Persian Gulf War

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The 354th converted to A-10 aircraft in 1977. For more than a decade, it conducted routine A-10 missions, including numerous deployments and exercises. The routine came to an abrupt end in August 1990, when the 354th deployed as one of the first units in the Persian Gulf during Operation Desert Shield. When Operation Desert Storm’s air war began in January 1991, wing pilots initially flew against early warning radar and Scud missile sites.

The 354th also flew search and rescue missions. Capt. Paul Johnson earned the Air Force Cross when he and Capt. Randy Goff, also of the 354th, enabled the rescue of a downed Navy pilot 200 miles inside Iraq. As the conflict evolved, the wing turned its attention to deep interdiction missions and the Iraqi Republican Guard.

Finally, when the ground war commenced in late February, the 354th performed the mission it had been trained to do before the war — close air support. By any account, the devastation was considerable. By the end of the conflict, A-10s throughout the theater had destroyed more than 950 tanks, 900 artillery pieces and two helicopters in air-to-air combat. Despite the rout, the victory was not without cost to the wing.

Capt. Steve Phyllis died while protecting his downed wingman, 1st Lt. Rob Sweet. Sweet was repatriated after the war. The 354th returned home from the Gulf in March 1991 and was redesignated the 354th Fighter Wing in October of that year. Because of the impending closure of Myrtle Beach AFB, the unit was inactivated in March 1993.


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