The 355th Fighter Squadron activated Nov. 15, 1942, at Hamilton Field, Calif., flying the P-39, before transferring to the 9th Air Force in England in November 1943. There, the “Pugnacious Pups” received the first P-51 Mustangs flown in combat by the United States Army Air Force in Europe. In April 1944, the squadron shifted from bomber escort to ground attack duties. After D-Day, and in support of General Patton’s 3rd Army, the unit helped establish the model for the joint air support operations it conducts today. After the German surrender, the unit was inactivated March 31, 1946.
Activated again as the 355th Fighter Day Squadron at Myrtle Beach, Nov. 19, 1956, the renamed “Fightin’ Falcons” flew the F-100D Super Sabre. When the Vietnam conflict erupted, the unit deployed to Phu Cat Air Base, South Vietnam as a member of the 37th Fighter Wing on Jan. 31, 1968. At Phu Cat, the 37th TFW consisted of the following deployed squadrons:
- 355 Tactical Fighter (F-100D/F) (Tail Code: HP)
- 416 Tactical Fighter (F-100D/F) (Tail Code: HE)
- Det 1. 612 Tactical Fighter (F-100D/F) (Tail Code: HS)
- 174 Tactical Fighter (F-100C/F) (Tail Code: HA)
At the end of the TDY on 5 July, the 355 TFS was permanently assigned to the 37th, with activated New Jersey and District Of Columbia Air National Guard personnel from the 113 TFW at Myrtle Beach replacing them and manning the unit.
On 15 May 1969 with the reassignment fo the 612th and 174 TFS, it was decided to convert the 37th to an F-4 wing. The F-100 equipped 355th, along with the 416 TFS were reassinged to the 31st Tactical Fighter Wing at Tuy Hoa Air Base, replacing the ANG 136th and 188th TFSs which were returning to New York and New Mexico, respectively.
At Tuy Hoa, the tail code of the 355th F-100s was changed to “SP”, and deployed Air National Guard personnel from New York and New Mexico manned the 355th until its deactivation on 30 September 1970.
During its time in Vietnam, the 355th flew more than 17,000 combat sorties flying close air support, interdiction, search and rescue, and helicopter support missions. The squadron was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation. the Air Force Outstanding Unit Award, and the Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross with Palm for its service.
Returning to Myrtle Beach in November 1970, the unit transitioned to the new A-7D Corsair II aircraft before re-deploying to Southeast Asia in the fall of 1972 as the first A-7 unit to fight there. In 10 weeks of combat before the end of the conflict, the squadron participated in the Linebacker II campaign, generated more than 4,000 sorties, and was credited with 22 rescues of downed airmen. The unit returned to Myrtle Beach in April 1974.
In February 1978, the 355th transitioned to the new A-10 Thunderbolt II close air support aircraft, becoming the second operational squadron in the nation’s first A-10 wing. Duty called again in August 1990 when the unit deployed to Dhahran Air Base, Saudi Arabia, in support of Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. The squadron contributed greatly to the 4,200 artillery, tank and other vehicle kills credited to A-10s during the war. Inactivated at Myrtle Beach, March 31, 1992, the 355th was reactivated at Eielson, Aug. 20, 1993, flying the A/OA-10 aircraft.
In October 1998, the 355th Fighter Squadron deployed to Southwest Asia supporting Operation Southern Watch. Only two months later, the Fighting Falcons saw their second tour of combat duty over Iraq while participating in the December 16-19, 1998, Operation Desert Fox strike missions. In two and a half months, the 355th flew 597 combat and combat support sorties.
The unit deployed to Ahmed Al Jaber Air Base, Kuwait, in support of Operation SOUTHERN WATCH, January – March 2001. The 355 FS also exercised at Hurlburt Field, Florida, to train with Special Forces units, October 2003.
In Spring 2004 the unit deployed to Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. The unit redeployed there again early 2006. During both deployments the unit was responsible to provide close air support to Army ground forces and convoys in Afghanistan.
On 13 May 2005, The Department of Defense proposed a major realignment of the base as part of the Base Realignment and Closure program. The A-10 aircraft will be distributed to the 917th Wing Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana (three aircraft); to a new active-duty unit at Moody Air Force Base, Georgia (12 aircraft); and to backup inventory (three aircraft). The squadron was inactivated on 15 August 2007 as a result of BRAC 2005 and has been redesignated as an F-16 ANG squadron in Fort Worth.
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