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From its origins in World War II to flying the F-22 Raptor in the 21st century, the 302d Fighter Squadron has a long history of firsts - both in the air and on the ground.
In 1942, the Tuskegee Airmen were the first African Americans trained as pilots and maintainers in the Army Air Corps. They were a part of the Tuskegee experiment testing whether African Americans could fly military aircrafts. The men had to overcome the widely held belief of the time, that African Americans could not any military aircraft. After men graduated from the program, they went onto flight fighter jets against the Germans.
The 302d Fighter Squadron was constituted on July 4, 1942, activated on Oct. 13 of that same year at Tuskegee Army Air Field, Ala. The 302d FS was assigned to the 332d Fighter Group. In February 1944, the 302d transferred to Italy and its pilots saw combat in Mediterranean and European theaters of operations from Feb. 17, 1944 to Feb. 20, 1945. Flying F-40, P-39, P-47, and P-51 aircraft the 302d was involved in harbor protection, point-to-point patrols, convoy escort and armed reconnaissance as well as strafing and flying top cover for the air rescue missions. By February 1945 the shortage of trained personnel I the parent 332d Fighter Group was critical.
The 302d was inactivated March 6, 1945 and its personnel and equipment moved to the remaining squadrons.
Oct. 8, 1956 Officials activated the 302d FS in the U.S. Air Force Reserve.
The squadron history was consolidated with that of the 302d Special Operations Squadron in 1985, and the 302d Tactical Fighter Squadron was activated at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona on July 1, 1987. The 302d was the second Air Force Reserve squadron to convert to the F-16 Fighting Falcon and the only Air Force Reserve unit to fly the F-16C.
Declared combat ready on July 1, 1988 the 302d maintained that posture while supporting numerous stateside and overseas deployments, achieving many first for Reserve fighter units. From September to November 2001, the 202d participated in Operation Enduring Freedom, flying missions in support of operations in Afghanistan. The aviation and personnel package deployed to Kuwait, where they were reunited with the 332d Air Expeditionary Group that commanded operations there. From Kuwait, 302d pilots flew 137 sorties and dropped 103 bombs during missions in their F-16C+ aircraft. Their efforts during Operation Enduring Freedom led to receipt of the Air Force Outstanding Unit award with Valor device and the 332d Air Expeditionary Group’s receipt of the Gallant Unity award.
On March 31, 2007 the 302d transferred to Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska, where it was given the mission of operation the F-22 Raptor. It officially became a part of the 477th Fighter Group on Oct. 1, 2007. The 302d FS is now a Reserve Associate unit, one in which the Citizen Airmen fly and maintain the Raptor side-by-side with the active duty counterparts in the Air Force’s 3d Wing, rounding out the Total Force Enterprise.
Basing F-22s at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson underscores American’s commitment to the Pacific region. Raptors based in Alaska can be deployed rapidly anywhere in the world and are only approximately nine hours flight time to nearly any location in the northern hemisphere. With nearly 62,000 square miles of restricted airspace nearby, JBER is an ideal location for Raptor operations.
Today, the men and women of the 302d are the first in the Air Force Reserve Command to fly the F-22 Raptor, the world’s first operational 5th generation fighter.
Historical emblem of the 302d Fighter Squadron
302d Lineage & History
477th Fighter Group History