OF EXCELLENCE IN AERIAL COMBAT
THE 525th TACTICAL FIGHTER SQUADRON HISTORY
10 FEBRUARY 1942 - 1 APRIL 1992
With thanks to Bp. Dick
Additions / Deletions to taco AT 525bulldogs.com
The 525th Tactical Fighter Squadron was activated during World War II to support Allied Forces in the European Theater of Operations. The squadron opened operations at Will Rogers Field, Oklahoma on 10 February l942 and was originally designated the 309th Bombardment Squadron (Light), assigned to the 86th Bombardment Group.
In August of 1942, the squadron moved to Key Field, Mississippi to start flight training in the A-20 Havoc. On the 3rd of September that same year, the squadron was re-designated as the 309th Bombardment Squadron (Dive). By the end of 1942, the squadron started the transition to two new combat aircraft, the A-31 Vultee Vengeance and the A-36 Mustang. The A-36, which the 525th flew extensively in the war, was a bomber version of the famous P-51 Mustang. The squadron achieved combat ready status on 19 March 1943.
Ready to support the war effort, the 309th departed the United States in April 1943 aboard the SS John Erickson, a ship previously claimed sunk by the German Submarine Command. Twelve days after departure, the squadron landed and set up operations at La Senia, Algeria. After La Senia, the squadron moved to Mediouna and Marina, French Morocco. Then, again the squadron moved to Tafaroui, Algeria where the squadron got its first taste of combat on 6 July 1943.
On the squadron's first day of combat, it struck enemy entrenchment’s on the island of Sicily, softening enemy resistance for General George S. Patton's invading 7th Army. After the invasion, the 309th set up operations in Gela, Sicily to support the Allied campaign, known as Naples-Foggia, against the West Coast of Italy. On 23 August 1943, the 309th was redesignated as the 525th Fighter-Bomber Squadron.
While in Italy, the 525 moved several more times and participated in the Rome-Arno campaign. Bases for the 525 included Barcelona, Sicily and the Italian airfields of Sele, Seretella, and Pomigliano in 1943. During 1944, the squadron operated from Marcianise, Ciampino, Orbetello, and Grosseto, Italy. The squadron also flew for a short time in 1944 out of Poretta, Corsica. Two of the more famous battles during the Italian campaigns were Salerno and Cassino. The 525th figured prominently in these battles, providing air support to Allied ground forces. In 1944, the 525 began flying the P-47 Thunderbolt. With the new aircraft in 1944 came yet another new name for the squadron - the 525th Fighter Squadron.
In February 1945, the squadron moved to Tantoville, France to fly missions against Germany. Two months later, the 525 moved into Germany establishing its headquarters at Braunschardt and, later Schweinfurt. The squadron performed valiantly in Germany, flying its last combat mission on 8 May 1945.
During World War II, the 86th Fighter Group, including the 525 Fighter Squadron, flew 28,662 sorties on 3,645 combat missions. During these missions, the 86th Group was credited with shooting down 515 enemy aircraft, destroying 9,960 motor transports, 10,420 railcars, and 1,114 locomotives. The 86th Group won battle streamers for action in Sicily, Naples-Foggia, Rome-Arno, North Appenines, Southern France, Rheinland, and Central Europe
On 23 October 1945, the 525 left Europe for Bolling Field in Washington. This was as an administrative move as the squadron awaited the realignment of U.S. Forces under the Status of Forces Agreements at the end of World War II. The 525 were deactivated temporarily, while at Bolling Field, on 31 March 1946.
The 525 was reactivated on 20 August 1946 at Nordholz, Germany. Flying the F-47, the 525 made three more moves in Germany to Lechfeld, Bad Kissingen, and then to Neubiberg, Germany where the squadron was the closest operational Air Force unit to the Iron Curtain. On 28 October 1950, the 525 transitioned to its first jet aircraft, the F-84E. In the F-84, the 525 operated under the Mutual Defense Assistance Program (MDAP). As a part of MDAP, the 525 trained pilots and ground crews of many European and Middle Eastern countries.
