WTVY  | Dothan, AL  | Military, News

Ceremony Marks the End of an Era For Aviation History

By: Vanessa Nguyen Email
By: Vanessa Nguyen Email

An era in military aviation history ended Friday at Tyndall Air Force Base as the 2nd Fighter Squadron began the process of deactivating.

The squadron, known as the 'American Beagles' has a 69-year air force history.

Tyndall officials decided to celebrate the squadron's history, by inviting some of the former Beagles back to the base for the ceremony.

Friday's commemorative ceremony marked the beginning of the end for the "American Beagles."

Lieutenant Colonel Steven Burgh relinquished command of the 2nd Fighter Squadron.

"After commanding this squadron for the last year and putting in 12-hour days, doing whatever it takes to accomplish the mission, to give up command and the interaction with the people is a tough day but it's something that every commander goes through."

The squadron is proudly known among Airmen as the "American Beagles."

"The 2nd Fighter Squadron has a proud and distinguished history that began when the 2nd Pursuit Squadron was created in 1941 to defend the skies of Europe in World War II as part of the 52nd Fighter Group."
85-year-old Melvin Bryant was an American Beagle during World War II, flying P-51 Mustangs in Italy.

"It's very sad because all of us, well there's not too many of us left who flew with the squadron in World War II but it's sad."

Through the years, American Beagles have fought in nearly every U.S. conflict, flying everything from A-26's to the F-101 and the soon-to-be retired F-15 eagle.

"It's very difficult to watch the aircraft leave. The F-15 has been at Tyndall since 1984 and we've produced over 1400 F-15 pilots for Combat Air Force in that time."

The Air Force deactivated the American Beagles 3-previous times, only to reactivate the squadron.

With that history, Colonel Burgh believes anything is possible.

"Undoubtedly, if the past is any indication of the future, the 2nd Fighter Squadron will be reactivated again very soon."

And even if it doesn't happen, these Airmen agree it's been a good run for them as 'American Beagles.'

This latest de-activation will become official on October 1st.


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