#1726 306 FS F-16C print
Squadron Prints Lithograph No. 1726 - 87-0225 '177 FW', F-16C Fighting Falcon, 306th Fighter Squadron, 177th Fighter Wing, Atlantic City International Airport, New Jersey.
The 306th Fighter Squadron, known as the “Gunners,” also formerly known as the “Rapid Rabbits,” has a legacy dating back to its conscription on 30 August 1957. The squadron was first activated a month later as the 306th Fighter-Bomber Squadron at Turner Air Force Base, Georgia as part of the 31st Fighter-Bomber Wing. Initially flying the North American F-100 Super Sabre, the squadron was renamed 306th Tactical Fighter Squadron a year after establishment. Shortly there-after the 306th Tactical Fighter Squadron was moved to George AFB, California. At that time, then Lt Col Charles “Chuck” Yeager, World War 2 Ace and first person in history to break the sound barrier, became the Squadron’s fourth Commander. In 1962 the squadron was transferred to Homestead AFB, Florida where it would remain for much of its active time (until deactivation in 1986). Soon after arriving in Florida, the Gunners were thrust into the history books as an integral piece of homeland defense and national security executing operational missions during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Once tensions eased, the 306th conducted several “deployments” throughout Europe and Asia during the early to middle 1960’s. This experience would prove valuable as the squadron was ultimately sent to Tuy Hoa AB, along with the rest of the 31st Tactical Fighter Wing, on Christmas Day 1966 where they would remain until 7 September 1970. Ultimately the 31st Fighter Wing conducted well over 100,000 combat sorties during the Vietnam War earning them and the Gunners many awards, honors, and accolades including a Presidential Unit Citation, multiple Outstanding Unit Awards with Combat Valor Device, and multiple Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Crosses with Palm Device. These were awarded due to the unprecedented success of the squadron through ten different campaign phases including all four phases of the Air Offensive, multiple Ground Offensives, and the TET Offensive of 1969. After the 4 years in Vietnam, the squadron returned to Homestead AFB, Florida. In 1970 the 306th Tactical Fighter Squadron transitioned to the McDonnell Douglas F-4E Phantom II which they would fly until 1980 before switching to the F-4D until 1983. The Gunners were deactivated in 1983 but would be reactivated two years later flying the General Dynamics F-16A/B Block 15 Fighting Falcon in a training capacity for combat readiness operations. The 306th Tactical Fighter Squadron era ended on 1 October 1986 when the squadron was once again deactivated. The squadron would stay dormant for 36 years until 8 July 2022 when the Gunners were once again activated, this time as the 306th Fighter Squadron. The new squadron was reconstituted as an additive Total Force Integration unit supporting the New Jersey Air National Guard. As an active-duty squadron, the Gunners were ultimately assigned to the 495th Fighter Group, 15th Air Force, Shaw AFB, South Carolina, but were established as a Geographically Separated Unit and embedded into the 177th Fighter Wing stationed in Atlantic City, New Jersey at the Air National Guard Base. Now the 306th shares aircraft with the 177th Fighter Wing and 119th Fighter Squadron operating the mighty F-16C+ Block 30 “Viper.” The squadron’s skilled pilots, maintainers, and support personnel execute a variety of missions at home and abroad. While in garrison, the 306th and 119th maintain 24-hour homeland defense through the aerospace control alert mission constantly supporting Operation NOBLE EAGLE. In addition, the Gunners continue to be tasked with worldwide deployments executing air-to-air combat, ground attack, and close air support missions maintaining the standard set by past Airmen of the 306th Fighter Squadron and honoring those that have come before us.