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23d Wing
23d Wing.jpg
23d Wing Shield
Active 1948-present
Country United States
Branch U.S. Air Force
Type Fighter
Role Close Air Support
Size 900 personnel
48 A-10/OA-10 aircraft
Garrison/HQ Moody Air Force Base, Georgia
Nickname(s) Flying Tigers
Engagements China Offensive
Western Pacific
China Defensive
Liberation and Defense of Kuwait
Defense of Saudi Arabia
Operation Enduring Freedom
Operation Iraqi Freedom
Decorations Presidential Unit Citation ribbon.svg DUC
Outstanding Unit ribbon.svg AFOUA w/ V Device
Colonel Henry Santicola
Michael Dugan
James V. Hartinger
Bruce K. Holloway

The 23d Wing is a front-line United States Air Force Air Combat Command wing currently assigned to Moody Air Force Base, Georgia.


The mission of the 23d Wing is to organize, train and employ combat-ready A-10, HC-130 and HH-60, as well as pararescuemen and force protection assets. It consists of approximately 6,100 military and civilian personnel, including geographically separated units (GSU) at Nellis AFB, Nevada, Davis-Monthan AFB, Arizona, MacDill AFB, Florida and the Avon Park Air Force Range, Florida.


The 23d Wing consists of the following groups:

38th Rescue Squadron
41st Rescue Squadron
71st Rescue Squadron
347th Operations Support Squadron
74th Fighter Squadron
75th Fighter Squadron
23d Operations Support Squadron
48th Rescue Squadron (Davis-Monthan AFB)
55th Rescue Squadron (D-M AFB)
79th Rescue Squadron (D-M AFB)
563d Operations Support Squadron (D-M AFB)
58th Rescue Squadron (Nellis AFB)
66th Rescue Squadron (Nellis AFB)
  • 23d Mission Support Group
  • 23d Medical Group
  • 23d Maintenance Group


Postwar era

The 23d Fighter Wing was activated on 10 August 1948 at Northwest Guam AFB, Guam as part of the "Wing" or "Wing-Base" plan, which prescribed a standard organizational setup for all USAF bases worldwide. The plan called for the creation of a wing headquarters that established policy and supervised four functional groups: an operational group, an air base group, a maintenance and supply group, and a medical group. The 23d Fighter Group was assigned as the operational group under the new 23d Fighter Wing. The wing was assigned to Far East Air Forces.

The 23d's mission on Guam was to provide air defense of the island. The 23d Fighter Group was assigned the 74th, 75th and 76th Fighter Squadrons, being equipped with Republic F-47 Thunderbolts.

The 23d Fighter Wing was reassigned to Howard Air Force Base, Canal Zone, in April 1949, where it also acquired a squadron of Lockheed RF-80 Shooting Stars. The 23d Fighter Wing conducted air defense of the Canal Zone under the Caribbean Air Command until it was again inactivated on 24 September 1949.

Air Defense Command

23d Fighter-Interceptor Wing North American F-86A-5-NA Sabre 49-1122, Presque Isle AFB, Maine, 1952 (marked as Wing Commander's aircraft)

Reactivated on 12 January 1951, at Presque Isle Air Force Base, Maine, the wing was redesignated the 23d Fighter-Interceptor Wing with the 74th and 75th Fighter-Interceptor Squadrons assigned, as part of the Air Defense Command (ADC). Equipped with North American F-86 Sabre, F-51 Mustang, and F-80 Shooting Star aircraft, its mission was to provide air defense for the northeastern United States during the Korean War and conduct basic training for about 500 Air Force recruits. The 23 FIW was inactivated 6 February 1952 along with the 23d Fighter-Interceptor Group. The Wing's equipment and personnel were transferred to the 4711th Defense Wing, which had been organized at Presque Isle on 1 February 1952[1]

Tactical Air Command

McConnell Air Force Base

Following its longest period of inactivation, the group was organized as the 23d Tactical Fighter Wing on 8 February 1964, at McConnell Air Force Base, Kansas, under Tactical Air Command and Twelfth Air Force. The 23 TFW was activated to replace the 388th Tactical Fighter Wing at McConnell after its deployment to Korat RTAFB, Thailand. Squadrons of the 23 TFW were:

F-105Ds of the 562d Tactical Fighter Squadron, deployed from McConnel AFB, KS to Southeast Asia (Thailand), 1965

F-105F-1-RE Thunderchief, AF Serial No. 63-8360 of the 561st Tactical Fighter Squadron, McConnel AFB, Kansas - 1970. This aircraft was later converted to the F-105G "Wild Weasel" configuration. It was hit by flak over North Vietnam on 17 September 1972 and crashed at sea.

