The Wild Ducks relinquished command, the Spikes are to become Wild Ducks, then the Spikes are coming back riding Lightning IIs. Confused yet? Well, here it is in more detail.
Several squadrons under the 56th Operations Group will undergo transitions in the coming months. It all began May 30 when the 309th Fighter Squadron commander relinquished command. The Airmen from the squadron, having already been distributed into other squadrons of the group, will remain part of their new units, but the 309th FS will be unmanned and without a commander until July 2. At that time, the commander of the 62nd FS, the “Spikes,” will relinquish command and the 309th FS’s new commander will assume command of the unit.
“The 62nd FS Airmen at the relinquishment of command ceremony will change their patches and become part of the 309th FS,” said Lt. Col. Bill Engelson, 56th OG deputy commander.
The Spikes will then eventually become Luke Air Force Base’s second F-35 squadron as they await more of the new jets to arrive at the base.
“The desire is for the 61st, 62nd and 63rd fighter squadrons to be the first three F-35 training squadrons at Luke,” Engelson said. “These squadrons have a lot of history, being part of the 56th Fighter Group during World War II.”
The F-16s assigned to these squadrons aren’t just sitting stagnant though. Approximately 16 have already been sent from the 309th to Holloman AFB, New Mexico, to become part of the 311th Fighter Squadron. After the relinquishment of command ceremony, the remaining aircraft will become part of the 308th FS, but eventually all will make their way to Holloman.
While it may seem like a big game of musical chairs, Lt. Col. Shamsher Mann, 62nd FS commander, explains why this reorganization is important to the Luke mission and the Airmen under his command.
“This move allows the original 56th Fighter Group Squadrons to transition to the F-35,” Mann said. “The 62nd FS has a significant combat history, and it will get passed on to the Air Force’s newest airframe.”
With historic squadrons getting state-of-the-art aircraft and aircraft moving to other bases for continued use in training, the structure of the 56th Fighter Wing is in for some changes.
So, to recap: The Wild Ducks commander relinquished command, the Spikes are doing the same thing soon, and the new Ducks commander is taking command of the Airmen from the Spikes until the Spikes get the F-35s and a new commander. Is it clear, now? Good.