706th Fighter Squadron

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706th Fighter Squadron
Raptor-NellisAFB-2008.jpg
First F-22 Raptor delivered to Nellis AFB. The 706th Fighter Squadron flies this and other fighter aircraft of Nellis' 57th Wing
Active 1943–1945; 1948–1949; 1955–1957; 1959–present
Country  United States
Branch  United States Air Force
Role Fighter
Part of Air Force Reserve Command
10th Air Force
926th Group
Garrison/HQ Nellis AFB, Nevada
Nickname(s) Cajuns
Engagements European Theater of World War II
Gulf War
Decorations Outstanding Unit Award
Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross w/ Palm
Insignia
706th Fighter Squadron Emblem (approved 8 August 1996)[1] 706th Fighter Squadron.png
ETO fuselage code
Squadron color[2]
RT
White

The 706th Fighter Squadron is part of the 926th Group at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada where it oversees Air Force Reserve Command fighter pilots supporting the United States Air Force Warfare Center as an associate of the 57th Wing. Pilots assigned to the 706th fly F-16, F-15C, F-15E, F-22 and A-10 aircraft.

The squadron was originally activated as the 706th Bombardment Squadron a Consolidated B-24 Liberator unit that flew in combat in the European Theater of World War II from 1943-1945.

Since World War II the squadron has been an element of the Air Force Reserve, flying tactical airlift missions from 1955 to 1978, which included training Vietnam Air Force crews in South Viet Nam. Since 1978 the squadron has been a fighter unit, deploying to Bosnia and Southwest Asia on numerous occasions through 2007 when it assumed its current role.

Current Operations[edit]

The 706th Fighter Squadron is assigned to the 926th Group at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada. Air Force Reserve Command personnel supporting fighter operations of the United States Air Force Warfare Center are assigned to the squadron. They are fully integrated with the 57th Wing at Nellis and the 53d Wing at Eglin AFB, Florida[3] and perform operational test and evaluation and tactics development for the F-16, F-15C, F-15E, F-22 and A-10 aircraft.

History[edit]

Emblem of the World War II 706th Bombardment Squadron

World War II[edit]

Training for combat[edit]

446th Bomb Group Liberators on their way to a target. Identifiable is B-24H Liberator 42-7607.

The squadron was first activated on 1 April 1943 at Davis-Monthan Field, Arizona as the 706th Bombardment Squadron with an initial cadre drawn from the 39th Bombardment Group.[4] It was one of the original squadrons of the 446th Bombardment Group.[5][6] The cadre departed for Orlando AAB, Florida for training with the Army Air Forces School of Applied Tactics, where they flew simulated combat missions from Montbrook AAF.[4]

The unit headed for Alamogordo AAF, New Mexico in June 1943, but was diverted to Lowry Field, Colorado, where the squadron was filled out and advanced training was completed.[7] The ground echelon left Lowry on 18 October 1943 for Camp Shanks, New York and embarked on the RMS Queen Mary, sailing on 27 October 1943 and arrived in Greenock on the Firth of Clyde on 2 November 1943. The aircraft left Lowry on 20 October 1943 for staging at Lincoln AAF, NE. The aircrews ferried their planes under the control of Air Transport Command via the southern route from Florida through Puerto Rico, Brazil, Senegal, and Morocco to England. The 706th was part of the first United States Army Air Forces group to complete the Transatlantic hop from Brazil to Africa without the installation of additional bomb bay fuel tanks.[8]

Combat in the European Theater[edit]

446th Bomb Group Liberators on their way to a target. Identifiable is B-24J Liberator 42-100360. This aircraft was shot down 29 April 1944 on mission to Berlin.

The squadron arrived at its new base at RAF Flixton in the east of England in October.[9] The 706th flew its first mission on 16 December 1943 against shipping facilities in Bremen.[10] The unit operated chiefly against strategic objectives. Its targets included U-boat installations at Kiel, the port at Bremen, a chemical plant at Ludwigshafen, ball-bearing works at Berlin, aircraft engine plants at Rostock, aircraft factories at Munich, marshalling yards at Coblenz, motor works at Ulm, and oil refineries at Hamburg.[6]

Besides strategic missions, the 706th often carried out support and air interdiction operations. It supported the Normandy invasion in June 1944 by attacking strong points, bridges, airfields, transportation, and other targets in France. The squadron aided ground forces at Caen and Saint-Lô during July by hitting bridges, gun batteries, and enemy troops. It dropped supplies to Allied troops near Nijmegen during Operation Market-Garden in September. The unit bombed marshalling yards, bridges, and road junctions during the Battle of the Bulge in December 1944 and January 1945. It flew low level missions to drop medical supplies, arms, and food to airborne and ground troops near Wesel during Operation Varsity in March 1945.[6][11] The 706th flew its last combat mission on 25 April, attacking a bridge near Salzburg, Austria.[6]