On 20 November 1952, the 525 moved to Landstuhl, Germany (later called Ramstein Air Base) where it transitioned to the F-86 Sabre. The F-86 was Europe's first all-weather fighter-interceptor, and the 86th Fighter Group was the first to fly it in Europe. The 525 first flew the F-86F on 14 April 1953. Flying the F-86 in the air defense role, the 525 was re-designated as the 525th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron on 9 August 1954. The Bulldog emblem was officially approved for the squadron by the Air Force on 29 September 1955. In March of 1956 the squadron transitioned to the new “all weather” F-86D Sabrejet.
In 1957, the squadrons of the 86th Group were dispersed throughout Europe to provide better air defense coverage and reduce vulnerability to attack. On 12 February 1957, the Bulldogs moved to Bitburg Air Base, Germany. The Bulldogs were the only squadron at Bitburg to maintain air defense alert for the next 20 years.
Though stationed at Bitburg, the Bulldogs remained under the 86th Group at Ramstein. In March 1958, the 86th was redesignated the 86th Fighter-Interceptor Wing in anticipation of the arrival of the F-102 Delta Dagger. The 525 received its first F-102’s in February of 1959 and was selected to represent the United States Air Forces in Europe at the 1959 William Tell competition. Although new to their aircraft, the Bulldogs took the lead in the competition and held it until the last event when they were nosed out by a few points.
In 1965, 1967, and 1971 the 525 was chosen as the Sector III representative to the NATO Air Superiority Competitions. In each competition the Bulldogs made an outstanding showing, winning the Guynemeyer Trophy for the best sector performance in 1971.
The 525 officially became part of the 36th Tactical Fighter Wing on 1 November 1968. This ended the unit's tenant status at Bitburg. On 1 October 1969, the squadron was redesignated the 525th Tactical Fighter Squadron. Still maintaining two aircraft on 24-hour air defense alert status, the Bulldogs new mission now included close air support and limited nuclear air-to-ground delivery. Additionally, on 16 November 1969, the Bulldogs became the first squadron in Germany to fly the F-4E Phantom. Due to its exceptional performance mastering a new aircraft and mission, the 525 was nominated by USAFE for the Hughes Trophy in 1969.
When France withdrew from NATO in 1966, it left a gap in the air defense network of Europe. Operation CREEK ALE filled that gap by rotating Bulldog F-102’s, for air defense alert, to Erding Air Base north of Munich. In 1972, USAFE attempted to move the 525 to Erding permanently and make the squadron part of the 52nd Fighter Group. At one point in the planning process, the 525 was, at least on paper, officially based at Erding. However, due to construction and contracting difficulties, the move was cancelled and the 525 remained at Bitburg.
In 1970 and 1971, the 525 was awarded the Allied Forces Central Europe Scroll of Honor. This prestigious award for “outstanding operational achievement” was given for twice consecutively earning the coveted rating of “1" on tactical evaluations by the Allied Air Forces Central Europe. In 1974, the 525 was nominated by USAFE again for the Hughes trophy, and received a commendable citation in a close finals competition. That year the Bulldogs established Dissimilar Air Combat Tactics (DACT) training with the F-5 Aggressor squadron at Alconbury, England. Later, the squadron was the first in USAFE to establish DACT programs with non-aggressor and non-USAF adversaries. As the premier air-to-air unit in USAFE, the Bulldogs were chosen to be the first squadron in Europe to fly the F-15 Eagle.
On 27 April 1977, Bulldog pilots flew the first 23 Eagles to Europe on an historic, non-stop deployment from Langley AFB, Virginia to Bitburg, Germany. Operation READY EAGLE became a success when, 18 hours after arrival at Bitburg, Bulldog pilots were sitting 5-minute alert status with two of those F-15s.
