7TH FIGHTER SQUADRON HISTORY
The 7th Fighter Squadron of the 49th Fighter Wing (then designated the 49th Pursuit Group), was activated 16 January 1941, at Selfridge Field, Michigan, as the 7th Fighter Pursuit Squadron.
Since its activation, more than 54 years ago, the Squadron has served its country heroically, and engaged in combat in World War II, Korea, Vietnam, and other important missions.
After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, training was greatly accelerated to prepare the Squadron for combat duty. By 16 February 1942, the 7th found themselves at Bankstown, Australia, as one of the first American aviation units in the Southwest Pacific, flying the Curtis P-40. The first air engagement came on March 14 over Horn Island off Cape York, Australia, with the 7th downing 5 Japanese Zeroes, taking no losses themselves. Until the following September, the 7th would remain in Australia, engaged primarily in air defense. It then moved North to Port Moresby, New Guinea, where its P-40s flew attack and air defense missions against Japanese fortifications. During this period, the squadron originally known as the "Screamin’ Demons," adopted their mascot and emblem, the Bunyap, an Australian aboriginal death demon. Even to this day, the Bunyap remains the squadron emblem.
During WW II, the 7th had 10 of its members earn Ace status, as each of them destroyed 5 or more enemy aircraft in aerial combat. The squadron continued to function effectively during WW II scoring 36 "Kills" in December 1944. By the end of the war, the Screamin’ Demons had achieved 178 "Kills."
In 1944, the squadron began moving northward, as the Allies were driving the Japanese back to their homeland. During this period, the 7th was at Biak Island, Leyte and Mindoro in the Philippines, Formosa, and finally Okinawa. Also the unit became operational in the P-47 and P-38. During its Pacific campaign, the 7th contributed 190 aerial victories to the Allied total. Notable among these the victories credited to Major Richard Bong, America’s leading "Ace" of World War II. Major Bong was a "Bunyap" for a portion of his tour.
The end of the war found the 7th in Japan as part of the occupational force. Flying P-51s and F-80s, the unit sharer responsibility for the air defense of the Japanese Islands.
When hostilities broke out in Korea, the 7th was again readied for combat, and deployed to Taegu, Korea, where as part of the 49th Fighter-Bomber Group, was the first combat fighter outfit to operate actively from bases in South Korea. During this conflict, the unit actively participated in close air support of U.N. troops and interdiction strikes against targets in North Korea and Manchuria.
After the Korean War, the 7th moved back to Japan. The Squadron was stationed at Hazuka, Misawa, and Chitose. Here they flew F-84s and F-86s.
In 1957, the Squadron moved around the world to the European Theater, first at Euain/Rouvres, France, and in 1959, to Spangdahlem, Germany. During this period the Squadron was operational in the F-100. In 1962, a conversion was made to the F-105. As part of USAFE, the 7th participated in many NATO exercises.
In February 1967, the 7th opened the 49th Weapons Training Detachment at Wheelus Field, Libya, to begin transition to the F-4D aircraft. Finally, in 1968, the 7th accompanied the
49th back to CONUS, to Holloman AFB, NM. However, the Squadron did retain its NATO commitment to return once a year to its "dual base" home at Spangdahlem.
At Holloman, the 7th participated in the annual Crested Cap exercise and in various Command and Air Force exercises around the CONUS, as well as local training. In April 1972, the 7th was ordered to deploy with the 49th Wing to Takhli AB, Thailand, to help defeat the Communist Spring Offensive in Vietnam. The unit flew numerous interdiction, close air support, and air defense missions. They returned to Holloman AFB in August 1972.
The Bunyaps began the transition to the F-15 Eagle in mid-1977 and completed the change by early 1978. Since then, the 7th has participated in numerous Red Flags, Joint Training exercises, and deployments in the Air Defense/Superiority Mission. Also, the Squadron maintained the TAC NORAD Air Defense Alert commitment in the Eagle, with the best scramble times in NORAD.
On 12 October 1989, the squadron was called into action once again. Several F-15 aircraft deployed to Howard AFB, Panama in support of Operation JUST CAUSE. The purpose of this deployment was to support President Bush’s national drug control strategy. During this operation, Gen Manuel Noriega surrendered and was transported back to Homestead AFB, FL where he was arraigned on federal drug trafficking charges.
In December 1993, the Squadron took over its present mission, training F-117A pilots and being in charge of the T-38 Companion Training Program. This mission and many of the people were part of the 417th Fighter Squadron which was part of the Top Secret Stealth Community at Tonapah, NV.