51st Fighter Wing

51st Fighter Wing

Infobox Military Unit
unit_name=51st Fighter Wing

dates= 15 January 1941 — present
country=United States
branch=Air Force
command_structure=Pacific Air Forces
garrison=Osan Air Base South Korea
motto=Leading The Charge

* World War II: Asiatic-Pacific Campaign (1941-1945)
* Korean Service (1950-1954)
notable_commanders= Benjamin O. Davis, Jr.
Robert H. Foglesong
The 51st Fighter Wing (51 FW) is a wing of the United States Air Force and the host unit at Osan Air Base, South Korea.

The 51st Fighter Wing is under Pacific Air Forces' Seventh Air Force. The unit is the most forward deployed wing in the world, providing combat ready forces for close air support, air strike control, counter air, interdiction, theater airlift, and communications in the defense of the Republic of Korea. The wing executes military operations to beddown, maintain and employ follow-on forces for the combined arms base that includes three major flying tenants and large multiservice fighting units.

The wing is equipped with General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcons and Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II squadrons and a myriad of base support agencies conducts the full spectrum of missions providing for the defense of the Republic of Korea.


The mission of the 51st FW is to provide mission ready Airmen to execute combat operations and receive follow-on forces. The wing accomplishes this mission through:

* Conducting exercises to ensure our forces maintain the highest degree of readiness to defend Osan AB against air and ground attack.

* Maintaining and administering U.S. operations at Osan and five collocated operating bases -- Taegu, Suwon, Kwang Ju, Kimhae and Cheong Ju – for reception and beddown of follow-on forces.
* Providing timely and accurate air power in support of military operations directed by higher headquarters.


The 51st Fighter Wing is composed of four groups each with specific functions. The Operations Group controls all flying and airfield operations. The Maintenance Group performs maintenance of aircraft, ground equipment and aircraft components. The Mission Support Group has a wide range of responsibilities but a few of its functions are Security, Civil Engineering, Communications, Personnel Management, Logistics, Services and Contracting support. While the Medical Group provides medical and dental care
* 51st Operations Group (Tail Code OS)
** Operations Support Squadron (OSS)
** 25th Fighter Squadron (25 FS) (OA-10)
** 36th Fighter Squadron (36 FS) (Block 40 F-16C/D)

* 51st Mission Support Group
** Civil Engineer Squadron (CES)
** Mission Support Squadron (MSS)
** Logistics Readiness Squadron (LRS)
** Security Forces Squadron (SFS)
** Services Squadron (SVS)
** Communications Squadron (CS)
* 51st Maintenance Group
** Maintenance Operations Squadron (MOS)
** Maintenance Squadron (MXS)
** Aircraft Maintenance Squadron (AMXS)
** Munitions Squadron (MUNS)
* 51st Medical Group
** Aerospace Medicine Squadron (AMDS)
** Medical Support Squadron (MDSS)
** Medical Operations Squadron (MDOS)
** Dental Squadron (DS)
* 51st Fighter Wing Staff Agencies
** Inspector General (IG)
** Comptroller (CPTS)
** Safety (SE)
** Chapel (HC)
** Judge Advocate General (JAG)
** Protocol (CCP)
** Command Post (OC)
** Public Affairs (PA)
** Military Equal Opportunity (MEO)
** Historian (HO)



* 51st Pursuit Group (Interceptor) (January 1941)
* 51st Pursuit Group (Fighter) (March 1941)
* 51st Fighter Group (May 1942)
* 51st Fighter-Interceptor Wing (February 1950)***
* 51st Air Base Wing (October 1971)
* 51st Composite Wing (Tactical) (September 1974)
* 51st Tactical Fighter Wing (July 1982)
* 51 Fighter Wing (October 1993)

.*** Honors, Lineage and History of USAAF World War II 51st Fighter Group bestowed on 51st Fighter-Interceptor Wing, 1952

