LUKE AFB

309th Fighter Squadron

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The 309th Fighter Squadron (FS) was constituted Jan. 30, 1942, as the 309th Pursuit Squadron. Arriving in England in May 1942, it was designated as the 309th FS and began combat operations after trading its P-39 Airacobras for British Spitfires.

From August 1942 to July 1943, the Wild Ducks spearheaded air offenses over North Africa and later participated in the invasion of Sicily while flying the P-51 Mustang. After the conquest of Sicily, the 309th FS began patrolling the sky over Italy and conducting bomber escort and ground attack missions during the two-year Italian campaign.

After World War II, the 309th converted to the F-84 while at Langley Field, Virginia, and in 1948, completed the first jet fighter trans-Pacific deployment. In 1957, the squadron transitioned to the F-100 Super Sabre and was redesignated as the 309th Tactical Fighter Squadron. The Wild Ducks flew combat operations in Southeast Asia from 1966 to 1970. While stationed at Tuy Hoa Air Base, Vietnam, the 309th proved their capabilities during all three Vietnam Air Offensives, including Operation Rolling Thunder.

Returning to Homestead Air Force Base, Florida, the 309th FS traded the F-100 for the F-4 and flew the Phantom II from 1970 to 1986. In 1986, the squadron converted to the F-16. The squadron arrived at Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, in August 1992, narrowly escaping the devastation of Hurricane Andrew, and was later inactivated in January 1994. After its arrival at Luke AFB, the 309th was reactivated April 8, 1994.

The Wild Ducks have produced 14 aces, totaling 161 kills among them. The 309th FS also has received numerous awards, including two Air Force Outstanding Unit awards, two Distinguished Unit citations, one Presidential Unit Citation and one Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross with Palm. In addition, the Wild Ducks have participated in 25 campaigns from World War II to Southeast Asia.

The squadron emblem is a 1944 Walt Disney Productions copyrighted design. It symbolizes the fighter mission and celestial navigation pioneered by this squadron, its around-the-clock mission readiness and its striking power.

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