Always deployed where the action is, to support operational commitments of the United States Air Force, the history-making Chiefs are one of the finest fighter squadrons in the world. One of six operational F-15E squadrons in the U.S. Air Force, the mission of the 335th Fighter Squadron is to be prepared to deploy anywhere in the world on short notice and deliver an array of air-to-ground weapons with pinpoint accuracy. The squadron is currently authorized 24 F-15E Strike Eagle aircraft and approximately 360 officer and enlisted personnel.
The 335th traces its ancestry back to the Royal Air Force 121 Squadron, formed on 14 May 1941 as the second of three "Eagle Squadrons" of the RAF. These squadrons were composed of American volunteers flying Hurricanes and Spitfires out of England prior to the entry of the United States into World War II. The "Chief's Head" insignia dates back to the original emblem of the RAF 121 Squadron, which featured in its center a profile of the head of an American Indian Chief.
Following the entry of the US into the war, the three Eagle Squadrons were transferred to the US Army Air Forces as the 334th, 335th, and 336th Fighter Squadrons, then combined to form the 4th Fighter Group flying P-47 Thunderbolts and P-51 Mustangs. The 4th Fighter Group was the first US Army Air Forces unit activated in the European Theater of Operations and was based in Essex, England. During World War II, the 335th destroyed 262 enemy aircraft - 165 in the air and 97 on the ground. Shortly after V-E Day, the 335th moved to Steeple Marden to begin preparations for return to the US and deactivation at Camp Kilmer, New Jersey, on 10 November 1945.
The 335th was reactivated 9 September 1946 at Selfridge Field, Michigan, and has remained on active duty since. The Chiefs flew P-80 Shooting Stars out of Andrews AFB, Maryland, until 1949, when they moved to Langley AFB, Virginia, and received the F-86 Sabrejet, which they took to Korea on 10 November 1950. By the end of the Korean War the 335th led all squadrons with 218.5 kills and had become a part of the "MiG Killer" legend. The Chiefs also added 12 aces to its rolls, more than the combined total from the 334th and 336th. The Chiefs remained in the Far East until 8 December 1957, when they moved to Seymour Johnson AFB, North Carolina, and converted to the F-100 Super Sabre. In May of 1958, the Chiefs were sent to Eglin AFB, Florida, and tasked with operational testing of the new F-105 Thunderchief for the next three years. In May of 1959, the 335th became the first squadron in the Air Force to receive the F-105 Thunderchief, and the transition from F-100s to F-105s began. The squadron returned to Seymour Johnson AFB in November of 1961.
In 1967, the 335th received the airframe its aircrew would fly for the next twenty-three years--the F-4 Phantom II. Before this period had ended, the Chiefs had deployed to Korea to support the Pueblo Incident, flown in the Vietnam Conflict out of Ubon AB, Thailand, become the first operational squadron to qualify with the GBU-15, and, in doing so, exceeded 100,000 consecutive accident-free hours. On 1 March 1990, the Chiefs passed another milestone in their history. In conjunction with the fifty-first change of command, their final F-4 sortie and first F-15E sortie were flown. The 335th was the second fighter squadron in the Air Force to receive the Strike Eagle.
On 27-28 December 1990, the 335th deployed twenty-four F-15Es along with support personnel and equipment to Al Kharj Air Base in central Saudi Arabia. On the night of 16 January, the Chiefs participated in the initial assault on Iraq, hitting communications, power networks, and airfields around Baghdad. Given the mission of finding and destroying Iraq's SCUD missile launchers, the 335th brought Iraq's use of this terror weapon to a virtual halt, earning the squadron the nickname "SCUD BUSTERS." The 335th made aerial warfare history by downing an Iraqi helicopter in the air using a laser-guided bomb. During the war, the Chiefs flew 1,097 combat missions over Iraq and occupied Kuwait, dropping over 4.8 million pounds of ordnance.
After the war, the 335th continued to fly combat air patrol missions over Iraq and Kuwait until relieved by the 334th Fighter Squadron in June 1991. Since then, the Chiefs have returned to Southwest Asia several times; they deployed three times to Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, and twice to Doha, Qatar, as an Air Expeditionary Force. The AEF-III deployment in 1996 was the first for an Air Force unit to Doha.
In January 2002, the Chiefs deployed to Sowthwest Asia in support of Operation Southern Watch and Enduring Freedom. 12 F-15Es, deployed and accomplished 500 sorties comprising 3,000 flying hours. During this time the 335th dropped almost 300 laser guided and dumb bombs, and expended 1200 rounds of 20mm ammunition. The 335th received numerous awards and accolades from Operation Enduring Freedom. As a result four Silver Stars were awarded as well as seven Distinguished Flying Crosses.
A short time after the Chiefs returned from fighting in Afghanistan they again deployed to the Middle East to support the war on terror. In February of 2003 the 335th deployed to the region for Operation Iraqi Freedom. During Iraqi Freedom and Southern Watch the Chiefs deployed 24 F-15Es, and flew 1,500 sorties, totaling 7,000 flying hours. They dropped over 1 million pounds of precision and non-precision munitions on numerous targets such as key Iraqi leadership, command and control bunkers, artillery Republican Guard units and many others.
The Chiefs once again deployed back to Southwest Asia in September 2004 until February 2005. They supported the war on terror, performing urban Close Air Support(CAS) in hot spots of anti-coalition resistance throughout Iraq. Standing guard during the turbulent times near the Iraqi elections, they provided on call support for the troops on the ground. As key players in stabilizing the country of Iraq, the 335th was again on the tip of the American warfighting spear.
The 335th Fighter Squadron stands ready to meet the challenges of the future and demonstrate the meaning of their proud byline: "Chiefs' Standard."