62nd Fighter Squadron
With American involvement in World War II looming on the horizon, the 62nd Fighter Squadron (FS) “Spikes” were constituted as the 62nd Pursuit Squadron as part of the 56th Pursuit Group at Savannah Air Base, Georgia, Jan. 15, 1941. The squadron immediately began training for its wartime missions, rapidly transitioning through the P-35, P-36, P-39 and P-40 aircraft. On Dec. 7, 1941, the 62nd FS stepped up to defend the northeastern United States from anticipated enemy air attack while it converted to the P-47 aircraft and prepared to deploy overseas.
The squadron arrived in England Jan. 9, 1943. It was declared operationally ready two months later and flew its first combat missions April 13. Two years later, the 62nd FS had emerged as one of the premier fighter squadrons in Europe. Among its accomplishments were the first P-47 ground attack mission, the first operational use of rockets by a fighter and the destruction of 357 enemy aircraft. The squadron participated in the Big Week that secured Allied air superiority, escorted the first daylight bombing mission over Berlin, conducted interdiction missions during the Normandy invasion and provided air support during the Battle of the Bulge. On Oct. 11, 1945, the 62nd FS departed England and returned to the United States aboard the Queen Elizabeth.
As the newly organized U.S. Air Force developed a new mission, so did the 62nd FS. Flying the P-51 and P-80, the squadron performed escort duty for Strategic Air Command bombers, deploying to Alaska and Europe in this role.
In 1948, the Spikes converted to the interceptor role, a mission the squadron would maintain until 1971. Stationed in the northern tier of the United States, the 62nd Fighter Interceptor Squadron flew the P-80, F-86 and F-101 on patrol against the ever-present Soviet bomber threat. A highlight from this era was the squadron capturing top F-101 squadron honors at the William Tell 1965 U.S. Air Force Worldwide Weapons Meet.
On Sept. 1, 1974, the squadron began its long history as a fighter training unit. Activating at Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida, the 62nd assumed the mission of training F-4 and F-106 weapons instructors at the United States Air Force Interceptor Weapons School. The following October, the flag moved again — this time to rejoin the 56th Tactical Fighter Wing at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida — and begin training F-4 crews for tactical units around the world.
On Jan. 1, 1981, the squadron transitioned to the F-16 Fighting Falcon and continued to train fighter pilots until the squadron’s inactivation May 12, 1993. The 62nd FS was reactivated March 18, 1994, at Luke Air Force Base, where it currently flies the F-16 Block 25 aircraft. Honors earned by the 62nd FS include two Distinguished Unit citations, 16 Air Force Outstanding Unit awards and seven campaign ribbons.
The 62nd FS reactivated with the F-35A in January 2015 and will train F-35 Lightning II fighter pilots as a joint international effort between Italy, Norway and the United States. Italian, Norwegian and American pilots will fly Italian, Norwegian and American F-35s under the guidance of American instructor pilots.