|Part of Air Combat Command (ACC)|
|Located near: Goldsboro, North Carolina|
F-15E Strike Eagle aircraft from the 335th Fighter Squadron Base
|Type||Air Force Base|
|In use||1942 – present|
|Controlled by||United States Air Force|
|Garrison||4th Fighter Wing|
|IATA: GSB – ICAO: KGSB – FAA LID: GSB|
|Elevation AMSL||109 ft / 33 m|
|Sources: official web site and FAA|
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Seymour Johnson Air Force Base (IATA: GSB, ICAO: KGSB, FAA Location identifier: GSB) is a United States Air Force base located to the southeast of Goldsboro, North Carolina. The base is named for Navy test pilot Seymour Johnson, a native of Goldsboro. It is home to the 4th Fighter Wing (4 FW) of the Air Combat Command (ACC), which functions as the host wing for the installation. The 916th Air Refueling Wing (916 ARW), an Air Force Reserve Command (AFRC) unit operationally gained by the Air Mobility Command (AMC), and the 414th Fighter Group (414 FG), an Air Force Reserve Command (AFRC) unit operationally gained by Air Combat Command (ACC), reside as tenant units.
4th Fighter Wing
The 4th Fighter Wing, one of the Air Force's most distinguished fighter wings, moved to Seymour Johnson on 8 December 1957 from Chitose Air Base, Japan, replacing the 83d Fighter-Day Wing, and has been the host unit ever since.
The 4th Fighter Wing, under various designations, can trace its origins to the RAF Eagle squadrons of World War II. The Eagle Squadrons were Royal Air Force fighter squadrons formed with volunteer pilots from the United States. The last Eagle Squadron was disbanded in September 1942, with most of the members transferring into the United States Army Air Forces, primarily the 4th Fighter Group of the U.S. Eighth Air Force. Many famous fighter aces were in this group.
Reactivated as the 4th Fighter Wing on 28 July 1947, members of the wing have served all over the world, including the Korean War, Vietnam War, Operation Desert Storm and Operation Iraqi Freedom. The 4th Fighter Wing accomplishes its training and operational missions with 92 F-15E Strike Eagles, assigned to the following squadrons:
- 333d Fighter Squadron Lancers "Red Fin Flash"
- 334th Fighter Squadron Eagles "Blue Fin Flash"
- 335th Fighter Squadron Chiefs "Green Fin Flash"
- 336th Fighter Squadron Rocketeers "Yellow Fin Flash"
All 4th Fighter Wing F-15Es carry the "SJ" Tailcode.
The 335th and 336th Fighter Squadrons are capable of deploying worldwide on short notice and immediately generating combat power., while the 307th, 333rd and 334th Fighter Squadrons are responsible for training all F-15E Strike Eagle aircrews for the U.S. Air Force.
916th Air Refueling Wing
The United States Air Force Reserve's 916th Air Refueling Wing (916 ARW) supports routine refueling missions for other Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps and allied aircraft under the direction of the 4th Air Force and Headquarters, Air Force Reserve Command. If recalled to active duty, the wing would integrate into the 18th Air Force and fall under the direction of Air Mobility Command, Scott Air Force Base, Illinois.
The 916 ARW has 15 subordinate squadrons among its three groups: the 916th Maintenance Group, 916th Operations Group and 916th Mission Support Group, as well as one unattached squadron, the 916th Aerospace Medicine Squadron. More than 900 Air Force Reservists in the wing train to support worldwide operational commitments.
The unit initially arrived at Seymour Johnson in October 1985 as a small advance team until October 1986. During that first year, Air Force Reservists worked with active duty Air Force units flying the Strategic Air Command's newest tanker, the KC-10A Extender, in an associate program.
The first exclusively Reserve KC-10 crew flew out of Seymour Johnson on 29 October 1985. With the reorganization of the Air Force in 1992 that saw the inactivation of Strategic Air Command, the KC-10 aircraft were temporarily placed under the redesignated 4th Wing (4 WG) at Seymour Johnson, but by 1994, the KC-10s were ultimately reassigned to McGuire AFB, New Jersey as Air Mobility Command assets. The 916 ARW remained at Seymour Johnson as an Air Force Reserve KC-135 Stratotanker unit gained by AMC. Also now part of the 916th ARW is the 911th ARS.
