18th Operations Group

The 18th Operations Group is the operational flying component of the United States Air Force 18th Wing, stationed at Kadena Air Base, Okinawa, Japan.

The 18th OG is the largest combat operations group in the Air Force with eight squadrons, one flight, 842 active-duty members and approximately 80 aircraft, including the F-15 Eagle, E-3 Sentry, KC-135 Stratotanker and the HH-60 Pave Hawk.

The group is one of the oldest in the United States Air Force, being a successor organization of the 18th Pursuit Group, one of the 15 original combat air groups formed by the Army before World War II.

18th Operations Group
Emblem of the 18th Operations Group
Active1927–1957; 1978–1981; 1991–present
CountryUnited States
BranchUnited States Air Force
67th FS McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagles (84-043, 83–017, 83–020, 83–025, 85–095) in formation.
33d RQS Sikorsky HH-60G Pavehawk (91-26405) prepares to land.
961st AACS Boeing E-3A Sentry taking off.
McDonnell Douglas F-15C-27-MC Eagle (80-0010) from the 65th Aggressor Squadron, Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada receives fuel from a Boeing KC-135R-BN Stratotanker (58-0123) assigned to the 909th Air Refueling Squadron
67th Fighter-Bomber Squadron North American F-86F-25-NH Sabre 52-5506
67th Fighter-Bomber Squadron North American F-86F-25-NH Sabre 52-5506, Osan-ni Airfield (K-55), South Korea, 1953
18th Fighter-Bomber Group North American F-51D-20-NT Mustang 44-12943 Chinhae Airfield South Korea 1951
F-51D-20-NT Mustangs at Chinhae Airfield (K-14) South Korea 1951. 44-12943 in foreground


The group's nine squadrons (Tail Code: ZZ) and flight include:


For additional lineage and history, see 18th Wing


The fighting cock emblem, approved in 1931, symbolizes the courage and aggressiveness of a combat organization.


  • Authorized as 18th Pursuit Group on 20 January 1927
Activated on 21 January 1927
Redesignated: 18th Pursuit Group (Interceptor) on 6 December 1939
Redesignated: 18th Fighter Group on 15 May 1942
Redesignated: 18th Fighter Group (Single Engine) on 15 April 1944
Redesignated: 18th Fighter Group, Two Engine, on 15 June 1944
Redesignated: 18th Fighter Group, late 1944
Redesignated: 18th Fighter-Bomber Group on 20 January 1950
Inactivated on 1 October 1957
  • Redesignated 18th Tactical Fighter Group on 10 April 1978
Activated on 1 May 1978
Inactivated on 11 February 1981
  • Redesignated 18th Operations Group, and activated, on 1 October 1991.


Attached to: 310th Bombardment Wing, 24 March-26 April 1945
Attached to: Thirteenth Air Force, 16 May-16 December 1949
Attached to: Fifth Air Force, 28 July-3 August 1950
Attached to: 6002 Fighter [later, 6002 Tactical Support] Wing, 4 August-30 November 1950
Attached to: Twentieth Air Force, 1–9 November 1954
Attached to: Air Task Force 13, Provisional, 3-c. 30 September 1955



Operated from: Pusan West AB (K-1), South Korea, 24 March-22 April 1951
Operated from: Suwon AB (K-13), South Korea, 24 March-8 May 1951
Operated from: Seoul AB (K-16), South Korea, 8 May-9 August 1951 and c. 19 August-30 September 1951
Operated from: Hoengsong Airfield (K-46), South Korea, 1 October 1951 – 1 June 1952
Deployed at: Yonton Auxiliary AB, Okinawa, 10 November-11 December 1954
Deployed at: Chai-Yi AB, Formosa, 29 January-16 February 1955 and 3-c. 30 September 1955
  • Kadena AB, Japan, 1 May 1978 – 11 February 1981; 1 October 1991–present


