Fourth but First: A heritage of excellence

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. David Moeller
  • 335th Fighter Squadron commander
If you have entered the base recently, chances are you have been greeted by a 4th Security Forces Squadron defender with the saying, "Fourth but First."

This is the motto of the 4th Fighter Wing, because during the past 70 years we have continually led the Air Force in all aspects of airpower. From World War II combat operations to current operations in Afghanistan, the 4th FW has produced a continual record of excellence that has been recognized with numerous "firsts."

Historically, the 4th FW has become the first in many ways, such as:
  • Being the first United States Army Air Force unit activated in the European Theater during World War II.
  • Being the first fighter group to fly over Nazi-controlled Germany during World War II in P-51 Mustangs.
  • The first among all fighter groups in the destruction of enemy aircraft in World War II destroying 1,016 Nazi aircraft (550 airborne, 466 on the ground). The recent wing "Mustang Mayhem," was flown in honor of this achievement.
  • First fighter wing to deploy to Korea in response to the USS Pueblo crisis, Jan. 29, 1968.
  • First fighter wing to receive the F-15E Strike Eagle and was the first wing to employ the F-15E during combat operations for operation Desert Storm, shooting down the first enemy aircraft.
In addition, the 4th FW was one of the first wings to fly operation Noble Eagle missions after the 9/11 attacks. The wing also was the first to deploy aircraft in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003, eventually forming the leadership and operational core of the 379th Air Expeditionary Wing.

Recently, the 4th FW has garnered many more achievements, like:
  • Having an F-15E, maintained by the 335th Aircraft Maintenance Unit, as the first to reach 10,000 flying hours during combat operations in 2011.
  • Being home to the top civil engineer squadron and lodging, Air Force-wide in 2011.
  • Having the top logistics readiness squadron, contracting squadron and dining facility in Air Combat Command in 2011. In addition, the 4th Medical Group was recognized as the best Small Dental Clinic in ACC and the top Clinical Patient Safety Program and the Category 1 Biomedical Service Corps Team of the Year.
  • The 4th FW was also a recipient of the API trophy as ACC's Top Fuels Management Flight in 2011.
  • In addition, during the past year, more than 20 Airmen have received individual awards at the ACC or Air Force-level as the best in their respective fields.
The 4th FW has a 70-year history of airpower "firsts." Although the accomplishments have occurred with different aircraft and during different combat operations, the one constant is the outstanding dedication and professionalism of it's Airmen.

The next time you hear "Fourth but First," pause to reflect on the stellar heritage and standard-setting performance of our Wing and Airmen.