414th Fighter Group
The 414th Fighter Group (414 FG) is an active United States Air Force unit assigned to the Air Force Reserve Command and operationally gained by Air Combat Command (ACC). The group was reactivated as an Air Force Reserve Command associate unit to the 4th Fighter Wing in July 2010. The role of the new group is to help Seymour Johnson AFB, NC produce more qualified F-15E Strike Eagle aircrews and provide skilled maintainers to assist in the maintenance of the F-15E aircraft. The operational flying unit of the 414 FG is the 307th Fighter Squadron (307 FS), which flies Active Component F-15E aircraft assigned to the 4th Fighter Wing.
Seymour Johnson Air Force Base occupies over 3,300 acres (13 km²) in the southeast section of Goldsboro. Seymour Johnson Field was opened in April 1942 as Headquarters, Technical School, Army Air Forces Technical Training Command. In June 1943, a secondary mission was added which included preparation of officers and men for overseas duty. The unit was known as the Provisional Overseas Replacement Training Center. Seymour Johnson Field received a third mission in September 1943: to provide basic military training for cadets preparing to become technical officers in the Army Air Corps. The 75th Training Wing was established to conduct the program through its Aviation Cadet Pre-Training School.
Interestingly, the namesake of the base, Seymour Johnson, was never part of the Air Force (or the Army, of which the Air Force was initially a branch). He was a local man who became a Navy test pilot and died in a plane crash in 1940, just before the US entered World War II. There is a historical plaque honoring him at the main gate entrance of the base.
World War II
Construction of Seymour Johnson Field started on 9 March 1942 and by 10 July 1942 the 333d Base HQ and Air Base Squadron was established as the host unit. Col Walter J. Reed was the first commander. Seymour Johnson Field was assigned to the USAAF Technical Training Command, and the airfield's initial mission was Field Aviation Cadet Pre-Technical School Training in bomber mechanics.
The 76th Training Wing was activated at Seymour Johnson on 26 February 1943 and the airfield's mission was changed to training replacement pilots for the P-47 Thunderbolt.
At the end of World War II in Europe, Seymour Johnson was designated as a central assembly station for processing and training troops being reassigned in the continental United States and Pacific theater of operations. The 47th Bombardment Group was reassigned to Seymour Johnson from Twelfth Air Force in Italy during June. Its mission was to prepare for redeployment to the Pacific theater for night pathfinder operations against Imperial Japan. Its black-painted Douglas A-26Cs were equipped with radar however the surrender by Japan in August 1945, cancelled all redeployment plans.
With its operational training mission ended, in September 1945 and the field became an Army-Air Force Separation Center under the 123d AAF Base Unit.
On 15 August 1947, Seymour Johnson Army Airfield was closed. and remained inactive for nearly a decade.
Cold War to Present Day
Tactical Air Command / Air Combat Command
83rd Fighter-Day Wing (1956–57)
After the airfield's closure in 1947, local community leaders campaigned for many years to reopen Seymour Johnson. On 1 April 1956 Seymour Johnson Air Force Base was reactivated as a United States Air Force base under Tactical Air Command. The 4435th Air Base Squadron being the initial host unit. Capt Harry D. Lyons was the first USAF Base Commander.
On 1 July 1956, the 83d Fighter-Day Wing was activated as the host unit of the new Air Force Base. Col. Ralph L. Merritt Jr., was the first Wing Commander. Operational squadrons of the 83d Fighter-Day Wing were:
- 448th Fighter-Day Squadron
- 532d Fighter-Day Squadron
- 533d Fighter-Day Squadron
- 534th Fighter-Day Squadron
The 83d initially trained with the Lockheed F-80 Shooting Star when it was activated, later upgrading to the F-86H Sabre in October 1956. The wing was declared fully operational in June 1957, and in October 1957, it was upgraded to the North American F-100C/F Super Sabre.
4th Fighter Wing (1957–present)
In December 1957, the 83d Fighter-Day Wing was inactivated, being replaced at Seymour Johnson by the 4th Fighter-Day Wing and absorbing its assets. The 4th FDW was returned to the United States after an extended assignment at Chitose AB, Japan after the Korean War. Col Robert C. Richardson III, was the first Wing Commander. Squadrons of the 4th FDW were:
- 333d Fighter-Day Squadron (Formerly 448th FDS) (Red markings)
- 334th Fighter-Day Squadron (Formerly 532d FDS) (Blue markings)
- 335th Fighter-Day Squadron (Formerly 533d FDS) (Green markings)
- 336th Fighter-Day Squadron (Formerly 534th FDS) (Yellow markings)
The 4th Fighter Wing with these operational squadrons have, under various designations, remained at Seymour Johnson AFB for nearly 50 years. On 1 July 1958 the unit was redesignated the 4th Tactical Fighter Wing.