  • DH-4, 1927–1930
  • PW-9, 1927–1938
  • Fokker C-2, 1928–1930
  • A-3, 1930–1936
  • P-12, 1930–1941
  • OA-3, c. 1936–1941
  • A-12, 1936–1941
  • B-12, c. 1938–1941
  • P-26, 1938–1941
  • P-36, 1938–1941
  • OA-9, 1939–1941
  • P-40, 1940–1943
  • B-18, 1942
  • P-39, 1942–1944
  • P-70, 1942–1944
  • P-38, 1943–1946
  • P-400, 1943
  • P-47, 1944, 1946, 1947–1948
  • A-24, 1944
  • P-61, 1944
  • P (later, F)-51, 1946–1947, 1948–1953
  • P (later, F)-80, 1946–1947; 1949–1950
  • F-86, 1953–1957
  • F-84, 1956–1957
  • F-4, 1978–1980; RF-4, 1978–1981
  • MC-130, 1978–1981
  • F-15, 1979–1981; 1991–present
  • E-3, 1991–present
  • KC-135, 1991–present
  • C-12, 1992–1993
  • HH-3, 1993–1994
  • HH-60, 1993–present



The 18th Wing has the unique distinction of being the only wing never stationed in the Continental United States. 18th Wing heritage began on 21 January 1927, when the War Department activated a provisional pursuit group at Wheeler Field, Hawaii. Shortly thereafter the group was re-designated the 18th Pursuit Group with the following squadrons:

  • 6th Pursuit Squadron (assigned January 1927)
  • 19th Pursuit Squadron (assigned January 1927)

The "fighting cock" Group insignia with "Unguibus et Rostro", "With Talon and Beak" was chosen by 18th Pursuit Group CO Maj. Carlyle H. Walsh in February 1931, and officially approved in 1932. Major Kenneth M. Walker (for whom Walker AFB, New Mexico was later named) assumed command in March 1940, having on his staff Captain Roger W. Ramey (for whom Ramey AFB Puetro Rico was named), and Lieutenants Bruce K. Holloway, K. P. Bocquist, John G. Simpson, and William F. Savidge.

The Group was flying Boeing P-26 Peashooters, then upgraded into the radial-engined Curtiss P-36 Hawks before being re-equipped with Curtiss P-40s a few months prior to the attack on Pearl Harbor by Japanese naval aircraft which immediately drew the United States into World War II.

In the immediate months before the Pearl Harbor attack, the group was expanded as follows:

  • 6th Pursuit Squadron (Interceptor) (P-40B)
  • 19th Pursuit Squadron (Interceptor) (P-40B, P-40C)
  • 44th Pursuit Squadron (Interceptor) (P-40B, P-40C) (At Bellows Field)
  • 72nd Pursuit Squadron (Interceptor) (none)
  • 73rd Pursuit Squadron (Interceptor) (P-40B)
  • 78th Pursuit Squadron (Interceptor) (P-40B)

World War II

The Imperial Japanese attack on 7 December 1941, severely hurt the group – its only two P-40C Warhawks of the 44th Pursuit Squadron to get airborne were immediately shot down, and the rest of the group's aircraft were heavily damaged. Over 60 P-40Cs were destroyed on the ground at Wheeler. The group, assigned to Seventh Air Force in February 1942, had to be re-equipped before it could resume training and begin patrol missions.

During March 1943, the group moved to the South Pacific Theater and rejoined the war effort as part of Thirteenth Air Force and began operations from Guadalcanal. Flew protective patrols over US bases in the Solomons; later, escorted bombers to the Bismarcks, supported ground forces on Bougainville, and attacked enemy airfields and installations in the northern Solomons and New Britain. Used Lockheed P-38 Lightnings; Bell P-39 Airacobra; Northrop P-61 Black Widows, and Douglas P-70 Havoc aircraft. The following operational squadrons were assigned to the 18th Fighter Group:

The 18th FG moved to New Guinea in August 1944 equipped with P-38s. Escorted bombers to targets in the southern Philippines and Borneo, and attacked enemy airfields and installations in the Netherlands Indies. Received a Distinguished Unit Citation for actions at Ormoc Bay: on 10 November 1944 the group withstood intense flak and vigorous opposition from enemy interceptors to attack a Japanese convoy that was attempting to bring in additional troops for use against American forces that had landed on Leyte; on the following day a few of the group's planes returned to the same area, engaged a large force of enemy fighters, and destroyed a number of them.

