Seventh Air Force

United States Air Forces Korea and USAFK redirect here.

Seventh Air Force

F-16s from the 35th Fighter Squadron taking off from Kunsan Air Base

25th Fighter Squadron Fairchild Republic A-10C Thunderbolt II taking off at Osan Air Base
Active November 1940 – June 1975
September 1986 – present
Country  United States
Branch   United States Air Force
Type Field Air Force
Role Ground Attack and Air Superiority
Part of   Pacific Air Forces
Garrison/HQ Osan Air Base, South Korea

  • World War II - Asia-Pacific Theater

  • Vietnam War

  • Air Force Outstanding Unit Award (8x)

  • Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross with Palm
Lieutenant General Lt. Gen. Thomas W. Bergeson

Clarence L. Tinker
Lucius D. Clay, Jr.
William W. Momyer
George S. Brown
Joseph H. Moore
Emblem of the Seventh Air Force

The Seventh Air Force (7 AF) is a Numbered Air Force of the United States Pacific Air Forces (PACAF). It is headquartered at Osan Air Base, South Korea.

The command's mission is to plan and direct air component operations in the Republic of Korea and in the Northwest Pacific.

Established on 19 October 1940 as the Hawaiian Air Force at Fort Shafter, Territory of Hawaii, the 7 AF was a United States Army Air Forces combat unit in the Pacific Theater of World War II, providing air defense of the Hawaiian Islands and engaging in combat operations primarily in the Central Pacific AOR. It was assigned units engaging enemy forces in the Gilbert Islands; Marshall Islands; Caroline Islands; Mariana Islands, and in the last major battle of the Pacific War, the Battle of Okinawa. Returning to its defense role in Hawaii after the war, 7 AF became the primary USAF command and control organization in South Vietnam during the Vietnam War.

7 AF is commanded by Lieutenant General Lt. Gen. Thomas W. Bergeson. The Vice Commander is Brig Gen Kyle W. Robinson Command Chief Master Sergeant is Anthony W. Johnson.


On 8 September 1986, Seventh Air Force was activated at Osan Air Base in South Korea and assumed the mission of maintaining the fragile armistice on the Korean peninsula previously performed by the 314th Air Division.

Since then, both as U.S. Air Forces Korea, under the joint U.S. Forces Korea, and the U.S. Air Force component to the United States and Republic of Korea Combined Forces Command's Air Component Command, 7 AF has been an integral part of deterring aggression from North Korea. It develops the total air campaign and reinforcement plans for ROK defense and sustains mission readiness of 117 operational units and 8,300 U.S. Air Force personnel.

It operates in conjunction with United States Pacific Command (USPACOM), United Nations Command (Korea), U.S. Forces, Korea/Combined Forces Command and United States Forces Korea (USFK).


Major units of Seventh Air Force are:

Non-Flying Units (Osan Air Base)



Formation of the Hawaiian Air Force

The United States Army Hawaiian Department was established on 6 February 1913, which formally established the presence of the Army in the Territory of Hawaii. The history of Seventh Air Force can be traced to the arrival of the 6th Aero Squadron, Aviation Section, Army Signal Corps, at Fort Kamehameha, Hawaii on 13 March 1917 under the Air Office, Hawaiian Department, which was established in 1916.

Airplanes assigned to the 6th Aero Squadron consisted of three Curtiss N-9 seaplanes which were single-engine biplanes carrying a crew of two and capable of a top speed of 70 miles an hour. Late in 1917 the U.S. Government purchased Ford Island in Pearl Harbor for use as an airport and by September 1918 the 6th Aero Squadron, by then composed of ten officers and a small group of enlisted men, moved to Ford Island.

The first inter-island flight occurred in February 1919 and by 1920 inter-island flights were used for training purposes. Early in 1920 the 4th Observation Squadron arrived at Ford Island, known by then as Luke Field, named for "balloon buster" Frank Luke who fell in action during World War I on the Western Front in 1918. Also by this time, Luke Field was used jointly by the aerial forces of the Army and Navy. The year 1920 marked a considerable advance in aviation in the Islands. The first night flight over Oahu took place on 30 June 1920.

