58th Fighter Squadron


Lt. Col. John Green


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Personnel and Resources

The 58th Fighter Squadron mission is accomplished by over 58 assigned U.S. military, government civilian and contract personnel. Annual student training yields on average over 60 combat-ready F-35 pilots trained in all aspects of F-35A employment. The F-35A is a conventional takeoff and landing, low-observable, multi-role fighter aircraft equipped with 5th-generation sensors that provide it unparalleled situational awareness making this weapons system optimized to sustain air superiority and execute air interdiction and close air support as part of the DoD fleet.


The 58th Fighter Squadron has a long and distinguished history that dates back to the aerial battles of World War II. Activated as the 58th Pursuit Squadron (part of the 33rd Pursuit Group) stationed at Mitchel Field, New York, the squadron was charged with the ongoing mission of aerial defense of the United States. When the United States entered World War II, the 58th took an active role in the war effort by participating in several operations during a three-year overseas tour. These operations include the invasion of Morocco in November 1942, combat operations in the Mediterranean Theater from November 1942 to February 1944, and operations in the China-Burma, India campaign, April 1944 to August 1945. During the operations in the Mediterranean Theater, the 58th earned the nickname "Gorillas" for the guerrilla warfare-like techniques it utilized. While operating in the various theaters, the 58th flew the P-40 Warhawk, P-47 Thunderbolt and P-38 Lightning. As a result of its superior performance, the 58th received the Distinguished Unit Citation for combat operations conducted in central Tunisia.

After its service in World War II, the 58th saw a period of activation and inactivation at various Air Force installations flying both the F-84 Thunderstreak and F-94 Starfire. This fluctuation of activity leveled out when the 58th, part of the re-designated 33rd Tactical Fighter Wing was assigned to Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, and began flying the F-4E Phantom. In 1972, the 58th was deployed to Udorn, Thailand, under what was known as the "Summer Help Program." During this period, the 58th was credited as the first temporary duty unit to down an enemy aircraft. On June 2, 1972, U.S. Air Force Maj. Philip W. Handley and U.S. Air Force Lieutenant John J. Smallwood shot down a MiG-19 with a 300-round burst from their M-61A Vulcan Cannon, disproving the perception that American aircrews had lost their dogfighting skills (Smallwood was later shot down and to this day remains listed as missing in action). Just over two months later on Aug. 12, 1972, another 58th fighter was credited with a kill after shooting down a MiG-21 with an AIM-7 Sparrow, a radar guided missile. This second kill was the last credited to the 58th during its six-month rotation in Southeast Asia.

In 1979, the 58th Fighter Squadron became the first squadron in the 33rd Tactical Fighter Wing to receive the F-15 Eagle. The 58th proved the war fighting capability of the F-15 during its deployment to Germany for exercise Coronet Eagle. During the exercise, the 58th utilized 18 F-15s to fly 1001 sorties in less than three weeks. The unit repeated this deployment in 1982, utilizing 24 F-15s making it the first full F-15 deployment in history. The 58th participated in Operation Just Cause 10 years later, where forces successfully removed Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega from power in Panama.

The 58th was once again called upon to prove its mettle in August of 1990 when Saddam Hussein invaded the tiny country of Kuwait. Twenty-four F-15s under the command of U.S. Air Force Col. Rick Parsons departed Eglin Air Force Base for King Faisal Air Base, Saudi Arabia, as part of the buildup of coalition forces in Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. In the early morning hours of Jan. 17, 1991, Operation Desert Storm commenced. U.S. Air Force Capt. John J.B. Kelk claimed the first aerial victory by downing the first MiG-29. As the war progressed, the 58th flew 1,689 combat sorties and destroyed 15 other enemy aircraft. During the course of the war, the 58th accomplished feats that no other coalition member matched including; the most air-to-air kills, the most double kills, and the most sorties and hours flown by any F-15 unit in theater. The 58th also destroyed the most MiG-29s (a total of five) and had the only wing commander who had an air-to-air victory.

Some recent accomplishments of the 58th include; the first fighter squadron to bring the AIM-120 Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missile (AMRAAM) into full operation, numerous rotations to the Saudi Arabian theater supporting Operation Southern Watch by patrolling the no-fly zone, and participation in Operation Uphold Democracy where the United States helped bring control back to Haiti.

During its scheduled rotation as part of Operation Southern Watch in 1996, tragedy struck the 58th Fighter Squadron. On June 25, one day before their scheduled departure, a terrorist bomb ripped through the Khobar Towers complex that housed squadron personnel. When the dust cleared, 19 U.S. personnel were killed, 12 of which were members of the 33rd Fighter Wing.

Some recent accomplishments of the 58th include: the first fighter squadron to bring the AIM-120 Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missile (AMRAAM) into full operation, numerous rotations to the Saudi Arabian theater supporting Operation Southern Watch by patrolling the no-fly zone, and participation in Operation Uphold Democracy where the United States helped bring control back to Haiti.

The 58th Fighter Squadron operated the F-15 Eagle to support the various combatant commanders by providing air superiority on call until September 2009 and then became DoD's first F-35 Lightning II training squadron Oct. 1, 2009.

The 58th Fighter Squadron’s proud heritage includes a Distinguished Unit Citation in 1943, the Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross with Palm in 1972, back-to-back Hughes Trophies as the best air defense/air superiority squadron in the USAF in 1990-1991, and five Outstanding Unit Awards.

Locations Stationed: Mitchel Field, NY; Farmingdale, NY; Philadelphia Municipal Airport, PA; Norfolk Army Air Field, VA; Langley Field, VA; Camp Shanks, NY; Andrews Field, MD; Otis AFB, Massachusetts (1950); Walker AFB, NM (1960); Eglin AFB, FL

Locations Defended/Secured: French Morocco, Sicily, Naples-Foggia, Anzio, Rome-Arno, India-Burma, China, Central-Burma, Vietnam, Grenada, Kuwait, Iraq, Panama, Persian Gulf, Haiti, USA (Op Noble Eagle)

Aircraft Flown: P-38 Lightning, P-39 Airacobra, P-40 Warhawk, P-47 Thunderbolt, P-51 Mustang; F-4 Phantom II, F-84 Thunderstreak, F-86A Sabre, F-89D Scorpion, F-94B Starfighter, 101, F-15C Eagle, F-35A Lightning II/Panther

Aircraft Killed: F-1 Supersonic Rei-Sen, Mig-21 Fishbed, Mig-23 Flogger, Mig-25 Foxbat, Mig-29 Fulcrum, Su-7 & 17 Fitter, Macchi 202, Messerschmitt 109, JU-88 Stuka



“When Gorillas fly, MiGs die, RAGE!”

Current as of September 2022