On 26 May 1977, after less than one month on station, the Bulldogs were declared Europe's first Operationally Ready F-15 squadron. One week later, they proved themselves in a NATO Operational Readiness Inspection (ORI) with a 100 percent kill rate on the Dart, and a 98 percent Intercept Hack rate.
In 1978, the Bulldogs were featured as part of the McDonnell-Douglas film, "Eagles in Defense of Europe.” In October 1979, the 525 flew the first training missions at the new Air Combat Maneuvering Instrumentation (ACMI) range at Decimomannu Air Base, Sardinia, Italy. In 1983, USAFE once again nominated the 525 for the prestigious Hughes Trophy.
In 1984, the Bulldogs participated in an exchange with the French Air Force, sending six F-15s to Orange Air Base, France in exchange for four Mirage F-1's. The French pilots flew for several weeks with the 525 and operated out of Bulldog operations facilities at Bitburg. In 1986, and again in 1987, the 525 deployed to Morocco and set up bare base operations at Sidi Sliminc. The 525 lived and functioned for four weeks out of tents and flew their missions with F-1's and F-5's from Morocco. In November 1988, the Bulldogs won USAFE's Excalibur air-to-air weapons competition. In April 1989, the Bulldogs set a wing record for the most sorties in one month, flying 678 sorties, with 14 aircraft, while deployed to Decimomannu Air Base, Italy.
In August 1990, Saddam Hussein, leader of a repressive and bloody regime in Iraq, attacked and occupied the small, oil-rich nation of Kuwait. The United States, along with the United Nations, condemned this action and called for Iraq's withdrawal from Kuwait by the 15th of January 1991. Iraq did not comply.
In December 1990, the 525 deployed to Incirlik Air Base, Adana, Turkey for “Just another weapons training deployment.” When the Bulldogs arrived at Incirlik Air Base with their F-15s, they joined American F-16’s from Spain, F-111’s from England, Wild Weasels from Germany, KC-135 Stratotankers from Texas, and E-3 AWACS and other electronic combat support aircraft from around the world. These units, deployed to Incirlik Air Base, formed the 7440th Combat Wing (Provisional) - the United States Air Force's first composite wing.
On the night of 17 January 1991, Bulldogs flew in the first strike against Iraq by PROVEN FORCE aircraft. On 19 January 1991, two Bulldogs used AIM-7 Sparrow radar missiles to destroy two Iraqi Mirage F-1’s. During the next six weeks, until the cease-fire, the 525 flew around the clock, protecting two strikes per day and one strike each night. PROVEN FORCE strikes targeted military airfields, nuclear and chemical facilities, communications centers, power plants, and oil refineries and storage facilities in northern Iraq. By the middle of February, PROVEN FORCE was attacking Baghdad. In addition to protecting strikers, the 525 was frequently tasked to man barrier caps in eastern Iraq to destroy Iraqi fighters attempting to flee to Iran. These missions, often lasting in excess of five hours, required the Bulldogs to operate over 150 miles behind enemy lines without any support assets.
The Bulldogs performed magnificently in Operation PROVEN FORCE. Flying 1329 combat sorties for a total of 3550 combat hours, the squadron shot down six enemy aircraft. More importantly, not a single PROVEN FORCE aircraft was lost in combat during the war. On 13 March 1991, the 525 returned to Bitburg in victory. The celebration was brief, however, as the Bulldogs deployed back to Incirlik Air Base on 5 April 1991 to support Operation PROVIDE COMFORT.
Following the war against Iraq, numerous Kurdish refugees fled northward from the remaining forces of Saddam Hussein. The United States initiated a vast airlift operation, named Operation PROVIDE COMFORT, to drop food and supplies to these refugees concentrated in Iraq along the Turkish border. Because tensions between the Iraqi and Allied forces in the area remained quite high, the 525 was called back to Turkey in April 1991 to protect the vulnerable Allied cargo aircraft. In addition, the 525 was tasked, as part of the operation, to fly at low altitude over Iraq and provide intelligence updates of Iraqi troop and equipment locations.
