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In August 1954 the squadron moved to Johnson AFB, (near Tokorozawa) Japan. Shortly thereafter, the squadron adopted the "Humpback Cat" insignia and the motto "We Get Ours at Night". Although not officially sanctioned by the Air Force, the patch was used until 1956. The 319th FIS was relieved from assignment at Johnson Air Base, Japan "Less Personnel and Equipment" on October 18, 1955 ( actually there were approximately 14 in the advance party and 56 in the main squadron move) after surrendering their F-94Bs to FEAFCOM (Far East Air Forces Command, who were responsible for aircraft maintenance and logistics,) for shipment back to the United States.
In November 1955 the squadron returned to CONUS and ADC at Bunker Hill (later Grissom) AFB, Peru, Indiana . Now assigned to the Air Defense Command's 4706th Air Defense Wing, the 319th FIS developed the "Missile Cat" an entirely new squadron insignia to reflect their new rocket-armed role. "We Get Ours at Night" was the motto of a rocket armed cat. They received their first F-94Cs (specs) from other USAF squadrons in March 1956, along with a reassignment to the replacement 58th Air Defense Group. It was the last unit to get F-94Cs. By December 1957 the transition to the nuclear armed Northrop F-89J(specs) Scorpion had been completed and the USAF gave its official sanction for the use of the "Missile Cat" insignia.
As a result of the high proficiency displayed in the rocket firing at Yuma, Arizona in early 1959, the 319th was chosen to represent the 30th Air Division at the annual ADC Weapons Meet "William Tell," in October at Tyndall AFB, Florida. The 319th team took first place in the F-89J category and also had the highest total score of the twelve interceptor squadrons competing in the World Wide USAF Weapons Meet.
Beginning in October 1958 through the next 32 months, the pilots of the 319th Fighter Interceptor Squadron flew thousands of accident-free hours, even during the transition from the F-89J to the F-106 aircraft. This earned the squadron several flying safety awards, including the highest in the United States Air Force, the award for Meritorious Achievement in Flight safety. The squadron also received the USAF Flying Safety Plaque for a one year period March 30, 1960 to March 30, 1961.
On January 25, 1963 orders were received that the 319th would move to Homestead AFB, Florida, minus personnel and equipment. On March 1, 1963 the squadron was officially activated at Homestead AFB, was manned with personnel from various units all over the world, and was equipped with the Mach 2, F-104(specs) Starfighter Aircraft. The mission of the 319th: Defense of the Southern portion of the United States, the industrial and metropolitan areas of Miami and other cities, and military bases in the region.
The 319th began its operations at Homestead using an old fire house as its only permanent building. Throughout the year of 1963 and into 1964, while construction of a new readiness building and various maintenance buildings was going on, the squadron operated out of trailers and large tents. In June 1964 the completed squadron operations and maintenance complex was dedicated.
The close proximity of Communist Cuba to Southern Florida put a very large responsibility on the men of the 319th FIS. The presence of Communist built MIG jet fighters in Cuba marked the first time in history that the United States was vulnerable to attack by enemy fighter aircraft. It was because of this threat that the 319th was equipped with F-104 Starfighters, the free world's best air superiority or fighter-versus-fighter aircraft. To fulfill this defense responsibility, the men and equipment of the 319th must maintain the highest degree of proficiency and readiness, for if an enemy attach on our homeland should come, they will be the first line of defense for the Southern United States. In December 1969 it was deactivated, the Air Defense Command's last F-104 unit.
In July 1971 the the 319th Fighter Interceptor Squadron was once again reactivated at Malmstrom AFB, Montana replacing the 71st FIS with F-106s(specs). Shortly thereafter, on April 30, 1972 the squadron was deactivated. The 319th was the only FIS to be equipped with the F-106 twice in its career.
Once again in June of 1975 the 319th Squadron was activated as the 319th Fighter Interceptor Training Squadron at Tyndall AFB, Panama City, Florida. They operated under the ADC's Interceptor Weapons School. It operated without aircraft and trained pilots in their aircraft that they brought from other locations.The squadron was deactivated in November 1977. Was there any other squadron in the Air Defense Command activated and deactivated as many times as the 319th? Is this the final...?
Copyright © 1998 The 319th FIS Association. All rights reserved.
Credits-Special thanks go out to the following people for the use of their photos and material:
Marty J. Isham and David R. McLaren "Lockheed F-94 STARFIRE," David R. McLaren
"Black Widow" and "Double Menace", Michael O'Leary, Robert Arndt, Gary Sivak, James F. Smith and Joe Cupido.