Welcome to Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, home of the 4th Fighter Wing and 916th Air Refueling Wing. The 4th Fighter Wing trains tomorrow’s F-15E aircrew and maintains a readiness posture to employ combat airpower and its combat enablers anywhere in the world at a moment’s notice. The 916th Air Refueling Wing provides air-to-air refueling, cargo and passenger hauling, and aeromedical evacuation on a global scale at a moment’s notice.
Team Seymour, a total force of more than 6,500 Airmen and civilian personnel, serves more than 22,700 personnel, including the diverse population of dependents and retirees in the local community.
Each year, Team Seymour deploys an average of 750 Airmen in support of overseas contingency operations. As a member of Air Combat Command and 9th Air Force, the 4th Fighter Wing supplies on-call combat airpower to combatant commanders through two operational flying squadrons and thousands of support personnel. The base is also home to the only two F-15E Formal Training Units in the Air Force. Additionally, the 916th Air Refueling Wing, the Air Force Reserve Command’s primary KC-135R location, acts as a centrally located unit charged with offering non-stop connectivity and joint service air refueling, enabling both training and overseas contingency operations.
Seymour Johnson Air Force Base is fortunate to have Wayne County and the City of Goldsboro as its partners. The surrounding community has been critical to the success of the 4th Fighter Wing mission since the base opened in 1942. Community is about respect, ambassadorship, and always being a superior teammate. We strive to maintain a healthy community with all of our mission partners on the installation, as well as being ambassadors to everyone off base.
To further our community, we have the Airman Sponsorship Program at Seymour Johnson. This is a collaboration between Seymour Johnson AFB and our local community that connects community members and their families with young Airman to provide a home-away-from-home during their first enlistment in the military. It also offers individuals and families a unique opportunity to support and bond with our Air Force men and women.
Families are essential to the mission success of the 4th Fighter Wing. A balanced family life boosts morale and a sense of belonging. There are many family programs available at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, as well as numerous groups and clubs specifically designed for the entire family. I encourage every member of our “Team of Teams” to get involved and help strengthen the installation as we forge a better place for our Airmen to serve and their families to grow.
The 4th Fighter Wing has a proud heritage, dating back to the volunteers of the Royal Air Force Eagle Squadrons of
World War II. Our Airmen at every level have answered the call of duty and provided superior support in defense of the United States in every major conflict since.
Our greatest resource is our people. They are expeditionary warriors who epitomize integrity, service and excellence, and are continuously at the forefront of our nation’s defense, ready for the challenges of our global security environment.
Lead With Courage,
Colonel Donn C. Yates
4th Fighter Wing Commander
Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, North Carolina
4th Fighter Wing History
Spanning more than five decades and five wars, the 4th Fighter Wing is one of the most distinguished fighter units in the world. In addition, it has the distinction of being one of only two Air Force units that can trace its history to another country.
Before the United States’ entry into World War II, American volunteers were already serving as combat veterans in Royal Air Force Eagle Squadrons (71st, 121st and 133rd). When the United States entered the war, these units, and the American pilots in them, were transferred to the U.S. Army Air Forces, 8th Air Force, forming the 4th Fighter Group Sept. 12, 1942.
The 4th Fighter Group (with squadrons now designated the 334th, 335th and 336th) was a record setter throughout the air war over Europe, justly earning the motto “Fourth But First.”
It was the first fighter group to use belly tanks, the first to penetrate Germany, the first to accompany bombers to Berlin, the first to accomplish the England-to-Russia shuttle and the first to down jet fighters. The group was credited with the destruction of 1,016 enemy aircraft, more than any other 8th Air Force unit, and produced 38 aces.
The 4th Fighter Group was inactivated at Camp Kilmer, New Jersey, Nov. 10, 1945. The unit was reactivated at Selfridge Field,
Michigan, Sept. 9, 1946, as the United States began to rearm due to Cold War pressures.
Following a period of training with F-80 Shooting Star aircraft, the 4th Fighter Group transitioned to F-86 Sabre jets in March 1949, just in time for advanced training and entry into the Korean War.
In December 1950, the group (now designated the 4th Fighter-Interceptor Group) was the first unit to commit F-86 Sabre jets to that conflict. Lt. Col. Bruce H. Hinton shot down a MiG-15 on Dec. 17 during the first Sabre mission of the war. Four days later, Lt. Col. John C. Meyer, a World War II ace, led elements of the group into the first major all-jet fighter battle in history. The flight element downed six MiG-15s without sustaining any losses. Fourth airmen destroyed 502 enemy aircraft (54 percent of the total), becoming the top fighter unit of the Korean War. Twenty-four pilots achieved ace status.
