12 Fighter Squadron

Eagle History

The 12th Fighter Squadron was stationed at Kadena AB, Japan when it converted from the F-4D to the F-15C/D in 1979. the 12th TFS was part of the 18th Tactical Fighter Wing. The only F-15 Wing in the Pacific Air Forces. The 12th (T)FS missions were to protect Southern Korean air space together with a big part of the Pacific.

12th TFS Dirty Dozen group photo winning the Raytheon trophy 1981 at Kadena AB, Japan

From 1980 until 1999, the squadron continued to fly from Kadena AB, Japan, participating in over 50 deployments around the world in support of combat training and international relations.  From November 1998 to January 1999, the squadron deployed to Incirlik AB, Turkey, in support of Operation NORTHERN WATCH.  In November 1999, the squadron fell victim to internal Air Force downsizing and force restructuring; basically their capabilities and presence were no longer required at Kadena AB, Japan.  On a positive note, their long and distinguished military honors warranted their retention as an active combat unit of the Air Force, now all they needed was a new home.  Under Air Force guidelines set forth in the early 1990s, it was decided they were to transfer without personnel and equipment to Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska, where they replaced the inactivating 54th Fighter Squadron in April 2000.   Since their activation, the squadron has continued to serve this country with the same distinction and honor of those before them.  They have participated in several deployments to include missions in support of Operation NORTHERN WATCH, Operation NORTHERN DENIAL, Operation SOUTHERN WATCH, and most recently in defense of America in wake of the September terrorist attacks on New York City and the Pentagon.

12th Tactical Fighter Squadron group photo during a deployment in Australia / New Zealand 1984. front row: Sleepy, Odie, Moose, Hook, Edie, Opec, Plug, Sumo  back row:Booboo, Uncle Budge, Zombie, Phoid, Hagar, Jiffy, Sparky, Cones, Spock, Hoser, Chewie, Jingles

12th Tactical Fighter Squadron group photo 1990


Dirty Dozen Dismissed

Friday, November 5th 1999 was not a very jubilant day in the life of the US Air Force’s 18th Wing based on Kadena in Okinawa. On that day, noon was midnight for many as the famous 12th Fighter Squadron – most intimately known as the “Dirty Dozen” – was inactivated at Kadena AB.

Lt. Col. Timothy “Tex” Merrell was the last Commander for the 12th FS. During a ceremony that was marked by the absence of smiles and cheers, the ace F-15 pilot “threw away” the flag of the squadron he had been leading for the past 17 months, in the presence of Col. Douglas Cochran, the 18th Wing Operations Group Commander. That ceremony symbolized the end of a famous tactical group within the US Air Force worldwide, a group that had had a history of 4 dozen decades and 10 years.

The 12th FS was first activated in 1941, and known then as the 12th Pursuit Squadron. After tasting combat action in the South Pacific in the 1940s, it was renamed the 12th Fighter-Bomber Squadron in January 1950. Six months later, it was deployed in Korea during the war. Immediately after the conflict on the Korean peninsula, the 12th acquired a home on Kadena from November to December, operating from the Yomitan Auxiliary Air Base. The it left for Clark Air Base in the Philippines in 1957, before returning on March 25, 1958.

Under the name 12th Tactical Fighter Squadron, it was deployed in Vietnam and Thailand in the 60s. In 1968, it stood alert in south Korea for six months after North Korea seised the USS Pueblo. Since 1980, it has kept the name it died with last Friday. It has taken part in several actions, made thousands of sorties to places as distant as Northern Iraq, from November 1998 to February 1999, as part of the United Nations efforts to protect the Kurds there. The 12th FS was last deployed from Kadena in October of this year, when it joined the Australian Defense Force in joint exercises known as Crocodile ’99.

In view of the squadron’s rich history, the amount of emotion that transpired from its inactivation is comprehensible. Lt. Col. Merrell covered those feelings with words of consolation: “As we stand down the 12th fighter Squadron at kadena here today, the fifth of November, 1999, we can take consolation in knowing that the unit is being reassigned,” he said. “Although most people and equipment of the 12th will remain here in the 18th Wing, the institution, the history and the memory of the Dirty Dozen will live on.”

However, uncertainty about the future still looms for many of the former squadrons devoted fighters. Col. Douglas Cochran had a word on that: “Any time we stand down a unit, especially one with such a rich heritage and long list of honorable accomplishments, it is a very difficult task,” the 18th Operations Group Commander said. “As we stand down the 12th FS, we are still not sure of its destiny. We are confident however, that it will find a new home and continue its traditional role of excellence in combat fighter aviation.”

Before the inactivation of the Dirty Dozen, the 18tgh Wing had 54 F-15 warplanes. The aircraft were divided into 3 groups of 18. Now that one squadron is gone, five of those F-15s will return to the United States, and one will remain on standby at kadena, while the remaining 48 will be managed under 2 new squadrons of 24 aircraft each.

