8th Tactical Fighter Wing History
The 8th Tactical Fighter Wing traces its history back to
Ashiya Airfield, Japan, where it was activated under its present designation Aug. 18,
1948. Using temporary bestowal, the wing also claims the lineage and honors of its
predecessor unit, the 8th Fighter Group, which was activated at Langley Field, Virginia,
April 1, 1931.
From its activation in 1948 until the outbreak of the Korean Conflict, the wing participated in the air defense of Japan. The wing was redesignated as the 8th Fighter Bomber Wing Jan. 20, 1950.
On June 26, 1950, one day after North Korean forces invaded the Republic of Korea, the wing flew air cover for the evacuation of Americans from South Korea, thus becoming the first wing to fly combat missions in that conflict. The following day, June 27, 1st Lt. Robert H. Dewald, assigned to the 8th Fighter Bomber Wing's 35th Fighter Squadron, shot down an enemy aircraft. Flying an F-80, the lieutenant achieved the first enemy aircraft kill of that conflict, as well as the first confirmed U.S. Air Force kill from a jet aircraft.
On Dec. 1, 1958, as U.S. forces pressed the attack on North Korean forces, the wing moved to Pyongyang, North Korea. Then only days later on Dec. 9, the wing moved to Seoul, South Korea, and then on to Itazuke Air Base, Japan. Throughout the Korean Conflict, the wing primarily conducted air-to-ground operations, providing close air support for United Nations ground forces, and striking enemy resources such as supply centers and transportation assets. For its efforts during the war, the 8th Fighter Bomber Wing was awarded two Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citations and 10 campaign streamers.
The wing was redesignated the 8th Tactical Fighter Wing, July 1, 1958. From the beginning of the Korean Conflict until its move to George Air Force Base, Calif., July 10, 1964, the wing flew F-51, F-80, F-82, F-86, F-100, F-102 and F-105 aircraft. After moving, without personnel or resources, to George, the wing flew the new McDonnell F-4C Phantom II.
In early December 1965, the 8th Tactical Fighter Wing moved to Ubon Airfield, Thailand, where it would remain until 1974. Once in Thailand, the wing began combat operations in Vietnam. Operations included bombardment, ground support, air defense, interdiction and armed reconnaissance. Initially the wing was comprised of three squadrons, the 433rd TFS, the 555th TFS and the 497th TFS. It was later joined by the 435th TFS, which deployed to Ubon from Eglin, AFB, FL, in June of 67. Starting the year 1967, with Operation Bolo, the 8th TFW downed seven MiG-21s in one day, and two more, 2 days later. The wing flew mainly air-to-air missions against MiG aircraft over North Vietnam. The aggressiveness and teamwork of the wing's pilots in destroying enemy aircraft earned the 8th the distinction of having the highest number of aerial kills (38.5) of any wing in that war. These achievements also prompted then wing commander, Col. Robin Olds, to nickname the wing "The Wolf Pack." This nickname remains and has become synonymous with the 8th Tactical Fighter Wing.
During its nine years at Ubon, the wing earned 16 campaign
streamers, three Presidential Unit Citations, six Air Force Outstanding Unit Awards with
Combat V device and the Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross with palm. See Awards
On Sept. 16, 1974, the 8th Tactical Fighter Wing moved, without personnel or equipment, to Kunsan Air Base, South Korea.
The Wolf Pack's transition from the F-4 Phantom II to the F-16 Lawn Dart began with the arrival of the wing's first F-16 May 29, 1981. The wing's first F-16 sortie was flown the following September and, by July 19, 1982, the transition was complete as the last F-4 departed Kunsan.
As part of an unending Air Force-wide reorganization, the 8th Tactical Fighter Wing was redesignated the 8th Fighter Wing Feb. 3, 1992. This reorganization also entailed the activation of the original 8th Fighter Group with the designation of the 8th Operations Group. The primary effect of the reorganization was to streamline the chain of command by going from Deputy Commanders for Operations, Maintenance and Resource Management, to a four-group structure -- Operations, Logistics, Support and Medical -- that reported to the wing.
Today, the 8th Fighter Wing, comprised of the 35th Fighter Squadron Pantons and the 80th Fighter Squadron Juvats, performs both air-to-ground and air-to-air missions in support of numerous taskings throughout the Pacific. With 56 assigned F-16C/D aircraft, an annual budget of $78 million and approximately 3,000 military and civilian members, the members of the Wolf Pack carry out their daily peacetime duties as they remain ready to execute their combat missions.
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