Also air power began to take its place in the Hawaiian Department's military maneuvers. An aerial photo section joined other air units; the 23d Bombardment Squadron moved to Luke from March Field, California on 25 Jan 1923, and the 72d Bombardment Squadron was activated at Luke on 1 May 1923.

The first detachment of twenty men started clearing land south of Schofield Barracks for Wheeler Field in February 1922. This Field was named for Major Sheldon H. Wheeler, who had assumed command of Luke Field in 1920 and was killed in an air accident in 1921. By June 1923, Wheeler boasted six 112x200 foot hangars, three used for housing shops and three others for planes, plus four hangars used as warehouses, and oil storage tanks holding 50,000 gallons. Tents and huts housed the men. The First commander of Wheeler Field was Major George E. Stratemeyer, who by 1941 was a brigadier general and Acting Chief of the Army Air Corps.

The first known reforesting by plane was accomplished for the Department of Agriculture by a plane from Wheeler in 1926. The first non-stop Hawaiian flight from Oakland, California to Wheeler Field was made in June 1927 by L.J. Maitland and A.F. Hegenberger. (Navy Commander John Rodgers had set a non-stop seaplane record from San Francisco in 1925 and had fallen short of the mark for Honolulu, landing off the Island of Kauai), the famous Dole flight also took place in 1927, with Art Goebel and Lt. W. V. Davis, USN, the only fliers completing the flight to Hawaii.

During the period from 1917 to 1931, the military air component in Hawaii grew to seven tactical squadrons and two service squadrons. In 1931 the 18th Composite Wing was activated with headquarters at Fort Shafter, and was combined with the Air Office of the Hawaiian Department. The Hawaiian Air Depot was based at Luke Field. Since the Navy contemplated using the entire area available at Ford Island, plans for purchasing land adjacent to Pearl Harbor near Fort Kamehameha for construction of an airfield resulted in purchase by the U.S. Army on 20 February 1935 of this land from Faxon Bishop et al. for US$1,091~239.

Hickam Field was dedicated on 31 May 1935, named for Lt. Colonel Horace M. Hickam, C.O. 3rd Attack Group, killed 5 Nov 1934 at Ft. Crockett, Texas. The first detachment of 12 men (the 31st Bomb Squadron) arrived at Hickam on 1 September 1937 and was housed in tents. By September 1938, when the base was officially activated, the Hawaiian Air Depot began its move from Luke Field. The move was completed on 31 October 1940.

On 1 November 1940 the Hawaiian Air Force was established as a part of the general United States Army Air Corps expansion program of 1939/1940. It was organized and activated with headquarters at Fort Shafter - the first Army Air Forces outside the continental United States - moving to Hickam in July 1941. It consisted of two air base commands:

Aircraft strength at the beginning of the year 1941 consisted of 117 planes, mostly obsolete. In connection with defense plans for the Pacific, planes were brought to Hawaii throughout 1941 (principally P-36's and P-40's) by carrier. The first mass flight of Army bombers (21 B-17 Flying Fortresses) from Hamilton Field, California, arrived at Hickam on 13 May 1941. Nine of the 21 bombers were sent to Clark Field in September to begin a belated reinforcement of the Philippine Department. By December 7, 1941, the Hawaiian Air Force had been an integrated command for slightly more than one year, and consisted of 754 officers and 6,706 enlisted men with 231 military aircraft.

Order of Battle, 6 December 1941

The day before the Japanese Attack on Hawaii, and subsequent United States entry into World War II, the Hawaiian Air Force consisted of the following:

15th Pursuit Group (Fighter), Wheeler Fld
45th Pursuit Sqd (Fighter) (P-36A)
46th Pursuit Sqd (Fighter) (P-36A, P-40B)
47th Pursuit Sqd (Fighter) (P-40B, P-36A)
72d Pursuit Sqd (Interceptor) (none)
18th Pursuit Group (Interceptor), Wheeler Fld
6th Pursuit Sqd (Interceptor) (P-40B)
19th Pursuit Sqd (Interceptor) (P-40B, P-40C)
44th Pursuit Sqd (Interceptor), Bellows Fld (P-40B, P-40C)
73d Pursuit Sqd (Interceptor) (P-40B)
78th Pursuit Sqd (Interceptor) (P-40B)

