The mission of the 90th Fighter Squadron is to be a combat-ready fighter squadron prepared for rapid worldwide deployment of F-15E aircraft to accomplish precision engagement of surface targets using a wide variety of conventional air-to-surface munitions. The squadron trains in the fighter missions of strategic attack, interdiction, offensive counter-air (air-to-surface), suppression of enemy defenses, as well as offensive and defensive counter-air (air-to-air).
The heritage of the 90th "Pair O'Dice" Fighter Squadron dates back to early 1917 when it was organized as the 90th Aero Squadron on 20 August 1917 at Kelly Field, TX. It has changed names several times from the original 90th Aero Squadron to the current name, as have the missions.
The dice have been part of the squadron's heritage since World War I. However, the pair of dice was officially adopted on February 24, 1924. Captain William G. Schauffler created the dice emblem while at Ourches, France. The squadron could not pick an emblem until then because it had to see at least three months of combat. Whatever the dice came up, they always equaled seven. Captain Schauffler thought this was appropriate because it symbolized the good fortune of the 90th Aero Squadron which lost very few casualties and only one aircraft.
The squadron returned to the United States on April 20, 1919, and eventually moved back to Kelly Field, TX. The squadron continued to train as an attack squadron but undertook unusual missions after World War I until World War II. In 1924 the 90th provided flood assistance in the Rio Grande valley. The squadron also patrolled the U.S.-Mexico border after a revolt occurred in northern Mexico in April 1929. The 90th also delivered air mail from February 19 to June 1, 1934, when the commercial airlines canceled the government contract to deliver mail.
In 1936 the squadron became part of the 3rd Bombardment Group flying North American B-25 Mitchells. The squadron embarked for Australia in February 1942. They arrived with no aircraft and requisitioned 25 B-25's from the Dutch Air Force. The squadron then commenced operations in April 1942 with an attack on the Philippines. The squadron bombed enemy ships, supply dumps, and harbors in Cebu City and Devco. During the summer of 1942, the squadron continued to bomb aerodromes and harbor installations and fly reconnaissance missions in New Guinea. The planes often returned with substantial damage from AAA, and only the maintainers' hard work and dedication kept the B-25's flying.
The 90th Fighter Squadron led the way in the Pacific Theater. The squadron changed names three times and flew in ten different campaigns. The 90th also developed low level tactics and skip bombing which became the standard in Fifth Air Force. Just after moving to Port Moresby, New Guinea, the squadron received the Bismarck Sea Citation for its actions on March 3-4, 1943. On March 2, 1943, observers spotted a 22 vessel convoy heading for New Guinea. The 90th dropped sixty 500 pound bombs sinking two destroyers, four freighters, and one escort, all without losing a single plane.
As the Allies continued to advance in the Pacific Theater, the squadron assisted the amphibious landing on Lae. They moved to Leyte, Philippines in November 1944, and then to Mindoro. The squadron provided close air support for our ground troops. In 1945 the squadron moved to Okinawa in preparation for a major offensive on Japan, but the war ended with the Japanese surrender. The squadron then assumed occupational duty and moved to Yokota Air Base, Japan, before being inactivated on October 1, 1949.
The 90th Fighter Squadron was reactivated on June 25, 1951, at Iwakuni Air Base, Japan. Manned by personnel from the 731st Bomb Squadron, the 90th attacked supply routes and airfields. During August 1951, the squadron moved to Kunsan Air Base, South Korea after the Allied forces gained a stronger foothold on the peninsula.
During the Korean War, the 90th Fighter Squadron flew Douglas B-26 Invaders. The Invader's specialty was night interdiction and attack, changing the squadron's name to the 90th Bombardment (Light) Night Intruder Squadron. The aircraft themselves also changed from "red tails" to "white tails" with numbers in red, because another squadron at Kunsan had "red tails." After changing to "white tails," the red dice changed to white dice with black dots and would remain that way until departing Kunsan for Johnson Air Base, Japan in early October 1954. After the Korean armistice the squadron continued to practice mobility moves to Korea. They also tested the air defense capabilities of the Chinese Nationalists on Formosa (Taiwan).The 90th practiced glide and level bombing and fixed and flexible gunnery attacks at Clark Air Base, Philippines. Approximately 2000 people served with the 90th during the Korean War and the squadron earned six campaign streamers.
On January 9, 1956 the 90th having been renamed "90th Bombardment Squadron, Tactical", in 1955, started converting to the B-57B Canberra bomber. For the next year and a half, the squadron was a mix of the incoming B-57 and outgoing B-26's they used during the Korean War. They practiced rocket attacks, dive bombing, skip bombing, and strafing, and the over-the-shoulder Low Altitude Bombing System nuclear delivery maneuver at Mito range, northeast of Tokyo and at the Koon-ni range on the west coast of Korea.
They were also tasked with a nuclear alert commitment at Kunsan AB, Korea in case of nuclear war.
As the United States became involved with Vietnam, the 90th changed its name, yet again to the 90th Special Operations Squadron. The squadron flew F-100's, A-37B's, and MC-130's and was stationed at three different bases from 1966 to 1972. Many notable individuals served in the 90th during the Vietnam Conflict such as General Robin Olds and Major General Peter Robinson, retired Commandant of the Air War College. General Robinson flew 325 combat mission in Vietnam while with the 90th. After Vietnam, the squadron returned to Clark AB, Philippines.
As Desert Storm arose, the 90th Fighter Squadron sent six F-4's to Incirlik Air Base, Turkey. The squadron's involvement in Desert Storm gave the 90th the distinction of being the oldest squadron in Pacific Air Force to participate in all five wars. The squadron joined 11th Air Force in 1991 and moved to Elmendorf AFB, AK. The squadron replaced its F-4's for McDonnell-Douglas F-15E Strike Eagles.