68th Fighter Squadron
|This article relies largely or entirely upon a single source. (January 2013)|
|68th Fighter Squadron|
68th Fighter Squadron Patch
|Active||15 January 1941 – 30 June 1971
30 September 1973 – 1 April 2001
|Branch||United States Air Force|
The 68th Fighter Squadron (68 FS) was one of the longest-serving Fighter Squadrons in U.S. Air Force history, remaining activated almost continually for 60 years. Known as the "Lightning Lancers", the squadron pioneered radar interception while flying the P-61 Black Widow during World War II. On the morning of 27 June 1950 pilots of the 68th Fighter (All Weather) Squadron flying the F-82 Twin Mustang made history by achieving the first aerial kill of the Korean War.
The 68th FS was most recently part of the 347th Wing at Moody Air Force Base, Georgia. It operated F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft conducting air superiority missions. The squadron was inactivated in 2001.
World War II
Established in early 1941 as part of the United States' defense buildup after the breakout of World War II in Europe. Trained under Third Air Force, then deployed to the Southwest Pacific after the Attack on Pearl Harbor for combat duty with Fifth Air Force. Reassigned to Thirteenth Air Force and provided provided air defense of Tongatabu from, June–October 1942 with a mixture of P-40s and P-39s. Engaged in Combat in Solomon Islands, 1943-1944 using long-range P-38 Lightnings; moved to Southwest Pacific and flew missions over New Guinea and Dutch East Indies during MacArthur's island hopping campaign; arrived in the Philippines in February 1945 and spent the remainder of the war clearing the Japanese from those islands.
Far East Air Forces
Reassigned to Japan as part of the Occupation Forces, December 1945 although most personnel had been demobilized and returned to the United States. From 2 November 1945 to 1 October 1946, the 68th was non-operational and became, in name only, part of the large occupational force stationed in Japan. Then, in October 1946, the squadron began search and patrol missions and participated in exercises and maneuvers out of various bases in Japan flying the P-51D Mustang. In February 1947 assumed the air defense mission of Northern Japan with P-61 Black Widow night fighters assumed from an inactivated night fighter unit along with its personnel and equipment. Replaced war-weary F-61s in 1949 with new F-82G Twin Mustangs.
Hurriedly engaged in combat operations over Korea, June 1950 as the first USAF squadron operational over war zone. Engaged North Korean Air Force aircraft and scored first aerial victories of the conflict. Replaced by F-84 Thunderjets for combat air patrols in July 1950, engaging largely in long-range reconnaissance and weather flights over North Korea, 1950-1951 as F-51D Mustangs used for ground support and jets for air superiority missions, also maintained air defense of Southern Japan. Also engaged in night-interceptor missions over North Korea. Twin Mustangs replaced by jet F-94C Starfire interceptors in 1951; later F-86D Sabres in 1954 and F-102A Delta Daggers in 1959. Began rotational deployments to Osan AB, South Korea in 1960, providing air defense over South Korean airspace until withdraw from Japan in 1964.
Reassigned to Tactical Air Command, re-equipped with new F-4C Phantom IIs in 1964. Deployed to bases in Thailand in 1964-1965 flying air superiority missions over North and South Vietnam during early stages of the United States' involvement in that conflict. Returned to George AFB and became a replacement training unit for F-4 aircrews from February 1966 to October 1968. The unit became nonoperational for a short time.
Assigned to Florida in 1968 with TAC's control of Homestead AFB, but deployed to South Korea in 1968 in the wake of the Pueblo Crisis. Returned to the United States in late 1969; leaving F-4 Phantoms in South Korea and being re-equipped with F-100 Super Sabres in Louisiana before being reassigned to the Philippines in 1973 as an F-4E squadron at Clark AB.
Tactical Fighter Squadron
Returned again to the United States with TAC's activation at Moody AFB, GA in 1975. Flew F-4Es and deployed overseas in February 1985 to Panama to take part in exercise Kindle Liberty. It regularly deploys to Nellis AFB, NV, for intensive Red Flag and Green Flag mock combat exercises, then in 1987 being re-equipped with F-16C/D Falcons. It deployed aircraft and personnel to Saudi Arabia from, 26 June – 22 December 1991.
In 1999 the 68th conducted two deployments to Al Jaber Air Base Kuwait in support of Operation SOUTHERN WATCH. During the two deployments the Lancers flew 460 combat sorties dropping their first bombs in combat since the Vietnam War. The 68th was credited with the destruction of numerous 57 and 100 MM AAA guns, radar/cable relay stations, ammunition storage facilities, and surface to air missile sites. Of particular note; during the first deployment the 68th delivered 14 GBU-12 and 6 GBU-10 laser-guided bombs (LGBs) on Iraqi targets with a perfect 100 percent hit rate for the entire rotation, a US Air Force record.
Inactivated in 2001 as part of realignment at Moody.
- Constituted 68th Pursuit Squadron (Interceptor) on 20 November 1940
- Activated on 15 January 1941
- Redesignated: 68th Fighter Squadron on 15 May 1942
- Redesignated: 68th Fighter Squadron, Single Engine, on 20 August 1943
- Redesignated: 68th Fighter Squadron, Two Engine, on 24 May 1944
- Redesignated: 68th Fighter Squadron, Single Engine, on 8 January 1946
- Redesignated: 68th Fighter Squadron (All Weather) on 20 February 1947
- Assumed personnel, equipment and aircraft from inactivated 421st Night Fighter Squadron
- Redesignated: 68th Fighter Squadron, All Weather, on 10 August 1948
- Redesignated: 68th Fighter-All Weather Squadron on 20 January 1950
- Redesignated: 68th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron on 25 April 1951
- Redesignated: 68th Tactical Fighter Squadron on 25 July 1964
- Inactivated on 30 June 1971
- Activated on 30 September 1973
- Redesignated: 68th Fighter Squadron on 1 November 1991
- Inactivated: 1 April 2001
- Maurer, Maurer, ed. (1982) . Combat Squadrons of the Air Force, World War II (reprint ed.). Washington, DC: Office of Air Force History. ISBN 0-405-12194-6. LCCN 70605402. OCLC 72556.