Squadron markings on the natural metal / silver lacquered aircraft included the following: 561 TFS - black/yellow checkerboarding on rudder; 562 TFS - a red, white and black "sharkmouth" on the nose of the aircraft; 563 TFS red and white stripes on the rudder, wingtips and stabilizers with a white band on the top of the vertical fin.

When Southeast Asian camouflaged, the squadrons carried the following tail codes: 561 TFS "MD"; 562 TFS "ME"; 563 TFS "MF", and later the 4519th and 419th TFTS "MG".

Flying the Republic Aviation F-105D/G "Thunderchief" aircraft, the mission of the 23 TFW at McConnell was to provide training for Thud pilots prior to their deployment to Southeast Asia. The 560th acted as a combat training squadron, while the other three squadrons began rotational TDY deployments to Southeast Asia beginning in November 1964.

In February 1965, when the 23 TFW deployed three squadrons (the 561st, 562d and 563d) to Southeast Asia for combat, these units were initially under the control of the 2d Air Division. Later, the 6441 TFW (P) was activated at Takhli RTAFB in July 1965, taking control of the 23d's squadrons deployed there. It was during this five-month tour that the 563d TFS lost 10 of its 18 F-105's deployed and was awarded two Air Force Outstanding Unit Awards with Combat "V" for Valor. In addition to the deployments to Thailand, detachments of the 561 TFS also deployed to Da Nang Air Base RVN for operations within the borders of the Republic of Vietnam.

On 1 August 1967, the 4519th Combat Crew Training squadron was added to the 23 TFW, and the 560 TFS was inactivated on 25 September 1968.

The wing maintained proficiency in tactical fighter operations, and later also functioned as an F-105 replacement training unit and assisted Air National Guard units in their conversion to the F-105 when the Thunderchief left first-line service. For the dual role it played from June 1970 to June 1971 as both an operational and a training unit, the wing received the Air Force Outstanding Unit Award in March 1971. Two of its squadrons, the 562d and 563d, also received the same award for their duty in Vietnam during 1965, but with the combat "V" added, the 563rd receiving two such awards in a five-month period. For its participation in Linebacker I and Linebacker II during 1972 the 561st (Wild Weasels) received the Air Force Outstanding Unit Award with Combat "V".

During combat operations in Southeast Asia, the 562 TFS lost three aircraft, while the 563 TFS lost eleven aircraft.

On 1 July 1972 the 23 TFW was transferred to England AFB Louisiana and the 561, 562 and 563 TFS were assigned to the 35 TFW at George AFB California.

England Air Force Base

Ling-Temco-Vought A-7D-11-CV Corsair II, AF Serial No. 71-0338 of the 75th Tactical Fighter Squadron, taken in May 1973. A-7D attack aircraft were assigned to the 23d TFW from 1972 through 1981

The 23d Tactical Fighter Wing moved "on paper" without people or equipment to England Air Force Base, Louisiana, 1 July 1972 and took over the assets and personnel of the 4403d Tactical Fighter Wing. Assigned to the Ninth Air Force, the wing activated all three of its original World War II fighter units — the 74th, 75th and 76th Tactical Fighter Squadrons for the first time since 1949, and began operations with the Ling-Temco-Vought A-7D Corsair II aircraft.

Squadron markings were a blue tail stripe, later adding white stars and a "74" in 1979 for the 74 TFS; s white outlined black tail stripe, later changed to black and white checkered for the 75 TFS, and a red tail stripe with white stars and a "76" for the 76 TFS. All 23 TFW aircraft carried the "EL" tail code at England AFB.

