The return of the 95th Fighter Squadron from its deployed location to Tyndall Air Force Base marks two important pieces in the history of the United States Air Force.
The base, located about twelve miles to the east of Panama City, Florida, is named after 1LT Frank Benjamin Tyndall. A pilot during World War I, Tyndall is credited with shooting down six German aircraft in 1918. Historically, the installation was opened in January of 1941 as a gunnery range and has always been a training base.
That status changed in 2012 when it was announced operational Lockheed-Martin F-22A Raptors would be moving in down the ramp from the Raptor schoolhouse, Tyndall changed from AETC (Air Education and Training Command) over to Air Combat Command (ACC).
With the arrival of the last handful of F-22s in April of 2014, the “Boneheads” had received their full complement of 24 aircraft and were fully operational within a week of the last jet’s arrival.
“The base didn’t have the training, infrastructure, logistics or mobility in place to make it possible to deploy,” said Lieutenant Colonel Ronald Gilbert, commander of the 95 FS. “So for two years, we prepared, moved folks here and stood up offices and squadrons to get ready. A lot of initial obstacles and challenges were overcome, and success was greatly achieved downrange once we were able to get there.”
The 95th’s homecoming also marks the completion of the first official combat deployment for the Raptor. The world’s first fifth-generation fighter, the F-22 reached its initial operational capability (IOC) on 15 December 2005, so after nearly ten years of service, the Raptor fired its first shots in anger on the ensuing night of Operation Inherent Resolve. While it was another Raptor unit leading the way and dropping JDAMs on that first night, the 95th deployed specifically for combat operations in October of last year, returning mid-April.
As to how the Raptor performed in combat?
“Outstanding,” said Gilbert. “Best airplane to be in combat, no question.”
Welcome home, Mister Bones!
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