82nd Fighter Group Association


The 82nd Fighter Group Association is dedicated to honor the WWII members of the 82nd Fighter Group and the 95th, 96th and 97th Fighter Squadrons and to promote and perpetuate bonds of friendship among those veterans, family, friends and related United States Air Force units.  Our intention is to honor those of the 82nd Fighter Group with the contents of this website.

World War II Commanders

1st Lt. Charles T Duke, February 1942

Col. Robert Israel Jr, May 1942

Lt. Col. William E Covington Jr, 17 June 1942

Col. John W Weltman, 4 May 1943

Lt. Col. Ernest C Young, 2 August 1943

Lt. Col. George M MacNicol, 26 August 1943

Col. William P Litton, January 1944

Lt. Col. Ben A Mason Jr, 4 August 1944

Col. Clarence T Edwinson, 28 August 1944

Col. Richard A Legg, 22 November 1944

Col. Joseph S Holtoner, 4 June 1945

The 82nd Fighter Group was organized and trained in Southern California during the spring and summer of 1942. It was very unique because the majority of the original pilots were enlisted men ( Staff Sergeants - Class - 42C ), who were subsequently commissioned before they entered combat. The 82nd FG shipped out to Great Britain from New York aboard the Queen Mary in late September, 1942. After further training in Northen Ireland, its pilots flew their P-38's from England to Algeria, North Africa, just before Christmas. En route they scored the unit's first two victories and suffered their first combat loss when part of the formation was attacked by JU-88's over the Bay of Biscay.

​The P-38 was particularly successful in the Mediterranean Theater of Operations, where it saw continuous action for nearly two and a half years. The 82nd Fighter Group, comprised of Hq, 95th, 96th, and 97th Fighter Squadrons did more than its share in establishing the Lightning's great combat record. As part of the 12th Air Force, the 82nd was heavily involved in the hard fought Tunisian Campaign, winning its spurs on the infamous "Gabes meat Run". Although losses were heavy initially, its pilots more than held their own as they quickly gained experience, first to survive and then to help defeat the Axis Forces, both Air and Ground. The 82nd FG was one of the first units to arrive there, but by early March of 1943 it was amazingly, the highest scoring US Army Air Corps Fighter Group in North Africa! It was to maintain this position in the MTO to the wars end.

The Group cemented its lead on April 11, 1943, when its pilots claimed 32 enemy planes destroyed. These were airplanes attempting to supply the Africa Korps in Tunisia. By the end of the North African Campaign in May, the Group had 199 confirmed "kills". The Group then began adding to its score during the Sicilian Campaign. In July, 1st Lt. William J. "Dixie" Sloan of the 96th Sq. became the leading Ace in the MTO with 12 victories. After Sicily was secured in August, the Allies' next objective was the invasion of the Italian mainland. As a preliminary to the operation, 140 P-38's of the 1st and 82nd Fighter Groups flew a low level straffing mission against airfields in the Foggia area on August 25, resulting in the destruction and damage to nearly 150 Axis aircraft. This mission was planned and lead by the 82nd's Commander, Lt. Col. George MacNicol, and won the Group its first, Distinguished Unit Citation.

A second, Distinguished Unit Citation, was earned just eight days later, during an escort mission of B-25's to the Naples area on September 2, 1943. As the American formation left the target it was attacked by about 70 enemy fighters, which were continually reinforced during a ferocious air battle that continued over the sea for about 100 miles. The 82nd FG pilots claimed 23 enemy aircraft destroyed and many more damaged in this action. Not a single American bomber was lost. The Group's main task during 1943 was to escort the 12th AF's medium bomber groups, but they also flew many dive bombing and skip bombing, strafing, and weather reconnaissance missions. After flying from a number of North African bases in Algeria and Tunisia, and on occasion from Libya and Sicily, the 82nd FG moved to the Italian Peninsula in October, 1943. During January 1944, they settled into Foggia #11/Vincenzo. This base was home for the remainder of the war.

​In October of 1943, the Group flew their first long-range, heavy bomber escort mission, over Europe, from Italy. Then on November 1, they became part of the new strategic, Fifteenth Air Force. The primary duty then was escorting the Fifteenth's B-17 and B-24 groups to targets throughout Southern and Central Europe. The 82nd FG continued to fly other types of missions as well. These included level bombing with the aid of unarmed "Droop Snoot" Lightnings which carried a bombardier in the nose.

Fifteenth Air Force

​By the end of March 1944, the 82nd Fighter Group's score of enemy aircraft destroyed in the air passed the 400 mark, and in early July, it reached 500. On June 10, 1944, it flew a spectacular and successful, though costly, dive bombing mission to the, Romano American Oil refinery at Ploesti, Rumania. For this the Group was awarded a third, Distinguished Unit Citation. During July and August the 82nd FG participated in shuttle missions to Russia, and proceeded to rack up more aerial victories and did considerable damage to the enemy ground targets. From then on, few enemy planes were met in the air by the Group's pilots, but they continued to contribute heavily to the destruction of the Axis war machine in other ways. Its last air to air victories were scored in March 1945, bringing its total to 549 confirmed and placed it among the USAAF's ten top scoring fighter groups. Twenty- four of its pilots were Aces. The 82nd Fighter Group scored more aerial victories than any other P-38 group in the MTO.

In addition to the three Distinguished Unit Citations, the heroic and gallant action, of the men of the 82nd Fighter Group is attested to by the fact they were among the most heavily decorated in WWII.