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56 OPERATIONS GROUP (AETC)

Posted 5/18/2009 Printable Fact Sheet

Lineage. Established as 56 Pursuit Group (Interceptor) on 20 Nov 1940. Activated on 15 Jan 1941. Redesignated 56 Fighter Group on 15 May 1942. Inactivated on 18 Oct 1945. Activated on 1 May 1946. Redesignated 56 Fighter-Interceptor Group on 20 Jan 1950. Inactivated on 6 Feb 1952. Redesignated 56 Fighter Group (Air Defense) on 20 Jun 1955. Activated on 18 Aug 1955. Discontinued, and inactivated, on 1 Feb 1961. Redesignated 56 Tactical Fighter Group on 31 Jul 1985; 56 Operations Group on 28 Oct 1991. Activated on 1 Nov 1991. Inactivated on 4 Jan 1994. Activated on 1 Apr 1994. 

Assignments. Southeast Air District (later, Third Air Force), 15 Jan 1941 (attached to 17 Bombardment Wing [Light], 15 Jan-16 May 1941; III Interceptor Command, c. 17 Jun-1 Oct 1941); III Interceptor Command, 2 Oct 1941; I Interceptor (later, I Fighter) Command, 15 Jan 1942; New York Air Defense Wing, 11 Aug 1942; VIII Fighter Command, c. 12 Jan 1943; 4 Air Defense (later, 65 Fighter) Wing, 4 Jul 1943; 66 Fighter Wing, 28 Aug-Oct 1945. Fifteenth Air Force, 1 May 1946 (attached to 65 Combat Fighter Wing, Very Long Range, Provisional, Jan-14 Aug 1947); 56 Fighter (later, 56 Fighter-Interceptor) Wing, 15 Aug 1947-6 Feb 1952. 4706 Air Defense Wing, 18 Aug 1955; 37 Air Division, 8 Feb 1956; 30 Air Division, 1 Apr 1959; Sault Sainte Marie Air Defense Sector, 1 Apr 1960-1 Feb 1961 (attached to 30 Air Division, 1 Apr-14 Jun 1960). 56 Fighter Wing, 1 Nov 1991-4 Jan 1994. 56 Fighter Wing, 1 Apr 1994-. 

Operational Components. Squadrons. 21 Fighter: 8 Aug 1996-. 61 Pursuit (later, 61 Fighter, 61 Fighter-Interceptor; 61 Fighter): 15 Jan 1941-18 Oct 1945; 1 May 1946-6 Feb 1952; 1 Nov 1991-12 Aug 1993; 1 Apr 1994-. 62 Pursuit (later, 62 Fighter; 62 Fighter-Interceptor; 62 Fighter): 15 Jan 1941-18 Oct 1945; 1 May 1946-6 Feb 1952 (detached c. 28 Dec 1946-c. 10 Apr 1947 and c. 28 Jul 1950-6 Feb 1952); 18 Aug 1955-1 Feb 1961 (detached 1 Aug-30 Sep 1959); 1 Nov 1991-14 May 1993; 1 Apr 1994-. 63 Pursuit (later, 63 Fighter; 63 Fighter-Interceptor; 63 Fighter): 15 Jan 1941-18 Oct 1945; 1 May 1946-6 Feb 1952; 18 Aug 1955-8 Jan 1958; 1 Nov 1991-25 Feb 1993; 1 Apr 1994-. 72 Fighter: 1 Nov 1991-19 Jun 1992. 136 Fighter-Interceptor: attached 21 Jul 1951-6 Feb 1952. 172 Fighter-Interceptor: attached 1 May 1951-6 Feb 1952. 308 Fighter: 1 Apr 1994-. 309 Fighter: 1 Apr 1994-. 310 Fighter: 1 Apr 1994-. 311 Fighter: 1 Jan-1 Dec 1995. 425 Fighter: 1 Apr 1994-. 461 Fighter: 1 Apr-5 Aug 1994. 550 Fighter: 1 Apr 1994-31 Mar 1995. 

Stations. Savannah AB, GA, 15 Jan 1941; Charlotte AAB, NC, 26 May 1941; Charleston, SC, c. 10 Dec 1941; Teaneck Armory, NJ, 17 Jan 1942; Bridgeport, CT, 6 Jul-Dec 1942; Kingscliffe England, 12 Jan 1943; Horsham St Faith, England, 5 Apr 1943; Halesworth, England, 9 Jul 1943; Boxted, England, 19 Apr 1944; Little Walden, England, c. 15 Sep-11 Oct 1945; Camp Kilmer, NJ, 16-18 Oct 1945. Selfridge Field (later AFB), MI, 1 Mar 1946-6 Feb 1952. O'Hare Intl Aprt, IL, 18 Aug 1955; K. I. Sawyer AFB, MI, 1 Oct 1959-1 Feb 1961. MacDill AFB, FL, 1 Nov 1991-4 Jan 1994. Luke AFB, AZ, 1 Apr 1994-. 

