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15th Fighter Group

Constituted as 15th Pursuit Group (Fighter) on 20 Nov 1940. Activated in Hawaii on 1 Dec 1940. Redesignated 15th Pursuit Group (Interceptor) in Feb 1942, and 15th Fighter Group in May 1942. Served as part of the defense force for the Hawaiian Islands, using A-12, OA-9, B-12, P-36, P-39, and P-40 aircraft. The Japanese attack on Hawaii on 7 Dec 1941 caused numerous casualties in the group and destroyed many of its aircraft; nevertheless, during the raid several of the group's pilots succeeded in taking off and in destroying some enemy planes, including four shot down by Lt George Welch and two credited to Lt Kenneth M Taylor. Afterward the group, which was remanned, reorganized, and assigned to Seventh AF, remained part of the Hawaiian defense system. Sent squadrons (including some that had been attached) to the Central or South Pacific at various times for operations against the Japanese. Began training in Apr 1944 for very-long-range escort missions. Obtained P-51 aircraft late in 1944. Moved to Iwo Jima in Feb 1945. Supported the invasion force on Iwo early in Mar by bombing and strafing trenches, cave entrances, troop concentrations, and storage areas. Began strikes against enemy airfields, shipping, and military installations in the Bonin Islands by the middle of Mar. Flew its first mission to Japan on 7 Apr 1945, receiving a DUC for escorting 8=29's that bombed the Nakajima aircraft plant near Tokyo. Struck Japanese airfields on Kyushu late in Apr and early in May 1945 to curtail the enemy's suicide attacks against the invasion force at Okinawa. Also hit enemy troop trains, small factories, gun positions, and hangars in the Bonins and Japan. Assigned to Twentieth AF during the summer of 1945. Continued its fighter sweeps against Japanese airfields and other targets, and flew longrange escort missions to Japanese cities until the end of the war. Transferred, without personnel and equipment, in Nov 1945 to Hawaii, where the group was remanned and re-equipped. Inactivated on 15 Oct 1946.

Redesignated 15th Fighter Group (Air Defense). Activated in the US on 18 Aug 1955. Assigned to Air Defense Command.

Squadrons. 6th: 1943-1944. 12th: 1942. 18th: 1943-1944. 45th: 1940-1946. 46th: 1940-1944. 47th: 1940-1946; 1955-. 78th: 1943-1946.

Stations. Wheeler Field, TH, 1 Dec 1940; Bellows Field, TH, 3 Jun 1944-5 Feb 1945; South Field, Iwo Jima, 6 Mar 1945; Bellows Field, TH, 25 Nov 1945; Wheeler Field, TH, Feb-15 Oct 1946. Niagara Falls Mun Aprt, NY, 18 Aug 1955-.

Commanders. Maj Clyde K Rich, 1 Dec 1940; Maj Lorry N Tindal, 6 Dec 1940; Lt Col Paul W Blanchard, 20 Sep 1941; Lt Col William 5 Steele, 12 Feb 1942; Lt Col Sherwood E Buckland, 5 Mar 1943; Col James O Beckwith Jr, 27 Sep 1943; Lt Col DeWitt S Spain, 16 Apr 1945; Lt Col Julian E Thomas, 17 May 1945 Col John W Mitchell, 21 Jul 1945; Col William Eades, c. Nov 1945; Col Oswald W Lunde, 25 Nov 1945-15 Oct 1946. Col Stanley E Matthews, 1955-.

Campaigns. Central Pacific; Air Offensive, Japan.

Decorations. Distinguished Unit Citation: Japan, 7 Apr 1945.

Insigne. Shield: Or, on a bend azure, two (2) terrestrial lightning flashes issuant from base of the first, over all a gunsight counterchanged. Motto: Prosequor Alibi - Pursue with Wings. (Approved - Oct 1942.)

Data from Air Force Combat Units of World War II By Maurer, Maurer, Published 1986


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