October 6, 2010 (by SSgt. Nathan Allen) - The 19th Fighter Squadron came home to Hickam during a realignment and assumption of command ceremony on October 4 at the Hawaii National Guard's Hangar 3400.
Colonel Jeffrey W. Morgan, 15th OG commander speaks to attendees during the 19th FS Realignment and Assumption of Command ceremony on October 4th, 2010 at Hickam AB, Hawaii. [Photo by David D. Underwood, Jr.]
Located in Alaska at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson since Jan. 1, 1994, the relocation to Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam marks a generational shift for the 19th FS
as it transitions to the Lockheed-Martin F-22 Raptor from the McDonnell-Douglas F-15C and D air superiority fighters.
The 19th FS will become the first active duty associate unit flying the Raptor to the HIANG's 199th Fighter Squadron. Since the 19th FS's creation in 1917, it has been located at various places including Texas, Ohio, New York, France, Saipan and South Carolina.
Lt. Col. Harvey Newton, 19th FS commander, said he felt honored to be able to lead such a proud unit.
"It's a tremendous honor to command a squadron with such a heralded history," he said. "The 19th FS had over 70 kills during World War II and has supported the Pacific theater for a long time. To be the first 'Gamecock' Raptor commander is extremely special. It's wonderful to be here and be able to lead the 19th."
Colonel Newton said the 19th FS has significant meaning both to military and Hawaiian history.
"The 19th FS was stationed here after World War I all the way up through [the Pearl Harbor attack] up until 1944. In my opinion, the 'Gamecocks' have returned home. They've spent more time here on the island than anywhere else. They were the squadron responsible for defending the islands from further attack after the initial Dec. 7 attack, and they performed their job extremely well."
Col. Jeffrey Morgan, 15th Operations Group commander, echoed that the presence of the 19th FS fills a timeless need to maintain combat capability.
"As weapon technology proliferates throughout the world, the United States must remain superior in equipment, personnel, and tactics," the colonel said. "The F-22, along with its world-class pilots and maintainers, fills this need now and well into the future."
For years, the combined efforts of the 15th Wing and 154th Wing have cultivated a special and essential relationship to provide combat capability throughout the world in the C-17 Globemaster III. In July, the two wings joined forces again to perform the KC-135 Stratotanker's air refuelling mission. So it continues with the F-22 Raptor as the 19th FS and the HIANG's 199th Fighter Squadron work together as nearly 100 percent integrated units to perform the mission whether it be scheduling, training, tactics, standardization or combat employment.
"Everything here is done as part of a team. It's truly unique," Col. Newton said. "For the F-22s, what makes this unit different is this is the only air reserve component lead organization in which the HIANG is the lead organization for the F-22 and the AD is the associating with the HIANG to accomplish the mission here. You can't say the 19th without saying the 199th and you can't say the 199th without talking about the 19th.
The F-22 joins an already robust mission as Hickam continues to provide unique air capabilities in the Pacific theater. As a strategic location within a vast theater, the ability to react and respond quickly is key. The 15th and 154th wings provide the assets needed to strike the enemy anywhere, any-time.
"We are fortunate to now have four diverse missions in the 15th Operations Group -- airlift, air refuelling, senior-officer transportation, and now air superiority," Colonel Morgan said.
"The 19th Fighter Squadron adds the 'punch-factor' to our capabilities. They will employ the F-22 Raptor both to protect the sovereignty of United States and, if needed, project unmatched combat power throughout the Pacific region."