Moved to the Philippines in January 1945. Supported ground forces on Luzon and Borneo, attacked shipping in the central Philippines, covered landings on Palawan, attacked airfields and railways on Formosa, and escorted bombers to such widely scattered targets as Borneo, French Indochina, and Formosa.

At the end of the war, the group moved to Clark Field on Luzon and became part of Far East Air Forces after the war. Flew patrols and trained with Lockheed F-80 Shooting Stars, with the distinction of being the first overseas fighter unit to be jet-equipped.

The group lost all personnel in March 1947 but was re-manned in September 1947. Equipped first with Republic F-47 Thunderbolts, later with North American F-51 Mustangs, and still later (1949) with F-80's.

In August 1948, it became a subordinate unit to the newly activated 18th Fighter Wing. On 20 January 1950, the wing was re-designated the 18th Fighter-Bomber Wing.

Korean War

North American F-51D-25-NT Mustangs of the 67th Fighter-Bomber Squadron. Serials 44-84916 and 44-75000 identifiable.
North American F-86F-25-NH Sabre 52-5371 of the 18th Fighter-Bomber Group, 1953. Aircraft marked as Wing Commander's.

The 18th Fighter-Bomber Wing was reassigned to Korea in July 1950 and entered combat. Its organization was as follows:

  • 12th Fighter-Bomber Squadron (F-80C, F-51D, F-86F)
  • 67th Fighter-Bomber Squadron (F-80C, F-51D, F-86F)
  • 39th Fighter Interceptor Squadron (March 1951 – March 1952) (F-51D)
  • 2nd Squadron, South African Air Force (November 1950 – March 1951, April 1951 – June 1953) (F-51D)

At the outbreak of the Korean War, the 18th FBG's 12th FBS provided personnel to form the "Dallas" fighter squadron, which rushed into battle. In late July, the group headquarters with two of its squadrons (12th and 67th FBSs) deployed with F-80s from the Philippines to Taegu AB (K-2), South Korea.

From 28 July to 3 August, the 18th Group operated directly under Fifth Air Force then passed to the control of the 6002nd Fighter (later, Tactical Support) Wing. Pilots exchanged their F-80s for F-51 Mustangs. Combat targets included tanks and armored vehicles, locomotives and trucks, artillery and antiaircraft guns, fuel and ammunition dumps, warehouses and factories, and troop concentrations.

In August, advancing enemy forces and insufficient aircraft parking at Taegu forced the group to move to Japan, but it returned to South Korea the following month to support UN forces in a counteroffensive. Because the front advanced so rapidly, operations from Pusan (K-9) soon became impractical, and the group moved in November to Pyongyang East (K-24), North Korea. The 2nd SAAF Squadron joined the 18th in mid-November.

Maj Louis Sebille was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his action on 5 August 1950: although his plane was badly damaged by flak while attacking a concentration of enemy trucks, Maj Sebille continued his strafing passes until he crashed into an armored vehicle.

The Chinese Communist (CCF intervention) caused the group to move twice in as many weeks, first to Suwon AB (K-13), South Korea, then to Chinhae (K-10). From there the 18th FBG continued to support ground forces and carry out armed reconnaissance and interdiction missions. From November 1950 through January 1951, it earned a Distinguished Unit Citation for destroying roughly 2,400 enemy vehicles and severely damaging almost 500 more.

From early 1951 until January 1953, the group and its tactical squadrons, moving from base to base in South Korea, operated separately from the rest of the 18th FBW. The group earned its second Distinguished Unit Citation from 22 April to 8 July 1951, when it flew 6,500 combat sorties while operating from sod, dirt filled, and damaged runways to counter the enemy's 1951 spring offensive.

When in January 1953 the group rejoined the wing at Osan-ni AB (K-55), its squadrons transitioned to F-86 Sabrejets without halting the fight against the enemy. It flew its first F-86 counter air mission on 26 February 1953. In the final days of the war, the 18th FBG attacked dispersed enemy aircraft at Sinuiju and Uiju Airfields.

