4th FW hold piano burning ceremony

  • Published
  • By Mr. Randy Bergeron
The 4th Fighter Wing and the Battle of Britain
In 1940 the Nazi “Blitzkrieg” or lightning war had conquered Poland, the low - countries and France. Hitler set his sights on invading England but first his Luftwaffe would have to defeat the British Royal Air Force. If England fell the United States would not have a base to bomb Germany, invade France and defeat the Third Reich. In the pivotal “Battle of Britain” the RAF defeated the larger, more powerful German air force and preserved England’s freedom. Seven Americans were RAF pilots in the Battle of Britain. Three of these pilots, Andy Mamedoff, Eugene “Red” Tobin and Vernon “Shorty” Keough (Keough was 4’ 10” tall) are the reason the 4th Fighter Wing has a direct connection to the Battle of Britain.
In the battle Tobin shot down a German Dornier bomber and Mamedoff and Keough both shot down a German bomber. After the battle was won these three Americans became the initial cadre of 71 Eagle Squadron, the first Eagle Squadron. The three RAF Eagle Squadrons (71, 121 and 133 Eagle Squadrons) were composed of American volunteer pilots who flew for England prior to America’s entry into World War II. After Pearl Harbor the three Eagle Squadrons became the 334th, 335th and 336th Fighter Squadrons of the 4th Fighter Group. Unfortunately by that time Mamedoff, Tobin and Keough had all been killed on active service. These three volunteer patriots sacrificed their lives to keep England free and are the reason the 4th Fighter Wing traces its heritage to the Battle of Britain.
Assigned to Debden Aerodrome, England, the 4 FG quickly earned the motto “Fourth but First.” The group was the first to penetrate Germany, the first to use belly tanks, the first to accomplish the England to Russia shuttle flight, and the first to accompany bombers to Berlin. Throughout the war, the 4 FG was credited with the destruction of 1,016 enemy aircraft and as a result, 37 pilots became aces while flying with the 4th Fighter Group. The 4th flew the British Spitfire until the P-47 arrived at the end of 1942, and later flew the P-51. A total of 129 pilots of the 4th Fighter Group perished during WWII.