51st Fighter Wing: Wikis


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51st Fighter Wing
51st Fighter Wing.png
Active 18 August 1948 — present
Country United States
Branch Air Force
Part of Pacific Air Forces
Garrison/HQ Osan Air Base South Korea
Motto Leading The Charge
World War II Victory Medal ribbon.svg Asiatic-Pacific Campaign ribbon.svg KSMRib.svg
  • World War II
Asiatic-Pacific Campaign (1941-1945)
  • Korean Service (1950-1954)
Decorations Outstanding Unit ribbon.svg AFOUA
Presidential Unit Citation (Korea).svg ROK PUC
Benjamin O. Davis, Jr.
Robert H. Foglesong
Two Fairchild Republic A-10A Thunderbolt IIs from the 25th Fighter Squadron and two F-16 Fighting Falcons from the 36th Fighter Squadron fly over the Republic of Korea in formation. Identifiable A-10s are 80-183 and 80-253.

The 51st Fighter Wing (51 FW) is a wing of the United States Air Force and the host unit at Osan Air Base, South Korea.

The 51st Fighter Wing is under Pacific Air Forces' Seventh Air Force. The unit is the most forward deployed wing in the world, providing combat ready forces for close air support, air strike control, counter air, interdiction, theater airlift, and communications in the defense of the Republic of Korea. The wing executes military operations to beddown, maintain and employ follow-on forces for the combined arms base that includes three major flying tenants and large multiservice fighting units.

The wing is equipped with General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcons and Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II squadrons and a myriad of base support agencies conducts the full spectrum of missions providing for the defense of the Republic of Korea.



The mission of the 51st FW is to provide mission-ready Airmen to execute combat operations and receive follow-on forces. The wing accomplishes this mission through:

  • Conducting exercises to ensure our forces maintain the highest degree of readiness to defend Osan AB against air and ground attack.
  • Maintaining and administering U.S. operations at Osan and five collocated operating bases -- Taegu, Suwon, Kwang Ju, Kimhae and Cheong Ju – for reception and beddown of follow-on forces.
  • Providing timely and accurate air power in support of military operations directed by higher headquarters.


The 51st Fighter Wing is composed of four groups each with specific functions. The Operations Group controls all flying and airfield operations. The Maintenance Group performs maintenance of aircraft, ground equipment and aircraft components. The Mission Support Group has a wide range of responsibilities but a few of its functions are Security, Civil Engineering, Communications, Personnel Management, Logistics, Services and Contracting support. While the Medical Group provides medical and dental care

  • 51st Operations Group (Tail Code OS)
  • 51st Mission Support Group
    • Civil Engineer Squadron (CES)
    • Force Support Squadron (FSS)
    • Logistics Readiness Squadron (LRS)
    • Security Forces Squadron (SFS)
    • Communications Squadron (CS)
  • 51st Maintenance Group
    • Maintenance Operations Squadron (MOS)
    • Maintenance Squadron (MXS)
    • Aircraft Maintenance Squadron (AMXS)
    • Munitions Squadron (MUNS)
  • 51st Medical Group
    • Aerospace Medicine Squadron (AMDS)
    • Medical Support Squadron (MDSS)
    • Medical Operations Squadron (MDOS)
    • Dental Squadron (DS)
  • 51st Fighter Wing Staff Agencies
    • Inspector General (IG)
    • Comptroller (CPTS)
    • Safety (SE)
    • Chapel (HC)
    • Judge Advocate General (JAG)
    • Protocol (CCP)
    • Command Post (OC)
    • Public Affairs (PA)
    • Military Equal Opportunity (MEO)
    • Historian (HO)
    • Sexual Assault Prevention & Response (SARC)
    • Wing Plans (XP)
    • AFSO21 (CVO)
    • Information Protection (IP)


For additional history and lineage, see 51st Operations Group


  • Established as 51 Fighter Wing on 10 Aug 1948
Activated on 18 Aug 1948
Redesignated 51 Fighter-Interceptor Wing on 1 Feb 1950
Inactivated on 31 May 1971
  • Redesignated 51 Air Base Wing on 20 Oct 1971
Activated on 1 Nov 1971
Redesignated: 51 Composite Wing (Tactical) on 30 Sep 1974
Redesignated: 51 Tactical Fighter Wing on 1 Jul 1982
Redesignated: 51 Wing on 7 Feb 1992
Redesignated: 51 Fighter Wing on 1 Oct 1993.