The group remained in Korea for some time after the armistice.

Cold War

In 1955, deployed to Formosa to support Nationalist Chinese evacuation of Tachen Islands. During subsequent active periods from 1978 to 1981 trained for air operations in western Pacific region

Modern era

The designation of the wing changed on 1 October 1991 to the 18th Wing with the implementation of the Objective Wing concept. With the objective wing, the mission of the 18th expanded to the Composite Air Wing concept of multiple different wing missions with different aircraft. The operational squadrons of the wing were assigned to the 18th Operations Group.

The mission of the 18th OG was expanded to include aerial refueling with Boeing KC-135R/T Stratotanker tanker aircraft (909th ARS); and surveillance, warning, command and control Boeing E-3B/C Sentry (961st AACS), and communications. Added airlift mission in June 1992 with the Beech C-12 Huron, transporting mission critical personnel, high-priority cargo and distinguished visitors.

In February 1993, the 18th gained responsibility for coordinating rescue operations in the Western Pacific and Indian Ocean with the addition of the 33d Rescue Squadron (33d RQS).

In November 1999, the 18th underwent another change as one of its three F-15 units, the 12th Fighter Squadron, was reassigned to the 3d Wing at Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska.


 This article incorporates public domain material from the Air Force Historical Research Agency website http://www.afhra.af.mil/.

  • Martin, Patrick (1994). Tail Code: The Complete History of USAF Tactical Aircraft Tail Code Markings. Atglen, PA: Schiffer Military Aviation History. ISBN 0-88740-513-4.
  • Maurer, Maurer, ed. (1983) [1961]. Air Force Combat Units of World War II (PDF) (reprint ed.). Washington, DC: Office of Air Force History. ISBN 0-912799-02-1. LCCN 61060979.
  • Robertson, Patsy (22 April 2014). "Factsheet 18 Operations Group (PACAF)". Air Force Historical Research Agency. Archived from the original on 4 June 2016. Retrieved 10 May 2016.
  • [1] ArmyAirForces.com

External links

13th Reconnaissance Squadron

The 13th Reconnaissance Squadron is part of the 926th Wing at Beale Air Force Base, California. It operates RQ-4 Global Hawk unmanned aircraft conducting reconnaissance and surveillance missions.

18th Wing

The United States Air Force's 18th Wing is the host wing for Kadena Air Base, Okinawa, Japan and is the Air Force's largest combat wing. It is the largest and principal organization in the Pacific Air Forces Fifth Air Force.

The Wing's 18th Operations Group is a successor organization of the 18th Pursuit Group, one of the 15 original combat air groups formed by the Army before World War II.

31st Rescue Squadron

The 31st Rescue Squadron is part of the 18th Wing at Kadena Air Base, Japan. It trains, equips and employs combat-ready pararescue specialists.

33rd Rescue Squadron

The 33d Rescue Squadron is part of the 18th Wing at Kadena Air Base, Japan. It operates Sikorsky HH-60 Pave Hawk aircraft conducting search and rescue missions.

The squadron was established when the 2d Air Rescue Squadron was expanded to Group status in 1952. Since that time, it has carried out air rescue duties with fixed wing aircraft until 1952, and thereafter with both fixed wing aircraft and helicopters. It has been stationed almost continuously in Okinawa since the 1950s.

438th Air Expeditionary Group

The United States Air Force's 438th Air Expeditionary Advisory Group is a provisional unit assigned to United States Air Forces Central to activate or inactivate as needed. It was last active in Al Anbar province, Iraq to provide close-air support to coalition forces in the region with Fairchild Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II aircraft. It was composed of deployed aircraft, equipment and personnel from Air Force units around the world.

The unit was first activated during World War II as the 438th Troop Carrier Group, a Douglas C-47 Skytrain unit. It saw combat in the European Theater of Operations as part of IX Troop Carrier Command. The group earned a Distinguished Unit Citation for its actions on D-Day during Operation Overlord. After VE Day, the group returned to the United States and was inactivated in December 1945.

