Lt. Col. David Garfield, 944th Operations Group commander, passes the 69th
Fighter Squadron guidon to Lt. Col. Steve Speckhard, 69th FS commander,
during the squadron's activation ceremony March 6 where the pilots of the
301st Fighter Squadron symbolically changed their patch to the 69th FS. The
301st FS, which traces its roots to the Tuskegee Airmen of World War II,
will continue its legacy with the next generation aircraft, the F-22 Raptor,
at Holloman Air Force Base, N.M., as a Reserve associate unit. The 69th FS
pilots will continue their reserve associate pilot training program with the
56th Fighter Wing here at Luke. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Susan
The pilots of the 301st Fighter Squadron changed their patch to the 69th Fighter Squadron during a ceremony March 5. The 301st FS, which traces its roots to the Tuskegee Airmen of World War II, will continue its legacy with the next generation aircraft, the F-22 Raptor, at Holloman Air Force Base, N.M., as a Reserve associate unit. The 69th FS pilots will continue their reserve associate pilot training program with the 56th Fighter Wing here at Luke. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Susan
by Tech. Sgt. Susan Stout
944th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
3/9/2010 - LUKE AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. -- The pilots of the 301st Fighter Squadron changed their patch to the 69th FS during a ceremony here March 5. The event marked the end of almost a decade of Tuskegee heritage at Luke AFB.
"It has been a tremendous privilege to be associated with the Tuskegee Airmen and to have but a small part in the hallowed history of the 301st Fighter Squadron," said Lt. Col. Steve Speckhard, 69th FS commander. "Their lineage of courage, bravery and honor and warrior spirit in the face of unimaginable adversity is so strong that one can't help but feel a tremendous sense of pride when you get to wear that patch."
In March 2000, the Air Force reactivated the 301st FS as part of the 944th Fighter Wing. Sixty-four 64 Air Force Reserve Command pilots integrated with the 56th Operations Group fighter squadrons providing instruction to teach and graduate the Combat Air Forces newest F-16 pilots.
Three years ago, the Air Force decided to preserve the Tuskegee Airmen heritage with an Air Force Reserve associate F-22 Raptor squadron at Holloman AFB, N.M. The 301st FS will stand up during a ceremony at Holloman in April.
In February 2001, the 69th FS was deactivated at Moody AFB, Ga., after it flew more than 1,500 combat sorties in a Desert Storm campaign. Headquarters Air Force authorized the reactivation of the 69th FS at Luke with the 944th FW.
"We ...have been fortunate to be able to perpetuate the proud military traditions of the 301st Fighter Squadron for the last 10 years here in the 944th Fighter Wing and for the 56th Fighter Wing," Colonel Speckhard said. "Our patches and our history have now changed, yet our dedication and commitment to our mission have not. We train fighter pilots and also provide highly-experienced warriors downrange to bring the fight to the enemy."
The 69th FS was previously stationed at Luke as the 69th Tactical Flying Training Squadron from October 1969 to March 1983 as the German air force worked alongside U.S. Air Force instructors teaching German students to fly the F-104 Starfighter. Almost 2,000 Starfighter pilots graduated at Luke during that time.
"It is with great pride and honor that we are able to bring the 69th Fighter Squadron back to Luke AFB," Colonel Speckhard said.
Originally an operational and replacement training unit from 1942 to 1943, the 69th FS went on to fly combat missions in Southwest and Western Pacific, Korea, and Southwest Asia.
According to Colonel Speckhard, the 69th FS is one of the largest and most experienced fighter squadrons in the U.S. Air Force with an average of 2,700 total F-16 hours and 1,000 F-16 instructor hours. (Air Force Reserve Command News Service)