About the 309th VTS
The Wild Ducks, the 309th Fighter Squadron, began its illustrious history at Baer Field, Fort Wayne, Indiana, in January 1942. Although only six months old, the fledgling Wild Ducks were rushed to the war in Europe, claiming their first kill on their second day of fighting. In fact, when Lt Sammy Junkin shot down a Focke-Wolf 190 near Calais, France, it was not only the squadron’s first kill but also the very first Army Air Corps kill while operating from an English base. The squadron continued to fly P-39s, Spitfires, and P-51 Mustangs while stationed in Europe, Italy, and North Africa.
After World War II, the squadron converted to the F-84, and in 1948 completed the first jet fighter transpacific deployment. For this achievement, the 309th Fighter Squadron, as part of the 31st Fighter Wing, won the first Outstanding Unit Award ever presented. In April 1962 it was the first fighter squadron to arrive at Homestead AFB, Florida. Flying the F-100 Super Sabre, the squadron deployed to Southeast Asia from 1966 – 1970. While there, the 309th Fighter Squadron received battle honors for action in three major campaigns and its third Outstanding Unit Award.
In 1970, the Wild Ducks returned to Homestead AFB, where they converted to the F-4 and later to the F-16. In August 1992, Hurricane Andrew forced the squadron to evacuate to Shaw AFB, South Carolina. Within one month the squadron was up and running, becoming fully combat ready again in only seven months. The squadron remained at Shaw until it was deactivated in January 1994. It was reactivated in April 1994 at Luke AFB, Az.
The Wild Duck’s emblem, created in 1944 by Sgt Rolland Root, is a copyrighted design by Walt Disney from Walt Disney Productions. It symbolized the fighter mission, celestial navigation pioneered by this squadron, its around the clock mission readiness, and its striking power. The 309th Fighter Squadron emblem was the first one ever approved for the U.S. military by Walt Disney.
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