Attached to Fifth Air Force, 25 Sep 1950-1 Aug 1954
Further attached to 8th Fighter-Bomber Wing, 25 Sep-12 Oct 1950


  • 5 Tactical Air Control (later, 5 Tactical Control; 5 Air Control) Group: 8 Jan 1980-20 Jun 1982; 1 Oct 1990-1 Jul 1993
  • 51 Fighter (later, 51 Fighter-Interceptor, 51 Fighter, 51 Operations) Group: 18 Aug 1948-25 Oct 1957 (detached 26 Sept-12 Oct 1950, 16 Aug 1954-15 Mar 1955) ; 1 Oct 1990-Present
  • 16 Fighter-Interceptor: attached 1 Jul-24 Oct 1957, assigned 25 Oct 1957-24 Dec 1964
  • 19 Tactical Air Support: 30 Sep 1974-8 Jan 1980
  • 25 Fighter-Interceptor (later, 25 Tactical Fighter): attached 1 Jul-24 Oct 1957, assigned 25 Oct 1957-8 Jun 1960; 1 Feb 1981-31 Jun 1990
  • 36 Tactical Fighter: 30 Sep 1974-1 Oct 1990
  • 82 Fighter-Interceptor: attached 17 Feb-24 Jun 1966, assigned 25 Jun 1966-31 May 1971 (detached 30 Jan-20 Feb 1968)
  • 318 Fighter-Interceptor: attached 11-18 Feb 1968
  • 497 Tactical Fighter: 1 Jan 1982-24 Jan 1989
  • 555 Tactical Fighter: attached 11 Dec 1964-15 Mar 1965 and 11 Nov 1965-25 Feb 1966
  • 558 Tactical Fighter: attached 12 Mar-15 Jun 1965
  • 559 Tactical Fighter: attached 12 Jun-15 Nov 1965.


Aircraft Assigned

The 51st FW’s aircrews have flown a variety of aircraft, including the P/F-51 Mustang, F-80 Shooting Star, F-82 Twin Mustang, F-86 Sabrejet, F-94 Starfire, F-102A Delta Dagger, F-4E Phantom II, F-106A Delta Dart, OV-10 Bronco, A-10 and OA-10 Thunderbolt II and several versions of the F-16 Fighting Falcon.


In 1948, assumed air defense of Ryukyu Islands

Korean War

F-80C of the 51st Fighter-Bomber Wing taking off from Suwon AB with a JATO bottle
North American F-86E-10-NA Sabres of the 25th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron (51st) FBG over Korea. Identifiable is serial is 51-2742.

With the outbreak of the Korean War in 1950, elements of the 51st were dispatched first to Japan, then to South Korea. Korean War operational squadrons were:

  • 16th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron: duration (F-80C, F-86F)
  • 25th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron: duration (F-80C, F-86F)
  • 26th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron: duration (F-80C, F-86F)
  • 39th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron: attached June 1, 1952- (F-80C, F-86F)
  • 68th Fighter-All Weather Squadron: attached September 25-October 9, 1950 (F-82F/G)
  • 80th Fighter-Bomber Squadron: attached September 25-December 20, 1950 (F-80C)

It entered combat service flying the F-80C Shooting Star on 22 September of that year, when it moved to Itazuke AB, Japan, to support the breakout of the U.S. Eighth Army from the Pusan Perimeter. For nearly 4 years thereafter, the 51st FIW played a key role in the defense of South Korea despite moving to four different locations within a year and operating under austere conditions.

The wing moved to South Korea in October only to return to Japan in December, leaving combat elements behind. In May 1951, the 51st FIW moved to Suwon AB, southwest of Seoul, but retained maintenance and supply elements at Tsuiki AB, Japan, to provide rear echelon support. In November 1951 the 51st FIW transitioned to the F-86 Sabre with two squadrons (16th, 25th), adding a third squadron (26th) the following May.

