Historic Markers Across South Carolina

Activation of the 354th Fighter Day Wing

Marker ID:  
Location: Warbird Park next to Myrtle Beach International Airport, Myrtle Beach, SC
County: Horry
Coordinates: N 33° 39.644    W 078° 55.71
  33.66073333    -78.9285


Activation of the 354th Fighter Day Wing

In the Fall of 1956, officers and airmen from the United States Air Force were assigned to newly constructed Myrtle Beach Air Force Base to start a new fighter wing. Their task was reactivation of the famous World War II “Pioneer Mustang Group," designated the 354th Fighter Day Wing, commanded by Colonel Francis S. Gabreski, top fighter ace in the European Theater during World War II.

Local residents involved included Colonel James Hackler, who was the Fighter Group Commander. Other locals were: Lieutenant George Branch, fighter pilot in the 355th Fighter Day Squadron; Lieutenant Bill Rutherford, fighter pilot in the 356th Fighter Day Squadron; and Captain Robert Pasqualicchio, Commander of the 356th Fighter Day Squadron.

Dedication ceremonies for the 354th Fighter Day Wing occurred December 7, 1956, with a host of World War II warriors, civilians and United States Air Force dignitaries. In early 1957, the Wing began receiving new F-100D aircraft from North American Aviation.