Now associated with the 4th Fighter-Interceptor Wing, the group moved to Japan following the Korean armistice in 1953, continuing training and tours to Korea. The unit moved to Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, North Carolina, Dec. 8, 1957, picking up a fourth tactical fighter squadron (the 333rd “Lancers” remained with the 4th Wing until reassignment to Pacific Air Forces Dec. 4, 1965) and was redesignated as the 4th Tactical Fighter Wing in July 1958.
Aircrews of the Fourth flew F-100 Super Sabre aircraft at the new location, and, within two years, the wing became the first Air Force unit to convert to F-105 Thunderchief aircraft. During the transitioning phase, a new world speed record was set for the 100-kilometer closed course at Edwards AFB, California Brig. Gen. Joseph H. Moore, 4th wing commander, established the new record of 1,163.35 miles per hour.
Significant events of the 1960s include the deployment of the three tactical fighter squadrons to McCoy AFB, Florida, during the Cuban missile crisis in October 1962; rotational tours to Southeast Asia in 1965; and transition to F-4D Phantom II aircraft beginning in early 1967. The readiness posture of the wing was given a true test in early 1968 when the North Koreans seized the Pueblo, an American intelligence-gathering ship, just off the coast of North Korea. Elements of the Fourth moved to Korea within 72 hours.
The 4th Fighter Wing continued to sustain a highly visible mobility posture with development of the first operationally ready bare-base squadron in 1970, followed by multiple deployments to Southeast Asia beginning in April 1972. Operating from Ubon Royal Thai Air Base, Thailand, as the first F-4 wing to augment elements of Pacific Air Forces, aircrews of the Fourth flew more than 8,000 combat missions, many into the very heart of North Vietnam.
Following on the heels of Constant Guard operations in Southeast Asia, the Fourth executed Peace Echo operations in October 1973, an almost instantaneous response to critical events in the Middle East, which helped restore a balance of power in that troubled part of the world.
In 1974, the wing mission reverted back to training, with increased emphasis on short-term European contingency support. Elements of the wing deployed to Norway in June 1974. Two short-term deployments to Spangdahlem AB, Germany, were conducted in July and September 1975. The highlight of 1976 came in November when the wing took first place in the William Tell worldwide weapons competition at Tyndall AFB, Florida, becoming the first F-4 unit to win the Air Defense Command-sponsored event. The wing executed short-term deployments to Korea and Japan during 1977 and assumed a dual-based mission (with Ramstein AB, Germany) in October of that year. The overall mission commitment was restructured to reflect worldwide contingency emphasis in October 1986.
Beginning in late 1980, the wing began converting to ARN-101-equipped aircraft to enhance bombing and navigation capabilities. In September 1981 and in October 1983, the wing won the prestigious Gunsmoke meet in the F-4 ARN-101 category. The meet was held at Nellis AFB, Nevada, where in January 1985 the “Fourth But First” became the first operational unit to conduct live drops of the GBU-15 guided bomb unit.
With assignment of a fourth tactical fighter squadron (the 337th “Falcons”) on April 1, 1982, the Fourth was recognized as one of the Air Force’s largest operational tactical fighter units. The 337th was inactivated July 1, 1985.
In 1988, the Fourth began transitioning to the F-15E Strike Eagle, the Air Force’s newest and most advanced tactical fighter aircraft. The first F-15E arrived Dec. 29, 1988, and the 336th Tactical Fighter Squadron became the first operational F-15E squadron in the Air Force Oct. 1, 1989. The transition from the F-4E to the F-15E was completed July 1, 1991, making the Fourth the first operational F-15E wing in the Air Force.
At the height of conversion training, the Fourth was one of the first units tasked to react to Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait Aug. 2, 1990. Two F-15E tactical fighter squadrons were deployed to Southwest Asia in August and December of that year. The unit earned another first by spearheading nighttime strikes against Iraqi forces Jan. 16, 1991, helping to bring the
Persian Gulf War to a successful conclusion Feb. 28.
On April 22, 1991, the Fourth became the Air Force’s first composite wing. The 4th Tactical Fighter Wing was redesignated the 4th Wing and incorporated under it all the people, KC-10 aircraft and assets of the 68th Air Refueling Wing, a Strategic Air Command unit.
The Fourth began a force structure change in 1994. The KC-10s were reassigned to Air Mobility Command bases in 1994 and 1995 and the F-15E formal training unit moved to Seymour Johnson in 1994 and 1995. The 333rd Fighter Squadron returned to Seymour Johnson to accommodate the training mission. Following the departure of KC-10s, the 4th Wing was redesignated the 4th Fighter Wing Dec. 1, 1995. To accommodate the need to train more F-15E aircrews, the 334th Fighter Squadron became a training squadron Jan. 1, 1996.
Fewer resources and the need to use all Air Force assets to meet increased operational commitments called for yet another reorganization as the 20th century came to a close. The expeditionary aerospace force concept represents the Air Force vision to organize, train, equip, deploy and sustain itself in the 21st century global security environment. Under the concept, the Fourth is one of two on-call rapid response aerospace expeditionary wings. The Fourth was the first to assume the on-call mission Oct. 1, 1999.
