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Fightin' 49ers' remain: 'Fighter' gone

June 25, 2010 (by Mr. Arlan Ponder) - The 49th Fighter Wing has a long and storied history filled with accomplishments in almost every conflict the United States has entered since the early 1940s.

Lt. Gen. Glenn Spears, 12th AF commander, and CMSgt. Gerardo Tapia, 49th Wing command chief, uncase the 49th Wing guidon during the 49th WG Change of Command at hangar 301, June 25, 2010. The 49th WG guidon was then presented to Col. David Krumm, the first 49th WG commander. [USAF photo by A1C Joshua Turner]

With its modest beginning as the 49th Pursuit Group on November 20, 1940 to the present day, Airmen who refer to themselves as "Fightin' 49ers" continue the greatness established in those conflicts.

On June 25, 2010, with the passing of the guidon from Col. Jeff Harrigian, 49th Fighter Wing commander, to Lt. Gen. Glenn Spears, 12th Air Force (Air Forces Southern) commander, a chapter in the history of the Air Force comes to a close. Colonel Harrigian is the last commander of the 49th Fighter Wing, while Col. David Krumm became the first commander of the 49th Wing.

The renaming from the 49th Fighter Wing to the 49th Wing will better represent the diverse missions currently being conducted at Holloman, which has more than 20 associate units with missions ranging from flying to training to expeditionary resources.
Originally constituted as the 49th Pursuit Group in November 1940, the wing wasn't officially activated until January 1941 at Selfridge Field, Mi. In May 1942, the unit was redesignated the 49th Fighter Group.

In 1942 during the 49th's Pacific campaign, the group was nearing its 500th confirmed kill when Supreme Commander of Allied forces in the Southwest Pacific General Douglas MacArthur sent a message to the group where he referred to the group as the "Fighting 49ers" - a moniker that still exist today.

In August 1948, the 49th Fighter Wing was established at Misawa Air Base, Japan. The Wing served as the headquarters unit for the 49th Fighter Group, which maintained the 7th, 8th and 9th Fighter Squadrons under its operational control. Additionally, the fighter wing's subordinate units included the 49th Maintenance and Supply Group, 49th Air Base Group and 49th Medical Group. At that same time, Colonel Brooks A. Lawhon became the first 49th Fighter Wing commander.

As the 49th moved through the Cold War it was re-designated the 49th Fighter-Bomber Wing in February 1950 and the 49th Tactical Fighter Wing in July 1958.

The Wing found itself once again on the move in December 1957 as it left the Pacific for Etain-Rouvers Air Base, France. This event marked the end of 15 consecutive years of Pacific service for the "Fighting 49ers," one of the highest decorated Air Force units of World War II and the Korean War.

In July 1968, after more than 26 years of continuous overseas service, the 49ers arrived at their present home, Holloman, from Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, where it had moved in August 1959.

Under the 'one base-one boss' concept, the 833rd Air Division and 479th Tactical Fighter Wing, who were assigned to Holloman, were inactivated in October and November 1991 and all personnel and assets were merged into the 49th Fighter Wing.

As the 49th Wing moves toward a new decade with a new name, the "Fightin' 49ers" follow their new commander as he charged them to "bring the sound of freedom to wherever, whenever and however" they are needed.

Courtesy of 49th Wing Public Affairs

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