The 96th Flying Training Squadron, Laughlin Air Force Base, Texas, is a Reserve unit that supplements the four active flying squadrons by conducting training in the T-6 Texan II, T-1, and T-38 portions of Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training and Introduction to Fighter Fundamental Course.
The 96th Pursuit Squadron, Interceptor, was activated Feb. 9, 1942 at Harding Field, La., flying the P-38 "Lightning." The unit moved to Muroc, Calif., then to Glendale, Calif., to begin training for World War II and was redesignated the 96th Fighter Squadron, Twin Engine, May 15, 1942. The unit deployed to Northern Ireland Oct. 5, 1942 and started flying combat missions in the European Theater of Operations.
In December 1942, the 96th moved to North Africa and flew combat missions throughout Algeria and Tunisia in the Mediterranean Theater of Operations. The unit then relocated back to the European continent flying fighter missions throughout Italy, France, Romania and Germany. After the war was won, the squadron was deactivated in September 1945.
In August 1947, the squadron was redesignated the 96th Fighter Squadron, Single Engine, flying the P-51 "Mustang" from Grenier Field, N.H. The unit deployed to Ladd AFB, Ala., and was deactivated in October 1949.
Sept. 11, 1952, the unit was reactivated as the 96th Fighter Interceptor Squadron flying the F-94 Star Fighter out of New Castle Airport, Del. The 96th flew fighter and air defense missions until it was deactivated Jan. 8, 1958.
June 22, 1972, the unit was redesignated the 96th Flying Training Squadron at Williams AFB, Ariz., flying the T-37 aircraft. The 96th FTS trained USAF and foreign student pilots in all phases of primary Undergraduate Pilot Training. The 96th FTS was the first flying squadron to train Women Air Force pilots in 1977. The 96th FTS was deactivated June 26, 1992.
April 1, 1998, the squadron was reactivated as the 96th FTS, Laughlin AFB, Texas, as a Reserve Associate Squadron, Air Force Reserve Command. The 96th FTS is the first squadron in the Air Force with Instructor Pilots teaching SUPT student pilots in all trainer aircraft: T-6A Texan II, T-38 and T-1.
The 96th FTS is one of the most highly decorated units with 13 World War II campaign ribbons for service in Tunisia, Sicily, Naples-Foggia, Rome-Arno, Normandy, Northern France, Southern France, North Apennines, Rhineland, Central Europe, Po Valley, Air Offensive, Europe, and Air Combat, European-African Middle Eastern Campaign. The 96th FTS was also awarded three Distinguished Unit Citations and three Air Force Outstanding Unit Awards.
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