Official sources at kadena all insist that the recent inactivation is a standard practice in the Air Force that has been going on since the end of the Cold War on several US bases worldwide. The main motivation is to achieve “the greatest efficiency out of the available resources,” Public Affairs Officer Hoey told Japan Update. He also said the inactivation has nothing to do with failure to attain recruitment targets. Nor were financial matters and constant discussions with Okinawa Prefecture authorities to reduce the American military presence on the island cited as reasons to end the 12th FS on Kadena.

12th Fighter Squadron wins air-superiority award 2007

by Airman David Carbajal
3rd Wing Public Affairs

7/17/2007 – ELMENDORF AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska — The 12th Fighter Squadron celebrated its 25th anniversary of winning the 1981 Raytheon Award by earning a second.

The soon-to-be decommissioned squadron is the winner of the 2006 Raytheon Award. Started in 1953 by Hughes Aircraft Company, the trophy is given annually to the top air-superiority or air-defense squadron in the Air Force.

“To put it in perspective, the Dirty Dozen (12th FS) was awarded this honor out of nearly 50 squadrons,” said Lt. Col. Alan Kollien, 12th FS commander. “It’s truly a great achievement for the fighters and our 12th AMU (Aircraft Maintenance Unit).”

During 2006, the Dirty Dozen flew 4,089 sorties and 6,380 hours in support of peacetime and North American Aerospace Defense Command contingency operations, while maintaining around-the-clock Response Posture Immediate alert.

From Jan. 22-Feb. 7, 2006, the 12th FS participated in the first-ever Coalition Coal Warfighter Red Flag. It was the largest Red Flag exercise in more than three years, involving 26 units from five countries with more than 1,650 maintainers and more than 500 operators flying 131 aircraft. The squadron deployed 12 F-15Cs and flew 145 sorties for 321 hours, with an overall mission capable rate of 95 percent and zero safety incidents.

During the 2006 Northern Edge, the Dirty Dozen led the Pacific Command, flying 169 sorties and 467.9 hours — the largest squadron contribution to the most relevant large force exercise ever executed, said Colonel Kollien.

Despite the Alaskan climate, the 12th AMU had the highest F-15C mission-capable rate in the active duty Air Force — 86.9 percent. Additionally, the 12th AMU compiled the best maintenance statistics in most major categories and met all Air Force maintenance indicator standards for the entire fiscal year.

“The 12th AMU’s outstanding efforts in 2006 were among the best in the Combat Air Force and we quite honestly would never have won had they not done such an exemplary job,” said Capt. Ryan “Jolt” Pelkola, a 12th Fighter Squadron pilot.

The squadron experienced no mishaps – aircraft losses or damage exceeding $20,000 or personnel injuries causing lost work time — in 6,380 hours of flying and only four reportable events which was zero cost to the Air Force.

The 12th FS also received an “Excellent” rating on the wing’s annual safety inspection.

“The men and women of the 12th AMU took an enormous amount of pride in delivering the world’s finest fighter aircraft to our operators every day,” said Capt. Jason McFeaters, 12th Aircraft Maintenance Unit officer in charge. “Whether it was here at Elmendorf providing top-cover for our nation, or on the road honing our combat skills at various training events, we enjoyed a tremendous relationship with our operators and possessed an understanding that at any time we were ready to hit the road as a team and take overwhelming air power to our enemy.”

This is the second Raytheon Award given to a fighter squadron at Elmendorf in six years. The 19th Fighter Squadron won this honor in 2000. The 12th FS will be inactivated in October and has begun transferring some personnel and aircraft to the 19th FS.