The group was again activated in the Air Force Reserves in 1949. It was called to active duty for the Korean War, but its personnel were used as fillers for other units and the group was inactivated. During the mid 1950s, the group was again active in the Reserve as the 438th Fighter-Bomber Group. It remained inactive until 1991, when it became the 438th Operations Group at McGuire Air Force Base, New Jersey when the 438th Airlift Wing was reorganized under the Objective Wing model. It was inactivated with the wing in 1994.

438th Air Expeditionary Wing

The 438th Air Expeditionary Wing (438 AEW) is an active United States Air Force unit operating in Afghanistan and assigned to United States Air Forces Central. The wing trains Afghan Air Force members, including pilots.

44th Fighter Squadron

The 44th Fighter Squadron is part of the 18th Wing at Kadena Air Base in Okinawa, Japan. The 44th Pursuit Squadron was activated on 1 January 1941 and assigned to the 18th Pursuit Group.

623d Air Control Squadron

The 623d Air Control Squadron (623 ACS) is an operational unit of the United States Air Force assigned to the 18th Wing. The 623d is based out of Kadena Air Base, Okinawa, Japan. The 623d is tasked to provide Command & Control within a sector of the Japanese Air Defense System. The 623d conducts operations out of Japanese Air Self Defense Force facilities located at Naha Air Base, Kasuga Air Base and Iruma Air Base. The 623d operates the Southwest Sector Interface Control Cell, conducting joint and combined tactical datalink operations.

67th Fighter Squadron

The 67th Fighter Squadron "Fighting Cocks" is a fighter squadron of the United States Air Force, part of the 18th Operations Group at Kadena Air Base, Japan.

909th Air Refueling Squadron

The 909th Air Refueling Squadron is part of the 18th Wing at Kadena Air Base, Japan. It operates the KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft conducting air refueling missions.

The squadron was first activated in 1942 as the 19th Reconnaissance Squadron, but was redesignated the 409th Bombardment Squadron shortly after activation. After briefly serving as an antisubmarine unit, it participated in combat in the Mediterranean and European Theaters of Operations, earning two Distinguished Unit Citations for its actions. After the surrender of Germany the squadron returned to the United States and was inactivated.

The squadron was reactivated shortly after the end of World War II as a Boeing B-29 Superfortress unit, and became one of the first units of Strategic Air Command in 1946. It was inactivated later that year when its parent group was replaced by the 43d Bombardment Group.

The 909th Air Refueling Squadron was activated in 1963 at Amarillo Air Force Base, Texas. The squadron supported Strategic Air Command operations from activation and, starting in 1964, supported operations in Southeast Asia from Amarillo, March Air Force Base, California and Kadena Air Base, Okinawa. After the end of the Vietnam War, the squadron continued to support refueling and reconnaissance operations in the Pacific. In 1985 the 409th and 909th squadrons were consolidated into a single unit. The squadron also provided support for combat operations in Southwest Asia during the 1990s.

961st Airborne Air Control Squadron

The 961st Airborne Air Control Squadron (961 AACS) is part of the 18th Wing at Kadena Air Base, Japan. It operates the E-3 Sentry aircraft conducting airborne command and control missions.

Frank Gorenc

Frank Gorenc (born October 14, 1957) is a United States Air Force four-star general who served as the Commander, U.S. Air Forces Europe; Commander, U.S. Air Forces Africa; Commander, Allied Air Command; and Director, Joint Air Power Competence Center. He previously served as the Assistant Vice Chief of Staff and Director, Air Staff, Headquarters, United States Air Force at the Pentagon. The general is a command pilot with more than 4,100 flight hours in the T-38A, F-15C, MQ-1B, UH-1N and C-21A. He assumed his final assignment on August 2, 2013.

Jinhae Airport

Jinhae Air Base (IATA: CHF, ICAO: RKPE) also known as Chinhae Air Base is a naval airfield of the Republic of Korea Navy in Jinhae, South Korea.

John W. Doucette

John W. Doucette is a retired Brigadier General of the United States Air Force.