5th Bombardment Group (Heavy), Hickam Fld
4th Reconnaissance Sqd (Heavy) (B-17, B-18)
23d Bombardment Sqd (Heavy) (B-17, B-18)
31st Bombardment Sqd (Heavy) (B-17, B-18)
72d Bombardment Sqd (Heavy) (B-17, B-18)
11th Bombardment Group (Heavy), Hickam Fld
26th Bombardment Sqd (Heavy) (B-17, B-18)
42d Bombardment Sqd (Heavy) (B-17, B-18)
50th Reconnaissance Sqd (Heavy) (B-17, B-18)

The B-17 squadrons were equipped with a mixture of B-17B, B-17C and B-17D models. Additional units assigned to Hawaiian Air Force on 6 December 1941 were:

In addition to the above units, during the night of 6–7 December 1941, another squadron, the 38th Reconnaissance Squadron of the 41st Bombardment Group, Davis-Monthan Field, Arizona, were en route to Hawaii with four B-17Cs and two B-17Es to reinforce the 18th Bombardment Wing.

Also, six B-17Es the 88th Reconnaissance Squadron, 7th Bombardment Group, were also en route to Hawaii from Hamilton Field, California, with a final destination of Clark Field, Luzon, Philippines.

These units were deploying due to the heightened tensions between the United States and the Empire of Japan. They arrived in Hawaii at the height of the attack on 7 December (radar operators mistakenly thought that the Japanese attack force was this flight arriving from California). Two of the B-17Es managed to land at a short fighter strip at Haleiwa, one B-17E set down on a golf course, one landed at Bellows Field and five B-17Cs and three B-17Es landed at Hickam under the strafing of Japanese planes.

World War II

Pearl Harbor Attack

The attack on Pearl Harbor or Hawaii Operation as it was called by the Japanese Imperial General Headquarters devastated the Hawaiian Air Force. Total Air Force casualties during the Japanese attack on December 7 were 163 killed. 43 missing, and 336 wounded, of which 121 killed, 37 missing, and 274 wounded were at Hickam Field. Out of a total of 231 aircraft of the Hawaiian Air Force, 64 were destroyed and not more than 79 were left usable.

Seventh Air Force

On 5 February 1942, the Hawaiian Air Force was re-designated 7th Air Force.

The 7th Air Force was redesignated Seventh Air Force on 18 September 1942

Re-equipping of the command after the Japanese attack on Oahu took a significant length of time. The re-equipped Seventh Air Force consisted of the following units:

548th Night Fighter Squadron (Northrop P-61 Black Widow) 15th Fighter Group 5th Bombardment Group (Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress/Consolidated B-24 Liberator) 28th Photo Reconnaissance Squadron (Lockheed F-5B Lightning)
549th Night Fighter Squadron (Northrop P-61 Black Widow) 18th Fighter Group 11th Bombardment Group (Consolidated B-24 Liberator) 9th Troop Carrier Squadron(Douglas C-47 Skytrain/Curtiss C-46 Commando)
21st Fighter Group 30th Bombardment Group (Consolidated B-24 Liberator) 163d Liaison Squadron (Stinson L-5 Sentinel)
318th Fighter Group 41st Bombardment Group (North American B-25 Mitchell) 41st Photo Reconnaissance Squadron (Lockheed F-5 Lightning)
508th Fighter Group 307th Bombardment Group (Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress/Consolidated B-24 Liberator)
319th Bombardment Group (Douglas A-26 Invader)

In Hawaii the Seventh Air Force used the following military airfields. Some were operated solely by the AAF, others were jointly used with the United States Navy. Wartime images of these airfields are linked to their names as most of them were minimal facility landing fields.

Later became Dillingham AFB
Joint USAAF/Navy

Wartime operations

Seventh Air Force retained the mission of its predecessor of the defense of the Hawaiian Islands and, until the closing months of the war, it maintained its headquarters at Hickam Field. Clarence L. Tinker, an Osage and career officer, was named Commander of the Seventh Air Force, and promoted to Major General in January 1942, the first Native American to reach that rank and the highest-ranking one in the Army. He led a force of B-24s during the Battle of Midway, and his plane went down in June 1942. No bodies were recovered.