Once again, the 525 performed its mission honorably. Between the 5th of April and the 25th of May 1991, the Bulldogs flew 285 sorties over Iraq in support of Operation PROVIDE COMFORT. Just as before, not a single Allied aircraft was lost in Iraq due to hostile fire.
Throughout the rest of 1991 and into 1992, the 525th Tactical Fighter Squadron served its nation with honor and pride. The Bulldogs deployed to Leeuwarden Air Base, The Netherlands during October 1991. In December 1991, the Bulldogs deployed to RAF Bentwaters, England to train on the new North Sea ACMI range. The final weapons training deployment for the 525th Tactical Fighter Squadron was at Leeuwarden Air Base, The Netherlands from 16 March 1992 to 27 March 1992,
The 525th Tactical Fighter Squadron “Bulldogs" deactivated at Bitburg Air Base, Germany on 1 April 1992, closing the history of one of the United States finest fighting units - fifty years, one Cold War, and two shooting wars after it opened. Though deactivated for the time being, the Bulldogs look forward with the hope to reactivate again, as a fighter squadron, and serve our great nation.
525 AWARDS and DECORATIONS
Liberation of Kuwait
Distinguished Unit Citations
Italy, 25 May 1944
Germany, 20 April 1945
Air Force Outstanding Unit Awards
31 Oct 55 to 31 Oct 58
1 Jan 62 to 31 Dec 63
1 Jan 68 to 31 Dec 68
1 Dec 73 to 30 Jun 75
1 Jul 75 to 30 Jun 77
1 Jul 77 to 30 Jun 79
1 Jul 86 to 30 Jun 88
1 Jul 88 to 30 Jun 90
1 Sep 90 to 31 Jul 91
CONFIRMED AIR-TO-AIR KILLS (Persian Gulf War):
Name Date Aircraft Destroyed
Capt David S. Prather 19 Jan 91 Mirage F-1
1Lt David G. Sveden 19 Jan 91 Mirage F-1
Capt Donald S. Watrous* 28 Jan 91 MIG-23
Capt Gregory P. Masters 2 Feb 91 IL-76 Candid
Maj Randy W. May* 7 Feb 91 Helicopter
Capt Steven B. Dingee 11 Feb 91 1/2 Helicopter
Capt Mark T. McKenzie 11 Feb 91 1/2 Helicopter
* Pilot attached to the 525 TFS during the Gulf War.
Not manned 10 Feb 42 - 8 Aug 42
Capt William C. Hunter 8 Aug 42 - 27 Jan 42
Capt Paul A. Striegel 27 Jan 42 - 2 Sep 43
Maj Justin C. Gunnison 2 Sep 43 - 6 Dec 43
Maj Edwin A. Bland, Jr. 6 Dec 43 - 12 Mar 44
Capt Nicholas J. Kasun, Jr. 12 Mar 44 - 22 Aug 44
Capt Lemuel W. Purdum III 22 Aug 44 - 3 Sep 44
Capt Felix F. Simmons 3 Sep 44 - 7 Sep 44
Maj Nicholas J. Kasun, Jr. 7 Sep 44 - 22 Sep 44
Capt William B. Colgan 22 Sep 44 - 21 Sep 45
Capt Willard Heidinger 21 Sep 45 - 24 Nov 45
unknown 24 Nov 45 - 14 Feb 46
none 15 Feb 46 - 19 Aug 46
Maj William M. Shelton 20 Aug 46 - 26 Nov 46
Maj Paul J. Hurley 26 Nov 46 - 5 Mar 47
unknown 5 Mar 47 - 11 Jun 47
