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31st Operations Group
31stfg-patch.jpg
Emblem of the 31st Fighter Group
Active 1939-1952; 1991-1994; 1994-Present
Country United States
Branch United States Air Force
Engagements
World War II Victory Medal ribbon.svg European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign ribbon.svg
AFEMRib.svg KosovoRib.svg NATO Kosovo Medal ribbon.png
Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary ribbon.svg Afghanistan Campaign ribbon.svg Iraq Campaign ribbon.svg
  • World War II
European Campaign (1942-1945)
  • Expeditionary Service
  • NATO Service
  • Global War on Terrorism
General Dynamics F-16C Block 40A 89-0030 of the 510th Fighter Squadron.
F-16C Block 40K (90-0772) and Block 40J (90-0775) of the 555th Fighter Squadron
Gaggle of the 31 OG

The 31st Operations Group (31 OG) is the flying component of the 31st Fighter Wing, assigned to the United States Air Forces in Europe. It is stationed at Aviano Air Base, Italy.

Contents

Overview

The 31st Operations Group ensures the combat readiness of two F-16CG Falcon squadrons, one air control squadron, and one operational support squadron conducting and supporting worldwide air operations. The group prepares fighter pilots, controllers, and support personnel to execute U.S. and NATO war plans and contingency operations.

It trains, equips, plans, and provides weather, intelligence, standardization/evaluation, and command and control sustaining global flying operations.

Components

The 31st Operations Group fly Block 40 F-16CG/DGs and use the tail code "AV". 510th FS aircraft have a purple tail stripe; 555th FS aircraft have a green tail stripe.

History

The group's origins begin just before World War II, when the The 31st Pursuit Group (Interceptor) on December 22, 1939 and was activated on February 1, 1940 with the 39th, 40th and 41st Pursuit squadrons. The group fought in North Africa and Italy during the war, returning to Drew Field Florida in August 1945 where it was Inactivated.

A SAC Fighter-Escort group during the early years of the Cold War, the group was inactivated again in 1952. It was reactivated as the 31st Operations Group in 1991.

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Lineage

  • Established as 31 Pursuit Group (Interceptor) on 22 Dec 1939
Activated on 1 Feb 1940
Redesignated 31 Fighter Group on 15 May 1942
Inactivated on 7 Nov 1945
  • Activated on 20 Aug 1946
Redesignated: 31 Fighter-Bomber Group on 20 Jan 1950
Redesignated: 31 Fighter-Escort Group on 16 Jul 1950
Inactivated on 16 Jun 1952
  • Redesignated: 31 Tactical Training Group on 31 Jul 1985 (Unit remained inactive)
  • Redesignated: 31 Operations Group on 28 Oct 1991
Activated on 1 Nov 1991
Inactivated on 1 Apr 1994
  • Activated on 1 Apr 1994.

Assignments

Components

Stations

HQ; 307th and 380th Fighter Squadrons
309th Fighter Squadron
307th and 309th Fighter Squadrons
HQ (1 Aug); 308th FS (4 Aug); 308th FS (24 Aug)
307th Fighter Squadron
380th Fighter Squadron
307th Fighter Squadron
Air echelon operated from Gozo Island [near Malta], c. 28 Jun-13 Jul 1943

Operations

World War II

P-39Ds of the 31st PG at Selfridge Field in 1941.
Spitfire V of the 309th Fighter Squadron

The 31st Pursuit Group (Interceptor) on December 22, 1939 and was activated on February 1, 1940 with the 39th, 40th and 41st Pursuit squadrons. The group trained and participated in Army maneuvers. The unit was redesignated the 31st Fighter Group on May 15, 1942 and was deployed to the European Theater. Most of the group moved to RAF Atcham England where it was assigned to Eighth Air Force. The stationing of the group personnel and aircraft was very haphazard, being assigned to various RAF stations in Kent and the East Midlands throughout its tenure in England.

The group consisted of the following squadrons and fuselage codes:

The group arrived in the UK without its assigned aircraft as the Bell P-39 Airacobras they trained with in the United States were found unsuitable for long-distance formation ferry flights. The ground echelon sailed on the RMS Queen Elizabeth on 4 June 1942 arriving Clyde 10 June 1942. Pilots followed later in month. In England, the group was provided with British Supermarine Spitfire VBs by the Royal Air Force.

The 31st Fighter Group was the first group to commence operations with VIII Fighter Command.

It flew its first sorties with the RAF on 26 Jul, and its first squadron operation on 5 August. The 31st's first combat operation was on 19 August 1942, when it supported the Allied raid at Dieppe, France.

In August 1942, the 31st moved to RAF Westhampnett in Sussex until October before moving into Tafaraoui, Algeria on November 8, 1942 as part of Twelfth Air Force to take part in Operation Torch, the invasion of North Africa.

Once in North Africa, the group attacked motor transports, gun positions, and troop concentrations during the campaign for Algeria and French Morocco. It supported ground troops in Tunisia and provided cover for bomber and fighter aircraft. During May and June 1943, after being re-equipped with Spitfire Mk VIIIs, it escorted naval convoys in the Mediterranean and bombers on raids to Pantelleria. It supported landings on Sicily in July, at Salerno in September, and at Anzio in January 1944. The group provided close air support of Allied ground forces in Italy and flew patrol and escort missions.