In Hawaii, the command grew into a key position in the logistical organization of the Pacific war. One of the biggest elements of this organization was the Hawaiian Air Depot at Hickam, which served as an in-transit supply, repair, and modification center for force units scattered all the way to Australia. The Air Depot had to expand its activities, which in peace time included assembly, repair, and reconditioning of aircraft, to handle large numbers of P-39s and P-40s. These were rushed out in crates for assembly, flight-testing, and delivery to forward-deployed combat units.

Seventh Air Force also became the hub of the Pacific aerial network. In addition to Depot functions, it supported the 4-engine all-weather transport used in ferrying troops, supplies, and evacuating wounded from forward areas. These transport planes were under the command of Pacific Division, Air Transport Command. The command also played a major role throughout the Pacific War as a training, staging, and supply-center for air and ground troops.

The command deployed most of its combat units to the Central Pacific, where operations were best summed up by its air and ground views as "Just one damned island after another!"

Seventh Air Force units deployed 2,000 miles southwest to the Gilbert Islands, then 600 miles northwest to the Marshall Islands, 900 miles west to the Caroline Islands, 600 miles northwest to the Mariana Islands, 600 miles north to Iwo Jima, 1,000 miles west to Okinawa, always edging closer towards the center of Japanese power. A map story of the Seventh Air Force would cover 3,000 miles north and south of Midway Atoll to Fiji, and 5,000 miles east and west from Pearl Harbor to the Ryukus. The combat record of its major units is as follows:

The Seventh Air Force along with Thirteenth Air Force in the Central Pacific and Fifth Air Force in Australia were assigned to the newly created United States Far East Air Forces (FEAF) on 3 August 1944. FEAF was subordinate to the U.S. Army Forces Far East and served as the headquarters of Allied Air Forces Southwest Pacific Area. By 1945, three numbered air forces—5th, 7th and 13th—were supporting operations in the Pacific. FEAF was the functional equivalent in the Pacific of the United States Strategic Air Forces (USSTAF) in the European Theater of Operations.

From mid-1944 to July 1945, the Seventh Air Force tried to prevent the Japanese air attacks on the Mariana Islands by attacking Iwo Jima and other Japanese-held islands and providing fighter protection for the Marianas. During the summer of 1945, the 15th Fighter Group (along with the 21st and 318th from the VII Fighter Command) were reassigned to the Twentieth Air Force. They continued fighter sweeps against Japanese airfields and other targets, in addition to flying long-range B-29 escort missions to Japanese cities, until the end of the war. In addition, effective 14 July 1945, the Seventh Air Force command echelon was moved to Okinawa, Ryukyu Islands, and assigned to United States Far East Air Force. VII Fighter Command remained attached to 20th Air Force until the end of the war.

Pacific Air Command

On 1 January 1946, Seventh Air Force was reassigned without personnel or equipment to Hickam Field, Territory of Hawaii, where it resumed its prewar mission of defense of the Hawaiian Islands. In May 1946 the Hawaiian Air Depot assumed jurisdiction of Hickam Field.

On 15 December 1947, Seventh Air Force was re-designated Pacific Air Command (PACAIRCOM) and elevated to major command status. The Hawaiian Air Depot was re-designated Hawaiian Air Materiel Area (HAWAMA) both at Hickam. PACAIRCOM's mission was to oversee air defense and other operations in the Pacific Ocean area, of the Pacific Region from the Hawaiian Islands west to include Wake, Midway Atoll, the Mariana, Caroline, Solomon and Marshall Islands.

Pacific Air Command was discontinued effective 1 June 1949 as a result of a budgetary actions. Its mission, functions, responsibilities and command jurisdiction of installations and facilities transferred to the Pacific Division, Military Air Transport Service.

Cold War

During the Korean War, and the years following, Hawaii again became the hub of trans-Pacific military air activity. On March 1954, the Joint Chiefs of Staff directed that Pacific Air Force be established. This unit came into being on 1 July 1954, the primary mission being to serve as the USAF component on the staff of the Commander-in-Chiefy Pacific. Responsibilities included preparation of plans to support CINCPAC and allied operations. For purely Air Force matters, the new command was placed under the command of Far East Air Forces Headquarters located in Japan. That headquarters completed its move to Hickam on 1 July 1957, its designation being changed to Pacific Air Forces.

