|4th Fighter Wing|
|Active||1942–1945, 1946–1957, 1991–present|
|Branch||United States Air Force|
|Part of||Air Combat Command|
|Garrison/HQ||Seymour Johnson AFB, North Carolina|
|Motto(s)||Fourth But First|
|Col. Kurt C. Helphinstine|
|Command Chief||CCM Eric M. West|
|Walker M. Mahurin |
John C. Meyer
Robert C. Richardson III
John E. Ralph
Hal M. Hornburg
Lance L. Smith
Norman R. Seip
Steven L. Kwast
Lawrence E. Huggins
|4th Fighter Wing emblem(approved 7 October 1952)[note 1]|
The 4th Fighter Wing is a United States Air Force unit assigned to the Air Combat Command's Ninth Air Force. It is stationed at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, North Carolina, where it is also the host unit.
The wing is one of two Air Force units that can trace its history to another country. The wing's 4th Operations Group had its origins as the Royal Air Force Eagle Squadrons (Nos. 71, 121 and 133 Squadrons). When the United States entered World War II, these units, and the American pilots in them, were transferred to the United States Army Air Forces VIII Fighter Command, forming the 4th Fighter Group on 12 September 1942.
The 4th Fighter Group was the first fighter group to use belly tanks, the first to penetrate Germany, the first to accompany bombers to Berlin, the first to accomplish the England-to-Russia shuttle and the first to down jet fighters. The group was credited with the destruction of 1,016 (including strafing kills) enemy aircraft, more than any other American fighter unit, and produced 38 aces.
The current commander of the 4th Fighter Wing is Colonel Kurt C. Helphinstine. 
The wing consists of four active duty groups—4th Maintenance Group, 4th Mission Support Group, 4th Operations Group and 4th Medical Group—and is assigned over 6,400 military members, about 600 civilians and 95 F-15E Strike Eagles. An additional organization, the 414th Fighter Group (414 FG) of the Air Force Reserve Command, is an Air Force Reserve "associate" unit to the 4th Fighter Wing, with its flight crews and maintenance crews flying, maintaining and supporting the same F-15E aircraft as their active duty counterparts.
As the 4th Fighter-Interceptor Wing it flew the North American F-86 Sabre during the Korean War and was the top MiG-killing organization during the conflict. Actually, on Dec 17, 1950, Lt. Col. Bruce H. Hinton shot down a MiG-15 during the very first Sabre mission of the war.
The 4th transitioned to the McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II in early 1967. The readiness posture of the wing was given a true test in early 1968 when the North Koreans seized the USS Pueblo, an American intelligence-gathering ship, just off the coast of North Korea. Elements of the 4th moved to Korea within 72 hours. The 4th Fighter Wing continued to sustain a highly visible mobility posture with the development of the first operationally ready bare-base squadron in 1970, followed by multiple deployments to Southeast Asia beginning in April 1972. Operating from Ubon Royal Thai Air Force Base, Thailand, as the first F-4 wing to augment elements of Pacific Air Forces, aircrews of the Fourth flew more than 8,000 combat missions, many into the very heart of North Vietnam. The wing ended deployments to Thailand in the summer of 1974.
The Summer of '72: The 335th TFS was deployed to Ubon Royal Thai AFB to augment the 8th TFW in the continuation of Operation Bolo. At first, we were tapped to drop chaff for the BUFF (B-52s) that flew Arc-Light. Then to a gaggle of 50+ Thuds (F-105s) and Phantoms who went north daily to "Downtown" (Hanoi).
My first flight north I was the backseater of Major Charles (Chuck) Hollingsworth, A- Flight Commander and a "Fighter Pilots" fighter pilot. This was the only time I heard Chuck breathe heavy on the intercom. We rolled in and dropped our Mk 84's then went "hunting" to Yen-Bai Airfield, for MIGS. I remember we wanted to lure them up to fight but found the base eerily quiet. It was like flying over LAX mid-day. Chuck asked me to fly back to the tanker so he could calm down. I was scared "s------s".
In 1974, the wing mission reverted to training, with increased emphasis on short-term European contingency support. Elements of the wing deployed to Norway in June 1974. Three short-term deployments to Spangdahlem AB, West Germany, were conducted in March 1974, July and September 1975. The highlight of 1976 came in November when the wing took first place in the William Tell worldwide weapons competition at Tyndall AFB, Florida, becoming the first F-4 unit to win the Aerospace Defense Command-sponsored event. The wing executed short-term deployments to South Korea and Japan during 1977 and assumed a dual-based mission with Ramstein AB in October of that year. In 1980 the 4th TFW became one of the first squadrons in the Rapid Deployment Force, which committed 2 squadrons of aircraft to a 48-hour response to anywhere in the world. The 337th Fighter Squadron was activated 1 April 1982 and inactivated 1 July 1985. The overall mission commitment was restructured to reflect worldwide contingency emphasis in October 1986.
In 1988 the 4th TFW began transitioning to the F-15E Strike Eagle. The first F-15E arrived on 29 December 1988, and the 336th Tactical Fighter Squadron became the first operational F-15E squadron in the Air Force on 1 October 1989. The transition from the F-4E to the F-15E was completed on 1 July 1991, making the 4th TFW the first operational F-15E wing in the Air Force.
At the height of conversion training, the 4th TFW was one of the first units tasked to react to Iraq's invasion of Kuwait. The 335th and 336th Tactical Fighter Squadrons and support personnel deployed to Saudi Arabia, beginning in August 1990. The combat record of the 4th TFW in Saudi Arabia was exceptional, with the 336th TFS flying 1,088 combat missions during Operation Desert Storm. The unit dropped more than six-million pounds of bombs on Scud missile sites, bridges and airfields. Most of the missions were flown at night.