Stations Assigned

United States Army Air Forces
* Hamilton AAFld, California (January 1941)
* March AAFld, California (June 1941 - January 1942)
* India (Various) (March 1942 - October 1943)
* Kunming, China, (October 1943 - September 1945)
* India (Various) (September - November 1945)
* Fort Lewis, Washington (December 1945)
* Yontan Afld, Okinawa (October 1946)
* Naha Afld (later, Naha AB), Okinawa, (May 1947 - September 1950)United States Air Force
* Itazuke AB, Japan (September 1950)
* Kimpo AB (K-14), South Korea (October - December 1950)
* Itazuke AB, Japan (December 1950 - January 1951)
* Tsuiki AB, Japan (January - October 1951)
* Suwon AB (K-13), South Korea (October 1951 - July 1954)
* Naha AB, Okinawa (August 1954 - May 1971)
* Osan AB, South Korea (November 1971 - Present)

Aircraft Assigned

The 51st FW’s aircrews have flown a variety of aircraft, including the P-40 Warhawk, P-38 Lightning, P/F-51 Mustang, F-80 Shooting Star, F-82 Twin Mustang, F-86 Sabrejet, F-94 Starfire, F-102A Delta Dagger, F-4E Phantom II, F-106A Delta Dart, OV-10 Bronco, A-10 and OA-10 Thunderbolt II and several versions of the F-16 Fighting Falcon.

World War II

During 1941, trained in the United States for fighter operations. After the Pearl Harbor attack on December 7th, the 51st served as part of the defense force for the west coast. Operational squadrons of the group were the 16th, 25th, 26th and 449th.

The group was deployed to India via Australia and Ceylon beginning in January 1942 and arriving in March, serving in the China Burma India Theater of World War II. It was assigned to Tenth Air Force and equipped with Curtiss P-40 Warhawks and Lockheed P-38 Lightnings. The group defended the Indian terminus of the "Hump" airlift route over the Himalaya Mountains between India and China and airfields in that area. The group flew strafing, bombing, reconnaissance, and patrol missions in support of Allied ground troops during a Japanese offensive in northern Burma in 1943.

After moving to China in October 1943 the 51st FG was assigned to the 69th Composite Wing of Fourteenth Air Force. The group defended the Chinese end of the Hump route and air bases in the Kunming area. Attached Japanese shipping in the Red River delta of Indochina and supported Chinese ground forces in their late 1944 drive along the Salween River. The group was reequipped with North American P-51D Mustangs in 1945 to defend the eastern end of the route over the Hump, and to guard air bases in the Kunming area.

The 51st Fighter Group returned to India in the fall of 1945 and sailed for the Unied States in November. The group was inactivated on 13 December 1945.

The group was reactivated at Yontan Air Base Okinawa in 1946 and moved to Naha AB when Yontan closed in 1947. The group was assigned to the Twentieth Air Force, 301st Fighter Wing. The group served as part of the occupation force and provided air defense for Okinawa and the Ryukyu Islands until 1950.

Korean War

With the outbreak of the Korean War in 1950, elements of the 51st were dispatched first to Japan, then to South Korea. Korean War operational squadrons were:

* 16th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron: duration (F-80C, F-86F)
* 25th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron: duration (F-80C, F-86F)
* 26th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron: duration (F-80C, F-86F)
* 39th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron: attached June 1, 1952- (F-80C, F-86F)
* 68th Fighter-All Weather Squadron: attached September 25-October 9, 1950 (F-82F/G)
* 80th Fighter-Bomber Squadron: attached September 25-December 20, 1950 (F-80C)

It entered combat service flying the F-80C Shooting Star on 22 September of that year, when it moved to Itazuke AB, Japan, to support the breakout of the U.S. Eighth Army from the Pusan Perimeter. For nearly 4 years thereafter, the 51st FIW played a key role in the defense of South Korea despite moving to four different locations within a year and operating under austere conditions.

The wing moved to South Korea in October only to return to Japan in December, leaving combat elements behind. In May 1951, the 51st FIW moved to Suwon AB, southwest of Seoul, but retained maintenance and supply elements at Tsuiki AB, Japan, to provide rear echelon support. In November 1951 the 51st FIW transitioned to the F-86 Sabre with two squadrons (16th, 25th), adding a third squadron (26th) the following May.

