952-7 Feb 1955); 20 Fighter-Bomber (later, 20 Tactical Fighter) Wing, 8 Feb 1955 (attached to 39 Tactical Fighter Group, 31 Aug-23 Oct 1990); 20 Operations Group, 31 Mar 1992-30 Dec 1993. 20 Operations Group, 1 Jan 1994-.

Stations

Kelly Field, TX, 9 Aug 1917; Hazelhurst Field, NY, 21 Sep-13 Oct 1917; Issoudun, France, 4 Nov 1917; St Jean-de-Monts, France, 16 May 1918; Latrecey, France, 6 Nov 1918-c. 8 Feb 1919; Garden City, NY, c. 4-16 Mar 1919. Mather Field, CA, 15 Nov 1930; Barksdale Field, LA, 31 Oct 1932; Moffett Field, CA, 19 Nov 1939; Hamilton Field, CA, 9 Sep 1940; Wilmington, NC, c. 22 Feb 1942; Morris Field, NC, 23 Apr 1942; Drew Field, FL, 7 Aug 1942; Paine Field, WA, 30 Sep 1942; March Field, CA, c. 1 Jan-11 Aug 1943; Wittering, England, c. 27 Aug 1943; Kings Cliffe, England, Apr 1944-11 Oct 1945; Camp Kilmer, NJ, 16-18 Oct 1945. Biggs Field, TX, 29 Jul 1946; Shaw Field (later, AFB), SC, c. 25 Oct 1946; Langley AFB, VA, 19 Nov 1951-22 May 1952; Wethersfield, England, 1 Jun 1952; Sculthorpe, England, 9 Aug 1955; Wethersfield, England, 27 Apr 1956; RAF Upper Heyford, England, c. 1 Jun 1970-30 Dec 1993 (deployed at Incirlik AB, Turkey, 31 Aug-23 Oct 1990). Shaw AFB, SC, 1 Jan 1994-.

Commanders

Capt Gustave G. Baetcke, 25 Aug 1917-c. 16 Mar 1919. 1 Lt Clarence E. Crumrine, 15 Nov 1930-unkn; 1 Lt Earl W. Barnes, 24 Aug 1934; Capt Armin F. Herold, 29 Mar 1935; Capt Morris R. Nelson, 7 Oct 1936-unkn; 1 Lt Avelin P. Tacon Jr., between c. 1938 and c. 1940; Maj Paul Lobingier, c. Oct 1942-unkn; Maj David R. McGovern, 1943; Maj Frank C. Clark, 29 Dec 1943; Maj Donald H. McAuley, 8 Mar 1944; Lt Col Cy Wilson, 29 Apr 1944; Lt Col Martin L. Low, 25 Jun 1944; Maj Richard P. Gatterdam, 6 Dec 1944; Maj Jack C. Price, c. 23 Mar 1945; Maj Maurice C. Cristadoro Jr., 4 Apr 1945-unkn. Lt Col Franklin A. Nichols, c. 29 Jul 1946; Maj John M. Winkler, Sep 1946; Lt Col Alfred J. Ball, 30 Oct 1946; Lt Col Richard Cline, c. 8 Jan 1947; Lt Col Francis S. Gabreski, c. Apr 1947; Maj James C. Hare, 4 Aug 1947; Lt Col Melvin J. Neilson, Sep 1947; Maj Harold A. Lind (temporary), 5 May 1948; Lt Col Elmer E. McTaggart, 21 Jun 1948; Maj Harold A. Lind, (temporary), Jul 1948; Maj Charles W. Lasko (temporary), Aug 1948; Lt Col Elmer E. McTaggart, Sep 1948; Maj Charles W. Lasko, Oct 1948; Col Gilbert O. Waymond Jr., by Apr 1949; Maj Charles W. Lasko, May 1949; Lt Col William L. Mitchell Jr., c. 1950/1951; Lt Col Joseph A. Hagemann, 24 Jul 1951; Maj John S. Bradley, 6 Aug 1954; Maj John J. Kropenick, 10 Mar 1955; Maj Max T. Beall, c. 1 May 1956; Col Michael C. McCarthy, 15 Jun 1956; Lt Col Charles L. Miller, 15 Mar 1957; Lt Col Raymond L. Flint, 2 Nov 1957; Lt Col Raymond R. Stewart, 1 Jan 1959; Maj Tony M. Greget, 22 Jun 1961; Maj Walter P. Paluch Jr., by 30 Jun 1963; Col Ivan H. Dethman, 22 Jul 1964; Lt Col Robert L. Jones, 8 Jul 1966; Lt Col Richard B. Davis, 10 May 1967; Maj Lawrence W. Whitford, 13 Jun 1968; Maj Donald G. Duff, 12 Sep 1968; Lt Col George G. Yeager, 1 Nov 1968; Lt Col Elwood L. Sanders, 30 Dec 1969; Lt Col Kenneth T. Blank, Jan 1971; Lt Col Harris J. Taylor, 27 Aug 1971; Lt Col Charles A. Herning (acting), 17 Sep 1972; Lt Col George W. Kronsbein Jr., 29 Nov 1972; Lt Col James S. Walbridge, c. Jul 1973; Lt Col William K. James, c. 1 Dec 1975; Lt Col William E. Pickens III, 29 Jun 1977; Lt Col Albert S. Dodd III, 12 Jun 1979; Lt Col John H. Wambough Jr., 26 May 1981; Lt Col Donald D. Henry, Oct 1981; Lt Col Danny D. Howard, c. 24 Feb 1983; Lt Col Gary A. Voellger, 22 Feb 1985; Lt Col James W. Savage Jr., 15 Nov 1986; Lt Col Robert D. Balph II, 30 Sep 1988; Lt Col John W. Dorough Jr., 25 Sep 1989; Lt Col Terry L. Simpson, 2 Nov 1990; Lt Col Daniel C. Clark, 11 Sep 1992; Lt Col Kenneth D. Holder, 15 Jul 1993; none, not manned, 15 Oct-30 Dec 1993. Lt Col John A. Neubauer, 1 Jan 1994; Lt Col Timothy B. Vigil, 4 Aug 1995; none, not manned, 3 Jul 1996-6 Jul 1997; Lt Col Maurice H. Forsyth, 7 Jul 1997; Lt Col Robert D. Harvey, 10 Jul 1998; Lt Col James N. Post III, 19 May 2000; Lt Col John K. Forsythe Jr., 28 Jun 2002; Lt Col John P. Montgomery, 27 Jun 2003; Lt Col David C. Hathaway, 3 Jun 2005; Lt Col Miles A. DeMayo, 22 Jun 2007; Lt Col Douglas D. DeMaio, 2 Mar 2009; Lt Col Michael K. Schnabel, 10 Dec 2010; Lt Col Christopher Claus, 15 Jun 2012-.
Aircraft. None, 1917-1919. In addition to P-12, 1930-1935; included DH-4 during 1931; P-26, 1934-1938; P-36, 1938-1940; P-40, 1940-1942; P-39, 1942-1943; P-43, 1942-1943; P-38, 1943-1944; P-51, 1944-1945. P-51, 1946-1948; F-84, 1948-1957; F-100, 1957-1971; F-111, 1971-1993. A/OA-10, 1995-1996. F-16, 1997-.

