123 Fighter Squadron

“Red Hawks”

Eagle History

The 123rd Fighter Squadron is stationed at Portland IAP, Oregon. The 123rd was designated as the 123rd Fighter Interceptor Squadron when it received their first F-15A/B’s in 1989-1990. The F-15’s received used to fly with the deactivated 318th FIS at McHord AFB, Washington. The 123rd FS report to the 142nd Fighter Wing.

The 142nd Fighter Wing mission is to serve the nation, state and community by providing mission ready units, personnel and equipment for: Domination in the air superiority arena; Federal augmentation in support of national security objectives; Response to state and local contingencies; and n Pro-active involvement in activities that add value to the people and communities.

An Oregon National Guard Airman from the 142nd Fighter Wing marshals several F-15C Eagles at the Portland Air National Guard Base, Portland, Ore., on October 2nd, 2010.

The unit was established April 18, 1941, and activated in World War II and the Korean War. It is the grandfather to Oregon’s other Air Guard units — 173 FW, 270 ATCS, 116 ACS, 244 CBCS and 272 CBCS. The repertoire of aircraft has included F-51, B-25J, F-86, F-94, F-89, F-102, F-101, F-4C, C-131, C-130A, T-33.

Personnel strength includes 475 full-time employees (112 AGRs, 252 federal technicians, 58 Title 5 civilians, 53 state); 645 drill-status guardmembers; 1009 total authorized; 940 assigned (93.16% includes student flight); Officer: 102 authorized, 92 assigned (90.20%); Enlisted: 907 authorized, 786 assigned (86.66%); Student Flight: 62.

It is rully integrated into “Total Force” — Air Expeditionary Force #9. The location in the Pacific Northwestern United States is key for air defense of the nation. The Air National Guard Base is co-located with civilian international airport. The base has numerous military and civilian support agreements to benefit state and local government agencies. Hence, Portland Air Base is a BIG operation. It is not a typical ANG facility because it is host to an Air Force Reserve Wing and several other ANG/ARNG units. The actual facility employs and/or supports nearly 3,000 employees. The unique operating environment and permits provides many services to area active duty military families and retirees since the nearest active duty military installation is nearly 200 miles away.

Previously designated as the 123rd Fighter Interceptor Squadron, the squadron was renamed the 123th Fighter Squadron in 1992.

The squadron converted to the F-15A/B aircraft in 1989/90, with most of those planes coming from the 318th FIS at McChord AFB, which was being disbanded.

The Unit has been flying the F-15 Eagle jet fighter since 1989. – The 142 FW has 15 PAI and 3 BAI/AR F-15A and F-15B Eagles.

An Oregon Air National Guard F-15C Eagle takes off from the Portland Air National Guard Base, Portland, Ore., on October 2nd, 2010.

123 FS “Redhawks”Operations Northern Watch 

By Lt. Col. Terrence G. Popravak, Jr., USAF (Ret.), 142nd Fighter Wing History Office / Published December 27, 2013

PORTLAND AIR NATIONAL BASE, Ore. — When most Americans think of our military involvement in the Middle East, they tend to think of the post 9/11 period. But America’s Airmen have been flying over and fighting in the region for a much longer period of time, including the long “Iraqi no-fly zone era,” which lasted between 1991 and 2003.

As part of the “Total Force,” of Active Duty, Guard and Reserve components, the Oregon Air National Guard’s 142nd Fighter Wing participated in no-fly zone combat operations over Iraq in the decade before 9/11. The deployment of early 1998 was scheduled many months in advance, as part of the air expeditionary rotation of air units between the three components. Nearly 300 wing members and six 123rd Fighter Squadron F-15A Multi-Stage Improvement Program (MSIP) Eagle fighters deployed to Incirlik Air Base, in south-central Turkey, to help enforce the no-fly zone over northern Iraq as part of Operation NORTHERN WATCH.


NORTHERN WATCH was a follow-on operation which began in January, 1997 and replaced Operation PROVIDE COMFORT, which had been in place since April, 1991, just after the 1991 Gulf War. The operations prevented Iraqi use of force against the Kurdish minority population in the north of the country. The US European Command, with coalition partners, conducted ONW air operations to enforce the UN-sanctioned no-fly zone north of the 36th parallel, as well as surveillance of Iraqi military activity in the zone.