On 5 July 1973, the 74 TFS deployed to Korat Royal Thai Air Force Base, Thailand, on temporary duty with the 354 TFW (Deployed) from Myrtle Beach AFB, South Carolina. The 74th replaced the 354 TFS from Davis-Monthan AFB, Arizona that had completed its temporary duty. For just over a month, until the cessation of all U.S. bombing on 15 August 1973, the 74 TFS supported the air war activities in Cambodia, accounting for the destruction of 311 enemy structures, 25 ground artillery and missile sites, three bridges and 9,500 cubic meters of supplies. The 74 TFS returned to England AFB on 28 December 1973.

The 23 TFW took part in a variety of operational exercises both in the United States and overseas, including tactical bombing competitions against the Royal Air Force at RAF Lossiemouth, Scotland, during October 1977 and July 1978. In both events, A-7D teams captured the Sir John Mogg Team Trophy.

On 23 September 1980, the 74 TFS received the 23 TFW's first operational Fairchild Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II aircraft. The 75 and 76 TFS received A-10s within the next few months, and the 23 TFW took top honors in Ninth Air Force’s tactical bombing competition (Gunpowder 1981) in July, and advanced to TAC’s worldwide Gunsmoke 1981 competition at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, in September. The Flying Tigers won six of nine events, including top maintenance and munitions awards, and was the top A-10 unit in the competition. The wing’s maintenance complex was also awarded the 1981 Daedalian runner-up trophy, and earned the 1984 Daedalian Aircraft Maintenance Trophy.

Eight of the 23d's A-7Ds were transferred to the 4450th Tactical Group, based at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada in June 1981, during the transition to the A-10. The 4451st Tactical Squadron at Tonopah Test Range Airport used these aircraft to train F-117 pilots and to provide a cover story for F-117A development.


A-10s on the flightline.

The wing set Air Force records for "mission capable" and "fully mission capable" (meaning an aircraft can meet any mission tasking) rates during fiscal year 1985. The marks, 93.1 percent in MC and 92.8 percent in FMC, topped records set by the wing in 1981, 1982, 1983 and 1984.

The wing earned its fourth Air Force Outstanding Unit Award for the period 1 April 1989, to 31 March 1991.

Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm

In response to the buildup of forces following the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in August 1990, the 74th and 76th Tactical Fighter Squadrons deployed with numerous support personnel to King Fahd International Airport, Saudi Arabia, attached to the 354th Tactical Fighter Wing (Provisional) as part of Operation Desert Shield. The A-10 deployment was the largest ever fielded and consisted of:

Tail Code Squadron Wing Home AFB
AR 511 TFS 10 TFW RAF Alconbury, UK
EL 74 TFS 23 TFW England AFB, LA
EL 76 TFS 23 TFW England AFB, LA
MB 353 TFS 354 TFW Myrtle Beach AFB, SC
MB 355 TFS 354 TFW Myrtle Beach AFB, SC
NO 706 TFS 926 TFG NAS New Orleans, LA
NF 23 TASS 602 TACW Davis-Monthan AFB, AZ

A total of 144 A/OA-10 aircraft were deployed.


A 23d Fighter Group member directs traffic in the desert.

Using forward operating locations near the Kuwaiti border as well as King Fahd AB, A-10s made their combat debut in Operation Desert Storm on 17 January 1991. The 23 TFW flew more than 2,700 combat sorties over Iraq and Kuwait while maintaining a mission-capable rate of 95 percent. In addition to providing close air support for ground units, the A-10s performed Combat Search and Rescue (CSAR) and SCUD-hunting missions. The combined efforts of the A-10 units resulted in the confirmed destruction of 987 tanks, 926 artillery pieces, 500 armored personnel carriers, 1,106 trucks, 112 military structures, 96 radars, 72 bunkers, 57 SCUD missile launchers, 50 anti-aircraft artillery batteries, 28 command posts, 11 FROG missiles, nine surface-to-air missile sites, eight fuel tanks and 12 aircraft.

Both squadrons returned to England Air Force Base at the end of March 1991. Support personnel continued to arrive for months after the aircraft redeployment. In October 1990, the Base Realignment and Closure Commission decided that England Air Force Base would be closed by September 1992. A draw down of equipment and personnel began almost immediately.

On 1 October 1991, as part of an Air Force-wide reorganization, the wing designation became 23d Fighter Wing, and on 1 November 1991, the squadrons also dropped "tactical" from their designations.