none 12 Jun 47 - 9 Jul 47
Lt Col Michael J. Ingelido 10 Jul 47 - 22 Jan 48
Maj Robert W. Holmes 22 Jan 48 - Apr 48
Lt Col James G. Thorsen Apr 48 - 15 Jun 48
Maj Robert W. Holmes 15 Jun 48 - Feb 49
Lt Col George Laven, Jr. Feb 49 - 1 Dec 50
Maj John A. Moore 1 Dec 50 - 9 Mar 51
Lt Col Younger A. Pitts, Jr. 9 Mar 51 - 1 Aug 51
Maj Russell D. Demont 1 Aug 51 - 5 Sep 51
Lt Col George W. McLaughlin 5 Sep 51 - 11 Jul 5
Lt Col Albert L. Lane, Jr. 11 Jul 52 - 10 Sep 53
Lt Col Robert A. Tyler 10 Sep 53 - 10 May 54
Maj Louis R. Vogt 10 May 54 - 1 Mar 55
Maj William H. Pickron, Jr. 1 Mar 55 - 2 Jun 56
Maj Edgar M. McCrone 2 Jun 56 - 18 Jul 56,
Lt Col Raymond S. Brown 18 Jul 56 - 10 Jul 59
Lt Col Charles W. Carson, Jr. 10 Jul 59 - 16 Jul 60
Maj John B. Anderson 16 Jul 60 - 30 Jun 62
Lt Col James M. Thomas 30 Jun 62 - 15 Nov 62
Lt Col William C. Jackson 15 Nov 62 - Aug 65
Lt Col Richard H. Hintermeier Aug 65 - Jun 67
Lt Col John F, Ambrecht Jun 67 - 28 Aug 67
Col James W. Babb 28 Aug 67 - 31 Jan 69
Lt Col Bernard F. Fisher 31 Jan 69 - 20 Jun 69
Maj Thomas E. Wolters 20 Jun 69 - 5 Jun 70
Lt Col Hansel W. Turley, Jr. 5 Jun 70 - 3 Jan 72
Lt Col Win E. DePoorter 3 Jan 72 - 4 Jun 73
Lt Col John B. France 4 Jun 73 - 29 Jun 74
Lt Col Paul R. Craw 29 Jun 74 - 8 Feb 75
Lt Col Thomas E. Mason, Jr. 8 Feb 75 - 1 Apr 77
Lt Col Roger J. Smith 1 Apr 77 - 30 Mar 79
Lt Col Charles S. Price 30 Mar 79 - 12 Dec 80
Lt Col Larry B. McBride 12 Dec 80 - 9 Jul 82
Lt Col Thomas P. Mahan 9 Jul 82 - 25 May 84
Lt Col Donald L. Peterson 25 May 84 - 31 Dec 84
Lt Col Clarence R. Anderegg 31 Dec 84 - 1 Sep 86
Lt Col Thomas G. Folse 1 Sep 86 - 27 Jun 88
Lt Col Bob T. Huneycutt 27 Jun 88 - 25 May 90
Lt Col James E. Reed 25 May 90 - 1 Apr 92
THE BULLDOG EMBLEM
The Bulldog emblem was officially approved by the Department of the Air Force on 29 September 1955. According to the original approving orders from 1955, the emblem design was to be:
“On a white disc, edged light blue, the full face of a caricatured bulldog, in shades of light brown and tan, detail and outlines black, eyeballs, teeth, and patch on his head white, iris black, pupils green, wearing a collar of the second color, spiked white.”
The bulldog was selected as the squadron mascot and emblem due to the following
”The bulldog is a fighter. The dog's expression, with broken tooth, patch on head, and spiked collar, symbolizes FIGHT, without specifically showing aircraft, wings, flame, jets, or armament, giving the emblem a long-range suitability to a tactical fighter outfit. The blue in the collar is the squadron color."
