Military News

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Historic fighter squadron celebrates 98th birthday

by Staff Sgt. Ciara Gosier
633rd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

8/25/2015 - JOINT BASE LANGLEY-EUSTIS, Va.  -- One of America's oldest fighter squadrons celebrated its 98th birthday at Langley Air Force Base, Virginia, Aug. 20.

The 94th Fighter Squadron, which dates back to World War I, was originally organized at Kelly Field, Texas, before being reassigned to Langley in June 1975. The squadron is also known as the unit in which aerial ace, Capt. Edward Rickenbacker, belonged to and for its famous emblem, "The Hat in the Ring."

Rickenbacker was a fighter pilot, who with 26 aerial victories was America's most successful fighter ace during World War I. He also commanded the squadron for a short period during that time.

Today, the unit's mission is to provide air superiority for the United States and allied forces by engaging and destroying enemy forces, equipment, defenses or installations worldwide on short notice as part of the 1st FW.

Another one of America's oldest squadron is the 27th Fighter Squadron, just two doors down from the 94th at Langley.

"You can't talk about the birth of the United States Air Force without addressing the 27th and the 94th [fighter squadrons]," said Joshua Lashley, 1st Fighter Wing historian. "Those two squadrons and the accomplishments they completed in World War I and World War II, and the [initial] development of any fighter aircraft the Air Force bought came to these squadrons."

The squadron was home to some of the first fighter jets and also today's fifth generation, F-22 Raptor.

"In this squadron, this is the beginning of airpower," said U.S. Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Jonathan Veal, 94th Aircraft Maintenance Unit superintendent. "It's quite fitting to have a fifth generation [aircraft] now if you look at the heritage."

The unit traces its lineage of Air Power back to the first world war, where the 94th flew the first patrol flown by an all-American squadron in France, flying the Nieuport 28. The unit is also credited with the last aerial victory of the war on Nov. 10, 1918, one day before the Armistice.

"It's kind of awe-inspiring, the things they had to go through," said Veal. "With [a] lack of technical guidance and [still] achieve such great results is impressive."

Over the years, the unit has seen numerous deployments during periods of international tension, such as the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962 and the Pueblo Incident in 1969. In 1979, a presidential tasking sent the squadron to Saudi Arabia in a show of support.

December 16, 2005, marked another historic occasion for the 94th FS with the final flight of the F-15 Eagle at Langley and the transition to the F-22A.

"I think it's important that every Airman that comes into the AMU, know what it means to be a part of a family," said Lashley. "A 98-year-old family and how this unit is literally one of the building blocks of what we know as the Air Force."

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