To deliver lethal airpower when and where directed by the Air Component Commander. To defend the base, accept follow-on forces and take the fight north!
Personnel and Resources
Kunsan Air Base, recipient of the Air Force's 2000 Commander-in-Chief's Award for Installation Excellence, has 2,717 Air Force members, 180 Army members, and more than 30 United States civilians assigned. In addition, the base employs about 400 local national full-time employees.
All but 237 military members live on base in dormitories. Those who live off base have received approval to live in the local community. An assignment to Kunsan Air Base is typically a one year unaccompanied tour, meaning members come to the base without their families.
The 8th Fighter Wing, commonly known as the Wolf Pack, is the host unit at Kunsan Air Base, and is assigned to the Seventh Air Force, headquartered at Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea. Seventh Air Force falls under Pacific Air forces, which is headquartered at Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii. The members of the Wolf Pack are charged with defending the base, receiving follow-on forces, and flying missions to destroy enemy forces. The 8th Operations group equips and trains the 35th and 80th Fighter Squadrons (nicknames the Pantons and Juvats, respectively) to conduct air-to-ground and air-to-air missions in the 49 F-16s assigned to the wing. The squadrons conduct interdiction, close air support, counter air, air superiority, and suppression of enemy air defense missions. The 8th Support Group consists of five squadrons that support the base with civil engineering, communications, transportation, maintenance, supply and logistical support, including planning bed-down of follow-on forces. The 8th Medical Group manages the medical clinic that offers flight medicine, general medicine, dentistry, bioenvironmental services, and military public health.
Kunsan Air Base, Republic of Korea, is home to the 8th Fighter Wing, known as the "Wolf Pack." Located seven miles west of Kunsan City, Republic of Korea, the base is on the west coast of the peninsula near the Kum River estuary.
Originally built by the Japanese as a fighter-interceptor base in 1938, Kunsan became the home of the United States Military Assistance Advisory Group in Korea at the end of World War II. In 1949, United States Forces left Korea, turning the base over to the then-fledging Republic of Korea Air Force.
In July 1950, at the outset of the Korean Conflict, Kunsan Air Base was occupied by North Korean forces. The 3rd Battalion, 24th Infantry, United States Army, recaptured the base and Kunsan City on Sept. 30, 1950. The Fifth Air Force took over Kunsan in October 1950 and begun modifying and rehabilitation existing buildings. In March 1951, the 27th Air Installation Squadron began maintenance or the base runway. The 3rd Bombardment Wing moved to the base Aug. 22, 1951, as Kunsan's first assigned aircraft wing.
Following the 3rd Bombardment Wing's return to Japan at the end of the Korean Conflict, Kunsan became the home to several United States Air Force units. The 6175th Air Base Wing operated and maintained the base from 1954 to 1971. The 3rd bombardment Wing returned to Kunsan in March 1971 with designation of the 3rd Tactical Fighter Wing. In September of 1974 the 8th Tactical Fighter Wing was assigned to Kunsan Air Base. As a part of an Air Force-wide reorganization, the 8th Tactical Fighter Wing was redesignated the 8th Fighter Wing Feb. 3, 1992.
8th Fighter Wing
The 8th Fighter Wing, known as the Wolf Pack, traces its history back to Ashiya, Japan, where it was activated under its present designation Aug. 18, 1948. Using temporary bestowal, the wing also claims the lineage and honors of its predecessor unit, the 8th Fighter Group, which was activated at Langley Field, Va. on April 1, 1931.
From its activation in 1948 until the outbreak of the Korean Conflict, the wing participated in the air defense of Japan. The wing was redesignated as the 8th Fighter Bomber Wing Jan. 20, 1950.
On June 26, 1950, one day after North Korean forces invaded the Republic of Korea, the wing flew air cover for the evacuation of Americans from South Korea, thus becoming the first wing to fly combat missions in that conflict. The following day, June 27, 1st Lt. Robert H. Dewald, assigned to the 8th Fighter Bomber Wing's 35th Fighter Squadron, shot down an enemy aircraft. Flying an F-80, the lieutenant achieved the first enemy aircraft kill of that conflict, as well as the first confirmed U.S. Air Force kill by a jet aircraft.
On Dec. 1, 1950, as U.S. forces pressed the attack on North Korean forces, the wing moved to Pyongyang, North Korea. Then only days later on Dec. 9, the wing moved to Seoul, South Korea, and then on to Itazuke Air Base, Japan. Throughout the Korean Conflict, the wing primarily conducted air-to-ground operations, providing close air support for United Nations ground forces, and striking enemy resources such as supply centers and transportation assets. For its efforts during the war, the 8th Fighter Bomber Wing was awarded two Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citations and 10 campaign streamers.
The wing was redesignated the 8th Tactical Fighter Wing July 1, 1958. From the beginning of the Korean Conflict until its move to George Air Force Base, Calif., July 10, 1964, the wing flew F-51, F-80, F-82, F-86, F-100, F-102 and F-105 aircraft. After moving without personnel or resources to George AFB, the wing flew the F-4.
In early December 1965, the 8th TFW moved to Ubon Airfield, Thailand, where it would remain until 1974. Once in Thailand, the wing began combat operations in Vietnam. Operations included bombardment, ground support, air defense, interdiction and armed reconnaissance. In 1967, the wing flew mainly air-to-air missions against MiG aircraft. The aggressiveness and teamwork of the wing's pilots in destroying enemy aircraft earned the 8th TFW the distinction of having the highest number of aerial kills (38.5) of any wing in that war. These achievements also inspired then wing commander, Col. Robin Olds, to nickname the wing "The Wolf Pack." This nickname remains and has become synonymous with the 8th Fighter Wing.
During its nine years at Ubon, the wing earned 16 campaign streamers, three Presidential Unit Citations, six Air Force Outstanding Unit Awards with Combat V device and the Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross with palm.
On Sept. 16, 1974, the 8th TFW moved, without personnel or equipment, to Kunsan Air Base, South Korea. Two years later on Aug. 18, 1976, two U.S. Army officers attempting to cut down a tree in the demilitarized zone were attacked and killed by North Korean border guards. Known as the "tree-cutting incident," it triggered a quick build-up of forces as tensions with North Korea increased. The 12th and 67th Tactical Fighter Squadrons were temporarily assigned to the Wolf Pack as augmenting forces until easing tensions sent them home to Kadena, Japan, Sept. 6, 1976.
The Wolf Pack's transition from the F-4 to the F-16 began with the arrival of the wing's first F-16 May 29, 1981. The wing's first F-16 sortie was flown the following September and, by July 19, 1982, the transition was complete as the last F-4 departed Kunsan.
As part of an Air Force-wide reorganization, the 8th Tactical Fighter Wing was redesignated the 8th Fighter Wing Feb. 3, 1992. This reorganization also entailed the activation of the original 8th Fighter Group with the designation of the 8th Operations Group. The primary effect of the reorganization was to streamline the chain of command by going from deputy commanders for Operations, Maintenance and Resource Management, to a four-group structure--Operations, Logistics, Support and Medical--that reported to the wing.
Today, the 8th FW, comprised of the 35th Fighter Squadron "Pantons" and the 80th Fighter Squadron "Juvats," performs both air-to-ground and air-to-air missions in support of numerous taskings throughout the Pacific. With 49 assigned F-16C/D aircraft, an annual budget of $78 million and approximately 3,000 military and civilian members, the members of the Wolf Pack carry out their daily peacetime duties as they remain ready to execute their combat missions.