Initially the wing simply redesignated the flying squadrons of the 83d FDS and continued to fly the F-100 Super Sabre. However, a mission change on 1 May 1958 led to an equipment change with the arrival of the Republic F-105B Thunderchief. The F-100s remained with the 333d TFS until being transferred in 1960 when the 334th, 335th and 336th Tactical Fighter Squadrons were declared to be fully operational with the F-105. In the spring of 1964, the 4th TFW began the transition from F-105Bs to F-105D/Fs, a process that was completed on 23 June.
4th TFW during the Vietnam War
As the war in Southeast Asia heated up in the late summer of 1964, the 4th TFW was alerted for deployment to the Far East. On 3 July 1965, as part of Operation Two Buck 13, the 335th TFS deployed to Yokota Air Base, Japan to take the place of units assigned there that were deployed to Thailand, standing the normal VICTOR nuclear alert rotations at Osan Air Base, South Korea.
On 8 November 1965, the 335th TFS deployed to Takhli RTAFB, Thailand, for combat operations against North Vietnam. At Takhli, the squadron was under the control of the newly activated 355th TFW. The 335th TFS returned to Seymour Johnson AFB on 15 December 1965.
On 28 August 1965, also under Operation Two Buck 13, the 334th TFS deployed to Takhli RTAFB for combat operations against North Vietnamese targets, coming under the control of the 6235th TFW(P) at Takhli. The 334th TFS returned to Seymour Johnson AFB on 10 October 1966, leaving its F-105 aircraft at Takhli.
On 4 December 1965, the 333d TFS deployed to Korat RTAFB for combat operations. However, the 333d then transferred to Takhli to relieve the 335th TFS. On 3 December 1965, the 333d TFS deployment was changed from TDY to PCS (Permanent Change of Station), and the squadron was permanently assigned to the 355th TFW at Takhli. The F-105 aircraft and pilots of the 336th TFS rotated between Seymour Johnson and Takhli in 1965/66 but the squadron did not deploy to the war zone in Southeast Asia.
In 1967 the 4th transitioned to the F-4 Phantom II and began a rotational commitment of tactical squadrons to Ubon RTAFB, Thailand as augmentees of the 8th TFW for combat operations from April 1972 until the withdrawal of American air units in Thailand in 1974.
4th TFW Post Vietnam operations
In 1974, the wing mission reverted to training, with increased emphasis on short-term European contingency support. Elements of the wing deployed to Norway in June 1974. Two short-term deployments to Spangdahlem AB, West Germany, were conducted in July and September 1975. The highlight of 1976 came in November when the wing took first place in the William Tell worldwide weapons competition at Tyndall AFB, Florida, becoming the first F-4 unit to win the Air Defense Command-sponsored event. The wing executed short-term deployments to South Korea and Japan during 1977 and assumed a dual-based mission with Ramstein AB in October of that year. The overall mission commitment was restructured to reflect worldwide contingency emphasis in October 1986.
In 1988 the 4th TFW began transitioning from the F-4E to the F-15E Strike Eagle. The first F-15E arrived on 29 December 1988, and the 336th Tactical Fighter Squadron became the first operational F-15E squadron in the Air Force on 1 October 1989. The transition from the F-4E to the F-15E was completed on 1 July 1991, making the 4th TFW the first operational F-15E wing in the Air Force.
Operation Desert Storm
At the height of conversion training, the 4th TFW was one of the first units tasked to react to Iraq's invasion of Kuwait. The 335th and 336th Tactical Fighter Squadrons and support personnel deployed to Saudi Arabia, beginning in August 1990. The combat record of the 4th TFW in Saudi Arabia was nothing less than outstanding.
After the cease fire, the 4th TFW continued rotating squadron elements to Southwest Asia during the 1990s, taking part in enforcement of the no-fly zones in Iraq.
Post Cold War
On 22 April 1991, the 4th Tactical Fighter Wing was redesignated as the 4th Wing (4 WG) as the Air Force's first composite wing. In addition to its F-15E aircraft and personnel, the 4th Wing also incorporated under it all the people, KC-10A aircraft and other associated assets of the 68th Air Refueling Wing (68 ARW), the former Strategic Air Command unit at Seymour Johnson that was inactivated the same day.
The 4 WG began another force structure change in 1994. The KC-10s were reassigned to Air Mobility Command bases in 1994 and 1995 and the F-15E formal training unit (FTU) moved to Seymour Johnson in 1994 and 1995.