The 335th TFS flew more than 1,200 combat missions during the war. Most significantly, they made Air Force history by using a laser-guided bomb to down an enemy helicopter. The 335th destroyed 45 Iraqi aircraft, 23 radio relay stations, 36 bridges, 478 armored vehicles and 48 Scud missiles. The 4th lost two aircraft during the war. Two air crewmen were killed in action and two were captured and released after the war.
After the cease-fire, the 4th TFW continued rotating squadron elements to Southwest Asia during the 1990s, taking part in the enforcement of the no-fly zones in Iraq. The Fourth deployed 15 times to Dhahran Airbase and twice to Prince Sultan Airbase Saudi Arabia in support of the newly designated Operation Southern Watch (OSW). They conducted the first ever F-15E operations from Al Jaber Airbase, Kuwait, again supporting OSW. In June 1996 and February 1997, the 4 FW deployed as the 4 Air Expeditionary Wing to Doha, Qatar, in AEF III and IV respectively. With minimum notice, the Fourth proved their ability to rapidly deploy and conduct combat operations from a near bare base location immediately upon arrival.
On 22 April 1991, the 4th Tactical Fighter Wing was redesignated as the 4th Wing, the Air Force's first composite wing. The 4th Wing incorporated under it all the people, KC-10 aircraft, and assets of the 68th Air Refueling Wing, a former Strategic Air Command unit. The 4th began a force structure change in 1994. The KC-10s were reassigned to Air Mobility Command bases in 1994 and 1995 and the F-15E formal training unit moved to Seymour Johnson in 1994 and 1995. With the transfer of the KC-10s, aircrews, and support personnel to Air Mobility Command in 1994 and 1995, the 4th lost its status as a composite wing and was redesignated the 4th Fighter Wing 1 December 1995.
On 1 October 1994, the 333d Fighter Squadron was transferred back to the 4th Operations Group, after a 29-year absence, from the 355th Fighter Wing at Davis–Monthan AFB, Arizona to accommodate the training mission. The 333d was transferred to the 355th TFW while at Takhli RTAFB during the Vietnam War. The 334th FS began transitioning from an operational squadron to an F-15E training squadron in 1995, giving the 4th two F-15E training squadrons.
During the Balkans crisis and 1999 NATO bombing of Yugoslavia, the 4th Air Expeditionary Wing deployed over 700 personnel to Körfez Airport, Balikisir, Turkey in May, and completed a 2200-man tent city with an Air Transportable Hospital in six days. Three days later, the Fourth was ready to receive F-15Es and F-16CJs to support Operation Allied Force (OAF) in Kosovo. Although the aircraft were not needed in OAF, they were used to relieve overextended units from RAF Lakenheath. In April 1999, the 336th FS deployed 4 F-15E's and support personnel to Incirlik AB, Turkey to participate in Operation Northern Watch. The 335th FS replaced the 336th Fighter Squadron aircraft with 10 F-15E's and both squadrons combined, completed the longest continuous deployment by the 4th FW since Desert Shield/Desert Storm in December 1990. Also in August 1999, eight F-15E Strike Eagles and 107 personnel from the 336th participated in COMBAT ARCHER,. The 336th flew 99 sorties and expended seven air-to-air missiles.
Calendar Year 2000 began with the 335th and 336th deployment of 22 F-15Es and over 350 personnel in support of exercise RED FLAG, 5 to 19 February. Both squadrons performed Offensive Counter Air and Interdiction roles in a day/night high-threat scenario. Additionally, the 4th covered the core unit responsibilities for seventy additional personnel from various base support agencies during RED FLAG, including the Deployed Force Commander and Deputy Deployed Force Commander.
The 4th exercised as a 4th Aerospace Expeditionary Wing during a Phase II exercise for the first time in nearly two years. The purpose of the exercise was for aircrew and support people to practice their war-fighting skills from a simulated deployed location. The focus of the exercise was to practice aircraft launches and evaluate the wings "Ability To Survive and Operate" procedures in austere situations. Specific ability to survive and operate procedures included, identification and marking of unexploded ordnance, protection of forces and proper wear of chemical protective clothing.
In May 2000, aircraft and members of the 336th (Rocketeers) joined other ONW forces in actively patrolling the Iraqi northern no-fly zone. The Rocketeers flew more than 60 combat sorties and dropped more than 69,000 pounds of ordnance.
The 4th supported Exercise Roving Sands 2000 June 19 to 23, 2000, at Nellis AFB, Nevada. Eight aircraft, 25 aircrew, and 147 personnel comprised the 336th team. The Joint Theater Air and Missile Defense exercise consisted of both simulated and live operations conducted at multiple locations.
In January 2001, the 4th Fighter Wing became the recipient of the Commander-In-Chief's Installation Excellence Award—receiving a one million dollar prize for quality of life and job enhancement.
On 1 September 2002, the Fourth transitioned into its final on-call air expeditionary wing. Though the 4th Fighter Wing will continue as a lead wing when deployed, it will now assimilate into the more predictable 90-day 10 AEF schedule, as opposed to waiting for the call from higher headquarters.
On 18 July 2009 an F-15 from the wing based at Bagram Air Base crashed during a training mission. The aircraft's crew, pilot Mark R. McDowell and weapons system officer Thomas J. Gramith, were killed. An investigation concluded that the crash was a result of crew error.