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Library > Fact Sheets > 36th Fighter Squadron


Posted 1/21/2013 Printable Fact Sheet

To lead the combat air forces as the most lethal fighter squadron of motivated, expertly trained warriors focused on the defense of the Republic of Korea and regional stability

Prepare for and execute immediate air combat operations to dominate any aggressors threatening U.S. or ROK interests.

The 36th Fighter Squadron is a combat ready Block 40 F-16/C/D squadron with the capability to conduct air interdiction, close air support and counter-air missions in both day and night conditions. 

During its distinguished 90-year history, the 36th FS has flown 21 different types of aircraft, received 22 unit citations and accumulated 24 service and campaign streamers. 

The unit came into existence when a group of aviation pioneers, eager to prove the value of air power in World War I, formed the 36th Aero Squadron at Kelly Field, Texas, in June 1917. First Lieutenant Quentin Roosevelt, the son of President Theodore Roosevelt, was one of the squadron's first commanders, assuming command later that year. While the new squadron did not see combat as a unit when it moved to France, several of its members did while flying for other squadrons.

After World War I, the 36th was inactivated, only to be resurrected in October 1930 at Selfridge Field, Mich., to train pilots and develop new air tactics. In 1932, the 36th relocated to Langley Field, Va., as part of the 8th Pursuit Group, now the 8th Fighter Wing at Kunsan Air Base, Republic of Korea. While assigned to the 8th, the 36th flew airmail for the U.S. Postal Service, flying in all types of weather without instruments. During World War II, the Fiends flew P-40, P-39, P-47 and P-38 fighters in a number of Pacific Theater campaigns. These included the defense of New Guinea and the battle for the Philippines. They moved to Fukuska, Japan at the end of the war.

When the communist forces attacked the Republic of Korea in June 1950, the 36th found itself in the fight from the beginning of the conflict. Flying their new F-80 Shooting Stars, the squadron attacked advancing North Korean tanks, trucks, artillery and troops. The unit later converted back to the piston-engined F-51 Mustang, considered more suitable for operations in Korea. The Fiends ended the war equipped with F-86 Saberjets, flying bombing and strafing missions against enemy air fields. The 36th returned to Japan after the Korean War, operating out of Itazuke Air Base for the next 10 years.

During the Vietnam conflict, the 36th flew combat missions into Southeast Asia from Korat Royal Thai Air Base. Fiend pilots flew F-105 Thunderchiefs, escorting rescue aircraft and suppressing anti-aircraft fire. The squadron was re-equipped with F-4C Phantom II fighters in December 1967 and stationed at Yokota Air Base, Japan, with regular deployments to Kunsan beginning in March 1971. The 36th moved to Kunsan in May 1971, establishing a forward operating location at Osan. The squadron permanently moved to Osan and was assigned to the 51st Composite Wing (Tactical) in September 1974.

The 36th ushered in the era of the "Viper" on Aug. 10, 1988, when squadron commander Lt. Col. Al Spitzer landed the first F-16C "Fighting Falcon" at Osan. The squadron's combat capabilities were transformed in 1993 when the Fiends converted to the Block 40 Low Altitude Navigational and Targeting Infrared for Night (LANTIRN) F-16C/D. The addition of LANTIRN gave the Fiends the current ability to fly at low levels and deliver precision guided munitions during nighttime conditions. Upgrades to the Block 40 in recent years have included GBU-31 JDAM capability for all weather precision engagement.

The 36th FS, more recently, have began training with the AIM-9X Sidewinder and the AN/AAQ-33 Sniper XR Advanced Targeting Pod. Additionally, in the Spring of 2012 the Fiends acquired the AN/ASQ-213 HARM Targeting System.

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