With the reactivation of Pacific Air Force, Seventh Air Force was reactivated on 5 January 1955 at Hickam AFB. It was assigned to Pacific Air Force (later, Pacific Air Force/FEAF [Rear]) and transferred to Wheeler AFB, Hawaii, in March 1955.

Seventh Air Force oversaw Pacific Air Force's area of responsibility east of 140 degrees east longitude, including the Hawaiian Islands. Seventh was also responsible for the air defense of the islands. However, the movement of United States Far East Air Force (renamed Pacific Air Forces) from Japan to Hawaii led to the inactivation of Seventh Air Force on 1 July 1957.

Vietnam War

Headquarter of Seventh Air Force in Tan Son Nhut Air Base, Saigon, Republic of Vietnam.

Seventh Air Force was revived under the command of Lt. Gen. Joseph H. Moore to serve Pacific Air Forces during the Vietnam War when the growth of forces required a replacement for the 2d Air Division. In this capacity Seventh Air Force was the Air Component Command of Military Assistance Command, Vietnam (MACV).

Upon reactivation on 28 March 1966, Seventh Air Force was designated a combat command at Tan Son Nhut Air Base, overseeing the operations of the ten primary USAF bases in the Republic of Vietnam. From April 1966 until 1973, the command assumed responsibility for most Air Force operations in Vietnam and shared responsibility with the Thirteenth Air Force for operations conducted from Thailand as 7/13 Air Force.

In June 1966, the first US air attacks near Hanoi and Haiphong occurred when 7AF planes bombed nearby oil installations. The following month, US aircraft struck North Vietnamese forces inside the Vietnamese Demilitarized Zone (DMZ).

One of the most publicized battles of the war was the siege of Khe Sanh in early 1968, known as "Operation Niagara." More than 24,000 tactical and 2700 Boeing B-52 Stratofortress strikes dropped 110,000 tons of ordnance in attacks that averaged over 300 sorties per day. At night, Douglas AC-47 Spooky gunships kept up fire against enemy troops. In August 1968, General George S. Brown began to oversee the "Vietnamization" of the air war. By 1970, this effort was successful enough that General Brown released the first USAF units to leave Vietnam.

On 29 March 1973, the command transferred to Nakhon Phanom Royal Thai Air Force Base, Thailand, where it accepted dual responsibility as the US Support Activities Group and Seventh Air Force. As a result, 7AF controlled air assets and operations in Thailand. On 30 June 1975, it was inactivated.

Post Cold War

On 11 September 1986, Seventh Air Force was reactivated at Osan Air Base, South Korea to replace the 314th Air Division. Since then, 7AF, as the US Air Force component to the US and ROK Combined Forces Command's Air Component Command, has been an integral part of deterring aggression from North Korea against the ROK.

Headquarters Seventh Air Force consists of approximately 10,000 Air Force personnel located primarily at Osan AB, Kunsan AB, and five other collocated operating bases throughout the Republic of Korea. Air Force personnel fly and maintain the General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon and the Fairchild Republic A/OA-10 Thunderbolt II combat aircraft, and perform a myriad of intelligence, logistics, planning, communications, and liaison duties.

Although primarily a combat ready command, 7AF also provides assistance to non-combatants and civilians with the region. Rescue at sea, typhoon evacuations, and medical assistance are typical missions.


Activated on 1 November 1940
Redesignated: 7th Air Force on 5 February 1942
Redesignated: Seventh Air Force on 18 September 1942
Redesignated: Pacific Air Command on 15 December 1947
Upgraded to Major Command 15 December 1947
Discontinued on 1 June 1949
Activated on 5 January 1955
Inactivated on 1 July 1957
Organized on 1 April 1966
Inactivated on 30 June 1975






See also


 This article incorporates public domain material from the Air Force Historical Research Agency website


  1. Army Air Forces in World War II, Volume 4, page 288


  • Lambert, John W. The Pineapple Air Force: Pearl Harbor to Tokyo. Atglen, Pennsylvania: Schiffer Publishing, 2006. ISBN 0-7643-2533-7.


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