The 67th: 75 years of heritage, innovation and family
KADENA AIR BASE, JAPAN -- Celebrating 75 years of heritage, the 67th Fighter Squadron is more than a single squadron; it is an all-encompassing family.
According to Lt. Col. James McFarland, 67th FS commander, the unit is made up of some of the best men and women of the 18th Wing and F-15 Eagle community.
Activated at Selfridge Air Field, Michigan, Jan. 15, 1941, not only was a legacy born, but a brotherhood was founded.
"The heritage of that squadron is lengthy, and it is valorous," said Stephen Ove, 18th Wing chief of wing history. "There are very few squadrons that exist in today's Air Force that predate World War II."
Beginning its service as a pursuit-interceptor squadron, the 67th has done it all; from armed reconnaissance, strategic bombing, close air support, aerial combat and interdiction mission. The flexibility of the 67th has been observed throughout its legacy.
"They have been fighter bombing; they have been pursuing the enemy; they have been performing Wild Weasel, which is the suppression of enemy air defense missions in Southeast Asia, and they have certainly been doing air superiority since the introduction of the Eagle," Ove continued. "They've been in business since day one, and I think that is one of the things that really separates them from other units."
Flying 15 different aircraft throughout its history from the P-51 Mustang to the F-4 Phantom II and now to the F-15 Eagle, the ability to do whatever the mission requires with whatever equipment they have on hand has been the cornerstone of the 67th's heritage.
"They are doing absolutely whatever is required to get the mission done and have done it with essentially whatever resources they've had at their disposal, definitely a Fighting Cock tradition," Ove said.
With World War II, the Korean War, Vietnam, and three major operations - Northern Watch, Southern Watch, and Iraqi Freedom - under their belt, the 67th recognizes what truly matters.
"It's not about kills in Vietnam or Korea, or things of that nature, it's about the people; it's about the team," McFarland said. "The people put forth so much effort out here. It's all about the people and the relationships that you make."
For the 67th their heritage is more than what they've done or accomplished. It is about innovation and teamwork and how those two concepts go hand-in-hand.
"Here in the 67th specifically, what I will say is we probably have one of the best, if not the best operations and maintenance relationships than I think I've ever seen," McFarland said. "We recognize the fact that when we do go to fight that it's going to be as an expeditionary fighter squadron - ops and maintenance together - so we might as well do that here now."
Over 7,000 miles away from the U.S., the 67th FS and 67th Aircraft Maintenance Unit are not just two organizations that are affiliated with a common mission or a relationship to the same aircraft. They are part of the same family and heritage.
"We're kind of out here on our own," McFarland explained. "We are so much more of a tight knit group. We are more of a family than I have seen just about anywhere else. You form a bond based on a shared experience of being out here and it is just amazing,"
When you step out to the line and speak with members from the 67th AMU, it is clear that the 67th FS family pride extends beyond operations and into the maintenance unit.
"We have proven on TDYs, and we have proven when we go deploy that nothing is going to slow us down," said Master Sgt. Tim Jordan, 67th AMU production superintendent. "Nothing is going to stop either the 67th the Fighter Squadron or the AMU, because the type of people that work here are not going to let any road blocks get in their way. We're going to accomplish the mission."
With numerous war heroes, awards, citations, and as a six time Raytheon Trophy winner, it is clear that the 67th family is proud of their innovation and determination to work as a team.
"I am absolutely amazed at what these folks do, both from the fighter squadron side and the maintenance side," McFarland said. "I am simply amazed of what these people do, the effort they put in, the heart that they have, how they believe in the mission and how they basically work miracles. They take what should be impossible and make it possible. That's all it's about, that is our heritage."
For the 67th, no matter where life takes these Airmen they will always be a part of a rich legacy and brotherhood.
"I believe that when you're a part of the 67th, you're part of a family, a proud heritage," Jordan explained. "Wherever you go, whatever you do either in the military or out of it, you're always going to be a Fighting Cock and it's something that nobody can take away."
According to the chief of wing history, the 67th does not have an official motto, but ask any member of the 67th family and they will say, "Cocks rule ... Period!"