33rd Fighter Wing [33rd FW]
The 33d Fighter Wing, known as the "Nomads" for its constant travel throughout the world, has a long and distinguished history dating back to battles over the skies of Europe and Asia skies during World War II. Activated as the 33d Pursuit Group at Mitchel Field, NY on January 15, 1941, the unit performed combat operations during World War II in North Africa, the Mediterranean and the China, India, Burma theater. The group flew the P-39 Aircobra while in training at Michel Field, and the P-40 Warhawk, P-47 Thunderbolt and P-38 Lightning during World War II. Following World War II, the 33d flew the P-51 Mustang as part of the occupation forces stationed in Germany.
The wing returned to the U.S. and was stationed at Roswell, NM. The 33d FW continued to operate the P-51 until they transitioned to the jet age and began flying the F-84 Thunderjet. Moving to Otis AFB, Mass., the wing converted to the F-86 Sabre and subsequently flew the F-89 Scorpion and F-84 Starfire before deactivating in 1957.
In 1965 the 33d reactivated at Eglin AFB, Fla. under the new designation of 33d Tactical Fighter Wing and began flying the F-4 Phantom. During the Vietnam War, the 33d TFW trained, equipped and deployed eight combat squadrons of F-4s to Southeast Asia. While there, Nomad aircrews scored two aerial victories.
The 33d TFW received its first F-15 Eagle 1978 and continues to fly the Eagle to present day. In 1980s the wing was the first in Tactical Air Command to take part in the Multi-Stage Improvement Program (MSIP). Additionally, the wing won William Tell, a biennial Air Force-wide air-to-air competition, in 1984 and 1986, followed by the "Long Arrow" competition, a no-notice air-to-air competition, in 1987.
The wing's F-15s saw their first combat in October 1984 when the 33d participated in Operation Urgent Fury, the rescue of American medical students from Grenada. Five years later, Nomads saw action during the removal of Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega in Operation Just Cause.
In 1990-91, the wing participated in the thwarting of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein during Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. The wing distinguished itself by scoring 16 aerial kills, including the first kill of the war, the most of any single unit. In addition to the kills, the 33d accomplished a number of firsts including: the most air-to-air kills, the most double kills and the most sorties and hours flown by any unit in the combat theater. The 33d FW, the only unit whose wing commander scored an air-to-air victory, destroyed the most MiG-29's (a total of five). Following Desert Shield/Story, the Air Force restructured its forces. Under the new structure the 33d was redesignated the 33d Fighter Wing. The same year, it became the first fighter wing to bring the AIM-20 AMRAAM (Advance Medium Range Air-to-Air Missile) into full combat capable service.
In 1994, the 33d participated in Operation Uphold Democracy, providing support to the recognized government in Haiti. The same year, the wing participated in Operation Vigilant Warrior, the close monitoring of Saddam Hussein in a perceived strengthening of force.
Currently the 33d Fighter Wing is a combat-flying unit of Air Combat Command's 9th Air Force and is a major tenant unit on Eglin Air Force Base. The wing operates two flying squadrons, the 58th and 60th, each with 26 MSIP F-15C/D Eagles, along with the 33d Operations Support Squadron, the 33d Logistics Support Squadron, the 33d Maintenance Squadron and the 728th Air Control Squadron. The wing's mission is to "Maintain the world's best rapidly deployable air control and air superiority forces for theater Commander-in-Chiefs." The 33d FW supports an annual rotation to Saudi Arabia for Operation Southern Watch, patrolling the no-fly zone in Iraq. The wing recently participated in Airpower Expeditionary Force III (AEF III) in the small southwest Asia country of Qatar and currently has an alert commitment to the North Atlantic country of Iceland. In addition to the flying operations of the 33d, the 728th Air Control Squadron has participated in Steady State (support of the drug war in South America), Deny Flight and supports a rotation to Kuwait as part of Operation Desert Calm.
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