|36th Operations Group|
|Active||1940–1957; 1992–1994; 2007–present|
|Branch||United States Air Force|
|Motto(s)||Prepared to Prevail|
The groups World War II predecessor unit, the 36th Fighter Group was a prewar unit deployed to the European Theater and assigned to Ninth Air Force. The group flew Republic P-47 Thunderbolts and earned a Distinguished Unit Citation for operations on 1 September 1944 when, in a series of missions, the group attacked German columns south of the Loire River in order to disrupt the enemy's retreat across central France to Dijon.
The 36th OG assumed the mission of the 36th Expeditionary Operations Group on 14 February 2007 and established a permanent command structure for deployed Air Force units assigned to Andersen AFB.
The group was moved to Losey Army Airfield, Puerto Rico in January 1941 where it was equipped with Bell P-39 Airacobras and Curtiss P-40 Warhawks. In Puerto Rico, the 36th served as part of the defense force for the Caribbean area and Panama Canal, and flew antisubmarine patrols. The group was redesignated the 36th Fighter Group in May 1942 and returned to Morrison Army Airfield, Florida where it trained with Republic P-47 Thunderbolts.
From 1942 through 1944, the 36th trained at several airfields in the United States before deploying to RAF Kingsnorth, England in April 1944 as part of Ninth Air Force, serving in combat as part of the European theater. With Ninth Air Force, the group operated primarily as a P-47 fighter-bomber organization as part of the 303d Fighter Wing, XIX Tactical Air Command.
Operational missions included strafing and dive-bombing armored vehicles, trains, bridges, buildings, factories, troop concentrations, gun emplacements, airfields, and other targets in preparation for the invasion of Normandy. The 36th FG also flew some escort missions with Eighth Air Force Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress and Consolidated B-24 Liberator strategic bombers.
The 36th participated in the June 1944 D-Day invasion of France in by patrolling the air over the landing zones and by flying close-support and interdiction missions. The group moved to its Advanced Landing Ground at Brucheville, France (A-16) in July, then eastward as ground forces advanced on the continent. Operations supported the breakthrough at Saint-Lô in July and the thrust of U.S. Third Army toward Germany in August and September.
The group earned a Distinguished Unit Citation for operations on 1 September 1944 when, in a series of missions, the group attacked German columns south of the Loire in order to disrupt the enemy's retreat across central France to Dijon. In October, the group moved into Belgium to support U.S. Ninth Army.
The 36th Fighter Group participated in the Battle of the Bulge during December 1944 and January 1945 by flying armed reconnaissance and close-support missions. Aided U.S. First Army's push across the Roer River in February 1945. Supported operations at the Remagen bridgehead and during the airborne assault across the Rhine in March.
The group received a second Distinguished Unit Citation for performance on 12 April 1945 when the group, operating through intense anti-aircraft fire, relentlessly attacked airfields in southern Germany, destroying a large hangar and numerous aircraft.
By V-E Day, the group was based at Kassel/Rothwesten airfield, Germany (ALG R-12), where it remained until February 1946 as part of the United States Air Forces in Europe Army of Occupation. In February, the group was transferred, without personnel or equipment to Bolling Field, Washington, D.C where the groups fighter squadrons were inactivated. From its deployment to RAF Kingsnorth into January 1945, Lt. Col. William Lewis Curry served as commanding officer. Lt. Col. Van H. Slayden and Lt. Col Paul P. Douglas Jr. served as commanders through the remaining months through V-E Day.
On 15 October 1946, Headquarters, 36th Fighter Group was transferred to Howard Army Airfield, Panama Canal Zone as part of the Panama Canal defense forces. In Central America, the group conducted air defense training missions for the next two years initially with P-47's. The group upgraded to jet aircraft in December 1947 with the arrival of the Lockheed F-80 Shooting Star.
On 2 July 1948, the United States Air Force 36th Fighter Wing was activated at Howard Air Force Base. The former USAAF 36th Fighter Group became the operational component of the new Air Force wing.
