The legacy and heritage of the 355th Fighter Wing (FW) began on 12 November 1942 when it was activated as the 355th Fighter Group (FG) at Orlando Army Air Base, Florida. The 355 FG became fully operational on 9 September 1943 at Steeple Morden, England. By war’s end the 355 FG logged more than 17,000 sorties in P-47s and P-51s while destroying 862.5 enemy aircraft. The 355 FG was inactivated on 20 November 1946.
Nearly nine years later, on 18 August 1955, the 355 FG reactivated at McGhee-Tyson Airport, Tennessee operating the F-86D Sabre Jet under the Air Defense Command. For two years, the 355 FG provided fighter defense for the Atomic Energy Plant Oak Ridge, Tennessee, the Alcoa Aluminum Plant, the Tennessee Valley Authority dams, and the eastern region of the United States, participating in numerous readiness exercises. The unit inactivated on 8 January 1958.
On 1 April 1962, the 355 FG activated at George AFB, California as the 355th Tactical Fighter Wing (TFW), flying the Republic F-105 Thunderchief. By November 1965 the unit had transferred to Takhli Royal Thai Air Base, Thailand. Before inactivating on 10 December 1970, the 355 TFW amassed more than 101,300 sorties over North Vietnam, delivered 202,596 tons of bombs, and destroyed 12,675 targets. Assigned pilots were also credited with 22 MiG aerial victories, eight MiGs destroyed on the ground, and another nine damaged.
The 355 TFW reactivated 1 July 1971 at Davis-Monthan AFB, flying the A-7D Corsair II aircraft. In early 1975, the 355 TFW prepared for conversion to the A-10A Thunderbolt II receiving the first four A-10As in March 1976. In the 1990s, the 355th (now a Tactical Training Wing) continued to train A-10 crews for assignments to units in the United States, England and Korea. During this period, the wing deployed Airborne Forward Air Controllers (FAC) in OA-10 aircraft to Operation DESERT STORM, providing nearly 100 percent of FAC capability to the war. In 1995, the 355th Wing began supporting Operation SOUTHERN WATCH with deployments to Al Jaber AB, Kuwait to ensure compliance of the 32d parallel southern no-fly zone. The initial deployment in 1995 required 12 A-10s. That number however doubled for the 1997 deployment. In 1998 the wing deployed 16 A-10s while the final deployment in 1999 required 14 A-10s to sustain operations.
After the attacks of 9/11 and the execution of Operation EDURING FREEDOM (OEF), eight A-10s from the 355 Wing were deployed to Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan to fly close air support missions reinforcing multinational ground forces. Other six month deployments to Bagram Airfield followed in 2003, 2005, 2007, and 2013. In 2009, the 355 FW made Air Force history becoming the first A-10C unit to deploy to Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, and the first A-10C unit to utilize the Sniper Advanced Targeting Pod in combat. In 2011, the wing deployed for six months to Osan AB, Republic of South Korea in support of Pacific Command’s Theater Security Package (TSP). This was the wing’s first deployment to the ROK in support of a TSP. In 2015, the unit completed a six month TSP deployment to the European Continent in support of Operation ATLANTIC RESOLVE. This was the first TSP deployment to the European Theater for the 355 FW. In 2017, the 355 FW deployed to Incirlik Air Base, Turkey in support of Operation INHERINT RESOLVE. During the six month campaign new records were set for sorties flown and combat hours logged. On 1 October 2018, the 563d Rescue Group was realigned under the 355 FW, as a result, the 355 FW was re-designated as the 355th Wing on 1 January 2019. On 20 August 2020, the 355 WG realigned under the 15th Air Force Headquarters at Shaw AFB, S.C.
Losses: World War II, POW-58; KIA-80; MIA-14
Vietnam: POW-40; KIA-54