Library Fact Sheets
555TH FIGHTER SQUADRON "TRIPLE NICKEL"|
Printable Fact Sheet
The 555th Fighter Squadron provides combat airpower on demand to U.S. and NATO Combatant Commanders as well as the National Command Authority in order to meet National Security objectives. It also performs air and space control and force application roles of counterair, strategic attack and counterland, including interdiction and close-air support ,with 21 F-16CMs employing state of the art munitions in support of the joint, NATO, and combined operations.
The Triple Nickel heritage began 58 years ago on Nov. 25, 1942 when the 555th Bombardment Squadron, Medium, was constituted flying the B-26 Marauder. During World War II, the Nickel led offensive actions against Axis forces from bases in England, France, and Belgium. For gallantry in action, the Nickel was awarded the first of its four Presidential Unit Citations.
Shortly after WWII ended, Nickel colors were retired as U.S. forces were drawn down. On 8 January 1964, the Nickel re-emerged at MacDill AFB, Fla., with the F-4C Phantom II as its steed. Being the first operational unit in the Air Force to receive the Phantom II, the Nickel was deployed and then permanently assigned to the Pacific Rim in support of hostilities in Southeast Asia.
In February 1966, the Nickel returned to combat. Flying out of Udorn Royal Thai Air Base, they scored their first two victories April 23, 1966, and became the first "Ace" Squadron in Southeast Asia with six kills one week later.
In June 1966, the 555th TFS moved to Ubon KTAB and joined the 8th TFW "Wolfpack." There, the squadron led the first strike against MiG airfields in North Vietnam. The Nickel launched the first night bombing attacks against North Vietnam September 29, 1967. While at Ubon, the Nickel downed an additional 14 aircraft, including four MiG-21s January 2, 1967. The Nickel was now the only "Quad Ace" Fighter Squadron, with 20 MiGs to its credit.
In 1968, the Nickel participated in the campaign against the Ho Chi Minh Trail and the Linebacker campaigns against the NVN heartland in 1972. During Linebacker I and II, the Nickel returned to its air superiority role and brought its MiG tally to 39 confirmed victories--10 MiG-17s, 3 MiG-19s, and 26 MiG-21s, producing the first and second USAF aces, and earning the motto, "World's Largest Distributor of MiG Parts." From 1966 to 1973, the 555th Tactical Fighter Squadron earned three more Presidential Unit Citations, five Air Force Outstanding Unit awards with combat "V" device, the Republic of Vietnam gallantry cross with palm, and the 1973 Hughes achievement award.
The list of the unit's achievements shows a relentless drive to engage the enemy at his great misfortune. After nine years of distinguished combat operations, the Nickel returned to the United States. In 1974, the squadron moved to Luke AFB, Ariz., where it was again chosen to receive the Air Force's newest fighter, the F-15 Eagle.
The Nickel, exactly 17 years to the day, April 1, 1994 transferred to Aviano AB, Italy, and was honored again by being given the distinction of flying the greatest fighter in the world, the single seat, supersonic, multi-role, 9G F-16C.
31st Fighter Wing Public Affairs Office
Unit 6140, Box 100
Aviano AB, Italy
APO AE 09604