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1st Fighter Group

Organized as 1st Pursuit Group in France on 5 May 1918. Began operations immediately and served at the front until the end of the war, using Nieuport-28, Spad, and Sopwith Camel aircraft. Protected friendly observation balloons and planes, and made strafing attacks on enemy ground forces, but engaged primarily in counter-air patrols in which the group's pilots gained many victories over enemy aircraft and destroyed numerous observation balloons. Two of the group's pilots were awarded the Medal of Honor: 1st Lt (later Capt) Edward V Rickenbacker - America's World War I "Ace of Aces" who served as commander of the 94th (Hat-in-the-Ring) Squadron - received the medal for action near Billy, France, on 25 Sep 1918 when, disregarding the heavy odds, he attacked a flight of seven enemy planes and shot down two of them; 2nd Lt Frank Luke Jr - the "balloon buster" - was awarded the medal for attacking and shooting down three German balloons on 29 Sep 1918 before his plane was hit and forced to land near Murvaux, France, where he died while defending himself against capture by enemy ground troops. Demobilized in France on 24 Dec 1918.

Reconstituted in 1924 and consolidated with 1st Pursuit Group that had been organized in the US on 22 Aug 1919. Redesignated 1st Pursuit Group (Interceptor) in Dec 1939, and 1st Pursuit Group (Fighter) in Mar 1941. Trained, participated in exercises and maneuvers, put on demonstrations, took part in National Air Races, tested equipment, and experimented with tactics, using Spad, Nieuport, DeHavilland, SE-5, MB-3, PW-8, P-1, P-6, PT-3, P-16, P-26, P-35, P-36, P-38, P-41, P-43, and other aircraft during the period 1919-1941. Was the only pursuit group in the Army's air arm for several years; later, furnished cadres for new units. Moved to the west coast immediately after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and flew patrols for several weeks. Redesignated 1st Fighter Group in May 1942.

Moved to England, Jun-Jul 1942. Assigned to Eighth AF. Entered combat with P-38 aircraft on 28 Aug and flew a number of missions to France before being assigned to Twelfth AF for duty in the Mediterranean theater. Moved to North Africa, part of the ground echelon landing with the assault forces at Arzeu beach on 8 Nov 1942. The air echelon arrived a few days later and the group soon began operations, attacking enemy shipping, escorting bombers, flying strafing missions, and performing reconnaissance duties during the campaign for Tunisia. Participated in the reduction of Pantelleria. Escorted bombers to targets in Sicily and later aided ground forces during the conquest of that island by strafing and dive-bombing roads, motor transports, gun emplacements, troop concentrations, bridges, and railways. Flew missions against the enemy in Italy and received a DUC for its performance on 25 Aug 1943 when the group carried out a strafing attack on Italian airdromes, destroying great numbers of enemy aircraft that presented a serious threat to the Allies' plans for landing troops at Salerno. Also escorted bombers to Italy, receiving another DUC for a mission on 30 Aug 1943 when the group beat off enemy aircraft and thus enabled bombers to inflict serious damage on marshalling yards at Aversa. Supported the invasion at Salerno in Sep and continued operations with Twelfth AF until Nov 1943. Assigned to Fifteenth AF with the primary mission of escorting bombers that attacked targets in Italy, France, Germany, Czechoslovakia, Austria, Hungary, Bulgaria, Rumania, Yugoslavia, and Greece. Received third DUC for covering the withdrawal of B-17's after an attack on Ploesti on 18 May 1944. Also flew strafing and dive-bombing missions in an area from France to the Balkans. Supported the landings at Anzio in Jan 1944 and the invasion of Southern France in Aug 1944. Continued operations until May 1945. Inactivated in Italy on 16 Oct 1945.

Activated in the US on 3 Jul 1946. Equipped first with P-80's and later (1949) with F-86's. Redesignated 1st Fighter-Interceptor Group in Apr 1950. Inactivated on 6 Feb 1952.

Redesignated 1st Fighter Group (Air Defense). Activated on 18 Aug 1955. Assigned to Air Defense Command and equipped with F-86 aircraft.

Squadrons. 17th (formerly 147th): 1918; 1919-1940. 27th: 1918; 1919-1945; 1946-1952. 71st: 1941-1945; 1946-1952; 1955-. 94th: 1918; 1919-1945; 1946-1952; 1955-. 95th: 1918; 1919-1927. 185th: 1918.

