53rd Fighter Group

Constituted as 53rd Pursuit Group (Interceptor) on 20 Nov 1940. Activated on 15 Jan 1941. Redesignated 53rd Fighter Group in May 1942. Trained with P-35's and P-40's. Moved to the Panama Canal Zone in Dec 1941 and equipped with P-39's for operations as part of the defense force for the canal. Returned to the US in Nov 1942 and assigned to Third AF. Trained replacement pilots in P-39, P-47, and P-51 aircraft. Disbanded on 1 May 1944.

Reconstituted and redesignated 53rd Fighter Group (Air Defense), on 20 Jun 1955. Activated on 18 Aug 1955. Assigned to Air Defense Command. Equipped first with F-86's, later with F-89's.

Squadrons. 13th: 1941-1944; 1955-. 14th: 1941-1944; 1955-. 15th: 1941-1944. 438th: 1943-1944.

Stations. MacDill Field, Fla, 15 Jan 1941; Tallahassee, Fla, 8 May-8 Dec 1941; Howard Field, CZ, 1 Jan-20 Nov 1942; Dale Mabry Field, Fla, 26 Nov 1942; Drew Field, Fla, 7 Jan 1943; Ft Myers, Fla, Feb 1943-1 May 1944. Sioux City Mun Aprt, Iowa, 18 Aug 1955-.

Commanders. Maj Hugo P Rush, 15 Jan 1941; Maj Eugene C Fleming, 9 May 1941; Col Earl W Barnes, 1 Jun 1941; Lt Col Don L Wilhelm Jr, 28 Jun 1942; Col Morley F Slaght, 11 Apr 1943; Lt Col Anthony V Grossetta, 22 Sep 1943; Col Bryan B Harper, Oct 1943-1 May 1944. Col Malcolm A Moore, Aug 1955-.

Campaigns. American Theater.

Decorations. None.

Insigne. Shield: Per bend azure and or, in chief an ancient Norse winged helmet argent, in base a palm tree proper. Motto: Defense By Offense. (Approved 8 Jan 1943. This insigne was modified 26 Jul 1956.)

Data from Air Force Combat Units of World War II By Maurer, Maurer, Published 1986

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