Constituted as 79th Pursuit Group (Interceptor) on 13 Jan 1942. Activated on 9 Feb 1942. Redesignated 79th Fighter Group in May 1942. Moved to the Middle East, Oct-Nov 1942, and became part of Ninth AF. Trained with P-40's while moving westward in the wake of the British drive across Egypt and Libya to Tunisia. Although many of the group's pilots flew combat missions with other organizations, the 79th group itself did not begin operations until Mar 1943. By escorting bombers, attacking enemy shipping, and supporting ground forces, the 79th took part in the Allied operations that defeated Axis forces in North Africa, captured Pantelleria, and conquered Sicily, the group being awarded a DUC for its support of British Eighth Army during that period, Mar-Aug 1943. Assigned to Twelfth AF in Aug 1943 and continued to support British Eighth Army by attacking troop concentrations, gun positions, bridges, roads, and rail lines in southern Italy. Operated in the area of the Anzio beachhead, Jan-Mar 1944. Participated in the drive on Rome, Mar-Jun 1944, and converted to P-47's during that time. Flew escort and strafing missions in southern France during Aug and Sep 1944, and afterward engaged in interdictory and close support operations in northern Italy. Received second DUC for numerous missions flown at minimum altitude in intense flak to help pierce the enemy line at the Santerno River in Italy, 16-20 Apr 1945. Remained overseas as part of United States Air Forces in Europe after the war. Transferred, without personnel and equipment, to the US in Jun 1947. Inactivated on 15 Jul 1947.
Redesignated 79th Fighter Group (Air Defense). Activated on 18 Aug 1955. Assigned to Air Defense Command.
Squadrons. 85th: 1942-1947. 86th: 1942-1947; 1955-. 87th: 1942-1947.
Stations. Dale Mabry Field, Fla, 9 Feb 1942; Morris Field, NC, c. 1 May 1942; Hillsgrove, RI, c. 22 Jun 1942; Bedford, Mass, 2 Jul-28 Sep 1942; Egypt, 18 Nov 1942; Libya, c. 25 Jan 1943; Tunisia, c. 12 Mar 1943; Sicily, 16 Jul 1943; Southern Italy, c. 15 Sep 1943; Foggia, Italy, c. 9 Oct 1943; Madna Airfield, Italy, 19 Nov 1943; Capodichino, Italy, Jan 1944; Pomigliano, Italy, 1 May 1944; Corsica, Jun 1944; Southern France, c. 25 Aug 1944; Iesi, Italy, Oct 1944; Fano, Italy, c. 5 Dec 1944; Cesenatico, Italy, c. 20 Mar 1945; Horsching, Austria, Jul 1945-25 Jun 1947; Langley Field, Va, 25 Jun-15 Jul 1947. Youngstown Mun Aprt, Ohio, 18 Aug 1955-.
Commanders. 2nd Lt Thomas G Mitchell, 11 Feb 1942; Lt Col Stanley Holtoner, 17 Feb 1942; Lt Col Peter McGoldrick, 1942; Col Earl E Bates, Nov 1942; Col Charles W Stark, Apr 1944; Lt Col Melvin Neilson, May 1944; Col Gladwyn E Pinkston, 28 Nov 1944; Lt Col John F Martin, 17 May 1945; Col German P Culver, May 1946; Lt Col Bascom A Brooks, 4 Feb 1947; Lt Col John M Thacker, Apr 1947-unkn. Col Benjamin H Emmert Jr, 1955-.
Campaigns. Air Combat, EAME Theater; Egypt-Libya; Tunisia; Sicily; Naples-Foggia; Anzio; Rome-Arno; Southern France; North Apennines; Po Valley.
Decorations. Distinguished Unit Citations: North Africa and Sicily, Mar-17 Aug 1943; Italy, 16-20 Apr 1945.
Data from Air Force Combat Units of World War II By Maurer, Maurer, Published 1986