The Redhawks joined a coalition force at Incirlik, including air units from the United Kingdom, at a time of increased tensions, when Iraqi President Saddam Hussein refused to open suspected chemical and biological warfare sites to United Nations inspection and diplomatic efforts to resolve the impasse were faltering. At the time, the Iraqi Air Force had about 300 combat aircraft, mostly day-fighters good for clear weather operations, and with little night capability, from which challenges to the no-fly zone could be mounted.

It was the first time the 142nd Fighter Wing deployed personnel to a combat zone since the Korean War. Said wing commander, Lt. Col. Larry Kemp at the time: “We have participated in numerous operational missions providing air sovereignty and surveillance in North America, Central America, and Iceland in the recent past. But this is the first time we’ve been tasked in support of a combat operation since the 1950s.”

Throughout the ONW deployment, the 142FW maintained its Pacific Northwest air defense mission capability at home station, guarding the skies from northern California up to Canada. The Redhawks remained an integral part of the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), even as they provided an expeditionary combat capability.

Oregon Air National Guard Tech. Sgt. Don Brice reflected an optimistic and professional view of the deployment, when he said to a KEX news reporter “We’ve been ready for this deployment for a long time…we don’t have to do much to these jets because they are always in top shape. We’re going over there, do our job, and we’re coming home.

The deployment also caused a lot of action on the home front, as family members dealt with the range of issues associated with deployments, from child care to bill paying, from tax filing to home repairs, and communication during the separation. Guard members not deploying helped where they could, and the Family Program established unit points of contact to recruit volunteers to help families with needs such as mechanical problems or child care scheduling challenges.

And so the Redhawks did, deploying personnel to cover a six-week period from March 1 through April 15, 1998. Unit members mustered in three two-week rotations to cover the unit requirement. At Incirlik, about 1,300 American, 200 British and 100 Turkish military personnel took part in the operation. Deployed personnel were quartered in a tent city, with laundry and latrines in walking distance. Given the lack of running water, bottled drinking water became a standard routine. Redhawks worked up to 16 hours a day to ensure the jets were ready to meet the demands of an intense flying schedule, and they never missed a sortie.

The coalition enforcement effort employed some 45 aircraft, and pilots flew about 40 sorties a day. In order to try and remain unpredictable, take off times for missions varied. On some days the sorties were longer, and shorter on other days. Missions lasted from three to seven hours, and during the longer duration ones, fighter jets spent a fair amount of time getting to and from the no-fly zone, as well as the required aerial refueling.

In ONW, the Redhawks provided high value asset defense for collation “packages” of aircraft patrolling over the no-fly zone. The F-15s were first into the area of operations, with the flight leader serving as the mission commander for the package, leading the multi-national forces in patrolling over the northern no-fly zone. The Eagles were followed by various other aircraft types, including fighter-bombers, electronic warfare, reconnaissance, airborne early warning and tanker aircraft. Of note, HH-60 Night Hawk helicopters of the Portland-based 304th Rescue Squadron were also deployed to Incirlik in the same timeframe, providing a much-valued combat search and rescue capability.

The last Redhawk Airman returned from ONW on May 1, 1998, after some challenges with airlift schedules, country clearances and other redeployment obstacles, completing the unit’s first combat deployment of personnel since 1951. But as fate would have it, it would not be the only time the Redhawks were to fly over Iraq – a future part 2 of this Iraqi no-fly zone saga will discuss that, and illustrate how Oregon’s Airmen provided the nation with a vital capability during the decade of no-fly zone operations over Iraq.

