‘First to Fight’, Pantons Celebrate 100th Anniversary
GUNSAN, South Korea, June 2017 — The 35th Fighter Squadron’s heritage dates back to June 12, 1917, when the unit was activated as the 35th Aero Squadron. Initially it began as a maintenance squadron, then transformed over the next 100 years from a fighter squadron to a bomber squadron and finally back to a fighter squadron.
Throughout its existence, the 35th has played an active role in many major international conflicts.
According to Air Force Lt. Col. Christopher Eberth, the 35th Fighter Squadron commander, Kunsan Air Base, South Korea, the storied squadron provided maintenance support in World War I and air support via fighters and bombers in the Korean War. They were also credited with 124 kills in the South Pacific — including the final kill of World War II.
“We are the guardians on the peninsula,” Eberth said. “We are the first to fight, the last to fight and now we maintain readiness for any contingency in South Korea.”
During its tenure as one of the Air Force’s oldest fighter squadrons, the 35th underwent multiple changes. With three renaming events; inactivation for nearly 13 years in the late ’20s to ‘30s; and lays claim to flying a long list of aircraft, such as the P-40 Warhawk, P-38 Lightning, P-51 Mustang, F-105 Thunderchief and F-4 Phantom, the 35th touched many facets of Air Force heritage.
Today, known simply as the Pantons, the squadron helms the vaunted F-16 Fighting Falcon.
According to Eberth, the Pantons provide combat-ready F-16 C/D fighter aircraft to conduct air operations throughout the Pacific theater as tasked by U.S. and coalition combatant commanders.
The squadron specializes in airspace control with force application roles including counter air, strategic attack, and interdiction and close-air support missions in addition to employing a full range of the latest state-of-the-art precision ordnance in all weather, day or night.
“The motto of the 35th Fighter Squadron is “First to Fight,” which was approved in 1980,” Eberth said. “We celebrate history everyday by training, learning and never forgetting our past and where we came from. I salute [all] those men and women who put in the hard work.”
[Source: By Air Force Senior Airman Colville McFee/8th Fighter Wing/US DoD -/- Media Relations]
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