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Stampeding mustangs continue rich tradition

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Greg Nash
  • 51st Fighter Wing Public Affairs

In the heartland of Gyeonggi Province, South Korea, a group of Mustangs are ‘Leading The Charge’ from Osan Air Base. These wild horses aren’t your typical galloping, long-haired stallions, but rather, they are the prideful men and women of the 51st Fighter Wing.

During WWII, the 51st Operations Group (originally the 51st Pursuit Group) flew out of Naha Air Base, Japan. After becoming a separate branch, the United States Air Force soon switched to a designation system that linked the new wings with WWII predecessors. When a wing was activated at Naha, the USAF, in trying to establish its own history and traditions, linked the new 51st Fighter Interceptor Wing to the WWII unit, 51st Fighter Group, which operated out of Naha Air Base in WWII.

Before the USAF was established as a separate branch, the unit at Naha was the 507th Fighter Group. This group had no combat history and to keep its designation would not build a history. In 1946, the 51st lineage assumed responsibility for the personnel and equipment there, mostly in preparation for the USAF becoming a separate branch.
Channeling their inspiration from the 51st Fighter Group’s World War II era and the P-51 Mustang aircraft heritage, the 51st Fighter Wing embraced the Greek mythology themed, winged Pegasus firing machine guns in flight.

When the 51st Pursuit Group deployed for their wartime location in the early days of World War II, the group commander received permission from Mobil Oil Co. to use its trademarked red Pegasus as a basis for their emblem. The War Department approved the emblem with a scroll beneath the emblem.

On the original emblem, words "Deftly and Swiftly," were below the shield as the wing's motto. For today's emblem, the words are replaced with the 51st Fighter Wing’s "Leading the Charge" slogan and was approved on June 1, 1993. It has since remained unchanged.

From defending the Indian terminus of the Himalayan Mountain’s “Hump” airlift route in WWII to current operations as the most forward permanently deployed USAF unit in the world, the Mustangs remain primed to defend, execute and sustain – STAMPEDE!