Squadron photos

Airmen of the Oregon Air National Guard’s 142nd Fighter Wing prepare six F-15 Eagles to depart for a 30-day overseas training tour in support of Exercise IRON FALCON to the United Arab Emirates Air Warfare Center on October 2, 2010. Along with the six jets, 131 members of the Oregon Air National Guard also deployed to the UAE in support of Exercise IRON FALCON . (U.S. Air Force Photograph by Staff Sgt. John Hughel, 142nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs Office)
A U.S. Air National Guard F-15C Eagle fighter aircraft pilot assigned to the 123rd Expeditionary Fighter Squadron takes off from the runway July 21, 2015, at Campia Turzii, Romania.. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Dylan Nuckolls/Released)
A U.S. Air National Guard F-15C Eagle fighter aircraft pilot assigned to the 123rd Expeditionary Fighter Squadron performs pre-flight checks July 21, 2015, at Campia Turzii, Romania. Twelve F-15C Eagles deployed to Romania as part of a European theater security package. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Dylan Nuckolls/Released)
A U.S. Air National Guard F-15C Eagle fighter aircraft assigned to the 123rd Expeditionary Fighter Squadron flies over the flightline during a theater security package deployment July 21, 2015, at Campia Turzii, Romania. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Dylan Nuckolls/Released)
Oregon Air National guard on patrol (USAF photo)
Fellow Redhawk Fighter Pilots of the 123rd Fighter Squadron, 142nd Fighter Wing, gather together for a photograph with Col. Jeff Hwang (third from left) following his fini flight in the F-15 Eagle, Sept. 19, 2014, Portland Air National Guard Base, Ore. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. John Hughel, 142nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs/Released
Col. Jeff Hwang, 142nd Fighter Wing vice commander pauses for a photograph next to the F-15 Eagle he flew for his Fini flight, Sept. 19, 2014, at the Portland Air National Guard Base, Ore. The two green starts were added to his aircraft to acknowledge the two MIG 29’s that he shot down in Kosovo in 1999. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. John Hughel, 142nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs/Released)
142nd Fighter Wing Lt. Col. Steve “BC” Beauchamp, celebrates his final flight in the Air National Guard as he stands inside his F-15 Eagle at the Portland Air National Guard Base, Portland, Ore. June 8, 2013. (Air National Guard photograph by Tech. Sgt. John Hughel, 142nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs)
Lt. Col. Nathan Rice, an F-15 pilot in the 123rd Fighter Squadron, dons his helmet in preparation for his final flight in the Oregon Air National Guard, December 20, 2019, Portalnd Air National Guard Base, Ore. Rice will continue to serve at PANG as he apprpoaches his retirement. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Steph Sawyer, 142nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs)
USAF photo

Final F-15A model retires

U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Steve Beauchamp of the 123rd Fighter Squardron, 142nd Fighter Wing prepares for a morning flight to Davis-Monthan Air Force Base on Sept. 16. Beauchamp will fly F-15A model aircraft tail number 77-098 to the “Bone Yard” and is the last active F-15A model airframe left in the Active Air Force inventory.
A U.S. Air Force F-15A model, tail number 77-098 waits to depart Portland Air National Guard Base, Portland, Ore., Sept. 16, 2009. This is the last active F-15A model in active service but is about to depart for the “Bone Yard” on this morning flight to Davis-Monthan AFB.
A US Air Force F-15A model takes off for its final flight Sept. 16 from the Portland Air National Guard Base. Aircraft 77-098 is the last F-15A model in the Active Air Force inventory and is being fly to retirement by Lt. Col. Steve Beauchamp as he leaves for the Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Center at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson, Ariz.
The tail flashing of 77-098, an F-15A Eagle that belongs to the 142nd Fighter Wing on Sept. 16 at the Portland Air National Guard Base, Portland, Ore.
U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Andrew Shown of the 142nd Fighter Wing marshalls an F-15 aircraft from a ready barn at the Portland Air National Guard Base Sept. 16. Aircraft 77-098 is about to make the last fight to Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tuscon, Arizona and is the last F-15A Model to be retired by the Air Force.

123 FS, Weapons Instructor Course 2017

In June 2017 the 123rd Fighter Squadron “Redhawks” deployed for three weeks to Nellis AFB in support of the Weapons Instructor Course 2017. The Redhawks, provided as the ‘Red Team’ aggressors, taking the fight to the ‘Blue Team.