On June 20, 2000, the 23rd Fighter Group became a part of the 4th Fighter Wing, during a reassignment ceremony at Pope Air Force Base, North Carolina, and continues to operate from Fayetteville, North Carolina The group flies and maintains A-10A Thunderbolt II aircraft. Its primary mission is forward air control, close-air support, interdiction and combat search and rescue operations. The ceremony brought together two organizations whose histories predate the United States involvement in WWII, when both units served as American volunteer groups.
In January 2001, the 4th Fighter Wing became the proud recipient of the Commander-In-Chief’s Installation Excellence Award — receiving a $1 million prize for quality of life and job enhancement. The honor proves the hard work and dedication of all members of the Fourth as the “best base in the Air Force.”
In October 2001, in response to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the United States, the 4th Fighter Wing began flying Operation
Noble Eagle sorties, the first of its kind for the wing, providing coastal protection for Homeland Defense.
In January 2002, the 4th Fighter Wing arrived in Kuwait in support of Operations Southern Watch and Enduring Freedom, flying missions over Iraq and Afghanistan. On March 1, 2002, Operation Anaconda was launched, and the wing’s mission was to provide close air support into Afghanistan. Operation Anaconda ended March 21, 2002, with the 4th Fighter Wing’s greatest highlight being its performance at Roberts Ridge. Members of the 335th Fighter Squadron successfully suppressed enemy fire from al-Qaida troops, as Army and Air Force personnel retrieved stranded and fallen comrades.
In March 2002, A-10s assigned to the 23rd Fighter Group from Pope AFB, North Carolina, arrived in Jacobabad, Pakistan, and later became the first fixed winged aircraft to enter Afghanistan to fight the war on terrorism.
On Sept. 1, 2002, the Fourth transitioned into its final on-call AEW. Though the 4th Fighter Wing will continue as a lead wing when deployed, it will now assimilate into the more predictable 90-day 10 AEF schedule, as opposed to waiting for the call from higher headquarter.
In January and February 2003, in response to the threat of Iraq’s ability to produce weapons of mass destruction and their elusiveness with United Nation weapon inspectors, the 4th Fighter Wing joined other operational units in Southeast Asia. Two F-15E fighter squadrons deployed to Southwest Asia in support of OSW, which would later transition into support for Operation Iraqi Freedom. On April 18, 2003, members of the 4th Fighter Wing returned heroically to Seymour Johnson AFB after contributing to the resounding U.S.-led collation victory over Iraq.
During 2004, the 4 FW transitioned into the normal AEF deployment rotation cycle. During August and September 2004, the
4 FW deployed more than 1,300 wing personnel from various units across the base in support of Air Expeditionary Force 1/2. Team Seymour members were deployed to several locations around the world, primarily to Southwest Asia in support of Operation IRAQI FREEDOM and Operation ENDURING FREEDOM.
In September 2007, the 336th Fighter Squadron deployed to Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan, to provide the air power needed to fight Operation ENDURING FREEDOM. In January 2008, the 335th Fighter Squadron deployed to continue the OEF mission. Overcoming tremendous obstacles, including a determined enemy, harsh climate and mountainous terrain, both squadrons performed magnificently. The 336th FS flew more than 5,700 combat hours with more than 1,300 combat sorties that included 36 alert launches and 343 troops in contact missions. The 335th FS flew more than 4,300 combat hours with more than 1,200 combat sorties that included 24 alert launches and 187 troops in contact missions.
On Oct. 2, 2009, Capt. Mike “Ox” Polidor and Capt. Aaron “Finch” Dove, of the 335th Fighter Squadron “Chiefs,” were in the right place at the right time to save the lives of American and coalition service members. Command Outpost Keating was in danger of being overrun by overwhelming Taliban forces. After expending their munitions, Polidor and Dove directed air support for the outpost. More than 80 coalition troops’ lives were saved by their actions and they were each awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.
The heroes of the 4th Fighter Wing are not just pilots or weapons systems officers. On May 18, 2010, Master Sgt. Van Hood, from the 4th Civil Engineer Squadron Explosive Ordnance Disposal flight, was awarded the Bronze Star Medal for his actions while deployed to Forward Operating Base Airborne in the Wardak province of Afghanistan. The greatest risk to American lives in Afghanistan are improvised explosive devices. Hood’s main task was to locate and destroy these lethal weapons, a job that saves lives, but is inherently dangerous. Joining the Air Force in 1996, Hood had deployed seven times. This was his third Bronze Star.
