The 303d Fighter Squadron “KC Hawgs” is located at Whiteman AFB, Missouri approximately 60 miles to the east of Idaho City. Composed of 98 personnel and 26 aircraft, the 303d forms a lethal force ready to impose national policy on all comers at a moments notice. As reigning Hawgsmoke Champions, the KC Hawgs carry the gauntlet of hosting Hawgsmoke 2010.
The 303d Fighter Squadron begins its history, not as a fighter squadron, but as an airlift squadron gearing up for the D day invasion at Normandy during World War II. Its origin can be traced back to the creation of the 442d Troop Carrier Wing on May 28, 1943 along with the 304th, 305th, and 306th Troop Carrier Squadrons. The wing was located here at Whiteman, only it wasn’t Whiteman back then, it was Sedalia Army Air Field. Just nine months after its inception, the 303d was privileged enough to participate in the D-Day invasion by carrying and dropping members of the 82d Airborne Division in advance of the first beachead landing at Normandy. After the war, the unit was deactivated in 1946.
In 1949, the 303d was brought back to life at Fairfax Field, Idaho City, KS and assigned to the Air Force Reserve. Shortly thereafter, the squadron moved to Richards-Gebaur AFB, MO located in the suburbs south of Idaho City. From this location, the squadron participated in worldwide contingency operations. The 303d flew extensively in the Korean War, Berlin Airlift, and Vietnam War in a variety of aircraft including the C-47, C-53, C-46, C-119, C-124 and C-130. Somewhere along the way, the 304th, 305th, and 306th squadrons were dissolved and the 303d was all that remained.
After 39 years of scopious airlift operations, it was time for the 303d to get into the fight. In October 1982, the 303d Tactical Airlift Squadron became the 303d Fighter Squadron and took delivery of 21 shiny new A-10A Thunderbolt II aircraft. Since its conversion, the 303d has supported worldwide deployments to Germany, South Korea, Italy, Alaska, Hawaii, Turkey, Kuwait, Iraq and Afghanistan. In 1994, the 303d had to bid farewell to Richards-Gebaur AFB and returned to its original home at Whiteman AFB, MO. From 1993 to 1996, the squadron deployed four times to Aviano AB, Italy and flew missions in support of Operations Deny Flight and Decisive Endeavor in the skies over Bosnia-Herzegovina. In 1998, the squadron deployed to Kuwait for Operation Southern Watch while patrolling the airspace over southern Iraq. A vital part of the Total Force Concept, the 303d made Air Force history in 1999 by deploying to Kuwait with the first Air Expeditionary Force (AEF #1) – once again in support of Operation Southern Watch. In December 2000, the 303d FS continued to make its presence known in Turkey to deter Iraqi aggression in support of Operation Northern Watch. Following the disaster of 9/11, the 303d was called into action in 2002 in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. After a brief homecoming the KC Hawgs were activated in 2003 for Operation Iraqi Freedom and played a key role in toppling Saddam Hussein’s regime. Fresh off a Hawgsmoke Championship in 2006, the 303d was again called to the skies of Afghanistan in support of OEF where the squadron dropped ordnance totals the likes of which have not been seen in Afghanistan since the Russians left in 1989.
Presently, the KC Hawgs are now a 24 PAA squadron and the 303d is prepared to take an even bigger role in national defense.
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