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News > Feature - Tyndall turns 71 years old
Tyndall turns 71 years old

Posted 12/7/2012   Updated 12/7/2012 Email story   Print story


by Ashley M. Wright
325th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

12/7/2012 - TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla.  -- Dec. 7, 1941 lives in infamy for a sneak attack on Pearl Harbor. Earlier that day, the Florida panhandle celebrated as the gates to Tyndall opened.

Two thousand students arrived that day, according to the base history pamphlet. The base located 12 miles southeast of Panama City, Fla. was chosen as a site for a gunnery school a year earlier.

Tyndall was named in honor of Lt. Francis B. Tyndall, a Sewall Point, Fla. native, according to the 2013 annual economic analysis. The lieutenant shot down four German aircraft in World War I behind enemy lines, but was killed in a 1930 plane crash in North Carolina.

In 1939, congress saw the possibility of war and allotted $6 million for training sites in Maryland and Florida, said Mr. Ted Roberts, 325th Fighter Wing historian.

"Saw the possibility," is something still in minds of Team Tyndall Airmen today.

"Since April 15, 1953, no American ground troop has been fired upon from the air by an enemy aircraft. This legacy and incredible heritage is a testament to the men and women that have devoted their time and energy to air superiority," said Lt. Col. Lance Wilkins, 82nd Aerial Targets Squadron commander, at the QF-16 arrival ceremony.

The QF-16 is undergoing testing by Boeing at Tyndall to replace the QF-4 drones currently used as aerial targets for pilots. The 82nd ATRS is part of the 53rd Weapons Evaluation Group, located here, which provides the personnel and infrastructure to test and evaluate weapons utilized by the combat air forces of the United States and its allies. The group operates the only full-scale aerial drones in the Defense Department.

In order to continue ensuring the protection of ground troops for the next 59 years, someone must see the possibility of new, emerging threats.

Training on the first 5th generation aircraft, the F-22 Raptor, is the heart of Team Tyndall today. The 325th Fighter Wing mission is to train and project unrivaled combat power and is just one of the ways Team Tyndall works to counter those "possibilities" every day.

In the time passed from 1941, more than 65 different aircraft have called Tyndall home, according to the history pamphlet. The gunnery school stayed active during the war. In 1943 alone, the students expanded 56 million rounds of .30-caliber ammunition and 12 million rounds of .50-caliber ammunition. At the same time, the 325th Fighter Group was practicing their motto of "Locare et Liquidare," or Locate and Liquidate, on enemy aircraft.

"On Sept. 26, 2003 the 325th Fighter Wing became the 'Home of Air Dominance Training' with the arrival of its first F-22 Raptor," according to the wing fact sheet. "The 325th Fighter Wing [was] the first unit to receive and employ the F-22 in an operational training capacity."

The 325th FW consists of more than 4,000 personnel who train F-22  pilots, intelligence officers, maintainers and other specialties today.

In addition to the training of air dominance pilots, the base will welcome an operational F-22 squadron. Tyndall transferred from Air Education and Training Command to Air Combat Command Oct. 1 allowing the Air Force to consolidate F-22s. The reassignment was the first step in bringing a combat-coded F-22 squadron, T-38 Talon detachment and just over 1,000 additional Airmen to Tyndall.

While none of the 325th FW personnel of today are as famous as movie star, Clark Gable, who trained in the gunnery school at Tyndall nearly seven decades earlier each maintainer, security forces, support personnel are all a part of that combat power mission.

Another unit watching for threats is First Air Force, headquartered on Tyndall.

"Since Sept. 11, 2001, Air Forces Northern has been the lead agency for Operation Noble Eagle in the Continental United States," according to the unit fact sheet. "Its continuing mission is to protect the United States from terrorist air attack from inside or outside the contiguous United States. First Air Force accomplishes this task by providing surveillance and command and control for air defense forces 24 hours a day, 365 days a year."

The unit's deep history traces its roots to 1941, as one of the four original numbered air forces. In 1942, the group conducted shore-based, anti-submarine operations flying Boeing B-17 "Flying Fortresses" from Langley Field, Va., the fact sheet reads. Today, the sole responsibility of ensuring the air sovereignty and air defense of the continental United States, U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico falls with the First Air Force.

Tyndall also trains the eyes in skies for America's battlespaces.

The 337th Air Control Squadron at Tyndall trains air battle managers through a nine-month course that includes preparing them for duty aboard the E-3 Sentry Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) and the E-8 Joint Surveillance and Target Attack Radar System (J-STAR) aircraft. The squadron's primary responsibility includes training all U.S. Air Force, Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve officers in command and control mission execution as air battle managers in a variety of weapons systems in support of air expeditionary forces worldwide.

Air battle managers' primary responsibilities include providing command and control in the battlespace and ensuring combat aircraft find, identify and destroy their targets. 

The base hosts numerous additional tenant units, and the 325th FW  supports 23,000 Airmen, civilians, contractors and their families. Additionally, the base adds more than $570 million in local economic impact to the surrounding communities.

The base includes more than 29,000 acres, according to the annual economic impact analysis.

Today, while walking along the Tyndall beaches, one can still find .50-caliber shells used in the gunnery school, said Mr. Roberts.

If one times it right, you might hear the sounds of freedom from the F-22s while picking up a 71-year-old piece of Air Force history.

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