77th FS Gamblers F-16 Model
Fly with the Gamblers of the 77th FS again in this 18 inch wooden F-16 model. Each model is carved from wood and hand painted to provide a unique piece of art.
The 77th Fighter Squadron (77 FS) is part of the 20th Fighter Wing at Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina. It operates the F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft conducting air superiority missions.
The squadron is one of the oldest in the United States Air Force, its origins dating to 20 February 1918, being organized at Rich Field, Waco Texas, as a pilot training Squadron during World War I. The squadron saw combat during World War II, and became part of the United States Air Forces in Europe (USAFE) during the Cold War.
The 77th Aero Service Squadron was organized at Rich Field, Waco Field, Texas on 20 February 1918 with 2Lt. George P. Southworth as the squadron’s first commander. On 28 February the squadron along with the 78th and 79th (which had also been reborn at Rich Field) moved by train on the Missouri Kansas & Texas Railway (commonly known as the Katy Railway) to Taliaferro Fld #1 (later named Hicks Field), Fort Worth, Texas. The 77th would then move to Taliaferro Field # 2 (later named Barron Field), Everman, Texas on 18 March 1918. In May 1918 2Lt. John Mason Tilney became Squadron Commander. On 21 July 1918 the 77th was redesignated Permanent School Squadron “A,” Barron Field, Texas. A letter dated 24 July 1918 states “The use of numerical designations of squadrons will be restricted to those overseas and the eighty reserve squadrons authorized to be established at all times in this country”. The vacated numbers were to be assigned to new squadrons as they were organized to replace squadrons shipped overseas. Some time after the squadrons designation was changed 2Lt. Edward S. Winfree took command and finally 2Lt. Hugh C. Downey became the squadron’s last commander.
The 77th and later Squadron “A” provided personnel for base administrative activities and for various positions needed to maintain operations on Barron Field. The squadron was officially demobilized on 18 November 1918, but recently found documents seem to show the unit was not demobilized until March 1919.
There is also evidence that a third 77th Aero Service Squadron may have existed. A letter from the Office Director Military Aeronautics Operations Section to Commander Barron Field dated 23 September 1918 requests that the records for the 77th Aero Service Squadron (renamed Squadron “A” by this time) be sent to Aviation General Supply Depot and Concentration Camp, Garden City, Long Island, New York for reorganization of the 77th.
The 77th was reactivated and consolidated with the 77th Observation Squadron in October 1927. In 1929, the squadron was redesignated the 77th Pursuit Squadron and reorganized as one of the first tactical units of the 20th Pursuit Group at Mather Field, California, with an officer strength of four.
World War II
77th Fighter Squadron P-38 (LC-C) at RAF Kings Cliffe, England during World War II.
From 1930 until 1943, the squadron moved back and forth across the country with the 20th, flying several different aircraft, including the P-26, P-36, P-38, P-39 and the P-40. In January 1943, the 77th settled at March Field, California, in time to be reassigned to England and the European Theater of Operations during World War II. The 77th, now designated a fighter squadron, arrived at RAF Kings Cliffe, Northamptonshire, England, in August 1943, flying the P-38. The 77th entered combat operations in November 1943, flying combat missions until 25 April 1945, when, armed with P-51 Mustangs, they began escorting “heavies” to Pilzen, Czechoslovakia, in one of the last raids of the war.
The 77th was instrumental in the 20th achieving its record kill of 432 enemy aircraft, 400 locomotives, 1,555 freight cars, 94 ammunition cars and 536 motor vehicles destroyed. The 77th left King’s Cliffe, England, in the summer of 1945 and was inactivated in October 1945.
F-84Gs of the 77th Tactical Fighter Squadron/20th Tactical Fighter Wing at RAF Wethersfeld, UK – Early 1950s
The 77th and the 20th were reactivated in July 1946 at Biggs Field, Texas. Between 1946 and 1952 the squadron moved to Shaw Field, S.C., and then to Langley Air Force Base, Va., becoming the 77th Fighter-Bomber Squadron and transitioning to the F-84.
In May 1952, the 77th and the 20th were reassigned to RAF Wethersfield, England. In 1957, the squadron transitioned to the F-100 and a year later was designated a tactical fighter squadron flying the “Hun” for 11 more years in support of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization commitment. In 1969, the 77th and the 20th began moving to RAF Upper Heyford and converted to the fighter-bomber version of the F-111, utilizing the F-111E model.
The squadron, flying the F-16, reorganized and incorporated 250 maintainers on 1 Feb. 1992. The 77th Fighter Squadron was inactivated in October 1993, then transferred and reactivated at Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, on 3 Jan. 1994. In 1996, the 77 FS deployed to Southwest Asia.
In 1999 and 2001, the 77 FS deployed to Southwest Asia flying missions over Iraq in support of Operation NORTHERN WATCH. The squadron also deployed in support of Operation ALLIED FORCE and Operation DESERT FOX in 1999. In 1997 and 2000, the 77th deployed to Southwest Asia flying missions over Iraq in support of Operation SOUTHERN WATCH. In between deployments from 2001 to 2006, the 77th Fighter Squadron provided escort security to the President of the United States and Air Force One as part of Operation Noble Eagle and flew security missions daily over the Eastern Seaboard.
The 77 FS was awarded the 20th Fighter Wing Fighter Squadron of the Year in 1998 and 2000. In 2001, the squadron participated in many other deployments. From July to Sept. 2002, the 77th deployed to Operation NORTHERN WATCH. From February 2003 to May 2003, the squadron deployed to Prince Sultan Air Base (PSAB) Saudi Arabia Asia in support of Operation IRAQI FREEDOM.
Two F-16s from the squadron collided during a training flight on 15 October 2009. One F-16, piloted by Captain Lee Bryant, was able to land safely at Charleston AFB, South Carolina. The other jet, piloted by Captain Nicholas Giglio, 32, apparently crashed into the ocean. Authorities believe that Giglio was killed instantly in the collision and did not eject.
Air Combat Command officials announced a stand down and reallocation of flying hours for the rest of the fiscal year 2013 due to mandatory budget cuts. The across-the board spending cuts, called sequestration, took effect 1 March when Congress failed to agree on a deficit-reduction plan. Squadrons either stood down on a rotating basis or kept combat ready or at a reduced readiness level called “basic mission capable” for part or all of the remaining months in fiscal 2013. This affected the 77th Fighter Squadron with a stand-down grounding from 9 April-30 September 2013.