Kadena Air Base

Kadena Air Base (嘉手納飛行場, Kadena Hikōjō) (IATA: DNA, ICAO: RODN) is a United States Air Force base in the towns of Kadena and Chatan and the city of Okinawa, in Okinawa Prefecture, Japan. It is often referred to as the “Keystone of the Pacific”. Kadena Air Base is home to the USAF's 18th Wing, the 353d Special Operations Group, reconnaissance units, 1st Battalion, 1st Air Defense Artillery, and a variety of associated units. Over 20,000 American servicemembers, family members, and Japanese employees live or work aboard Kadena Air Base. It is the largest and most active US Air Force base in the Far East.

List of United States Air Force installations

This is a list of United States Air Force installations.

McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagle

The McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagle is an American twin-engined, all-weather tactical fighter aircraft designed by McDonnell Douglas (now Boeing) to gain and maintain air supremacy in all aspects of aerial combat. Following reviews of proposals, the United States Air Force selected McDonnell Douglas's design in 1967 to meet the service's need for a dedicated air-superiority fighter. The Eagle first flew in July 1972, and entered service in 1976. It is among the most successful modern fighters, with over 100 victories and no losses in aerial combat, with the majority of the kills by the Israeli Air Force.The Eagle has been exported to Israel, Japan, and Saudi Arabia. The F-15 was originally envisioned as a pure air-superiority aircraft. Its design included a secondary ground-attack capability that was largely unused. The aircraft design proved flexible enough that an all-weather strike derivative, the F-15E Strike Eagle, an improved and enhanced version which was later developed, entered service in 1989 and has been exported to several nations. As of 2017, the aircraft is being produced in different variants with production set to end in 2022.

Paul V. Hester

General Paul V. Hester (born October 21, 1947) was the Commander, Pacific Air Forces, and Air Component Commander for the Commander, U.S. Pacific Command, Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii from July 2004 to November 2007. He had responsibility for Air Force activities spread over half the globe in a command that supports 55,500 Air Force people serving principally in Hawaii, Alaska, Guam, Japan and South Korea.

General Hester was commissioned through the ROTC program at the University of Mississippi. He earned his wings in December 1971 at Columbus AFB, Mississippi. A command pilot and combat veteran, the general has more than 200 combat hours in Southeast Asia and has accumulated more than 2,900 flight hours during his career. Additionally, he has served as an instructor in the A-7, F-4 and F-15 in operational and training units. General Hester has commanded the 94th Tactical Fighter Squadron, Capt. Eddie Rickenbacker's famed "Hat in the Ring Gang", 18th Operations Group, 35th Fighter Wing, 53rd Wing and U.S. Forces Japan and 5th Air Force at Yokota Air Base. Prior to assuming his current position, the general was Commander, Air Force Special Operations Command, Hurlburt Field, Florida.

General Hester's staff tours include duty in the Directorate of Plans, as a member of the Commander's Action Group at Headquarters Tactical Air Command, Chief of the Air Force's Legislative Liaison Office at the U.S. House of Representatives, Division Chief in J-5 of the Joint Staff, Joint Chiefs of Staff representative to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, and Director of Air Force Legislative Liaison for the Secretary and the Chief of Staff of the Air Force. Most recently he was the Air Component Commander and force provider to Joint Task Force-536 during Operation Unified Assistance in support of the South Asia tsunami relief effort.

United States Air Force Pararescue

Pararescuemen (also known as PJs) are United States Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC) and Air Combat Command (ACC) operators tasked with recovery and medical treatment of personnel in humanitarian and combat environments. These special operations units are also used to support NASA missions and have been used to recover astronauts after water landings. They are attached to other SOF teams from all branches to conduct other operations as appropriate. Of the roughly 200 Air Force Cross recipients, only 24 are enlisted rank, of which 12 are Pararescuemen. Part of the little-known Air Force Special Operations community and long an enlisted preserve, the Pararescue service expanded to include Combat Rescue Officers early in the 21st century.

Personnel and
Uniforms and
History and
Air Forces

This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.