On May 8, 2017 the 27th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron (EFS) officially reached 100 years of service while deployed in support of Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve (CJTF-OIR) at an undisclosed location in Southwest Asia.
Currently deployed with the 380th Air Expeditionary Wing, as explained by Staff Sgt. Marjorie Bowlden, 380th Air Expeditionary Wing (AEW), in the article Anniversary of airpower: Famous fighter squadron celebrates centennial while deployed, the 27th EFS is one of the oldest and most famous fighter squadrons in U.S. history. Squadron alumni in fact include Medal of Honor recipient 2nd Lt. Frank Luke and World War II pilot Lt. Thomas E. Maloney.
The unit has served in both offensive and defensive roles in every major U.S. conflict since the 1st Pursuit Group’s organization in support of WWI in 1917.
“[The 27th Fighter Squadron] was designed for a combat mission and fulfilled that mission, dominating the air combat with 56 aerial victories and 5 Aces,” said Col. Peter M. Fesler, 1 FW commander, to Senior Airman Preston Webb, 380th Air Expeditionary Wing, in the article Century of combat: first fighters still flying for freedom. “The members of the 1st Pursuit Group who formed the foundation of the air component of the Army during WWI developed new tactics to secure the airspace over the trenches in France and Belgium.”
Consistently at the spearhead of operations, the 1 Fighter Wing boasts a number of “firsts,” such as the first U.S. unit to destroy an enemy aircraft in WWI and share in the first U.S. unit to destroy a German aircraft in WWII. They were the first U.S. unit to fly the P-38 Lightning, deploy en masse over the North Atlantic, operate as a jet fighter unit, fly the F-15 Eagle, deploy as a tactical fighter unit to Saudi Arabia in support of Operation Desert Shield, and fly the F-22 Raptor.
The 27th EFS, which is comprised of approximately half of its home unit, is currently carrying on its legacy of valor in the fight against ISIS. This month, the 27th EFS set a record of bombs dropped by an F-22 squadron, letting loose almost 100 munitions in support of CJTF-OIR, said 27th Aircraft Maintenance Unit Superintendent Chief Master Sgt. Richard.
“For 100 years, the 1 FW has been at the forefront of aerial combat,” Fesler said. “To have the 27 FS deployed on their centennial, participating in combat against our enemies, is one of the greatest ways to honor its heritage and tradition of combat excellence.”
Having been the first USAF Squadron to receive the F-22A Raptor, the 27th FS (which was declared operationally ready with the airframe on Dec. 15, 2005) has been at the forefront of the Fifth-Generation jet fighter transition.
“Today, our Airmen continue to provide Air Dominance worldwide with the F-22,” Fesler said. “The 1st Fighter Wing has been at the forefront of air-to-air combat and Air Superiority for a century now, and we will continue to fulfill this mission in the future.”
The 27th FS provides one of the 380 AEW’s five core missions of Global Strike through their operations against ISIS. Since ISIS isn’t a sovereign nation, said 27 EFS Commander Lt. Col. Shell, it differs from traditional targets and presents unique challenges. Shell, however, is confident in his Airmen.
“The Airmen of the 27 FS are second to none. We have a lot of younger pilots that stepped up to the plate right when we got here,” Shell said. “[The pilots] never flinched or faltered, and are ready to take the fight to the enemy.”
While the 27th FS consistently delivers air superiority through combat operations for CJTF-OIR, pilots aren’t alone in the mission. 1st Lt. Jonathan, 27th Aircraft Maintenance Unit assistant officer in-charge, says the 27th AMU ensures the aircraft are ready for operations around the clock.
“Maintenance and ops work hand-in-hand; without one side, you can’t have the other,” Jonathan said. “Without [maintenance Airmen’s] incredible knowledge and professionalism, the Air Force would not be able to do its job.”
As evidenced when the 27 FS received the 2010 Hughes Raytheon Trophy for best air-to-air combat squadron, Airmen continue to deliver decisive airpower and live up to the high standards set for them more than 100 years ago.
“The men and women of the 1 FW provide the highest levels of service and commitment to the Air Force every single day,” Fesler said. “Their dedication and expertise enable 100 percent mission success in every task. They live up to the legacy of all the 1 FW Airmen that came before them, taking great pride in their heritage as the oldest Wing in the Air Force and the premier Air Dominance organization.”
Photo credit: Staff Sgt Marjorie Bowlden, Airman Tyler Woodward and Senior Airman Preston Webb / U.S. Air Force
Artwork courtesy of AircraftProfilePrints.com
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