The group operated a detachment at Suwon AB, Korea, beginning in May 1951, and relocated there in October 1951, with maintenance and supply elements remaining in Japan until August 1954. The wing ceased combat on 27 July 1953. The 51 FIW's war record was impressive. Wing pilots flew more than 45,000 sorties and shot down 312 MiG-15s; this produced 14 air aces including the top ace of the war, Captain Joseph C. McConnell. The ratio of aerial victories to losses was 10 to 1. Unfortunately, the wing lost 32 pilots to enemy action; however, nine that became prisoners of war were repatriated later.

Cold War

Three 36th Fighter Squadron McDonnell Douglas F-4E-37-MC Phantoms in flight. Serials 68-0328 and 68-0365 identifiable.
Three 36th Fighter Squadron F-16Cs in flight.

On 1 August 1954, the 51 FIW returned to Naha Air Base to resume air defense coverage of the Ryukyu Islands. Operational squadrons were the 16th, 25th 26th FISs. At the same time, the wing demonstrated its mobility readiness in response to three regional crises.

From August 1958 to January 1959, the 51 FIW deployed eight F-86Ds to Ching Chuan Kang Air Base Taiwan to fly combat air support missions for Nationalist Chinese forces after mainland Communist Chinese forces shelled the Nationalist-held islands of Quemoy and Matsu. Six years later, the wing deployed 12 F-102s to the Philippines and South Vietnam from August to October 1964 for air defense against possible Communist North Vietnamese air attacks.

During the Vietnam War, crews of the 51st Fighter Interceptor Wing provided air defense of Naha AB, Okinawa, with F-102s. During the 1968 Pueblo crisis, the wing deployed 12 of is 33 aircraft to Suwon AB. On 31 May 1971, the 51st FIW was inactivated, ending almost 17 years of service in the Pacific from Naha when it was inactivated as the Air Force began scaling down its activities in Southeast Asia. In 1975 Naha Air Base closed.

The 51st was inactive for only five months. On 1 November 1971, the wing was redesignated the 51st Air Base Wing and activated at Osan Air Base, South Korea. At Osan, the 51st assumed the host responsibilities of the inactivated 6314th Support Wing at to include the Koon-ni range and a variety of remote sites. Operational squadrons of the 51st at Osan have been:

Fighter Squadrons

  • 25th Fighter Squadron (1992-Present A-10, OA-10)
  • 36th Fighter Squadron (F-4E 1974-88), (F-16C/D 1988-Present))
  • 497th Fighter Squadron (F-4E) (1982-84)

Other Squadrons

  • 19th Tactical Air Support Squadron (1971-93 OV-10A, OA-37B, A-10A)
  • 38th Rescue Squadron (HH-60G 1993-94)
  • 55th Airlift Flight (C-12F/J 1992-2007)

In the first of many changes in name and combat capability over the next 20 years, the 51 ABW became the 51st Composite Wing (Tactical) on 30 September 1974, when an F-4E Phantom II fighter squadron (36th TFS) and OV-10 tactical air support squadron (19th TASS) were assigned. The defining changes of these decades included the addition of a squadron of A-10s (25th TFS) on 1 January 1982, then based at Suwon AB; the transition from the F-4E to the F-16 in August 1988; and the assignment of a flight of turboprop C-12Js in August 1992.

Modern era

On 1 October 1993, after a half-dozen name changes, the wing returned to its original and current designation as the 51st Fighter Wing. Since then, the 51st has stayed true to its proud heritage, ensuring the defense of South Korea as a proven combat force and as an able host ready to receive and integrate follow-on forces on the peninsula.


The list of commanders for the 51st Fighter Wing and its predecessors includes a wartime hero, Colonel Francis Gabreski, and an aviation pioneer, Tuskegee Airman Colonel Benjamin O. Davis Jr. [1]