The group operated a detachment at Suwon AB, Korea, beginning in May 1951, and relocated there in October 1951, with maintenance and supply elements remaining in Japan until August 1954. The wing ceased combat on 27 July 1953. The 51 FIW's war record was impressive. Wing pilots flew more than 45,000 sorties and shot down 312 MiG-15s; this produced 14 air aces including the top ace of the war, Captain Joseph C. McConnell. The ratio of aerial victories to losses was 10 to 1. Unfortunately, the wing lost 32 pilots to enemy action; however, nine that became prisoners of war were repatriated later.

Cold War

On 1 August 1954, the 51 FIW returned to Naha Air Base to resume air defense coverage of the Ryukyu Islands. Operational squadrons were the 16th, 25th 26th FISs. At the same time, the wing demonstrated its mobility readiness in response to three regional crises.

From August 1958 to January 1959, the 51 FIW deployed eight F-86Ds to Ching Chuan Kang Air Base Taiwan to fly combat air support missions for Nationalist Chinese forces after mainland Communist Chinese forces shelled the Nationalist-held islands of Quemoy and Matsu. Six years later, the wing deployed 12 F-102s to the Philippines and South Vietnam from August to October 1964 for air defense against possible Communist North Vietnamese air attacks.

During the Vietnam War, crews of the 51st Fighter Interceptor Wing provided air defense of Naha AB, Okinawa, with F-102s. During the 1968 Pueblo crisis, the wing deployed 12 of is 33 aircraft to Suwon AB. On 31 May 1971, the 51st FIW was inactivated, ending almost 17 years of service in the Pacific from Naha when it was inactivated as the Air Force began scaling down its activities in Southeast Asia. In 1975 Naha Air Base closed.

The 51st was inactive for only five months. On 1 November 1971, the wing was redesignated the 51st Air Base Wing and activated at Osan Air Base, South Korea. At Osan, the 51st assumed the host responsibilities of the inactivated 6314th Support Wing at to include the Koon-ni range and a variety of remote sites. Operational squadrons of the 51st at Osan have been:

Fighter Squadrons
* 25th Fighter Squadron (1992-Present A-10, OA-10)
* 36th Fighter Squadron (F-4E 1974-88), (F-16C/D 1988-Present))
* 497th Fighter Squadron (F-4E) (1982-84)

Other Squadrons
* 19th Tactical Air Support Squadron (1971-93 OV-10A, OA-37B, A-10A)
* 38th Rescue Squadron (HH-60G 1993-94)
* 55th Airlift Flight (C-12F/J 1992-2007)

In the first of many changes in name and combat capability over the next 20 years, the 51 ABW became the 51st Composite Wing (Tactical) on 30 September 1974, when an F-4E Phantom II fighter squadron (36th TFS) and OV-10 tactical air support squadron (19th TASS) were assigned. The defining changes of these decades included the addition of a squadron of A-10s (25th TFS) on 1 January 1982, then based at Suwon AB; the transition from the F-4E to the F-16 in August 1988; and the assignment of a flight of turboprop C-12Js in August 1992.

Post Cold War Era

On 1 October 1993, after a half-dozen name changes, the wing returned to its original and current designation as the 51st Fighter Wing. Since then, the 51st has stayed true to its proud heritage, ensuring the defense of South Korea as a proven combat force and as an able host ready to receive and integrate follow-on forces on the peninsula.


The list of commanders for the 51st Fighter Wing and its predecessors includes a wartime hero, Colonel Francis Gabreski, and an aviation pioneer, Tuskegee Airman Colonel Benjamin O. Davis Jr. [http://www.af.mil/news/story.asp?id=123062108]