As a result of the Berlin Blockade and other Cold War tensions in Europe, the 36th Fighter Group was reassigned to USAFE. The squadron was assigned to Fürstenfeldbruck Air Base West Germany on 13 August 1948, being the first USAFE unit to be jet-equipped with the Lockheed F-80 "Shooting Star". At Fürstenfeldbruck tactical operations included air defense, tactical exercises, maneuvers, and photographic reconnaissance. In May 1949, the group formed the Skyblazers aerial demonstration team, which it controlled until August 1952, and again from October 1956 to January 1962 when it was disbanded.
On 20 January 1950, the group was redesignated as the 36th Fighter-Bomber Group (FBG) when 89 Republic F-84E "Thunderjets" arrived. Existing USAFE bases in West Germany, however, were deemed very vulnerable to an attack by the Soviet Union, given their proximity to East Germany and other Warsaw Pact nations. Negotiations with other NATO nations were made to build new bases west of the Rhine River. The F-80s were sent back to CONUS to equip Air National Guard units. In addition to its primary installation at Fürstenfeldbruck, the wing controlled Oberpfaffenhofen AB, West Germany, December 1949 – February 1950.
The 36th FBG remained at Fürstenfeldbruck until 1952 when it was reassigned to the new Bitburg Air Base, in the Eifel mountains west of the Rhine River. Throughout the summer, elements of the 36th FBG moved into Bitburg, with the Group officially arriving in November 1952.
In August 1953, the North American F-86F "Sabre" was introduced to the group, replacing the F-84s. On 31 March 1954, The 1st Pilotless Bomber Squadron, equipped with the B-61A Matador, was assigned to the 36th Fighter Bomber Group, Bitburg Air Base, Germany, making it the first operational U.S. missile unit. The 1st PBS eventually was renamed to Tactical Missile Squadron (TMS), and in 1958 was renumbered to the 71st TMS and the unit was assigned to the 701st TMW at Hahn, although stationed at Bitburg Air Base.
In August 1954, the Group was redesignated as the 36th Fighter-Day Group. In 1956, the group received the North American F-100 "Super Sabre," marking the first time a wing in USAFE flew supersonic jets. Group inactivated on 8 December 1957 when parent wing adopted Tri-Deputate organization and assigned operational squadrons directly to the wing.
In 1977 the 36th Tactical Fighter Wing was the first wing in Europe to fly the new F-15A and F-15B Eagle air superiority fighters, replacing the F-4E Phantoms of the 525 TFS, the 22 TFS and the 53 TFS.
On 1 October 1991 the wing was redesignated as the 36th Fighter Wing when the objective wing concept was implemented. The 36th Operations Group was also activated to control the operational flying squadrons of the Wing.
Bitburg Air Base was one of the bases affected by the 1993 Base Realignment and Closure Commission (or BRAC) decisions that saw the drawdown of many military facilities in a series of post-Cold War force reductions. In July 1993, HQ USAFE announced the closure of Bitburg Air Base and the pending inactivation of the 36th Fighter Wing. On 1 October 1994 the 36th Fighter Wing was inactivated along with all subordinate units.
The 36th Wing was reactivated without personnel or equipment at Andersen AFB, Guam the same day as the 36th Air Base Wing, a non-flying organization taking over as the host unit. The former host unit, the 633d Air Base Wing, was inactivated in keeping with the Air Force Chief of Staff's policy of keeping the most highly decorated and longest serving Air Force units on active duty.
With no aircraft permanently assigned, the 36th Operations Group was not activated, but instead converted to provisional status as the 36th Expeditionary Operations Group. The 36 EOG was under the control of HQ, Pacific Air Forces with a mission to support deployed aircraft to PACAF. It could, and was activated and inactivated as needed by the demands of the mission.
The 36th Operations Group was re-established as a permanent unit on 14 February 2007, replacing the temporary structure of the provisional Expeditionary Group for deployed Air Force units assigned to Andersen AFB.