Colonel Benjamin O. Davis, Jr., commander of the 51st FIW, leads a formation of F-86F Sabres over Korea in 1954
  • Brig Gen Hugo P. Rush, 18 August 1948
  • Col John F. Egan, March 25, 1949
  • Col Richard M. Montgomery, April 1, 1949
  • Col John W. Weltman, 19 September 1949
  • Col Oliver G. Cellini, April 24, 1951
  • Col William P. Litton, 1 November 1951 (Crashed 2 November 1951, on mission, missing and presumed dead)
  • Col George R. Stanley, 2 November 1951
  • Col Francis S. Gabreski, 6 November 1951
  • Col John W. Mitchell, June 13, 1952
  • Col William C. Clark, May 31, 1953
  • Col Ernest H. Beverly, 9 August 1953
  • Col William C. Clark, 11 September 1953
  • Col Benjamin O. Davis Jr., ca. Dec. 1953
  • Col Barton M. Russell, July 2, 1954
  • Col Travis Hoover, 1 August 1954
  • Col Hilmer C. Nelson, 9 August 1954
  • Col Edwin C. Ambrosen, 16 August 1954
  • Col John H. Bell, 15 November 1955
  • Col Paul E. Hoeper, 2 February 1957
  • Col Robert L. Cardenas, May 4, 1957
  • Col Walter V. Gresham Jr., July 15, 1957
  • Col Elliott H. Reed, 1 August 1957
  • Col Walter V. Gresham Jr., 15 August 1957
  • Col Lester J. Johnsen, 22 November 1957
  • Col William W. Ingenhutt, March 25, 1960
  • Col Lester C. Hess, July 24, 1962
  • Col Lloyd R. Larson, June 11, 1965
  • Col Frank E. Angier, April 8, 1967
  • Col John B. Weed, June 13, 1968
  • Col Roy D. Carlson, June 30, 1968
  • Col Hewitt E. Lovelace Jr., 1 November 1971
  • Col John H. Allison, 1 August 1972
  • Col Billie J. Norwood, June 7, 1973
  • Col Alonzo L. Ferguson, May 1, 1974
  • Col Glenn L. Nordin, 30 September 1974
  • Col Vernon H. Sandrock, 12 August 1975
  • Col Fred B. Hoenniger, June 15, 1977
  • Col James T. Boddie Jr., June 18, 1979
  • Col John C. Scheidt Jr., May 16, 1980
  • Col Eugene Myers, 20 February 1981
  • Col Thomas R. Olsen, July 16, 1982
  • Col Marcus F. Cooper Jr., May 26, 1983
  • Col Barry J. Howard, 18 October 1983
  • Col Charles D. Link, July 20, 1984
  • Col Henry J. Cochran, 12 August 1985
  • Col John C. Marshall, June 12, 1987
  • Col James J. Winters, June 30, 1989
  • Col Thomas R. Case, July 17, 1990
  • Brig Gen Robert G. Jenkins, June 23, 1992
  • Brig Gen Robert H. Foglesong, 31 January 1994
  • Brig Gen Steven R. Polk, 21 November 1995
  • Brig Gen Paul R. Dordal, May 15, 1997
  • Brig Gen Robert R. Dierker, 15 September 1998
  • Brig Gen David E. Clary, May 22, 2000
  • Brig Gen William L. Holland, March 18, 2002
  • Brig Gen Maurice H. Forsyth, 29 September 2003
  • Brig Gen Joseph Reynes Jr., July 8, 2005
  • Col Jon A. Norman, June 15, 2007
  • Col Thomas H. Deale, October 15, 2008


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

  • USAAS-USAAC-USAAF-USAF Aircraft Serial Numbers--1908 to present
  • This article contains information from the Osan Air Base factsheet which is an official document of the United States Government and is presumed to be in the public domain.
  • Maurer, Maurer (1983). Air Force Combat Units Of World War II. Maxwell AFB, Alabama: Office of Air Force History. ISBN 0892010924.
  • Martin, Patrick (1994). Tail Code: The Complete History of USAF Tactical Aircraft Tail Code Markings. Schiffer Military Aviation History. ISBN 0887405134.
  • Ravenstein, Charles A. (1984). Air Force Combat Wings Lineage and Honors Histories 1947-1977. Maxwell AFB, Alabama: Office of Air Force History. ISBN 0912799129.
  • Rogers, Brian (2005). United States Air Force Unit Designations Since 1978. Hinkley, England: Midland Publications. ISBN 1-85780-197-0.
  • Thompson, Warren (2000). F-86 Sabre Fighter-Bomber Units over Korea. Osprey Publishing ISBN 1855329298
  • Thompson, Warren (2001). F-80 Shooting Star Units over Korea. Osprey Publishing ISBN 1841762253

External links


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