33rd Operations Support Squadron


Lt. Col. Mark "Switcha" Rioux


We transform exceptional Airmen into combat ready F-35 aviators and intelligence professionals.


Professional F-35 and intelligence warriors fostering cultures of excellence by providing world class instruction & support.


The 33rd Operations Support Squadron, is assigned to the 33rd Fighter Wing at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida. The Jokers provide support efforts to ensure that the 33rd FW's two flying squadrons have adequate airspace, aircraft, and supplies to accommodate long- and short-range plans. Specifically, the 33rd OSS provides staff support to the operations group commander, monitors all training syllabus requirements, and provides intelligence support to wing and squadron personnel. The Jokers manage all Aircrew Flight Equipment in addition to physiological training requirements for all student and instructor pilots. More recently, the 33rd FW human performance initiative is managed and operated by the 33rd OSS. Since the 33rd FW chief instructors reside in the 33rd OSS, it serves as the weapons and tactics focal point for the wing. Additionally, the 33rd OSS operates the DoD’s sole F-35 Intelligence Formal Training Unit (IFTU) along with Air Force Special Operations Command’s IFTU at Hurlburt Field, Florida. The 33rd OSS is comprised of 74 Active Duty, National Guard, Reserve, U.S. Army and U.S. Marine Corps personnel in addition to 6 contractors.


The 33rd Operations Support Squadron, nicknamed the "Jokers," was formed Dec. 2, 1991, as part of the overall 33rd Fighter Wing reorganization effort. The official lineage of the 33rd Operations Support Squadron is tied to the 33rd Aerodrome Squadron, which was located in Blythe, California, during World War II. The designation "Joker" was attached to the squadron in honor of a group of 35 lieutenants who under the leadership of U.S. Air Force Maj. Phil Cochran, provided "support" to the 33rd Fighter Group during World War II.

Located in North Africa between November and December of 1942, the 58th, 59th and 60th Fighter Squadrons of the 33rd Fighter Group were re-supplied with aircraft and pilots through the efforts of the "J" Squadron. The lieutenants of the "J" Squadron were also the first to catapult their P-40 Warhawks from the deck of the British flattop, the HMS Archer, and recover them in Casablanca. While the idea of catapulting the P-40s may have been a cutting-edge idea, the actual execution of the plan would prove to be less than simple. Although the ship was equipped to accommodate aircraft operations, the P-40s were not able to operate off a ship because they were too heavy. After stripping the Warhawks of ammunition, navigation equipment and excess fuel, Maj. Cochran, commander of the OSS, and his deputy flight lead were catapulted from the ship, breaking both the catapults in the process, thus leaving 34 pilots to determine how they were going to launch. Throughout the remainder of the day, all but three aircraft were able to make it to Casablanca; two aircraft went down where the pilots were recovered and one went down without the pilot being recovered.

Current as of May 2024