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94th Fighter Squadron

Jan. 29, 2010
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The 94th Fighter Squadron is one of the oldest and most decorated fighter squadrons in America's history. It is tasked to provide Air Superiority for the United States and allied forces by engaging and destroying enemy forces, equipment, defenses or installations.  The squadron operates the world’s most advanced Air Dominance fighter, the F-22A Raptor, and is ready for global deployment as part of the 1st Fighter Wing.

Organized as the 94th Aero Squadron at Kelly Field, Texas on 20 August 1917, the squadron began its long and prestigious history in air warfare. The 94th performed the first patrol flown by an American‑trained squadron in France during World War I, on March 6, 1918, flying the Nieuport 28. On 14 April 1918, Lieutenants Alan Winslow and Douglas Campbell each downed a German aircraft for the first aerial victories in squadron history.  The 94th is also credited with the last aerial victory of the war on 10 November 1918, one day before the Armistice. With such famous members as Eddie Rickenbacker, James Meissner, and Douglas Campbell, and under the mentorship of the Lafayette Escadrille’s most lethal pilot, Raoul Lufbery, the "Hat‑in‑the-Ring Gang" scored nearly 70 kills during the war, more than any other squadron, flying the Nieuport 28 and SPAD XIII.

After WWI, the 94th was reassigned to Selfridge Field, Mich., where it spent most of the years prior to WWII. Among the aircraft flown following World War I were the P-1, P-6, P-12B, Y1P‑16, P-26, P-35 and P-43.

In 1924, in an effort to preserve the heritage of former WWI units, the U.S. Air Service consolidated the lineage and honors of the 103d Aero Squadron with those of 94th.  This was a very significant decision which allowed the heritage of the Lafayette Escadrille and 103d Aero Squadron to live on through the 94th.  The squadron even utilized the Lakota Indian head, the signature artwork of the Lafayette Escadrille and 103d, as the 94th emblem between WWI and WWII while the “Hat-in-the-Ring” was temporarily unauthorized.

The 94th, nicknamed the “SPADs,” were on a temporary duty assignment to El Paso, Texas, when Pearl Harbor was bombed. The squadron was soon on its way to March Field, Calif., with its P-38s. During World War II, the unit won three Distinguished Unit Citations for actions over Salerno, 25 August 1943; Aversa, 30 August 1943; and Ploesti, 18 May 1944, as part of the 1st Fighter Group.  During the war, the 94th recorded 124 aerial victories.

The “SPADs” flew the P-80 Shooting Star, America’s first operational jet fighter, while stationed at March Field, California beginning July 1946.  Redesignated the 94th Fighter Interceptor Squadron in 1950, the unit was assigned to the Western Air Defense Force at George Air Force Base, California. In July 1971, the squadron became the 94th Tactical Fighter Squadron and was assigned to MacDill AFB, Florida, providing combat crew training for U.S. and selected allied pilots in the F-4E Phantom II.  In July 1975, the unit moved, along with the rest of the 1st Fighter Wing, to Langley Air Force Base, Virginia, transitioning to the F-15 Eagle in 1976. The unit was redesignated the 94th Fighter Squadron on 1 November 1991.

The "Hat-in-the-Ring Gang" was involved in 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.  Pilots from the 94th supported other squadrons in the 1st Tactical Fighter Wing during Operations DESERT SHIELD and DESERT STORM, and the squadron routinely deployed to the Persian Gulf Region in support of Operations SOUTHERN WATCH and NORTHERN WATCH.

16 December 2005 marked another historic day for the “SPADs” with its final flight of the F‑15 as the squadron began its transition to the F-22. The 94th performed the first operational deployment of the F-22 to the CENTCOM area of responsibility in 2011. They continue to demonstrate Air Superiority and lethality over Iraq and Syria in the fight against ISIS, recently completing the first combat employment of the Small Diameter Bomb from an F-22.  Today, the “Hat‑in‑the‑Ring” stands as a cohesive combat-experienced team ready for any call to support our nation's security requirements.  The 94th continues the traditions of the Lafayette Escadrille, waiting to face any challenge, anywhere, and carries the spirit of Eddie Rickenbacker and the “Hat‑in‑the‑Ring Gang” into every fight after nearly 100 years of air power.  

AIR DOMINANCE -- ANYTIME, ANYWHERE!

(Current as of November 2018)

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