THE BULLDOG MASCOT HISTORY
The first verified four-legged member of the squadron was “Helen”, in 1962. Records of when Helen arrived, and how she departed are somewhat fuzzy, but she was replaced by “Andy” in 1966. Andy was well known for frequently standing on the O'Club bar and lapping beer. Also known as “fat dog”, Andy's beer drinking habit was probably responsible for his obesity as well as his' early demise in 1969. In 1970, the 525 got a new mascot named “Brutus” who earned a club card so he could regularly attend happy hour with the rest of the Bulldogs at the Officers Club. Following Brutus, the squadron had "Romel” who stayed with the Bulldogs until the 525 stopped flying the F-4 in 1977. “Butkus" arrived in October 1977, and was frequently seen at Bitburg varsity football games. Butkus became quite attached to the squadron commander, however, and left with him in 1979. “Bo" followed Butkus. Named after her Hollywood namesake fop being a perfect 10. Bo only lasted a year before expiring on the operating table. In 1982, the squadron replaced Bo with “Apex”. Having his own club card, Apex often visited the O'Club and sat at the bar wearing his best spiked collar. Apex lived in the squadron during the day and rotated quarters at night with various squadron members - depending on who was serving the best dinner. Known to instantly attack any clipboard in sight, Apex stayed with the squadron for nine years until his death in 1991.
1. The squadron title is pronounced, “five-two-five.”
2. The mascot is a purebred English bulldog. New mascots should be flown to the 525 from England, supersonic, in a squadron aircraft, by a Bulldog lieutenant.
3. Prior to becoming Mission Ready, new Bulldog pilots are required to wear nametags labeled “Bullpup” while in the squadron area.
4. After achieving Mission Ready status, new Bulldog pilots are required to go through the 525 Secret-Sacred Ceremony. This ceremony, conducted by the Squadron Commander, is as follows:
- Conducted no later than the first Friday after achieving Mission Ready status.
- Attended only by Mission Ready Bulldogs.
- The “Demo Pilot “will be the 'shortest' Bulldog present.
- Further Secret-Sacred events may only be passed on by word of mouth.
5. Bulldogs will wear the Bulldog pin at all times while in civilian attire. Failure to comply will result in the violator buying drinks for all other Bulldogs present. The Bulldog pin may only be earned by the following two methods:
- Successful completion of the Mission Ready check and Secret-Sacred ceremony by a Bulldog pilot.
- Intimate relations with a Mission Ready Bulldog pilot following his Secret-Sacred ceremony.
6. 525 Day, the 25th of May, will be celebrated annually as a squadron holiday. All festivities for the holiday will start promptly at 5:25 P.M.
7. When a married Bulldog leaves the squadron, a bachelor Bulldog always presents flowers to the departing wife.
8. Whenever the question is asked, “Is there a Bulldog in the house?”, all Bulldogs reply, “You bet your sweet ass there is!”
36th TACTICAL FIGHTER WING
OPERATION DESERT STORM
CAPT DAVE (SPIRO) PRATHER 19 JAN 91 F-1 MIRAGE
1LT DAVE (ABBY) SVEDEN 19 JAN 91 F-1 MIRAGE
CAPT DON (MUDDY) WATROUS 28 JAN 91 MiG-23
MAJ RANDY (ROTOR) MAY 7 FEB 91 HELO
CAPT GREG (DUTCH) MASTERS 2 FEB 91 IL-76 CANDID
CAPT STEVE (GUNGA) DINGEE 11 FEB 91 _ HELO
CAPT MARK (MAC) MCKENZIE 11 FEB 91 _ HELO
CAPT JAY (OP) DENNY 27 JAN 91 2 X MiG-23 FLOGGER
CAPT DEAN (COMA) POWELL 27 JAN 91 MiG-23 FLOGGER
6 FEB 91 2 X MiG-21 FISHBED
CAPT THOMAS (VEGAS) DIETZ 22 MAR 91 SU-22 FITTER
6 FEB 91 2 X SU-25 FROGFOOT
1LT ROBERT (GIGS) HEHEMAN 22 MAR 91 PC-9
CAPT TERRY (NIGEL) DONESKI 20 MAR 91 SU-22 FITTER