On 1 October 1994, the 333d Fighter Squadron was transferred back to the 4th Fighter Wing, after a 29-year absence, from the 355th Fighter Wing at Davis-Monthan AFB, Arizona to accommodate the training mission. This meant that all four original 4th Fighter Wing squadrons were reunited at Seymour Johnson AFB for the first time since July 1965.
Following the departure of KC-10s, the 4th Wing was again redesignated the 4th Fighter Wing (4 FW) on 1 December 1995. To accommodate the need to train more F-15E aircrews, the 334th Fighter Squadron became a training squadron on 1 January 1996.
On 20 June 2000, the 23d Fighter Group (23 FG) became a part of the 4th Fighter Wing, during a reassignment ceremony at Pope Air Force Base, North Carolina flying the A-10 Thunderbolt II aircraft. The primary mission of the 23 FG was forward air control, close-air support, interdiction and combat search and rescue operations. The ceremony brought together two organizations whose histories predate the United States involvement in World War II, when both units served as American volunteer groups. In 2006, the 23rd Fighter Group was transferred to the 23d Wing at Moody Air Force Base, reuniting the wing with its operational fighter group.
In October 2001, in response to the 11 September terrorist attacks on the United States, the 4th Fighter Wing began flying Operation NOBLE EAGLE sorties, the first of its kind for the wing, providing coastal protection for Homeland Defense.
In March 2002, A-10s assigned to the 23d Fighter Group arrived in Jacobabad, Pakistan, and later became the first USAF fixed-winged aircraft to enter Afghanistan to fight the war on terrorism.
In January and February 2003, the 4th Fighter Wing joined other operational units in Southeast Asia. Two F-15E fighter squadrons deployed to Southwest Asia in support of OSW, which would later transition into support for Operation IRAQI FREEDOM. On 18 April 2003 members of the 4th Fighter Wing returned to Seymour Johnson AFB after contributing to the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. In 2004, elements of the wing again supported operations in theater while forward deployed to Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar.
Strategic Air Command
In 1958, Strategic Air Command began dispersing its B-52 bombers. Prior to that each bomb wing had 3 squadrons of 15 aircraft. Each became a strategic wing and was dispersed to another base. The 73d Bomb Squadron of the 72d Bombardment Wing was used to create the 4241st Strategic Wing, being assigned to Seymour Johnson AFB on 1 October 1958.
The 68th Bombardment Wing, Medium transferred without personnel or equipment to Seymour Johnson on 15 April 1963 from Chennault AFB, Louisiana, replacing the 4241st Strategic Wing and redesignated as the 68th Bombardment Wing, Heavy. It conducted strategic bombardment training with B-52 Stratofortresses and air refueling operations with KC-135s. Deployed at Loring AFB, Maine from 28 July to August 1965 and from 27 May 1972 to 15 July 1972. During this time, all wing aircraft, most aircrew and maintenance personnel and about half of the wing's support people were loaned to other SAC units for combat operations in South Vietnam. Following the return of all wing aircraft from Southeast Asia, the 68th Bomb Wing refocused its principal efforts on its strategic deterrence and nuclear alert roles.
During Fiscal Year 1982, the 68th Bomb Wing began phasing out all B-52 operations and the unit was officially inactivated on 30 September 1982. On that same date, the 68th Air Refueling Group (68 ARG) was activated and on 1 October 1982, the 68th Air Refueling Group, and the 68th Bombardment Wing, Heavy, were consolidated into a single organization at Seymour Johnson. The 68 ARG continued to fly the KC-135 Stratotanker until 1 October 1985, when it converted to the larger, more modern and versatile KC-10 Extender aircraft. The 68 ARG was redesignated the 68th Air Refueling Wing (68 ARW) on 1 October 1986.
As previously mentioned, on 22 April 1991, the 4th Tactical Fighter Wing (4 TFW) at Seymour Johnson became the U.S. Air Force's first composite wing and was renamed the 4th Wing (4 WG). The 4 WG incorporated all personnel, KC-10 aircraft and other assets previously assigned to the 68th Air Refueling Wing, which was inactivated on the same date. On 1 October 1994, the KC-10 component was separated from the 4 WG and reassigned to McGuire AFB, New Jersey where it became part of the newly reformed 305th Air Mobility Wing of the Air Mobility Command.
Air Defense Command
From 8 April 1956 though 1 October 1965 the 482d Fighter-Interceptor Squadron of the Air Defense Command (later renamed Aerospace Defense Command) was based at Seymour Johnson, flying the Convair F-102A Delta Dagger as part of ADC's 32nd and 26th Air Divisions.