Commanders. Unkn, 15 Jan-May 1941; Lt Col David D. Graves, May 1941; Col John C. Crosswaithe, c. 1 Jul 1942; Col Hubert A. Zemke, 16 Sep 1942; Col Robert B. Landry, 30 Oct 1943; Lt Col David C. Schilling, 11 Jan 1944; Col Hubert A. Zemke, 19 Jan 1944; Col David C. Schilling, 12 Aug 1944; Lt Col Lucian A. Dade Jr., 27 Jan 1945; Lt Col Donald D. Renwick, c. 31 Aug-c. Oct 1945. Col David C. Schilling, 1 May 1946; Lt Col Thomas D. DeJarnette, 14 Jul 1948; Lt Col David C. Schilling, Aug 1948; Lt Col William D. Ritchie, by Jan 1949; Lt Col Irwin H. Dregne, by May 1949; Maj Ralph A. Johnson, 15 Sep 1949; Col Francis S. Gabreski, 5 Oct 1949; Lt Col George L. Jones, May 1951; Col Ernest J. White Jr., May 1951-unkn. Unkn, 18 Aug 1955-unkn; Col John R. Murphy, by Apr-15 Jul 1957; unkn, 16 Jul-3 Nov 1957; Col Leo C. Moon, 4 Nov 1957; Lt Col Bacchus B. Byrd Jr., 15 Aug 1959; Lt Col Russell C. Jackson, c. Sep 1959; Col Phillip N. Loring, 1 Oct 1959; Col James W. Holt, 19 Nov 1960; Col James F. Reed, c. 13 Jan-1 Feb 1961. Col Patrick T. Sakole, 1 Nov 1991; Col John L. Barry, 3 Aug 1992; Col Vincent J. Santillo, 2 Aug 1993; Lt Col Ralph B. Brown, Dec 1993-4 Jan 1994. Col Bron A. Burke, 1 Apr 1994; Col Stanley Gorenc, 13 Jun 1994; Col Gilmary M. Hostage III, 30 Jun 1995; Col Irvin M. Hardin, 9 May 1997; Col William C. Louisell, 7 May 1999; Col Robert P. Steel, 26 May 2000; Col Steven Searcy, 4 Jan 2002; Col Walter E. Wright III, 2 Jul 2003; Col Timothy W. Strawther, 13 Jun 2005; Col Robert P. Givens, 1 Jun 2007-. 

Aircraft. P-35, 1941; P-36, 1941; P-39, 1941-1942; P-40, 1941-1942; P-47, 1942, 1943-1945. P (later, F)-47, 1946-1947, 1951-1952; P (later, F)-51, 1946-1947, 1951-1952; P (later, F)-80, 1947-1950; F-86, 1950-1952; F-94, 1951-1952. F-86, 1955-1959; F-101, 1959-1961. F-16, 1991-1993. F-15, 1994-1995; F-16, 1994-. 

Operations. The 56 Pursuit Group trained with available aircraft, participated in maneuvers, served as an air defense organization, and functioned as an operational training unit until Jun 1942. It received P-47s in June and began training for combat, moved to England, Dec 1942-Jan 1943, and was assigned to Eighth Air Force. As the first US P-47 fighter group to enter combat in the European Theater of Operations (ETO), the 56th entered combat with a fighter sweep in the area of St Omer, France, on 13 Apr 1943. During the next two years it destroyed more enemy aircraft in aerial combat than any other fighter group of Eighth Air Force, flying combat missions over France, the Low Countries, and Germany to escort bombers that attacked industrial establishments, V-weapon sites, submarine pens, and other targets on the Continent. It also strafed and dive-bombed airfields, troops, and supply points; attacked the enemy's communications; and flew counter-air and interdictory missions during the invasion of Normandy in Jun 1944. The 56th supported the Allied forces for the breakthrough at St Lo in July, the Battle of the Bulge, Dec 1944-Jan 1945, and helped to defend the Remagen bridgehead against air attacks in Mar 1945. It was awarded its first Distinguished Unit Citation (DUC) for aggressiveness in seeking out and destroying enemy aircraft and for attacking enemy air bases, 20 Feb-9 Mar 1944, and a second DUC for strikes against antiaircraft positions while supporting the airborne attack on Holland in Sep 1944. From May 1946, the group trained to maintain proficiency as a mobile strike force; including bomber escort mission until transferred from Strategic Air Command to Continental Air Command on 1 Dec 1948. The group added an air defense mission in the northeastern US in Apr 1949, and continued through Feb 1952. It replaced the 501 Air Defense Group at O'Hare Intl Aprt, Chicago, IL on 18 Aug 1955, assuming its air defense mission and operation of base facilities at O'Hare. Moving without personnel or equipment to K. I. Sawyer AFB, MI on 1 Oct 1959, the group absorbed the resources of the 473 Fighter Group. As part of the 56 Fighter Wing, the group conducted F-16 transition training, Nov 1991-Aug 1993. It phased down at MacDill AFB, mid-1992 to inactivation. 56 Operations Group replaced the 58 Operations Group on 1 Apr 1994. It conducted F-15E Strike Eagle combat crew training, Apr 1994-Mar 1995 and combat crew training for U.S. and Allied services with the F-16, Apr 1994-. 

Service Streamers. World War II American Theater.
 
Campaign Streamers. World War II: Air Offensive, Europe; Normandy; Northern France; Rhineland; Ardennes-Alsace; Central Europe; Air Combat, EAME Theater. 

Armed Forces Expeditionary Streamers. None. 

Decorations. Distinguished Unit Citations: European Theater of Operations (ETO), 20 Feb-9 Mar 1944; Holland, 18 Sep 1944. Air Force Outstanding Unit Awards: 1 Jul 1994-30 Jun 1996; 1 Jul 1996-30 Jun 1998; 1 Jul 1998-30 Jun 2000; 1 Jul 2001-30 Jun 2003; 1 Jun 2003-30 Jun 2005; 1 Jul 2005-30 Jun 2006; 1 Jul 2006-30 Jun 2007; 1 Jul 2007-30 Jun 2008. 

Lineage, Assignments, Components, Stations, and Honors through 7 May 2009. 

Commanders, Aircraft, and Operations through 30 Sep 2008. 

Supersedes statement prepared on 5 Aug 2005. 

Emblem. Group will use the wing emblem with group designation in the scroll. 

Prepared by Patsy Robertson. 

Reviewed by Daniel Haulman.







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