In April 1944, after being assigned to Fifteenth Air Force, the group was equipped with North American P-51B, C and D "Mustangs" and engaged primarily in missions to escort heavy bombers to enemy targets in Italy, France, Germany, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Austria, Hungary, Bulgaria, Romania, Yugoslavia, and Greece. The 31st earned a Distinguished Unit Citation for an April 21, 1944 mission to cover a raid on production centers in Romania. It escorted reconnaissance and cargo aircraft participating in the airborne invasion of southern France. The unit strafed airdromes and communications targets. As part of a Fifteenth Air Force task force, it attacked targets in Romania while flying to Russia on July 22, 1944. After escorting P-38 Lightning aircraft from a Russian base for a raid on an airdrome in Poland on July 25, it attacked a German fighter-bomber force and a truck convoy, earning a second Distinguished Unit Citation. In April 1945, when Allied forces pursued their final offensive in northern Italy, the group strafed enemy rail and highway traffic.

The 31st Fighter Group returned to Drew Field Florida in August 1945 where it was inactivated on November 7.

Cold War

Emblem of the 31st Fighter-Escort Group
General Motors F-84F-25-GK Thunderstreaks of the 31st Fighter Escort Group, about 1952. Serial 51-9378 identifiable
General Dynamics F-16A Block 15Q Fighting Falcon 83-1080 of the 308th FS

The 31st Fighter Group was reactivated in Germany on August 20, 1946 where it was assigned to the United States Air Forces in Europe. It performed occupation duty at several locations in Germany, and after a year, was transferred without personnel or equipment to Turner Field (later, AFB), Georgia on November 20, 1947.

At Turner the 31st Fighter Group became the operational component of the newly-established United States Air Force 31st Fighter Wing on November 20 under Tactical Air Command.

At Turner AFB, the 31st FG trained to achieve tactical proficiency from 1947-1950. The unit was redesignated as the 31st Fighter-Bomber Group on January 20, 1950 upon joining Strategic Air Command's Second Air Force and subsequently the 31st Fighter-Escort Group on July 16, 1950, reflecting the unit's new mission to escort SAC's intercontinental Boeing B-29 and Boeing B-50 Stratofortress bomber fleet.

Beginning in December 1950 through July 1951, all tactical and most support components deployed to England. Thereafter it deployed to provide air defense in Japan from July-October 1952 and November 1953-February 1954. In June 1952 the group was inactivated with its personnel and squadrons being assigned directly to the wing.

Modern era

On 1 November 1991, the 31st Operations Group (31 OG) was activated as a result of the 31st Fighter Wing implementing the USAF objective wing organization. Upon activation, the 31 OG was bestowed the lineage and history of the 31st Fighter Group. The 31st OG was assigned the flying components of Wing with a mission to train combat-ready fighter crews for deployment in any part of the world.

On August 24, 1992, much of Homestead Air Force Base's physical plant was destroyed or severely damaged by Hurricane Andrew. Just prior to the storm's landfall in Southeast Florida, the 31 OG dispersed its fighter squadrons to safe areas away from the storm's path. These locations were:

The effects of Hurricane Andrew caused the almost total destruction of Homestead Air Force Base. Although both President George H. W. Bush and President Clinton promised to rebuild Homestead, the BRAC designated the installation for realignment to the Air Force Reserve, with the 31st Operations Group's squadrons being permanently reassigned to their dispersal bases, Moody AFB and Shaw AFB on October 1, 1992. The remaining wing elements worked to clean up and salvage government property at Homestead.

The 31st OG was reassigned to Italy in April 1994 without personnel and equipment, replacing the 401st Operations Group, to control flying operations for the 31st Fighter Wing.

From May 1994-December 2004, the group participated in the major Balkan operations. Its squadrons also deployed personnel and equipment to support operations in Southwest Asia April 1991-November 1995. In 2000 the group gained a Combat Search and Rescue Mission (CSAR), along with additional F-16s. The 31st also supported Operation Northern Watch, March-May 2002 and Operation Southern Watch, August-December 2002. Most recently the 31 OG has deployed personnel and equipment in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom.

References

PD-icon.svg This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the Air Force Historical Research Agency.

  • Freeman, Roger A. Airfields of the Eighth: Then and Now. After the Battle, 1978. ISBN 0-90091-309-6.
  • Goebel, Robert J. Mustang Ace: Memoirs of a P-51 Fighter Pilot. Pacifica, California: Pacifica Press, 1991. ISBN 0-93555-303-7.
  • Kucera, Dennis C. In a Now Forgotten Sky: The 31st Fighter Group in WW2. Stratford, Connecticut: Flying Machines Press, 1997. ISBN 0-9637110-9-1.
  • Lamensdorf, Rolland Gilmore. History of the 31st Fighter Group. self published, 1985.
  • Mackay, Ron. The 31st Fighter Group in World War II. Carrollton, Texas: Squadron/Signal Publishing, Inc., 2007. ISBN 0-89747-514-3.
  • Maurer, Maurer. Air Force Combat Units of World War II. Maxwell AFB, Alabama: Office of Air Force History, 1983. ISBN 0-89201-092-4.

External links

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