Squadron photos

A left side view of an F-15 Eagle aircraft shortly after taking off during the joint US Japanese Exercise COPE NORTH ’86-3. The aircraft is armed with an AIM-9 Sidewinder missile under the left wing.
Captain Sal Speziale of the 12th Tactical Fighter Squadron familiarizes Japanese airmen with the F-15 Eagle aircraft during the joint Japanese Air Self Defense Force (JASDF) and United States Air Force exercise COPE NORTH 83-4.
A US Air Force F-15 Eagle aircraft prepares to land after a mission during the joint US Japanese Exercise COPE NORTH ’86-3.
A US Air Force F-15 Eagle aircraft lands during the joint US Japanese Exercise COPE NORTH ’86-3.
COL W.R. Macfarlane, , is welcomed upon his arrival for exercise Kangaroo ’81 at RAAF Amberley, Australia.
LtC Pat O’Brien and Mike Putman
12nd TFS Dirty Dozen Operations, Kadena AB somewhere in the early 80’s. From left to right SMS Jack Irvine Jiffy Jeff Brown, Uncle Budge Wilson and Ralph Hildebrant (right front). ID thanks to the help of Jiffy Jeff.
Wayne “Kones” Knittle from the 12 TFS Dirty Dozen climbs aboard an F-15 aircraft on the flight line during the joint Australian, New Zealand and US (ANZUS) Exercise TRIAD ’84, Whenuapai Air Base, New Zealand.
A F-15C Eagle aircraft assigned to the 12th Fighter Squadron (FS), takes off from the runway at Korat, Royal Thai Air Force Base (RTAFB) Thailand, during Exercise COPE TIGER 2003.
A US Air Force (USAF) F-15C Strike Eagle fighter from the 12th Fighter Squadron (FS), Elmendorf Air Force Base (AFB), Alaska (AK), flies over the Gulf of Mexico while deployed to Tyndall AFB, Florida (FL), during a Combat Archer Air-to-Air Weapons System Evaluation Program (AAWSEP) mission.
A 12th Fighter Squadron, F-15C Eagle based out of Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska, flies over the Bering Sea during a simulated enemy aircraft intercept mission on May 12, 2007, during Exercise Alaska Shield / Northern Edge 2007. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Daniel N. Woods)
Royal Thai Air Force (RTAF) Maintainers look on as US Air Force (USAF) ground crews launch a F-15C Eagle from the 12nd FS on the flight line at Korat, Royal Thai Air Force Base (RTAFB), Thailand, during Exercise COPE TIGER 2003.
Capt. Jason “Scooby” Stinchcomb, an F-15C Eagle pilot with the 27th Fighter Squadron (FS), Langley Air Force Base (AFB), Virginia, banks right prior to firing an AIM-120C Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missile (AMRAAM) at a sub-scale drone.
12 TFS Dirty Dozen @ Kwang Ju AB, ROK for Team Spirit ’87
4 Ship of (L-R) Major Tex Gillespie, Capt Jethro Bodine, Capt Moose Elkin and Capt Bluto Berkowitz (photo via Tex Gillespie)
) “Cheese, Odie, Spike and Slam” on the flightline at Misawa AB
Dirty Dozen down under
Dirty Dozen squadron building early 80’s
Cotton, Brandy and Stroke at the Dirty Dozen Ops
Mike Putman with the Hughes Trophy won by the Dirty Dozen at Kadena AB.
12 TFS Dirty Dozen Eagles hot-pit refueling at Kwang Ju AB during Team Spirit 1981
FIDO at Kadena AB, 12 TFS 198
“Kones” from the 12 TFS Dirty Dozen climbs aboard an F-15 aircraft on the flight line during the joint Australian, New Zealand and US (ANZUS) Exercise TRIAD ’84, Whenuapai Air Base, New Zealand.
12 TFS Dirty Dozen make the local news during the joint Australian, New Zealand and US (ANZUS) Exercise TRIAD ’84, Whenuapai Air Base, New Zealand.

An air-to-air left side view of three F-15 Eagle from the 12 TFS flying over the aircraft carrier USS MIDWAY (CV 41) during the exercise Cope Diamond/Coral Aces.
An aerial view of eight F-15A Eagle aircraft from the 12th Tactical Fighter Squadron parked on the flight line at Whenuapai Air Base during the joint Australian, New Zealand and US (ANZUS) Exercise TRIAD ’84 (MSGT David N. Craft)
Dirty Dozen catching a ride home from Clark AB, in a C-130 after Cope Thunder. Paul “Nitro” Mahon (L) & Dan “Pig” Penn (R)
Dirty Dozen at The Kwang” (photo via Thomas Curran)
12 TFS Dirty Dozen Thomas Curran during Cope Thunder 88-4 (photo via Thomas Curran)
Thomas Curran conducting pre-flight checks at Osan AB, during the Seoul Summer Olympics 88 (photo via Thomas Curran)
12 TFS Dirty Dozen squadron photo 1989.
Buck Rogers and Thomas Curran debriefing afer a Team Spirit ’87 sortie (via Thomas Curran)
12 TFS Dirty Dozen during Cope Thunder 88-1
Dirty Dozen COPE THUNDER Green Bean Tour at Clark AB, (photo via Thomas Curran)
F-15C (78-0523) from the 12 TFS ‘Dirty Dozen’ is refueled from a collapsible fuel storage container during exercise Team Spirit ’84 at Kwang Ju AB.
F-15C 78-0533 assigned to the 12nd Tactical Fighter Squadron overhead the Japanese Sea Feb 10th, 1983 Photo made by SSGT Glenn Lindsey
Two F-15C Eagles (78-0530 / 78-0533) from the 12nd Tactical Fighter Squadron as they fly near a Soviet “Kanin” class destroyer during a tactical reconnaissance exercise. Photo made by SSGT Glenn Lindsey.