Heading to Eielson Air Force Base near Fairbanks is an opportunity that you jump at — and the scope of this trip was something very special, writes Scott Wolff. The 36th Fighter Squadron (FS) ‘Fiends’ was in town, visiting from Osan Air Base in the Republic of Korea, for Exercise ‘Distant Thunder’ — which came as the unit marked 100 years of service.
While there have been many big stateside celebrations for US Air Force fighter squadrons whose lineage dates back to WW1, that of the 36th FS went largely unnoticed due to its forward-based status. Remote location aside, the squadron has a tremendous history, and a reputation for producing some of the very best fighter pilots in history.
The ops tempo at Osan is fast-paced, and very different from other F-16 bases in that it’s not tasked with deployments to support current operations in the Middle East and Southwest Asia. The biggest movement of the squadron comes in the form of the occasional trip to ‘Red Flag-Alaska’ and ‘Distant Frontier’. On such a detachment, the squadron continues to fly a lot, holding true to the 51st Fighter Wing’s ‘Fight tonight’ mantra.
The storied 36th Fighter Squadron ‘Fiends’ has been celebrating its centenary over the past year. Combat Aircraft takes a closer look at this famous unit in our December issue, on sale now.