The 548th Combat Training Squadron is a United States Air Force squadron assigned to the 57th Operations Group at Fort Polk, Louisiana. It is geographically separated from the 57th, whose headquarters are at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada. At Fort Polk, the squadron controls multi-service close air support and forward air control aircraft and tactical air control assets in combat exercises with the US Army Joint Readiness Training Center.
The unit was originally formed as the 548th Night Fighter Squadron in 1944. After training, it was deployed to Seventh Air Force and ordered to the Mariana Islands in the Central Pacific. Its mission was the air defense of Twentieth Air Force Boeing B-29 Superfortress airfields on Saipan and also on Iwo Jima. It also provided night escort for the B-29s in case of Japanese interceptor attacks. It later served on Okinawa where it was inactivated in December 1945.
The squadron was reactivated in 1969 during the Vietnam War as part of the 1st Air Commando Wing. Its mission was to train Republic of Vietnam Air Force aircrews in the operation of C-47 Skytrain "Puff The Magic Dragon" gunship operations to interdict North Vietnamese supply convoys and personnel movements along the Ho Chi Minh Trail. The squadron was inactivated in 1973 as part of the withdrawal of United States forces from the Vietnam War.
Deliver a realistic, multi-domain training environment at GFE/JRTC in order to challenge and develop Battlefield Airmen and aircrew for airpower integration into joint operations across the spectrum of conflict.
Professional, capable, and flexible joint-minded Airmen delivering andimproving airpower integration into joint exercises and operations
World War II
The squadron was established on 23 March 1944 as the 548th Night FighterSquadron at Salinas Army Air Base, California. It was part of the final groupof dedicated night fighter interceptor squadrons formed by the Army Air Forces,being programmed to deploy to the Central Pacific. It was at Salinas that thesquadron adopted its emblem, "Skopie" as in "radar-scope",that it still carries today. The squadron trained at various airfields in theSan Joaquin Valley and was ready to deploy into combat by early September.
The squadron moved by train to Seattle, Washington where it boarded the USSGeneral W. F. Hase, bound for Honolulu, Hawaii. Arriving after a two-weekcrossing, it remained at Hickam Field, until its aircraft and equipment arrivedin Hawaii. At Hickam, it was assigned to Seventh Air Force, and its P-61s weresent through the Hawaiian Air Depot to modify the aircraft for operations inthe Pacific Theater. After being part of the defense forces of Hawaii forseveral weeks, a detachment was sent to Isely Airfield, Saipan on 15 Decemberto provide night interceptor coverage of the new bases on Saipan and Guam forthe Twentieth Air Force, which was going to use the airfields to carry out verylong range strategic bombing of the Japanese Home Islands with the new B-29Superfortress.
At the end of January 1945, the ground echelon of the squadron departedHawaii, bound for newly captured Central Field, on Iwo Jima. Arriving in lateFebruary, the detachment on Saipan rejoined the squadron. The 548th was thefirst night-fighter squadron to arrive on Iwo Jima (on D+8). and even after itscapture, Iwo Jima remained vulnerable to long range Japanese attacks, and itsmission was to defend the new American airfields being built there.
A large percentage of the squadron's missions consisted of long-distancepatrols over water, many of which involved interceptions of Japanese MitsubishiG4M "Betty" bombers. Its presence, although rarely shooting down anyenemy aircraft, did cause the bombers to jettison their loads and beat a hastyretreat from the area. The squadron moved to Ie Shima on 12 June just 3 milesoff the coast of Okinawa to provide night interceptor patrols over Okinawa. Itfinished out the war doing night penetration raids and weather observations tosupport the B-29s bombing the Japanese home islands. It was during this timethat the squadron scored its first two "kills" of enemy aircraft on21 June. Two more "kills" were scored on 14–15 August, the last twoaerial victories by American pilots in the Pacific War.
With the war over, the squadron's ground echelon were transferred toOccupied Japan to serve as part of the Army of Occupation in September, itsaircraft being sent to storage depots on Okinawa and at Clark Field,Philippines. The 548th was inactivated as an administrative organization atFort Lewis, Washington in December 1945.
The squadron was reactivated in October 1969 at England Air Force Base,Louisiana as the 548th Special Operations Training Squadron. Its mission was totrain Republic of Vietnam Air Force pilots and crews on the Douglas AC-47Spooky gunship, which the United States was transferring to South Vietnamesecontrol in the conflict. First configured in 1965, the AC-47 was equipped withthree 7.62mm miniguns could selectively fire either 50 or 100 rounds persecond. Cruising at 120 knots in a 3,000-foot circular orbit over its target,the AC-47 could put a bullet into every square yard of a football field-sizedtarget in 3 seconds. And, ammunition holding out, it could do thisintermittently while loitering over the target for hours.
The squadron trained Vietnamese crews on the Spooky until 1973 when it wasinactivated with the end of American involvement in the Vietnam War and as partof the general inactivation of USAF special forces units.
The squadron was again renamed, this time as the 548th Combat TrainingSquadron at Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana on 1 July 1994. The squadronalso had a detachment located at Fort Polk, Louisiana. On 1 December 2010, thesquadron and detachment "switched" as the Fort Polk element wasexpanded to become the squadron and the Barksdale element was reduced todetachment size.
548 CTS Blackcat
Observer, Coach, Trainer (OCT) in Action
548 CTS Member Reenlists on USS Missouri at JB Pearl-Harbor Hickam, HI
Team Hike at Backbone Trailhead
548 CTS Supports U-28