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78th Fighter Group

Constituted as 78th Pursuit Group (Interceptor) on 13 Jan 1942. Activated on 9 Feb 1942. Redesignated 78th Fighter Group in May 1942. Trained for combat with P-38's and served as part of the air defense organization. Moved to England, Nov-Dec 1942. Assigned to Eighth AF. Lost its P-38's and most of its pilots in Feb 1943 when they were assigned to Twelfth AF for service in North Africa. Began operations from England with P-47's in Apr 1943, converted to P-51's in Dec 1944, and continued combat until Apr 1945. Flew many missions to escort bombers that attacked industries, submarine yards and docks, V-weapon sites, and other targets on the Continent. Also engaged in counter-air activities and on numerous occasions strafed and dive-bombed airfields, trains, vehicles, barges, tugs, canal locks, barracks, and troops. In addition to other operations, participated in the intensive campaign against the German Air Force and aircraft industry during Big Week, 20-25 Feb 1944; helped to prepare the way for the invasion of France; supported landings in Normandy in Jun 1944; contributed to the breakthrough at St Lo in Jul 1944; participated in the Battle of the Bulge, Dec 1944-Jan 1945; and supported the airborne assault across the Rhine in Mar 1945. Received a DUC for activities connected with the airborne attack on Holland in Sep 1944 when the group covered troop carrier and bombardment operations and carried out strafing and dive-bombing missions. Received second DUC for destroying numerous aircraft on five airfields near Prague and Pilsen on 16 Apr 1945. Returned to the US in Oct. Inactivated on 18 Oct 1945.

Activated in Germany on 20 Aug 1946. Assigned to United States Air Forces in Europe for duty with the occupation force. Transferred, without personnel and equipment, to the US in Jun 1947 and had few, if any, personnel assigned until Nov 1948. Equipped with F-84's in the spring of 1949. Redesignated 78th Fighter-Interceptor Group in Jan 1950. Inactivated on 6 Feb 1952.

Redesignated 78th Fighter Group (Air Defense). Activated on 18 Aug 1955. Assigned to Air Defense Command.

Squadrons. 82d: 1942-1945; 1946-1952. 83d: 1942-1945; 1946-1952; 1955-. 84th: 1942-1945; 1946-1952; 1955-.

Stations. Baer Field, Ind, Feb 1942; Muroc, Calif, c. 30 Apr 1942; Hamilton Field, Calif, May-Nov 1942; Goxhill, England, Dec 1942; Duxford, England, Apr 1943-Oct 1945; Camp Kilmer, NJ, c. 16-18 Oct 1945. Straubing, Germany, 20 Aug 1946-Jun 1947; Mitchel Field, NY, Jun 1947; Hamilton AFB, Calif, Nov 1948-6 Feb 1952. Hamilton AFB, Calif, 18 Aug 1955-.

Commanders. Col Arman Peterson, May 1942; Lt Col Melvin F McNickle, Jul 1943; Col James Stone Jr, 31 Jul 1943; Col Frederic C Gray Jr, 22 May 1944; Lt Col Olin E Gilbert, 29 Jan 1945; Col John D Landers, c. 22 Feb 1945; Lt Col Roy B Caviness, 1 Jul 1945-unkn. Col Robert P Montgomery, c. 20 Aug 1946-unkn; Col Earl H Dunham, 1946-unkn; Col John B Patrick, c. 1 Apr 1947; Col Earl H Dunham, c. 1 May 1947; Col Robert W Stephens, c. 1 Jun 1947-unkn; Col Barton M Russell, c. 8 Dec 1948; Col Brian O'Neill, Aug 1949-unkn; Col Jack W Hayes Jr, 1951-unkn. Col Wilton H Earle, 1955-.

Campaigns. Air Offensive, Europe; Normandy; Northern France; Rhineland; Ardennes-Alsace; Central Europe.

Decorations. Distinguished Unit Citations: Holland, 17-23 Sep 1944; Czechoslovakia, 16 Apr 1945.

Insigne. Shield: Per pale indented azure and gules, in chief five chain lengths conjoined fesswise or. Motto: Above The Foe. (Approved 26 Sep 1942.)

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


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