On 2 December 1991, the 75th Fighter Squadron was inactivated. The 74 FS was inactivated on 13 February 1992, and the 76 FS on 29 May. The 23d Fighter Wing's A-10 aircraft were sent to Air National Guard units, and the wing was inactivated on 1 June 1992. England AFB was closed the same day.

Air Combat Command

Pope Air Force Base

File:F-16C of the 74th Fighter Squadron (Pope AFB, North Carolina).jpg

"Flying Tiger" General Dynamics F-16C Block 40E Fighting Falcon, AF Serial No. 89-2008, of the 74th Fighter Squadron.

"Flying Tiger" Lockheed C-130E-LM Hercules, AF Serial No. 63-7846, of the 41st Airlift Squadron.

Fairchild Republic A-10A Thunderbolt II Serial 80-0252 of the 75th Fighter Squadron.

The collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 and the end of Cold War tensions led senior defense planners to conclude that the structure of the military establishment which had evolved during the Cold War years was not suited to the new world situation. Senior planners reviewed numerous options before agreeing on the final conclusion—a merger of most strategic and tactical air resources and a reorganization of the Military Airlift Command (MAC). In addition, the number of Air Force wings was to be reduced by about one-third to reflect the financial constraints of the post Cold War environment.

These changes led to Pope Air Force Base being transferred to the new Air Combat Command upon the command's activation on 1 June 1992. Also, the existing 317th Airlift Wing at Pope was blended with the newly activated 23d Operations Group (last assigned to the wing in 1952 as the 23rd Fighter-Interceptor Group) into the new 23d Wing on 1 June 1992.

In April 1992, A/OA-10 Thunderbolt II aircraft were transferred to the 75th Fighter Squadron from the 353d FS / 354th FW at Myrtle Beach AFB prior to the wing's inactivation and the BRAC-mandated closure of Myrtle Beach AFB, South Carolina in January 1993. In June 1993, Block 40 F-16C/Ds were transferred to the 74th Fighter Squadron from the 347 FW at Moody and 388 FW at Hill AFB, Utah.

Operational squadrons of the 23d Wing at Pope were:

All aircraft of the 23d Wing at Pope carried the tail code "FT" (Flying Tigers).

In December 1992, C-130s from the 2d Airlift Squadron deployed to Mombasa, Kenya, to participate in Operation Provide Relief. The aircraft and crews delivered tons of food and other relief supplies to small airstrips throughout Somalia. 23d Wing C-130s have also been tasked to assist in other humanitarian relief efforts, to include Hurricane Andrew in Florida. They also airdropped relief supplies into Bosnia and Herzegovina and flew relief missions into Sarajevo for more than 28 months.

In September 1994, its C-130s participated in what was to be the largest combat personnel drop since World War II, Operation Uphold Democracy. They were to assist in dropping more than 3,000 paratroopers from the 82d Airborne Division onto Port au Prince Airport, Haiti. The invasion force was recalled at the last minute after word that the Haitian president had resigned upon hearing that the aircraft were on their way. The 75th Fighter Squadron's A-10s were deployed their aircraft to Shaw AFB, South Carolina, where they were scheduled to launch close air support operations for the invasion force before recovering in Puerto Rico.

The first operational deployment of a composite wing happened in October 1994, when Iraqi troops began massing near the Kuwaiti Border. Within 72 hours, 56 aircraft and 1,500 personnel deployed to the Persian Gulf region for Operation Vigilant Warrior. Eventually, the 75th Fighter Squadron redeployed to Al Jaber AB, Kuwait, becoming the first U.S. fixed-wing aircraft to be stationed in that country since the end of the Gulf War.

On 1 July 1996, the 74th Fighter Squadron's F-16C/D Fighting Falcons were transferred to the 27FW / 524th FS at Cannon AFB, New Mexico, and the squadron transitioned to A/OA-10 Thunderbolt IIs received from the 20FW / 55th FS at Shaw AFB, South Carolina. This gave the 23d Group a 2d A-10 squadron.

