June 2, 2008 (by A1C Michael Means) - One chapter in Air Force history came to a close as a new one began May 15 when the 8th and 9th Fighter Squadrons relinquished command and the 7th Fighter Squadron was reactivated at the Heritage Park at Holloman.
Col. Jack Forsythe, 49th OG commander, hands off the guideon to Lt. Col. Mike Hernandez, incoming 7th FS commander, during the squadron's activation ceremony, May 16 at Holloman AFB. The 7th FS was reactivated in preparation for the arrival of the F-22A Raptor. [USAF photo by A1C. Jamal Sutter]
The 8th and 9th FS
, which were previously F-117A Nighthawk squadrons, went into a dormant status in preparation of the arrival of the F-22A Raptor.
"The Chief of Staff has decided not to inactivate the 8th and 9th FS and have both go into a dormant status until repopulated with Airmen and aircraft in the future," said Col. Jack Forsythe, 49th Operations Group Commander.
The 8th and 9th FS were the only two combat-ready F-117A Nighthawk squadrons in the world when they were active.
The 7th FS activation and arrival of the F-22's will bring many changes to the Air Force and Holloman Air Force Base's mission. It is going from more of an air-to-ground mission to an air-to-air mission. The F-22 has more capability that the F-117, it is highly maneuverable with supersonic capability, according to Col. Forsythe.
"It is really great to have the opportunity to be here when an organization starts." said Lt. Col. Mike Hernandez, 7 FS commander.
Prior to the activation, the 7 FS was inactivated due to the phasing out of the F-117A Nighthawk. The mission of the 7 FS was to train inbound F-117 pilots to make up for normal PCS (permanent change of station) attrition. The 7 FS was the mainstay of developing combat capability for the F-117.
The 7 FS has been around since Jan. 15, 1941, when it was known as the 7th Pursuit Squadron. The Bunyaps, as the Scamin' Demons were formerly called, contributed a total of 190 aerial victories to the wing's total during World War II, they also served as part of the U.S. occupational sir defense force in Japan immediately following WWII.
Col. Jack Forsythe has three main goals for the newly activated 7 FS. The first goal is to be "Raptor ready" on day one. The second goal is to continue to grow the squadron with people and equipment and the third goal is to be operational ready on November 1, 2009, and have the capability to deploy jets and take on combat missions.
"I think this is a wing endeavor and we will be involved in all organization on base," said Col. Hernandez.