|563d Flying Training Squadron |
563d Flying Training Squadron Patch
|Active||24 December 1942 - 28 August 1945
12 June 1947 - 27 June 1949
23 November 1953 - 10 December 1957
1 May 1962 - 31 July 1972
31 July 1975 - 5 October 1989
14 May 1993 - 3 June 1996
30 April 1999 - 15 November 2010
|Branch||United States Air Force|
|Part of||Air Education and Training Command
Nineteenth Air Force
12th Flying Training Wing
12th Operations Group
|Garrison/HQ||Randolph Air Force Base|
Operation Rolling Thunder
AFOUA w/ V Device
The 563d Flying Training Squadron (563 FTS) was part of the 12th Flying Training Wing based at Randolph Air Force Base, Texas. It operated the T-43 Bobcat conducting navigator training. It was most recently inactivated at a ceremony held at Randolph Air Force Base on November 15, 2010.
The 563d was first activated as a bombardment squadron in 1942 at Gowen Field, near Boise, Idaho. It transferred to Wendover Field, Utah in early 1943 to train in B-17 Flying Fortress aircraft. In the spring of 1943, the unit deployed to RAF Knettishall, England. As part of the Eighth Air Force, the unit flew several combat missions from 17 July 1943 to 21 April 1945 over Germany, France, Poland, Belgium, Norway, Romania and the Netherlands. While in combat, the unit received two Distinguished Unit Citations: one for the Regensburg raidon 17 August 1943, and another for separate attacks on Hanover, the Ruhr, and a "shuttle-bombing" raid. After V-E Day, the unit transferred back to the U.S. awaiting movement to the Pacific Theater of Operations, but the Japanese surrender altered these plans and the unit was inactivated in August 1945.
The squadron was reactivated in the Reserves from 12 June 1947 to 27 June 1949, flying the AT-6 Texan, AT-11 Kansan, C-46 Commando, C-47 Skytrain, and A-26 Invader at Orchard Place Airport, Chicago, Illinois.
The 563d was reactivated again in 1953 following Secretary of State John Foster Dulles' promise to provide NATO with four fighter wings. The unit became a fighter-bomber squadron at Clovis Air Force Base, New Mexico, 23 November 1953, where its members trained in F-86 Sabre aircraft. The squadron moved to Bitburg Air Base, Germany, in 1954, and then to Étain-Rouvres Air Base, France, in the summer of 1955. The unit flew support for the Suez Canal and Hungarian crises. It converted to F-100 Super Sabre aircraft on 2 April 1957 and was inactivated shortly after on 10 December 1957.
The squadron was reactivated 1 May 1962, with the 23d Wing (the famous Flying Tigers) as the 563d Tactical Fighter Squadron, at McConnell Air Force Base, Kansas, again flying the F-100 Super Sabre and then the F-105 Thunderchief by the end of 1963. In April 1965, the unit was sent into combat in Southeast Asia. The 563d deployed to Takhli Royal Thai Air Force Base, Thailand, and flew 1508 combat sorties over North Vietnam and Laos. On 27 July 1965, the unit participated in the first destruction of a surface-to-air missile site in North Vietnam. In addition, there were several attacks as part of the first increment of Operation Rolling Thunder, and other Operation Iron Hand missions, and several dangerous attempts to destroy the Thanh Hoa and Paul Doumer bridges. The 563d lost 10 of its original 18 F-105Ds. Two pilots were killed by enemy action and three became POWs in that five-month tour. The 563d was awarded two Air Force Outstanding Unit Awards with Combat "V" for Valor for this tour, and was the most experienced Squadron in the U.S. Air Force. (The 563rd never received its Vietnam Cross of Gallantry with Palm citation though because its mission was classified.) In 1966, the squadron became a Replacement Training Unit back at McConnell. The unit trained ten classes of pilots for the F-105D between 1966 and 1970 and later transitioned to the F-105 "Thunderstick II" until its inactivation, 31 July 1972.
On 31 July 1975, the 563d TFS was reactivated for the fifth time at George Air Force Base, California. The unit initially flew "Thunderstick II"'s but added F-4 Phantom II in September 1975. In October 1978, the 563d received new aircraft from Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, to become the first operational squadron to fly the advanced F-4G Wild Weasel. The unit served with this electronic warfare aircraft in many exercises until it was inactivated in October 1989.
On 14 May 1993, the 563d was redesigned as a flying training squadron and reactivated at Randolph Air Force Base, Texas. The squadron was assigned to the 12th Flying Training Wing under the Air Education and Training Command. In conjunction with the 562d Flying Training Squadron, it currently operates the T-43 Bobcat aircraft conducting Electronic Warfare Officer (EWO), or, Combat Systems Officer (CSO) training in electronic attack, threat reaction, and electronic surveillance. The 563d also operates the state of the art T-25 Simulator, aiding the Air Force in creating some of the most technically skilled Airmen the United States has to offer.