On 1 April 1997, the 23d Wing was downsized and redesignated as the 23d Fighter Group (FG). The 23d Operations Group was inactivated and its fighter squadrons assigned directly to the 23 FG. The 23 FG remained at Pope AFB as an operations group assigned to the Air Combat Command 347th Wing at Moody AFB, Georgia but remained at Pope as a Geographically Separated Unit (GSU). The C-130s formerly assigned to the 23 OG and Pope Air Force Base were realigned to Air Mobility Command under the designation 43d Airlift Wing.

On 27 June 2000, the 23d Fighter Group was reassigned to the 4th Fighter Wing at Seymour Johnson AFB North Carolina also as a GSU and continued to operate from Pope, after the 347th Wing was redesignated the 347th Rescue Wing. The group as it existed in 2006 consisted of the:

Operation Allied Force

A 23d Fighter Group member inspects two AIM-9 Sidewinder missiles on an aircraft in the desert.

In April 1999, the 74 FS deployed five aircraft and 60 personnel to Operation Allied Force, the NATO air campaign against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, nominally intended to stop ethnic cleansing of Albanians by Serbians. The US participation was known as Operation Noble Anvil and officially spanned 24 March 1999 – 10 June 1999. The 74th FS deployed initially to Spangdahlem Air Base and then forward deployed to Gioia del Colle Air Base, Italy. Designated the 74th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron, the unit co-located with the 81st EFS of the 51st Fighter Wing, Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, to form an expeditionary fighter wing.

The A-10A aircraft provided close air support during missions over the region, provided short-notice alert for combat search and rescue missions and also provided Airborne Forward Air Control for NATO fighters attacking Serbian targets found in the Kosovo area.

Operation Enduring Freedom

In March 2002, the 23d Fighter Group landed the first fighter aircraft inside Afghanistan. They deployed from Al Jaber AB, Kuwait, to Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan. 23d Fighter Group personnel operated simultaneously in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Southern Watch for nearly seven months.

Operation Iraqi Freedom

In February 2003, the 23d Fighter Group deployed to Al Jaber Air Base in preparation of Operation Iraqi Freedom, there they launched aircraft to attack Baghdad until the major fighting ceased. They then deployed forward to Tallil Air Base, near An-Nasiriyah.


In 2002, an A-10 of the 75th Fighter Squadron passed the 9,000 flying-hour mark, becoming the most flown attack aircraft in Air Force history. This was exceeded in 2005 by another A-10 from the 75th FS that passed the 10,000 flying-hour mark.

Moody Air Force Base

On 29 September 2006, the 347th Rescue Wing at Moody AFB redesignated as the 347th Rescue Group, while the 23 FG was redesignated the 23d Wing. The 23rd Wing has three operations groups, the 347th Rescue Group, along the original 23d Fighter Group (last assigned to the wing at Pope AFB as the 23rd Operations Gp), and the 563rd Rescue Group based out of Davis-Monthan AFB AZ. & Nellis AFB NV. Both the 23 WG and 23 FG are charged with carrying on the historic Flying Tiger's heritage.[2]

The 23d Fighter Group was re-assigned to the 23d Wing as a second operations group in a ceremony held on 18 August 2006. The 23d Fighter Group transferred its personnel and equipment from Pope AFB in December 2007. There are currently two operational A/OA-10 squadrons to Moody. In addition, twelve additional A-10 aircraft from the 355th Fighter Squadron / 354th Fighter Wing at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska were transferred to the 23d Fighter Group as a result of BRAC 2005.


  • Constituted as 23d Fighter Wing on 10 August 1948
Activated on 16 August 1948
Inactivated on 24 September 1949
Redesignated 23d Fighter-Interceptor Wing on 19 December 1950
Activated on 12 January 1951
Inactivated on 6 February 1952
  • Redesignated 23d Tactical Fighter Wing, and activated, on 28 January 1964
Organized on 8 February 1964
Redesignated 23d Fighter Wing on 1 October 1991
Inactivated on 1 June 1992
  • Redesignated 23d Wing, and activated, on 1 June 1992
Redesignated 23rd Fighter Group on 1 April 1997
Redesignated 23d Wing on 1 October 2006.





Detachments and Operating Locations



  1. Cornett & Johnson. p/ 67
  2. USAF Release ref 23d Wing.

 This article incorporates public domain material from the Air Force Historical Research Agency website

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