After V-E Day, the 706th flew transport missions to France, sometimes landing at fields that had been targets the previous year. It also flew Trolley missions, transporting support personnel for "sightseeing" trips over Germany to view the results of their efforts.[12] The squadron began to redeploy to the US in June 1945. The first aircraft of the air echelon departed the United Kingdom in mid-June 1945 flying the northern route via Iceland. The ground echelon sailed from Greenock on the Queen Mary on the sixth of July 1945 and arrived in New York on 11 July 1945. Personnel were given 30 days leave. The ground and air echelons reassembled at Sioux Falls AAF, South Dakota in late July. Its personnel were transferred to other Second Air Force units or demobilized and the squadron was inactivated on 28 August 1945.[13]

Reserve Operations[edit]

Air Force Reserve C-119

The 706th became a very heavy bombardment squadron in the Air Force Reserve in 1948 stationed at Biggs AFB, Texas, home of the regular 97th Bombardment Wing, a Boeing B-29 Superfortress unit, but does not appear to have been equipped or fully manned. The squadron was ordered into active service in May 1951 and its personnel were reassigned to other units and the unit was inactivated in June.[5]

Airlift[edit]

C-130 in Viet Name era camouflage

Reactivated in the reserves again in 1955 as the 706th Troop Carrier Squadron and again stationed away from its parent group, which was at Ellington AFB, Texas. The 706th flew the Curtiss C-46 Commando. The squadron was inactivated in 1957 and its mission, personnel and equipment were transferred to the 357th Troop Carrier Squadron.[5][14] The squadron was reactivated as a Fairchild C-119 Flying Boxcar reserve squadron at Barksdale AFB in 1959, moving to Naval Air Station New Orleans two years later.[5] It became a "Tactical Airlift" squadron in 1967, reflecting its broader mission that including transporting supplies and equipment in addition to troops. The squadron upgradrf to Lockheed C-130 Hercules aircraft in 1969. In October 1972 the squadron deployed two C-130s to Viet Nam in a program to provide the Vietnam Air Force (VNAF) an airlift capability independent of the United States Air Force.[3] It was awarded the Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross w/ Palm for its efforts.[1]

A-37 Dragonfly, first fighter flown by the 706th

Fighter[edit]

In 1978 the squadron transitioned to the Cessna A-37 Dragonfly and was redesignated the 706th Tactical Fighter Squadron concentrating on close air support. It upgraded to the Fairchild Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II in 1982. In 1987 the squadron earned top honors in Tactical Air Command's Gunsmoke gunnery competition.[3]

A-10 "Warthog" on a mission during Operation Desert Storm

The squadron was called to active duty for Operation Desert Shield in December 1990 and its first A-10s departed for Saudi Arabia on New Year's Day 1991. It flew combat in Southwest Asia as part of Operation Desert Storm,[3] where deployed elements were attached to the Tactical Fighter Wing, Provisional, 354th until 25 March 1991 at King Fahd International Airport, Saudi Arabia.[citation needed] One of the squadron's pilots, Captain Bob Swain, scored the first aerial victory by a "Warthog" when he shot down an Iraqi Air Force helicopter. The squadron returned to the United States in May 1991[3]

F-16 on patrol during Operation Northern Watch

The squadron converted to General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon fighter operations, completing the transition in October 1992.[3] With the "Lawn Dart" the 706th participated in United Nations patrols to enforce a no-fly zone over Bosnia in March and April 1995[1] and over Iraq in Operation Northern Watch and Operation Southern Watch.[3]

In 1997 the squadron returned to flying A-10s, completing the transition in September. In 1999 it returned to Kuwait as part of Aerospace Expeditionary Force 1. It deployed elements as part of the 81st Expeditionary Fighter Squadron in 2002 at Bagram AB, Afghanistan[citation needed] in 2002 during Operation Enduring Freedom.[3] It also supported Operation Noble Eagle, Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation New Dawn. While supporting the relief efforts in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina elements operated from Whiteman AFB, Missouri and Barksdale AFB, Louisiana in September 2005.[citation needed] In October 2007, reserve flying operations at New Orleans ARS and the squadron moved to its present location.[1]

Lineage[edit]

