Historic Markers Across South Carolina

353rd Tactical Fighter Squadron

Marker ID:  
Location: intersection of Mustang Street and Shine Ave, Myrtle Beach, SC
County: Horry
Coordinates: N 33° 40.142    W 078° 56.164
  33.66903333    -78.93606666


352nd Tactical Fighter Squadron

The 353rd Tactical Fighter squadron was formed on November 15, 1942. During World War II the fighter squadron was known as the "Fighting Cobras,“ and served with distinction in England, France and Germany, flying the P-39, P-51 and P-47 aircraft.

Their successful aerial operations helped establish the Normandy beachhead and aided the rapid advancement of Allied ground forces across France and into Germany. The squadron was reassigned to Bolling Field, District of Columbia, March 31, 1945, and inactivated later that year.

On September 28, 1956, the unit was reactivated and designated the 353rd Fighter Day squadron, assigned to Myrtle Beach Air Force Base. The 353rd pilots began flying the F-100D Super Sabre and continued to fly that aircraft while the squadron was stationed at Torrejon Air Base, Spain. They returned to Myrtle Beach Air Force Base in July 1971 and transitioned to the A-7D Corsair II.

In October 1972, the squadron was sent to Southeast Asia where its members participated in Linebacker II operations as the 353rd Tactical Fighter squadron.

In May 1973, the unit returned to Myrtle Beach.

353rd Emblem, Courtesy of Gene Lamar

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353rd Tactical Fighter Squadron

In August 1978, the 353rd was the third squadron in the 354th Tactical Fighter Wing to become combat operational in the A-10 Thunderbolt II aircraft. The "Black Panthers" became the first Air Force tactical fighter unit ever to fly combat training sorties from the island of Cuba when members of the squadron deployed there in November 1979.

During the 1980s, the squadron participated in numerous high-profile deployments and exercises. Major deployments were conducted in England, Germany and Egypt, while stateside exercises were conducted in numerous locations. Toward the end of this decade, the 353rd's emphasis on training shifted to the Middle East. This proved to be especially relevant when the "Black Panthers" was the first air-to-ground fighter squadron deployed to Saudi Arabia to conduct combat operations in Iraq during Desert Shield/Desert Storm.

During Desert Storm, the "Black Panthers" spearheaded the aerial assault against Iraq's ground forces. They were responsible for destroying hundreds of Iraqi armored vehicles and also leading the airborne Combat Search and Rescue efforts that resulted in the successful rescue of several coalition pilots. The "Black Panthers' ceased operations from Myrtle Beach Air Force Base in 1992, and subsequently moved to Alaska to rejoin the 354th Wing at Eielson Air Force Base.

The mission of the 353rd Tactical Fighter Squadron is to maintain the capability to deploy worldwide and provide close air support, anti-armor operations, interdiction, and search and rescue operations in a low, medium or high threat environment. The 353rd's tactical fighter missions are designed to destroy enemy forces and equipment through the use of the 30mm cannon, Maverick missile and a wide range of other conventional munitions.

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353rd Tactical Fighter Squadron Operations

The headquarters for the 353rd Tactical Fighter Squadron, building 349, was located near this spot. Its mascot is the Panther.

The unit has a long and illustrious history having been first activated at Hamilton Field, California, in 1942. The unit began flying P-39 Bell Air Cobra fighters. As World War II accelerated, the Squadron was sent to England and began flying the P-51 Mustang. It achieved an illustrious aerial combat record in this aircraft and, later, in the P-47 Thunderbolt.

After the war, the squadron returned to the United States and was inactivated. In the nation's military build-up in response to the communist threat, the squadron was re-activated at Myrtle Beach Air Force Base in 1956 and began flying the F-100 Super Sabre. Later after transitioning into the the A-7D Corsair II, it flew combat missions during the Vietnam War.

When the A-7 aircraft were re-assigned to the Air National Guard, the unit was among the first to become combat ready in the newly assigned A-10 Thunderbolt II.
After the base de-activated and closed in 1993, the squadron was transferred to Eielsen Air Force Base, Alaska, where it remains today.

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Parachute Shop

The Parachute Shop located in this area contained all the necessary space and equipment to repair, clean, maintain inspect and repack both parachutes used by flight crew members and the drag chutes used by the F-100 to aid in stopping the aircraft during landing rollout.

The tall tower section of the building was packing used to suspend and dry the parachutes and to allow for complete inspection to help ensure the integrity of the material.

During the heyday of the F-100 at Myrtle Beach, 90 percent of the work of the shop was devoted to caring for the F-100 drag chutes.

After closure of the base, the building was sold to a privately owned company.

On average 40, to 50 F-100 drag chutes were packed at the Parachute Shop. A2C Albert Nedley (r) uses a hook for packing.

Master Sergeant John Fletterer operates his “jig," a device he invented, to expedite the packing of jet fighter drag chutes into a canister. The invention was later used by the Air Force.

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Security Police Operations

The Security Police Headquarters, building 350, was located in this area. It housed the administrative offices of the squadron, contained an arsenal for the storage of security police weapons, and provided a holding area for those who were being detained by security police.

The mission of the squadron was to provide security and law enforcement for the base. In doing so, one of it's key security functions was to ensure the security of the Wing's combat aircraft. and Air Warrior.