World War II ace Joe Foss celebrated with blue 75th anniversary F-16

  • Published
  • By Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Vincent De Groot
  • 185th Air Refueling Wing

The South Dakota Air National Guard recently commissioned a heritage paint scheme on one of their F-16 Fighter aircraft in celebration of their 75th anniversary. The light blue and white scheme was conceptualized to emulate the WWII era Grumman F-4F Wildcat flown by South Dakota native and Medal of Honor recipient Joe Foss.

The finished product was rolled out at the Sioux City, Iowa based Air National Guard paint facility this past week.

Following the 2nd World War, former Marine Corps pilot Capt. Joe Foss was instrumental in establishing the South Dakota Air arm of the National Guard in 1946.

During the war, Foss was fighting the air war in the pacific as a Marine Corps aviator. At the same time the predecessor to the 114th Fighter Wing, the 387th fighter squadron was providing tactical air support for the United States First Army while stationed at Azeville Airfield, in France. As air units and equipment began returning to the U.S. following the war many were renumbered and reassigned to stateside units in the National Guard.

After being reassigned to the South Dakota National Guard Foss was instrumental in establishing the 175th Fighter Squadron when they received federal recognition on Sept. 20, 1946. Just as the Active Air Force was becoming a separate service, numerous Air Guard units like the 175th FS in South Dakota were also being organized.

Initially the Sioux Falls based unit received the P-51D Mustang and a shoestring budget to begin training new pilots. Through the years the 175th continued to fly single seat fighter aircraft like the F-94 Starfire, the F-89 Scorpion, F-102 Delta Dagger, F-100 Super Sabre, A-7 Corsair and most recently the F-16 falcon.

The unit converted to the F-16 in 1991 and today the 114th Fighter Wing is one of a dwindling number of F-16 Fighter Wings who are still flying continuous manned aircraft operations as an Air National Guard Fighter Wing.

After launching the Fighter Wing and serving as its inaugural commander, Foss went on serve as governor for the state of South Dakota. Among his many other endeavors Foss also worked as the commissioner of the American Football league, he was a past president of the National Rifle Association, he also hosted the ABC television program “The American Sportsman.”

Today the 114th Fighter Wing of the South Dakota Air Guard is located at Joe Foss field in Sioux Falls, named after the South Dakota native who became a United States Marine Corps flying Ace during the 2nd World War.

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