History of The 27th Fighter Squadron:
The 27th Aero Squadron, one of the oldest fighter squadrons in the Air Force, was organized on June 15, 1917. The 27th was assigned to the 1st Pursuit Group in early 1918 and entered World War I in the European theater where it served with distinction from March 1918 until armistice in November of that year. Aircraft flown by the 27th during World War I included the Nieuport 28, Spad XIII, and Sopwith F-1 Camel. The squadron insignia was designed in 1918 by Malcolm Gunn. He had seen a design in New York that struck his fancy. The Anheuser-Busch brewery used (and continues to use) an eagle for its corporate logo. Lieutenant Gunn suggested the 27th adopt a variation of this design, an eagle with outspread wings and talons diving on its prey. The squadron uses a variation of his design to this day.
Lieutenant Frank Luke, known as the "Arizona Balloon Buster," was the most famous of the squadron's six WWI aces. Attacking observation balloons was extremely dangerous, as they were tethered and heavily defended. Not many who attacked them survived, and only a few asked for repeat performances. Lieutenant Luke, who seemed to thrive on the challenge, shot down a total of 14 balloons. On his last mission, he shot down three balloons and two German planes, but was forced to land his damaged plane in enemy territory. When called upon to surrender, he replied with fire from his automatic pistol. His defense ended in his death. For his heroics, Frank Luke was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.
In the period between the world wars, the 27th Pursuit Squadron (redesignated in 1923) was stationed primarily at Selfridge Field, Michigan, with the 1st Fighter Group. During these years the unit flew various aircraft, including the Fokker D-7, PW-8, P-12, P-16, P-26, P-35, P-36, and the YP-43.
At the beginning of the United States' involvement in World War II, the 27th Fighter Squadron (redesignated in 1942) briefly served in anti-submarine duty at San Diego NAS and defense duty at Reykjavik, Iceland. From October 1942 to May 1945, the 27th participated in the European and the Mediterranean theaters of operations, flying the Lockheed P-38 lightning. The squadron won three Distinguished Unit Citations: Italy, Aug. 25, 1943; Italy, Aug. 30, 1943; and Ploesti, Rumania, May 18, 1944. It also produced eight Aces during the war.
The 27th's highest scoring Ace of WWII, Lt. Thomas E. Maloney, endured one of the grittiest personal episodes of WWII. While strafing, he lost one engine to ground fire and headed back to base. Three or four miles off the coast of France, his other engine failed, forcing him to ditch. During the night, Maloney drifted to shore. Not sure whether the beach was occupied by the enemy or not, he stayed near the water's edge until dawn. Then he carefully picked his way inland, looking for signs of mines. The beach had been mined for some time, but over time the sand had resumed its normal appearance. Maloney triggered one off. He survived, but both legs were nearly shattered by metal fragments. For 10 days he lay helpless, crawling a little, eating a little, drinking from his canteen until the water was gone. Finally a French farmer found him. When he was flown back to the States, a dozen aircraft from the 27th Fighter Squadron intercepted the airplane and escorted him a hundred miles out over the Mediterranean. Then, one by one, they peeled off and went back to war. In honor of Maloney, it was ordered that airplane number 23 should evermore be named "Maloney's Pony."
In 1950, the squadron was redesignated the 27th Fighter Interceptor Squadron. A year later, the wing was split up and the three squadrons were assigned to different bases. From then until 1971, the 27th was part of the Air Defense Command and flew from a variety of Northeast bases. While assigned to Griffiss AFB, New York, the unit flew F-86s and F-94s until receiving F-102 Delta Daggers in 1957. On Oct. 1, 1958, the 27th was transferred to Loring AFB, Maine, where it assumed an air defense role flying F-106 Delta Darts. In 1971, the redesignated 27th Tactical Fighter Squadron was assigned to MacDill AFB, Florida, as part of the reorganization of the 1st Tactical Fighter Wing. There the squadron served as a combat crew training squadron, training aircrews in the F-4E Phantom II.
In July 1975, the TFW transferred from MacDill to Langley and the 27th FS became the first combat ready F-15 Eagle squadron in the Air Force. Since 1975, the squadron has been deployed to many locations throughout the world including Canada, Egypt, and the Netherlands including support of Operations Desert Shield/Storm. The squadron spent seven months and successfully flew over 750 combat missions before returning home in March 1991.
In June of 1993 the squadron returned to Saudi Arabia in support of Operation Southern Watch for a three-month rotation. In October of 1994, the 27th FS was the only air superiority squadron mobilized for Operation Vigilant Warrior, deploying its F-15s to Saudi Arabia in under 24 hours to counter potential Iraqi aggression. Such operations were instrumental in the 27 FS being named the 1995 Hughes Trophy winner as the best air-to-air squadron in the United States Air Force.
This tradition of excellence continues with the 27th's frequent AEF deployments to the Middle East. On Sept. 11, 2001, the 27th was called into action less than 48 hours after returning from the Saudi Arabian desert to defend the President of the United States, the nation's capital and our most senior leaders. In what would eventually be called Operation Noble Eagle, the 27th Fightin' Eagles provided the core for the 1 FW efforts to maintain combat aircraft in the skies over Washington D.C. 24 hours a day.
In 2003, the 27th Fighter Squadron was announced as the first operational squadron to fly the Raptor -- a continuation of the squadron's historical legacy. The first F-22A arrived in late 2004 and reached Full Operational Capability in December of 2007. The 27th Fighter Squadron today stands as a cohesive combat experienced team ready for any call to support our nation's security requirements. Air dominance -- anytime, anywhere!
The History >