An Oregon National Guard F-15 Eagle taxis on the flighline at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., (left) as additional Eagles prepare for their afternoon missions (right) in support of the Weapons Instructor Course, May 31, 2017 (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. John Hughel, 142nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs).
Oregon Air National Guard Capt. Jamie Hastings, assigned to the 123rd Fighter Squadron, 142nd Fighter Wing, prepares for an afternoon sortie in an F-15 Eagle at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., to support the Weapons Instructor Course, June 1, 2017. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. John Hughel, 142nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs).
An F-15 Eagle assigned to the 142nd Fighter Wing, Oregon Air National Guard, takes off from Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., as part of the the Weapons Instructor Course (WIC), June 1, 2017. The Oregon Airmen are playing an the role of aggressors during their three-week WIC temporary duty assignment. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. John Hughel, 142nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs).
Oregon Air National Guard Capt. Jamie Hastings, assigned to the 123rd Fighter Squadron, 142nd Fighter Wing, prepares for an afternoon sortie in an F-15 Eagle at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., to support the Weapons Instructor Course, June 1, 2017. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. John Hughel, 142nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs).
Oregon Air National Guard Senior Airman Aimee Lonidier, a crew chief assigned to the 142nd Fighter Wing, marshals an F-15 Eagle flown by Capt. Joshua Pfeifer as he prepares for a morning flight at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., in support of the Weapons Intructor Course, June 1, 2017 (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. John Hughel, 142nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs).
Oregon Air National Guard Lt. Col. Bill Kopp, assigned to the 123rd Fighter Squadron, steps into an F-15 Eagle assigned to the 142nd Fighter Wing before a morning sortie to support the Weapons Instructor Course at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., May 31, 2017 (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. John Hughel, 142nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs).
An F-15 Eagle assigned to the 142nd Fighter Wing prepares to take part in an afternoon sortie at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., May 31, 2107. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. John Hughel, 142nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs).
Oregon Air National Guard Tech. Sgt. Jason Thompson, a crew chief assigned to the 142nd Fighter Wing, renders a quick salute to a pilot of an F-15 Eagle as he prepares for a morning flight at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., in support of the Weapons Instructor Course, May 31, 2017 (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. John Hughel, 142nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs).
Oregon Air National Guard Lt. Col. Jeff Personius, assigned to the 123rd Fighter Squadron, 142nd Fighter Wing, reviews aircraft flight records as he prepares for a morning sortie to support the Weapons Instructor Course at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., May 31, 2017 (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. John Hughel, 142nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs).
A row of U.S. Air Force F-15 Eagles assigned to the Oregon Air National Guard sit at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., as an F-16 Falcon lands after a morning sortie, June 14, 2017. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. John Hughel, 142nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs)
Oregon Air National Guard Maj. Bradley Young, 123 FS (left), is joined by other classmates (Maj. Kevin Danaher, Capt. Ryan Sivertsen, Capt. Matt Tanis, Capt. Nathan Liptak) for a group photograph, June 10, 2017, as they completed their 6-month F-15 (fighter) weapons course at Nellis AFB (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. John Hughel, 142nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs)

An F-15C Eagle fighter jet assigned to the 123rd Fighter Squadron, Portland Air National Guard Base, Oregon, takes off from Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, Oct. 19, 2021. The aircraft will help support the evaluation of the F-15EX in operationally realistic scenarios. Detachment 6, Air Force Operational Test & Evaluation Center, Nellis AFB, is leading the test along with other Air Force units from Eglin AFB, Florida and Portland Air National Guard Base, Oregon. (U.S. Air Force photo by William R. Lewis)
An F-15EX Eagle II Fighter Jet assigned to the 85th Test and Evaluation Squadron, Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, takes off and an F-15C Eagle assigned to the 123rd Fighter Squadron, Portland Air National Guard Base, Oregon, taxis to the runway at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, Oct. 20, 2021. Aircraft from Nellis AFB, Eglin AFB Florida, and the Oregon Air National Guard are providing support for the Test and Evaluation of the F-15EX in operationally realistic scenarios to determine how effective and suitable the aircraft is at accomplishing its air-to-air mission for future Air Force use. (U.S. Air Force photo by William R. Lewis)