303d Fighter Squadron
|303d Fighter Squadron|
303d Fighter Squadron emblem
|Active||1 September 1943 – 30 September 1946
27 June 1949 – 12 March 1951
15 June 1952 – present
|Branch||United States Air Force|
|Part of||Air Force Reserve Command
10th Air Force
442nd Fighter Wing
442nd Operations Group
|Garrison/HQ||Whiteman Air Force Base|
|Engagements||Invasion of Normandy|
RVGC w/ Palm
The 303d Fighter Squadron was constituted on 28 May 1943 and activated on 1 September, as the 303d Troop Carrier Squadron, one of four squadrons assigned to the 442nd Troop Carrier Group at Sedalia Army Air Field, now Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri. The 303d, with its parent unit, was created to provide airlift support of Allied forces in Europe during World War II using cargo aircraft and gliders. Following their state-side training, the squadron arrived at RAF Fulbeck, England on, 23 March 1944, where they made final preparations for the pending invasion of Europe.
On D-Day, 6 June 1944, the 303d participated in the airborne assault of the 82nd Airborne Division four hours in advance of the first seaborne landings at the Normandy beaches. The squadron went on to participate in other major operations in Italy, France, the Netherlands, and Germany throughout the remainder of the war in Europe.
Following VE-Day on 8 May 1945, the squadron remained in Europe as part of the Occupation Forces until it was inactivated in 1946. In 1949 the 303d was reactivated at Fairfax Field, Kansas City, Kansas, with its parent unit, the 442nd Troop Carrier Wing, and assigned to the Air Force Reserve.
Following another active duty tour during the Korean War, the 442nd, with the 303d, eventually relocated to Grandview Airport, Kansas City, Missouri. The airport was renamed Richards-Gebaur Air Force Base in 1957 for Lieutenant John F. Richards and Lieutenant Colonel Arthur W. Gebaur, Jr., two Kansas City fliers who died in military combat.
In 1991 the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) Commission recommended the closure and inactivation of Richards-Gebaur AFB. It was later announced that the 442nd, with the 303d, would relocate to Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri and, on schedule, in June 1994 the unit completed its move to Whiteman AFB.
After its return to its original home at Whiteman, the squadron deployed to Italy to support the No-fly zone over Bosnia and Herzegovina four times for Operations Deny Flight and Decisive Edge. In 1998, the squadron deployed to the Persian Gulf area for 45 days to support Operation Southern Watch, the United Nations' effort to deny Iraqi military access to southern Iraq.
303d operations and maintenance members, along with two A-10 Thunderbolt II aircraft deployed to Afghanistan from April to July 2002 in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. In March 2003, squadron members and aircraft were deployed in of Operation Iraqi Freedom. The squadron made Air Force history when it became the first Air Force fighter squadron to forward deploy into Iraq, soon after arriving in the area of responsibility, and based at Tallil Air Base. The squadron made Air Force history again when it became the first Air Force fighter squadron to forward deploy a second time into Iraq, this time to base at Kirkuk Air Base. The 303d returned home from Iraq in November 2003 following an eight-month deployment with no aircraft damage and no combat injuries.
In 2006 the 303d won the A-10 gunnery competition Hawgsmoke.
Operations and Decorations
- Combat Operations. Airborne assaults on Normandy, Southern France, Netherlands, and Germany during World War II. Also transported cargo, passengers, and wounded in ETO and MTO, Operation Northern Watch, Operation Southern Watch, Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom
- Campaigns. World War II: Normandy, Rome-Arno; Southern France; Northern France; Rhineland; Central Europe.
- Decorations. Distinguished Unit Citation: France, [6-7] Jun 1944. Air Force Outstanding Unit Awards: 1 Mar 1976 – 28 Feb 1978; 12-29 Jun 1979; 1 Jun 1987 – 31 Jul 1988; 1 Nov 1989-31 Oct 1991; 1 Oct 1997 – 31 Aug 1999. Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross with Palm: 1 Apr 1966-28 Jun 1971 and 26 Oct – 6 Nov 1972.
- Constituted 303d Troop Carrier Squadron on 25 May 1943
- Activated on 1 Sep 1943
- Inactivated on 30 Sep 1946
- Re-designated: 303d Troop Carrier Squadron, Medium on 10 May 1949
- Activated in the Reserve on 27 Jun 1949
- Ordered to Active Service on 10 Mar 1951
- Inactivated on 12 Mar 1951
- Activated in the Reserve on 15 Jun 1952
- Re-designated: 303d Troop Carrier Squadron, Heavy on 8 May 1961
- Ordered to Active Service on 1 Oct 1961
- Relieved from Active Duty on 27 Aug 1962
- Re-designated: 303d Air Transport Squadron, Heavy on 1 Dec 1965
- Re-designated: 303d Military Airlift Squadron on 1 Jan 1966
- Re-designated: 303d Tactical Airlift Squadron on 27 Jun 1971
- Re-designated: 303d Tactical Fighter Squadron on 1 Oct 1982
- Re-designated: 303d Fighter Squadron on 1 Feb 1992.
- 442d Troop Carrier Group, 1 Sep 1943 – 30 Sep 1946
- 442d Troop Carrier Group, 27 Jun 1949 – 12 Mar 1951
- 442d Troop Carrier Group, 15 Jun 1952
- 442d Troop Carrier Wing, 14 Apr 1959
- 935th Troop Carrier (later, Air Transport; Military Airlift; Tactical Airlift) Group, 17 Jan 1963
- 442d Tactical Airlift Wing, 1 Nov 1974
- 442d Tactical Fighter Group, 1 Oct 1982
- 442d Tactical Fighter (later, Fighter) Wing, 1 Feb 1984
- 442d Operations Group, 1 Aug 1992 – present
- Maurer, Maurer, ed. (1982) . Combat Squadrons of the Air Force, World War II (PDF) (reprint ed.). Washington, DC: Office of Air Force History. ISBN 0-405-12194-6. LCCN 70605402. OCLC 72556.