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Historic Fighter Squadron Coming Back to Hill AFB

July 07, 2015

 Just over five years ago at Hill Air Force Base, budget cuts killed one of the Air Force's most historic fighter squadrons.

But the commander who witnessed that deactivation is bringing back the "Rude Rams."

In a ceremony at Hill in mid-June, Col. David Lyons became the new commander of Hill's 388th Fighter Wing. Lyons took the reins from Col. Lance Landrum, who fulfilled commander duties for the 1,500-person wing for the past two years. Landrum heads to the Pentagon, where he will serve as the director of Colonel Management.

For Lyons, his new position represents a homecoming steeped in tradition.

Lyons was commander of the 34th Fighter Squadron when it was deactivated in the summer of 2010. The squadron's indefinite shutdown was a result of an Air Force-wide restructuring plan designed to save money. The plan called for the retirement of 259 aircraft, a total that included 112 F-15s, 138 F-16s and nine A-10s.

When the Rude Rams were shut down, Hill was also forced to give up 24 of its F-16s, reducing the base's number of Fighting Falcons from 72 to 48.

But as the Air Force's choice for the first operational F-35 wing, Hill's fighter jet count will again move to 72 planes, which means the 34th is being reactivated as a fighter squadron.

"I was convinced that the 34th would come back as an F-35 squadron," Lyons said. "Obviously, I have love for all of our fighter squadrons, but there is a special place in my heart for the Rude Rams."

Lyons said much of that fondness has to do with the squadron's rich military heritage.

According to a 2010 narrative written by base historian Aaron Clark, the 34th can be traced all the way back to World War II, when it was first activated on Oct. 15, 1944, at Seymour Johnson Field, North Carolina. The squadron flew P-47 Thunderbolts in combat operations over the Western Pacific in the latter days of the war.

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