  • Constituted 706th Bombardment Squadron (Heavy) on 20 March 1943
Activated on 1 April 1943
Redesignated 706th Bombardment Squadron, Heavy on 20 August 1943
Inactivated on 28 August 1945
  • Redesignated 706th Bombardment Squadron, Very Heavy on 26 September 1947
Activated in the Reserve on 26 March 1948
Inactivated on 27 June 1949
  • Redesignated 706th Troop Carrier Squadron, Medium on 9 September 1955
Activated in the Reserve on 8 October 1955
Inactivated on 16 November 1957
  • Activated in the Reserve on 7 February 1959
Redesignated 706th Tactical Airlift Squadron on 1 July 1967
Redesignated 706th Tactical Fighter Squadron on 1 April 1978
Redesignated 706th Fighter Squadron on 1 February 1992[1]

Assignments[edit]

Stations[edit]

Aircraft[edit]

Awards and Campaigns[edit]

Award streamer Award Dates Notes
AFOUA with Valor.jpg Air Force Outstanding Unit Award with Combat V 2 April 2002 - 31 July 2002 706th Fighter Squadron[1]
Air Force Outstanding Unit Award Streamer.jpg Air Force Outstanding Unit Award 26 January 1968 - 10 January 1972 706th Tactical Airlift Squadron[1]
Air Force Outstanding Unit Award Streamer.jpg Air Force Outstanding Unit Award 1 April 1968 - 20 January 1980 706th Tactical Fighter Squadron[1]
Air Force Outstanding Unit Award Streamer.jpg Air Force Outstanding Unit Award 1 April 1988 - 31 March 1990 706th Tactical Fighter Squadron[1]
Air Force Outstanding Unit Award Streamer.jpg Air Force Outstanding Unit Award 27 August 2007 - 26 August 2009 706th Fighter Squadron[1]
VGCP Streamer.jpg Gallantry Cross (Vietnam) with Palm 14 February 1968 - 6 November 1972 706th Tactical Airlift Squadron[1]
Campaign Streamer Campaign Dates Notes
European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal streamer.png Air Offensive, Europe
European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal streamer.png Normandy [1]
European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal streamer.png Northern France [1]
European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal streamer.png Rhineland [1]
European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal streamer.png Central Europe [1]
European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal streamer.png Ardennes-Alsace [1]
Streamer SAS.PNG Defense of Saudi Arabia [1]
Streamer SAS.PNG Liberation and Defense of Kuwait [1]
Streamer SAS.PNG Ceasefire [1]

References[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w Robertson, Patsy, AFHRA Factsheet 706 Fighter Squadron 10/3/2011 (retrieved 5 September 2013)
  2. ^ Watkins, Robert (2008). Battle Colors: Insignia and Markings of the Eighth Air Force In World War II. Vol I (VIII) Bomber Command. Atglen, PA: Shiffer Publishing Ltd. pp. 90–91. ISBN 0-7643-1987-6. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h 926 Group Heritage Pamphlet (retrieved 5 September 2013)
  4. ^ a b Castens, Edward H., ed. (1946). The Story of the 446th Bomb Group (VH). Bangor Public Library World War Regimental Histories No. 110. San Angelo, TX: Newsfoto Publishing Co. p. 20. Retrieved 2 September 2013. 
  5. ^ a b c d Maurer, Maurer, ed. (1982) [1969]. Combat Squadrons of the Air Force, World War II (PDF) (reprint ed.). Washington, DC: Office of Air Force History. p. 710. ISBN 0-405-12194-6. LCCN 70605402. OCLC 72556. 
  6. ^ a b c d Maurer, Maurer, ed. (1983) [1961]. Air Force Combat Units of World War II (PDF) (reprint ed.). Washington, DC: Office of Air Force History. pp. 320–321. ISBN 0-912799-02-1. LCCN 61060979. 
  7. ^ Castens, pp. 22-23
  8. ^ Castens, pp. 26-30
  9. ^ Bungay airfield, English Heritage. Retrieved 2013-01-21.
  10. ^ Castens, p. 38
  11. ^ Castens, p. 98
  12. ^ Castens, p. 105
  13. ^ Castens, pp. 154, 157
  14. ^ Maurer, Combat Squadrons, p. 444
  15. ^ Station number in Anderson, Capt. Barry (1985). Army Air Forces Stations: A Guide to the Stations Where U.S. Army Air Forces Personnel Served in the United Kingdom During World War II (PDF). Maxwell AFB, AL: Research Division, USAF Historical Research Center. Retrieved 7 July 2012. 

Bibliography[edit]

 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the Air Force Historical Research Agency.

See also[edit]