Stations. Toul, France, 5 May 1918; Touquin, France, 28 Jun 1918; Saints, France, 9 Jul 1918; Rembercourt, France, c. 1 Sep 1918; Colombey-les-Belles, France, c. 9-24 Dec 1918. Selfridge Field, Mich, 22 Aug 1919; Kelly Field, Tex, c. 31 Aug 1919; Ellington Field, Tex, 1 Jul 1921; Selfridge Field, Mich, 1 Jul 1922; San Diego NAS, Calif, 9 Dec 1941; Los Angeles, Calif, 1 Feb-May 1942; Goxhill, England, 10 Jun 1942; Ibsley, England, 24 Aug 1942; Tafaraoui, Algeria, 13 Nov 1942; Nouvion, Algeria, 20 Nov 1942; Biskra, Algeria, 14 Dec 1942; Chateaudun-du-Rhumel, Algeria, Feb 1943; Mateur, Tunisia, 29 Jun 1943; Sardinia, 31 Oct 1943; Gioia del Colle, Italy, c. 8 Dec 1943; Salsola Airfield, Italy, 8 Jan 1944; Vincenzo Airfield, Italy, 8 Jan 1945; Salsola Airfield, Italy, 21 Feb 1945; Lesina, Italy, Mar-16 Oct 1945. March Field, Calif, 3 Jul 1946; George AFB, Calif, 18 Jul 1950; Griffiss AFB, NY, 15 Aug 1950; George AFB, Calif, 4 Jun 1951; Norton AFB, Calif, 1 Dec 1951-6 Feb 1952. Selfridge AFB, Mich, 18 Aug 1955-.

Commanders. Maj Bert M Atkinson, 5 May 1918; Maj Harold E Hartney, 21 Aug-24 Dec 1918. Lt Col Davenport Johnson, 22-29 Aug 1919; Capt Arthur R Brooks, unkn; Maj Carl Spaatz, c. Nov 1921-Sep 1924; Maj Thomas G Lanphier, unkn; Maj Ralph Royce, 1928; Lt Col Charles H Danforth, c. 1930; Maj George H Brett, unkn; Lt Col Frank M Andrews, c. Jul 1933; Lt Col Ralph Royce, 1934; Maj Edwin House, 30 Apr 1937; Col Henry B Clagett, c. 1938; Col Lawrence P Hickey, c. 1939; Lt Col Robert S Israel, Jul 1941; Maj John O Zahn, 1 May 1942; Col John N Stone, 9 Jul 1942; Col Ralph S Garman, 7 Dec 1942; Maj Joseph S Peddie, 8 Sep 1943; Col Robert B Richard, 19 Sep 1943; Col Arthur C Agan Jr, 15 Nov 1944; Lt Col Milton H Ashkins, 31 Mar 1945; Lt Col Charles W Thaxton, 11 Apr 1945; Col Milton H Ashkins, 28 Apr 1945-unkn. Col Bruce K Holloway, 3 Jul 1946; Col Gilbert L Meyers, 20 Aug 1946; Col Frank S Perego, Jan 1948; Lt Col Jack T Bradley, Jul 1950; Col Dolf E Muehleisen, Jun 1951; Col Walker M Mahurin, 1951; Capt Robert B Bell, Jan-c. Feb 1952. Col Norman S Orwat, 1955-.

Campaigns. World War I: Lorraine; Champagne; Champagne-Marne; Aisne-Marne; Oise-Aisne; St Mihiel; Meuse-Argonne. World War II: Air Combat, EAME Theater; Air Offensive, Europe; Algeria-French Morocco; Tunisia; Sicily; Naples-Foggia; Anzio; Rome-Arno; Normandy; Northern France; Southern France; North Apennines; Rhineland; Central Europe; Po Valley.

Decorations. Distinguished Unit Citations: Italy, 25 Aug 1943; Italy, 30 Aug 1943; Ploesti, Rumania, 18 May 1944.

Insigne. Shield: Vert five bendlets enhanced sable fimbriated or, as many crosses patee in bend debased three and two of the second fimbriated argent. Crest: Upon a wreath of the colors or and vert upon a hurte wavy an arrow palewise reversed between two wings displayed conjoined in lure or. Motto: Aut Vincere Aut Mori - Conquer or Die. (Approved 10 Feb 1924.)

Data from Air Force Combat Units of World War II By Maurer, Maurer, Published 1986

Museum Collection

   Arrow Harold Dean
   Arrow Robert Vrilakas


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