On June 2, 2011, The Air Force Historical Foundation awarded the first-ever General James H. “Jimmy” Doolittle Award to the 4th Fighter Wing. The award was given in recognition of its sustained, significant contribution to Air Force history. The citation on the award read, “For gallantry, determination, esprit de corps, and superior management of joint operations in accomplishing its mission under difficult and hazardous conditions in multiple conflicts.” The men and women of the “Fourth But First” were honored to have their contributions to Air Force history acknowledged.
On June 14, 2012, the 4th Fighter Wing achieved another first when Col. Jeannie Leavitt took command of the wing and became the first female to command an active duty Air Force fighter wing. Leavitt is a command pilot with more than 3,000 hours, including over 300 combat hours. Her operational experiences include Operations SOUTHERN WATCH, NORTHERN WATCH, IRAQI FREEDOM and ENDURING FREEDOM. She served as the 4th Fighter Wing commander for two years.
Today, our Airmen support contingency operations all over the world. Strike Eagle firepower is available wherever and whenever it is needed. From the Eagle Squadron Spitfires through the mighty F-15Es of today, the 4th Fighter Wing has been the tip of the spear confronting America’s enemies. The heart of the volunteer resides in today’s Airmen of the 4th Fighter Wing. Escorting B-17s to Berlin or supporting our fellow service members in Southwest Asia, the “Fourth But First” has always led the way in the defense of our great nation.
The 916th Air Refueling Wing
As North Carolina’s first Air Force Reserve flying wing, the 916th Air Refueling Wing has a rich and growing history in the Goldsboro area; however, its real history started more than 70 years ago.
The 77th Air Refueling Squadron, the wing’s reserve flying unit, dates back to World War II. The number 916 was first assigned to a Troop Carrier Group, deactivated at Carswell AFB, Texas, in 1972.
Reincarnated as a refueling group, the 916th was a reserve associate unit flying KC-10 Extenders with the 4th Fighter Wing. They were called to active-duty for Operations Desert Storm, Desert Shield and Proud Return, offloading more fuel than any other Air Force refueling unit.
On Oct. 1, 1995, the group, now a wing, officially gained an independent refueling and airlift mission with KC-135R Stratotankers. Concurrently, the tanker mission became part of the Air Mobility Command.
The conversion process was completed in April 1997 when the 916th Air Refueling Wing officially became mission-ready. The Air Force and Air Force Reserve tested the mettle of Reserve Airmen even before the unit was online.
The wing was tapped to refuel domestic and global exercise and operational flights; they flew cargo and passenger missions in support of Operation Joint Endeavor (Bosnia) and both Atlantic and Pacific supply missions. They were also alerted for short-notice missions; crews stood alert duty for several days, ready to support U.S. military response in Southwest Asia.
Early in the conversion process, the Reserve wing supported refueling and airlift for 4th Fighter Wing F-15E deployments, including hurricane evacuations and off-station exercises. During Operation Allied Force, volunteer aircrews and support personnel served for nearly four weeks, providing air refueling support for strike and surveillance aircraft. More than
3.5 million pounds of fuel were passed to a wide variety of allied aircraft.
The 916th’s aircraft are the most recent version of the predecessor to Boeing’s 707 airliner and sport new CFM-56 turbofan engines equivalent to the newest commercial power plants. New on-board auxiliary power units allow the Stratotankers to take off from remote airfields without ground support. The latest modification to the KC-135R was completed in spring 2000. Called Pacer CRAG — for Compass, Radar and Global Positioning System— it adds flight control systems equal to modern commercial airliners. Pacer CRAG will extend the life of these vintage aircraft for many years to come.
Today, more than 350 full-time civilians and Air Reserve technicians and 1,000 Reservists work diligently to continue the mission of the 916th Air Refueling Wing. Hundreds of Airmen of this Tar Heel state unit have deployed in support of Operations Noble Eagle, Enduring Freedom, New Dawn, Odyssey Dawn and Inherent Resolve.
With the Base Realignment and Closure Act, announced in 2005, the 916th gained eight additional tankers and more than 280 active-duty personnel as the first KC-135R Active Associate Wing in Air Force history.
As an Active Associate, the 916th earned four trophies in 2009 at Air Mobility Command’s Rodeo competition, to include Best Tanker Wing. In early 2010, the 911th Air Refueling Squadron was named the Best Tanker Squadron in Air Mobility Command after only being established with the 916th for two years. In late 2010, the wing was named Best Air Force Reserve Unit by the Air Force Association. In 2013, the 916th Operations Group was awarded the Airlift/Tanker Association’s
Lt. Gen. James E. Sherrard III Award.
With reservists and active-duty Airmen coming from various counties across North Carolina and multiple states across the U.S., they dedicate their weekends and time off from civilian jobs in order to serve their country.
Working in the operations group, mission support group, maintenance group, aerospace medicine squadron and wing headquarters, our Airmen are able to deliver rapid, global mobility — on time, every time!