* Brig Gen Hugo P. Rush, 18 August 1948
* Col John F. Egan, March 25 1949
* Col Richard M. Montgomery, April 1 1949
* Col John W. Weltman, 19 September 1949
* Col Oliver G. Cellini, April 24 1951
* Col William P. Litton, 1 November 1951 (Crashed 2 November 1951, on mission, missing and presumed dead)
* Col George R. Stanley, 2 November 1951
* Col Francis S. Gabreski, 6 November 1951
* Col John W. Mitchell, June 13 1952
* Col William C. Clark, May 31 1953
* Col Ernest H. Beverly, 9 August 1953
* Col William C. Clark, 11 September 1953
* Col Benjamin O. Davis Jr., ca. Dec. 1953
* Col Barton M. Russell, July 2 1954
* Col Travis Hoover, 1 August 1954
* Col Hilmer C. Nelson, 9 August 1954
* Col Edwin C. Ambrosen, 16 August 1954
* Col John H. Bell, 15 November 1955
* Col Paul E. Hoeper, 2 February 1957
* Col Robert L. Cardenas, May 4 1957
* Col Walter V. Gresham Jr., July 15 1957
* Col Elliott H. Reed, 1 August 1957
* Col Walter V. Gresham Jr., 15 August 1957
* Col Lester J. Johnsen, 22 November 1957
* Col William W. Ingenhutt, March 25 1960
* Col Lester C. Hess, July 24 1962
* Col Lloyd R. Larson, June 11 1965
* Col Frank E. Angier, April 8 1967
* Col John B. Weed, June 13 1968
* Col Roy D. Carlson, June 30 1968
* Col Hewitt E. Lovelace Jr., 1 November 1971
* Col John H. Allison, 1 August 1972
* Col Billie J. Norwood, June 7 1973
* Col Alonzo L. Ferguson, May 1 1974
* Col Glenn L. Nordin, 30 September 1974
* Col Vernon H. Sandrock, 12 August 1975
* Col Fred B. Hoenniger, June 15 1977
* Col James T. Boddie Jr., June 18 1979
* Col John C. Scheidt Jr., May 16 1980
* Col Eugene Myers, 20 February 1981
* Col Thomas R. Olsen, July 16 1982
* Col Marcus F. Cooper Jr., May 26 1983
* Col Barry J. Howard, 18 October 1983
* Col Charles D. Link, July 20 1984
* Col Henry J. Cochran, 12 August 1985
* Col John C. Marshall, June 12 1987
* Col James J. Winters, June 30 1989
* Col Thomas R. Case, July 17 1990
* Brig Gen Robert G. Jenkins, June 23 1992
* Brig Gen Robert H. Foglesong, 31 January 1994
* Brig Gen Steven R. Polk, 21 November 1995
* Brig Gen Paul R. Dordal, May 15 1997
* Brig Gen Robert R. Dierker, 15 September 1998
* Brig Gen David E. Clary, May 22 2000
* Brig Gen William L. Holland, March 18 2002
* Brig Gen Maurice H. Forsyth, 29 September 2003
* Brig Gen Joseph Reynes Jr., July 8 2005
* Col Jon A. Norman, June 15 2007

ee also

* 314th Air Division
* 313th Air Division
* 301st Fighter Wing
* Fourteenth Air Force
* United States Air Force In South Korea


* [http://home.att.net/~jbaugher/usafserials.html USAAS-USAAC-USAAF-USAF Aircraft Serial Numbers--1908 to present]
* This article contains information from the " [http://www.osan.af.mil Osan Air Base factsheet] " which is an official document of the United States Government and is presumed to be in the public domain.

* Maurer, Maurer (1983). Air Force Combat Units Of World War II. Maxwell AFB, Alabama: Office of Air Force History. ISBN 0892010924.
* Martin, Patrick (1994). Tail Code: The Complete History of USAF Tactical Aircraft Tail Code Markings. Schiffer Military Aviation History. ISBN 0887405134.
* Ravenstein, Charles A. (1984). Air Force Combat Wings Lineage and Honors Histories 1947-1977. Maxwell AFB, Alabama: Office of Air Force History. ISBN 0912799129.
* Rogers, Brian (2005). United States Air Force Unit Designations Since 1978. Hinkley, England: Midland Publications. ISBN 1-85780-197-0.
* Thompson, Warren (2000). F-86 Sabre Fighter-Bomber Units over Korea. Osprey Publishing ISBN 1855329298
* Thompson, Warren (2001). F-80 Shooting Star Units over Korea. Osprey Publishing ISBN 1841762253

External links

* [http://www.af.mil/history/51fw.asp 51st Fighter Wing Heritage Site]
* [http://www.osan.af.mil/ Osan AB Home Page]

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