During early 1959 runway construction at Seymour Johnson forced the unit to relocate to the Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, North Carolina. In May 1959, the squadron returned to Seymour Johnson AFB and continued activities at their home base for the first time in over a year.
In 1960, the 482d deployed six aircraft to Tyndall AFB to test the feasibility of periodic weapons deployment. On 14 April, the squadron was once again forced to move due to runway repairs at Seymour Johnson. The entire unit moved to Myrtle Beach AFB, South Carolina and spent a total of six weeks there. Late in 1960 the F-102s of the 482nd were sent to depot for the Configuration VII modification which gave the aircraft nuclear air-to-air missile capability.
Early 1961 found the 482nd busily preparing for the newly modified aircraft and the assignment of nuclear weapons. In July 1961, the squadron formed the 482nd Fighter Interceptor Squadron, Detachment 1, at Homestead AFB Florida. Shortly after TDY operation was established at Homestead AFB, Florida, runway construction at Homestead forced the entire detachment to move to Miami International Airport. Operations continued at Miami until February 1962, when the detachment was relocated back to Homestead AFB.
Also during July 1961, the 482nd was transferred from the 32d Air Division to the 26th Air Division. The squadron continued normal operations at home with training exercises and evaluations coming from ADC Headquarters as well as the 26th Air Division.
The 482d FIS was the first USAF fighter units to move into southern Florida during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Arriving on station at Homestead AFB hours ahead of schedule. At Homestead the squadron immediately established a constant airborne alert and maintained this alert for over 10 critical days following the United States' quarantine of Cuba. During this month the 482nd flew 1027 hours of F-102 time, an unofficial record for an F-102 squadron. On 1 December the squadron was returned to Seymour Johnson AFB in its entirety and resumed the alert commitment at home station.
In June 1963, the Configuration VIII modification was completed on squadron assigned F-102s. This modification gave the aircraft the capability of seeking out and destroying the airborne target by detecting the infra-red energy emitted by the target. June also saw squadron aircraft and personnel on alert duty at Naval Air Station Key West, Florida on a rotational basis.
Over time, the need for dedicated air defense units decreased, and the 482d FIS was inactivated on 1 October 1965.
In its 2005 BRAC Recommendations, DoD recommended to realign Grand Forks Air Force Base, North Dakota. It would distribute the 319th Air Refueling Wing’s KC-135R aircraft to the 916th Air Refueling Wing (AFRC) at Seymour Johnson AFB. The 916 ARW would also host an active duty associate unit. This realignment will bring hundreds of new personnel and their families to the Goldsboro area.
- 1961 Goldsboro B-52 crash
- North Carolina World War II Army Airfields
- Eastern Air Defense Force (Air Defense Command)
- Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, official web site
- , effective 2007-12-20
- Fact Sheets : 18th Air Force : 18th Air Force
- This article incorporates public domain material from the Air Force Historical Research Agency website http://www.afhra.af.mil/.
- This article incorporates public domain material from the United States Government document "Seymour Johnson Air Force Base".
- Maurer, Maurer. Air Force Combat Units of World War II. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office 1961 (republished 1983, Office of Air Force History, ISBN 0-912799-02-1).
- Ravenstein, Charles A. Air Force Combat Wings Lineage and Honors Histories 1947–1977. Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama: Office of Air Force History 1984. ISBN 0-912799-12-9.
- Mueller, Robert, Air Force Bases Volume I, Active Air Force Bases Within the United States of America on 17 September 1982, Office of Air Force History, 1989
- Seymour Johnson AFB website's history page.
- Donald, David (ed.) (1994). Century Jets: USAF Frontline Fighters of the Cold War.
- Menard, David W., USAF Plus Fifteen – A Photo History 1947–1962, 1993
- Martin, Patrick, Tail Code: The Complete History Of USAF Tactical Aircraft Tail Code Markings, 1994
- USAAS-USAAC-USAAF-USAF Aircraft Serial Numbers—1908 to present
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Seymour Johnson Air Force Base.|
- Seymour Johnson AFB, official website
- 916th Air Refueling Wing, official website
- 4th Fighter Wing at GlobalSecurity.org
- 68th Bomb Wing/4241st Strategic Wing at GlobalSecurity.org
- 4 FDW F-100 Photos
- Timeline of the 482d Fighter-Interceptor Squadron
- Memorial website of CMSgt Alfred E. Boyle, USAF
- 4th Fighter Group WWII Official WWII Association Website Referenced 4 March 2012
- (PDF), effective June 16, 2022
- FAA Terminal Procedures for GSB, effective June 16, 2022
- Resources for this U.S. military airport:
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