78th Attack Squadron
In October 2012, the 78th ATKS split to create the 91st Attack Squadron, a second AFRC remotely-piloted aircraft squadron. The mission of the 78th Attack Squadron is to maintain highly experienced and skilled, combat-ready citizen Airmen charged with training and equipping the Combat Air Forces to conduct Integrated and Expeditionary Combat Operations, as well as training operations. The squadron consists of Remotely Piloted Aircraft pilots, sensor operators and intelligence personnel tasked to increase the skill level and enhance mission effectiveness of the regular Air Force units within the 432nd Wing and 432nd Air Expeditionary Wing at Creech Air Force Base, Nev.
The 78th ATKS maintains highly experienced and skilled, combat-ready citizen Airmen conducting integrated and expeditionary combat operations in the MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper aircraft. During 2012, the 78th ATKS conducted crucial kinetic and intelligence gathering missions in multiple theaters of operation. Aircrews flew more than 9,900 combat support missions totaling 25,048 flying hours, while accounting for 10 percent of the RegAF flying of their Reserve Associate squadrons. The unit distinguished itself by providing near real-time, full-motion video for accurate battle damage assessments which were vital in allowing rapid re-attacks to achieve decisive counterterrorism objectives. Additionally, 78th ATKS personnel supported more than 800 major operations to eradicate insurgent forces in multiple theaters, and provided armed overwatch with persistent intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance for more than 70 coalition air strikes.
The 78th Attack Squadron was recognized Apr. 23, 2013 for its outstanding flying operations in support of the 432nd Wing and 432nd Air Expeditionary Wing. The unit received Air Force Reserve Command's 2012 Grover Loening Trophy, awarded annually to the command's best flying unit, exclusive of combat rescue and special operations. "Our success was a direct result of the dedication and sacrifice of the warriors assigned to the 78th Attack Squadron, and their families," said Lt. Col. Brent, 78th Attack Squadron Commander. "Our Total Force Integration partnership with the 432nd Wing is a model for the Air Force and Air Force Reserve. Our success is a subset of the great work that is done by the combined Air Force team supporting the 432nd AEW," he said.
"I'm extremely proud of both units for all of their efforts," said. Col. John Breeden, 926th Group commander. "These warriors are truly deserving of this award." The Grover Loening Trophy was first given in 1964 and is named after noted aviation pioneer and first civilian member of the National Air and Space Museum's Advisory Board, Grover Loening. The 78th ATKS has a long history. It was first activated in 1918 as the 78th Aero Squadron at Waco Field, Texas, and stood up here under AFRC in 2006. The squadron has participated in all major combat operations from World War I to Operation Enduring Freedom.
The squadron was first activated on Feb. 28, 1918, as the 78th Aero Squadron at Waco Field, Texas, but was moved to Taliaferro Field, Texas, that same day. There it was responsible for training aircrews in the JN-4, JN-6 and S-4 aircraft for other flying squadrons. The unit was redesignated Squadron "A" on July 23, 1918, and was demobilized on Nov. 13, 1918.
On April 1, 1931, another 78th Squadron was activated at France Field in the Panama Canal Zone, without any aircraft. The War Department, realizing the existence of another 78th Squadron, reconstituted and consolidated the squadrons on April 25, 1933, but then inactivated it Sept. 1, 1937. On Feb. 1, 1940, the squadron was re-designated the 78th Pursuit Squadron (Interceptor) at Wheeler Field, Hawaii. The squadron's newly acquired P-40s were destroyed or damaged on the ground in the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor. After the declaration of war, the 78 PS's principal mission was to train pilots for other combat units in the Pacific Theater.
On May 15, 1942, the 78 PS was re-designated the 78th Fighter Squadron. In January 1943 the pilots flew to Midway, which at the time was the longest overwater flight for an Army fighter. There the squadron replaced the 73rd Squadron and continued to provide aerial defense for Midway until April 1943. Over the next several months, the 78 FS moved to five bases throughout Hawaii, finally arriving at Bellows Field, Hawaii, on June 8, 1944. During that time the squadron converted to P-47s and began training for extreme long-range escort missions. That program continued through 1944 and was marked by the 78 FS's conversion to the P-51 Mustang at the end of the year.
New orders sent the squadron into combat flying combat patrol missions in support of the Marines on Iwo Jima. On April 7, 1945, the 78 FS flew its first escort missions to Japan. During the remaining months of the war the squadron flew fighter sweeps against Japanese airfields and escorted B-29s on long-range strikes. The squadron remained on Iwo Jima until Nov. 25, 1945, at which time it returned to Bellows Field. The 78 FS then moved to Wheeler Field on Feb. 6, 1946, and inactivated on Oct. 15, 1946.
The squadron was re-designated the 78th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron and activated Nov. 1, 1952, at Royal Air Force Station Shepherds Grove, England. The squadron absorbed the members of the 116th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron, an Air National Guard unit which reverted to state control, and began flying F-86 aircraft. In April 1954, the squadron, flying F-84s, was re-designated a fighter-bomber squadron. It operated from Royal Air Force Station Sculthorpe, England, from May 1956 until May 1957, when it returned to Shepherds Grove.
The squadron was re-designated as a tactical fighter squadron in July 1958, and began flying F-101 aircraft from Royal Air Force Station Woodbridge, England. The squadron operated F-4s from 1965 until Jan. 1, 1979, when the 78 TFS began preparing to operate the A-10 Thunderbolt II "Warthog." The first A-10 arrived in June, with the squadron becoming operationally ready that November. The 78 TFS operated A-10s from Woodbridge and forward operating locations in West Germany. The squadron was inactivated May 15, 1992. It was then transferred back to the United States and reactivated at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., on Jan. 3, 1994, flying F-16 aircraft.
The 78 TFS was deactivated at Shaw AFB in May 2003, and then reactivated as an Air Force Reserve Command unit at Creech Air Force Base, Nev., in June 2006. It was designated the 78th Reconnaissance Squadron until 2010, when it became the 78th Attack Squadron.
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