Badges for the Royal Air Force 121 and 133 Eagle Squadrons were presented at the RAF Club in London on 29 June 2018. The event was held in celebration of the RAF 100th anniversary and marks the date U.S. Army Air Corps Col. Charles Sweeney wrote to the U.K. Air Ministry proposing the formation of RAF fighter squadrons comprised of American volunteers in 1940.
Historian Dr. Roy Heidicker explained to a packed room how important the Eagle Squadrons had been. He said “When things were looking really bad over here England desperately needed pilots and 245 American pilots volunteered to fly for the Royal Air Force. They became the three Eagles Squadrons 71, 121 and 133. Today, to commemorate their heroism all three badges have been presented to the RAF Club, where they will remain on display until the end of time.”
In attendance was RAF Air Vice Marshal Gerry Mayhew, Air Officer Commanding Number 1 Group, U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. Andrew P. Hansen, United States Air Force Europe director, along with veterans, families and 121 Squadron RAF Air Cadets.
AVM Mayhew said, “It is a privilege to honour the historical bond between the American and British aircrews who served together during World War II and I am pleased to see this bond enduring, amongst so many other things, through our collaborations with the F-35B Lightning II 5th Generation fighter aircraft”
Three ‘Eagle Squadrons’ were formed between 1940 and 41 from U.S. citizens in the RAF. Initially they had British commanding officers, a combination of US and British pilots and British ground crew.
All three squadrons flew fighter patrols during the Dieppe Raid in 1942. Pilots from the squadrons served with RAF squadrons defending Malta, in the Desert Air Force in North Africa and with the RAF in the Far East during the war against Japan.
Leadership from the 48th Operations Group at Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England and the 4th Operations Group at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, North Carolina, attended as representatives of current “Eagle” squadrons that fly F-15E Strike Eagles and F-15C Eagles.
Brigadier General Chris Short said “We train together, we work together, we’re in combat together, we deploy together and we try to solve problems together. We also have fun together and relax together so I think our special relationship is far deeper than people think.”
When the U.S. entered World War II the three Eagle squadrons, and the American pilots in them, transferred to the U.S. Army Air Forces, 8th Air Force, forming the 4th Fighter Group in 1942. Their proud heritage of service is carried on today by the 4th Fighter Wing The 48th Fighter-Bomber Group, now the 48th Fighter Wing, flew aircraft in support of operations in Europe, including the Invasion of Normandy June 6, 1944.
A special badge, approved by King George VI in October 1940 was worn by the pilots – the spread eagle badge surmounted by the letters ‘E.S.’ represented Eagle Squadron.
Air Cadets from the modern day 121 Squadron were present to mark the occasion. Cadet Flight Sergeant Paige Eaves said “It’s such an honour to be invited to such a highly prestigious event, to learn all about the history of the Eagles Squadrons and our connection to them.”
For any additional information contact: Wg Cdr Mike Sherburn . Email:Mike.email@example.com