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49th Fighter Wing [49th FW]

The Air Force announced in March 2006 that Holloman AFB, NM, and Hickam AFB, Hawaii, were its preferred third and fourth beddown locations for the F-22 Raptor. Chief of Staff Gen. Michael Moseley unveiled the plans in a statement that his office released on 01 March 2006. He noted that the Air Force "must still complete the environmental analyses required under the National Environmental Policy Act" before finalizing the decision on these two sites. Sens. Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) and Pete Domenici (R-NM) said in a joint statement issued on March 1 that Holloman would host two Raptor squadrons, with the first aircraft arriving in late 2008.

The 49th Fighter Wing was originally organized as the 49th Pursuit Group (Interceptor) in 1940. At that time, the unit was among the first to deploy from the United States to the Pacific Theater of Operations during World War II. Redesignated the 49th Fighter Group, the unit played an important role in halting Japanese advances in the Southwest Pacific. During four years of World War II combat, the group was successful in providing air defense from Australia to the Philippines.

By war's end, the group's pilots destroyed 678 enemy aircraft, a record surpassing that of any other fighter group in the Pacific Theater. The group's World War II activities merited two Philippines Republic Presidential Unit Citations, three U.S. Distinguished Unit Citations, and 10 battle honors. Among the unit's 43 aces were Lt. Colonel Boyd D. "Buzz" Wagner, the first World War II ace in the Pacific Theater, and Major Richard I. Bong, whose 40 kills made him America's number one ace (a record that still stands). The 49th soon became endeared to the American people through the nickname, "Fighting 49ers".

On August 19, 1948, the 49th Fighter Wing activated at Misawa Air Base, Japan. At Misawa, the 49th conducted training exercises with P-51 and F-80 aircraft as a part of the occupational forces in Japan. Redesignated the 49th Fighter- Bomber Wing on February 1, 1950, the 49th began operations in Korea in June 1950. The wing was among the first jet fighter units to operate in the Korean War. The unit participated in every major air campaign while supporting the United Nations' forces with air interdiction and close air support missions. One of the most decorated Air Force units in the Korean conflict, the 49th earned two Republic of Korea Presidential Unit citations and another eight battle honors. Such accomplishments earned the wing a niche in United States Air Force history.

In 1957, the 49th completed 15 years of continuous service in Asia, moving from Misawa Air Base, Japan, to Etain-Rouvres Air Base, France. There, under the control of the U.S. Air Forces in Europe (USAFE), the 49th replaced the inactivated 388th Fighter-Bomber Wing. During its time in France, the wing converted from the F-84 to the F-100D . In August 1959, the 49th Tactical Fighter Wing began a nine-year stay at Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany. The 49th transitioned to the F-105D in 1961 and F-4D in 1967.

On July 1, 1968, the 49th arrived at Holloman Air Force Base, becoming the first dual-based tactical fighter wing. Under the dual-basing concept, the 49th, stationed at Holloman, deployed individual squadrons periodically to Europe, fulfilling their NATO commitment.

In 1969, the wing participated in it's first dual-basing exercise, Crested Cap I, deploying 2,000 personnel and 72 aircraft to NATO bases in Europe. Also in 1969, the 49th earned the coveted MacKay Trophy for the "most meritorious flight of the year," for the redeployment from Germany to Holloman after Crested Cap II. The MacKay Trophy recognized the 49th for the fastest non-stop deployment of jet aircraft accomplished by a wing's entire fleet.

In May 1972, the 49th deployed their F-4 aircraft and 2,600 personnel to Takhli Air Base, Thailand. During this deployment, Operation Constant Guard, the 49th flew more than 21,000 combat hours over just about every battle zone from An Loc to vital installations in the Hanoi vicinity. During five months of combat, the wing did not lose any aircraft or personnel. The unit officially closed out its Southwest Asia duty October 6, 1972, receiving an Air Force Outstanding Unit Award with Combat "V" Device for its participation.

On Dec. 20, 1977, the wing began converting from the F-4 to the F-15. The transition was completed June 4, 1978.

History was made during February 1980, when two pilots from the 49th each flew their F-15s, 6,200 miles in just over 14 hours, establishing a record for the longest flight of a single-seat fighter aircraft. The flights required six aerial refuelings. In July 1980, the wing acquired the commitment of a primary Rapid Deployment Force unit. This tasking, which lasted for a year, required the wing to be ready to deploy its aircraft, crews, and support personnel on short notice. The wing served with the Rapid Deployment Force until July 1981, when the tasking was transferred to the 1st Tactical Fighter Wing, Langley Air Force Base, Virginia.

The 49th demonstrated its capabilities in the fall of 1988, winning top honors at the William Tell air-to-air weapons competition. The wing outdistanced the nearest competitor by more than 2,000 points. The 49th won a variety of awards, including the coveted "Top Gun" for best fighter pilot.

In 1992, the 49th underwent a number of transitions. The last F-15 departed Holloman June 5, 1992, ending 14 years of Eagle operations. On May 9, 1992, four F-117 stealth fighters from Tonopah Test Range, Nevada, arrived at Holloman. Also, F-4s returned to Holloman, as part of the 9th Fighter Squadron, in May 1992.

The 48th Rescue squadron served at Holloman AFB from 1 May 1993-1 February 1999. With its six HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopters, the personnel of the 48th deployed six times in support of Operations Northern and Southern Watch. Additionally, during its six years of service, the 48th saved 33 lives in real-world rescues in the American Southwest.

The 8th and 9th Fighter Squadrons deployed to Aviano Air Base, Italy and Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany from 21 February-1 July 1999, in support of Operation Allied Force. Flying more than 1,000 total sorties, pilots flew into heavily defended skies, littered with surface-to-air missiles and anti-aircraft fire. In particular, F-117A pilots bravely trusting in their aircraft's low observable technology struck some of the most valuable, and highly guarded targets in Serbia. The F-117s successfully penetrated the heavily defended areas, which conventional aircraft could not reach.

The 49th Fighter Wing supports national security objectives with mission-ready F-117A stealth fighters, an Air Transportable Clinic and Bare Base assets. The wing deploys worldwide to support peacetime and wartime contingencies, trains USAF aircrews in F-117A and T-38A and allied aircrews in F-4F Fighter Transition and Weapons Instructor Courses, and provides support to over 18,000 personnel to include German Air Force Tornado operations.

The wing's 20th FS provides training to international pilots under U.S. government foreign military sales program at the German Air Force Flying Training Center established at Holloman AFB in May 1996.

On October 12, 2002 4 F-117A's from the 49th FW deployed to Germany to take part in an Air Force exercise called Coronet Nighthawk. The aircraft are believed to have been part of the 9th Fighter Squadron and were to be deployed for two weeks.

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