Operations

Constructed and maintained facilities (after 6 Nov 1918 in Zone of Advance), Nov 1917-c. Dec 1918. Provided personnel for and helped train new units, 1940-1942. Combat in European Theater of Operations (ETO), 28 Dec 1943-25 Apr 1945. From the early 1960s to 1970, provided ground forward air controllers and participated in close air support exercises with US ground forces in Europe. Gained F-111s in Apr 1971 and trained to conduct conventional and nuclear tactical air operations, primarily through firepower demonstrations and tactical exercises. Provided some aircrews for combat in Southwest Asia, Feb 1991. Replaced the 21 Fighter Squadron on 1 Jan 1994, taking over squadron personnel and A-10 aircraft when the 20 Fighter Wing replaced the 363 Fighter Wing at Shaw AFB, SC. Deployed A-10 aircraft and personnel and later F-16 aircraft after Jul 1997, on a rotational basis to support Operations Northern Watch and Southern Watch in Southwest Asia, 1995-2003. Deployed aircraft and personnel in support of Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom, 2008-2010.

Service Streamers

World War I Theater of Operations. World War II American Theater.

Campaign Streamers

World War II: Air Offensive, Europe; Normandy; Northern France; Rhineland; Ardennes-Alsace; Central Europe; Air Combat, EAME Theater. Southwest Asia: Defense of Saudi Arabia; Southwest Asia Ceasefire. Iraq: Iraqi Surge; Iraqi Sovereignty; New Dawn.

Armed Forces Expeditionary Streamers

Global War on Terrorism.

Decorations

Distinguished Unit Citation: Central Germany, 8 Apr 1944. Meritorious Unit Awards: 1 Jun 2007-31 May 2009; 1 Jun 2009-31 May 2011; 1 Jun 2011-31 May 2012; 1 Jun 2012-31 May 2013. Air Force Outstanding Unit Awards: 1 Jul 1956-30 Sep 1957; 1 May 1963-31 Dec 1964; 1 Jan 1965-31 Mar 1966; 1 Jul 1968-31 Mar 1970; 1 Sep 1970-30 Jun 1972; 31 Mar 1973-30 Jun 1974; 1 Jul 1977-30 Jun 1979; 1 Jul 1981-30 Jun 1983; 1 Jul 1987-30 Jun 1989; 1 Jul 1990-30 Jun 1992; 1 Oct 1992-15 Oct 1993; 1 Jan-31 Dec 1994; 1 Jul 1997-31 May 1999; 1 Jun 1999-31 May 2001.

Emblem

Approved on 28 Oct 1999.

Lineage, Assignments, Stations, and Honors through Mar 2016.
Commanders through Jun 2012
Aircraft and Operations through 31 Dec 2010.
Supersedes statement prepared in Mar 2013.
Prepared by Carl E. Bailey.