One of the components to the 944th Fighter Wing’s mission success is the 69th Fighter Squadron. The unit’s lineage dates back to November 1940 when it was constituted as the 69th Pursuit Squadron and two years later it was redesignated the 69th Fighter Squadron.
Originally an operational and replacement training unit, the 69th FS has flown combat missions in the Pacific, Korea, and Southwest Asia over the years.
In 1969 the unit made their first imprints on Luke Air Force Base soil as the 69th Tactical Fighter Training Squadron. During this time the 69th trained and worked alongside the German air force as they taught German students to fly the F-104 Starfighter. Almost 2,000 Starfighter pilots graduated at Luke during that time.
In 1991 the 69th once again became the 69th Fighter Squadron and participated in Operation Southern Watch.
In February 2001, the 69th FS was deactivated at Moody AFB, Ga., after flying more than 1,500 combat sorties during Desert Storm. The unit moved back to Luke and joined the 944th FW in March 2010 when Headquarters Air Force authorized the reactivation of the 69th FS as a Reserve unit.
Today, the 69th FS continues its tradition of excellence by arguably being one of the most experienced F-16 Fighting Falcon cadre of pilots in the world, averaging more than 2,300 fighter hours per instructor. The Reserve instructors enabled the 56th Operations Group’s 22,574 training sorties, 30,358 flying hours, and the graduation of 294 combat-ready pilots. There are currently 55 personnel assigned.
“We support the 944th mission by providing highly qualified AFRC instructor pilots to train the finest fighter pilots in the world and support 56th FW requirements,” said Tech. Sgt. Adam Raley, 69th FS aviation resource manager NCO in charge and squadron historian.
Lt. Col. Gerald Brown, 69th FS commander assumed command March 2013. He is a command pilot with more than 3,600 hours in the F-16 including 400 combat hours.
“I am honored to be a part of this incredible team,” Brown said. “Those who have worn the 69th Fighter Squadron patch in the past and those who continue to do so today know it is an honor and a privilege.”
The 69th FS instructors literally wrote the book for future joint combat operations with a rewrite to joint close-air support techniques, tactics and procedures in addition to governing directives for the joint strike fighter’s TTPs.
“The mission will evolve as Luke’s mission evolves, the arrival of the F-35 platform, and the hard work of both 69th personnel and Ops Group leadership to not only provide continuity in the F-35 bed-down effort, but to secure an association of our IPs into that new mission,” Brown said.
The reputation of the 69th FS and the character of its personnel continue to carry on throughout the generations, said Col. Kurt Gallegos, 944th FW commander.
“We are proud to have the 69th FS and its members as a part of the 944th FW team.”