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Joint Base Andrews News

NEWS | April 15, 2024

Celebrating 80 years of the 1st Helicopter Squadron: A legacy of valor and dedication

By Senior Airman Daekwon Stith 316 Wing

The 1st Helicopter Squadron commemorated its 80th anniversary with other Airmen across the installation on Thursday at the Helicopter Operations Facility.  

Since its inception, the squadron has undergone various name changes and transformations, yet its commitment to serving the American people and the Air Force has remained constant.   

“The Air Force Historical Research Agency offers insights into the lineage of the 1st Helicopter Squadron, tracing back to its origins, but the question of ‘why’ remains unanswered,” said Dr. Sarah Barksdale, 316th Wing historian.  

Reflecting on this, the ceremony delved into the historical parallels between the squadron's past and present missions.  

The journey of the 1st Helicopter Squadron finds its roots in the 1st Fighter Squadron (Commando), which emerged in April 1944 equipped with 25 P-51 Mustang aircraft.

Deployed to the China-Burma-India Theater during World War II, the squadron was pivotal in executing missions behind enemy lines. Operating in environments considered challenging by U.S. Army Air Forces leadership, the Air Commandos pioneered air mobility operations, utilizing various airframes to insert, supply and extract ground troops.  

One of the squadron's often highlighted feats occurred on March 15, 1945, when it undertook what is believed to be the longest fighter mission of World War II. Covering more than 1,500 miles roundtrip from Cox’s Bazaar, India — what is now Bangladesh — to Don Muang Airfield, Thailand, the squadron inflicted significant damage on the Japanese Army Air Force, playing an integral role in ensuring Allied air superiority in the theater.  

The insignia of the 1st Fighter Squadron (Commando), adorned with black lightning bolts and an exclamation point on their tails, symbolized their distinction as Air Commandos, meant to signify their prowess and determination in the face of adversity.  

At the end of the ceremony, the squadron unveiled an 80th anniversary heritage displays available for signing by members of the squadron to commemorate the historic event.  

“We might be flying a different helicopter. We might bear a different name. We might be stationed at a different location, but 80 years from now, people will look back at this day as historic," said U.S. Air Force Capt. Patrick Fahey, 1st Helicopter Squadron executive officer. "It brings me joy to know that we didn't just let this milestone pass unnoticed.”