As the host unit at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, the 36th Wing mission is to provide a US-based lethal warfighting platform for the employment, deployment, reception and throughput of air and space forces in the Asia-Pacific region.
The wing comprises the 36th Operations Group, 36th Mission Support Group, 36th Maintenance Group, 36th Medical Group and 36th Contingency Response Group.
Although the history of the 36th Wing did not begin until the late 1940s, the wing does have a link with a like-numbered group that distinguished itself before and during World War II. The 36th Pursuit Group (Interceptor), a predecessor of the present-day wing, was activated at Langley Field, Va., on Feb. 1, 1940. The group's original assigned flying units, the 22nd, 23rd and 32nd Pursuit Squadrons, were initially equipped with P-36 "Mohawk" aircraft.
The group was assigned to the Caribbean Defense Command, Losey Field, Puerto Rico, on Jan. 15, 1941. After arriving, the group received Bell P-39 "Aircobras" and Curtiss P-40 "Warhawks," the newest pursuit planes in the Army inventory. The group was redesignated the 36th Fighter Group in May 1942 and reassigned to Charleston, S.C., in the summer of 1943. While at Charleston, the group received Republic P-47 "Thunderbolt" aircraft. The 36th left the United States for assignment to 9th Air Force near Kingsworth, England, in March 1944. In early May, the group became operational and flew its first combat mission in the European Theater of Operations. The group participated in 17 missions that month, including dive-bombing, area cover, strafing and escort of medium and heavy bombers.
VE-Day - May 8, 1945 - was more than a year after the 36th flew its first combat mission from England. During this period, the three flying units flew more than 1,000 missions and 6,947 sorties. The unit then moved to Normandy, France, to occupy the first of a series of temporary bases in France, Belgium and Germany. The group's efficiency and endurance earned it the nickname, "The Fightin' 36th."
In February 1946, the 36th was transferred back to the United States. After several reorganizations and reassignments, the group moved to the Caribbean in October 1946. On Oct. 15, the 36th reorganized at Howard Field, Panama Canal Zone. The group later received 24 Lockheed F-80B "Shooting Star" jet fighters to replace the P-47 "Thunderbolts."
In June 1948 the group moved to Europe. The 36th Fighter Wing activated July 2, 1948, and the 36th Fighter Group was assigned to the wing, with the group forming the nucleus of the wing. The wing was assigned to Furstenfeldbruck Air Base, West Germany. The wing's arrival marked the first time U.S. jet fighter units were stationed in Europe. While at Furstenfeldbruck, the wing formed the "Skyblazers," the first Air Force aerobatics team using jet aircraft. The wing was redesignated a fighter-bomber wing in January 1950. In September of that year, 85 F-84 "Thunderjet" fighters were assigned.
The wing officially arrived at Bitburg Air Base, Germany, in November 1952. In August 1953, the North American F-86 "Sabre" was introduced to the wing, replacing the F-84s. In August 1954, the wing was redesignated a as the 36th Fighter-Day Wing. In 1956, the wing received the North American F-100 "Super Sabre," marking the first time a wing in U.S. Air Force Europe flew supersonic jets. On July 9, 1958, the wing was redesignated the 36th Tactical Fighter Wing. In November 1959, the wing was assigned to 17th Air Force. In May 1961, the wing received the Republic F-105 "Thunderchief" and continued to fly the jet fighter until it received the McDonnell F-4D "Phantom II" aircraft in 1966.
In 1977, the 36th transitioned to the McDonnell-Douglas F-15A and B model "Eagle." Arrival of the first F-15 on April 27 made the 36th the best-equipped air-superiority unit outside the continental United States. It converted to the F-15C and D model aircraft from October 1980 through December 1981. In the late '80s, the Army's 5th Battalion (Patriot), 7th Air Defense Artillery missile system beddown and integration into the wing took place. In 1989, the wing assumed responsibilities for supporting and planning all Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty compliance inspections by Soviet inspection teams at Florennes Air Base, Belgium.
The wing's combat readiness was tested between December and March 1991 during a deployment to Southwest Asia as part of Operations Desert Shield, Desert Storm and Proven Force. While flying combat air patrols during the war, the F-15s of the 36th were a strong deterrent to the air forces of Iraq. During Operation Desert Storm, the 36th was credited with downing 17 enemy aircraft in air-combat engagements. On Oct. 1, 1991, the 36th Tactical Fighter Wing was redesignated the 36th Fighter Wing, and in July 1994, the 36th Fighter Wing was inactivated.
The 36th Air Base Wing was activated at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, on Sept. 30, 1994. Under that designation, the wing lived up to its mission several times. In September 1996, the wing provided around-the-clock forward-deployment support to Air Combat Command B-52s during their operation Desert Strike missions over Iraq, and began hosting more than 6,600 Kurdish evacuees during the 8-month humanitarian assistance mission, Joint Task Force Pacific Haven.
On April 12, 2006, Andersen AFB's host unit, the 36th Air Base Wing was officially redesignated as the as 36th Wing. Prior to the redesignation, the wing had been using a temporary designation of air expeditionary wing. The change in the wing's official designation was meant to better aligns Andersen with its mission statement: "To provide a U.S.-based lethal warfighting platform for the employment, deployment, reception, and throughput of air and space forces in the Asia-Pacific region."