MOODY AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. - Team Moody celebrated its storied history with past and present members of the Flying Tigers during a reunion here November 13-15, 2014.
This year, three of the original Flying Tigers from World War II were able to attend the reunion. Don Miller, Frank Epperson, and J.M. Taylor were among nearly 300 Flying Tigers who gathered in Valdosta to celebrate their heritage. Miller, Epperson and Taylor flew P-40s and P-51s in China during World War II.
Col. Chad Franks, 23rd Wing commander, welcomed and thanked everyone for attending the event during the kickoff ceremony in the fuels hangar.
"All the Flying Tigers who are here today, that is what it's all about," Franks said. "Getting all of you back together and telling some war stories ... and they don't all have to be true. Ten percent is the rule I think we're going for," he joked.
On a serious note, Franks expressed the importance of coming together to learn about the unit's history and to celebrate the accomplishments of all Flying Tigers from World War II to present-day combat operations.
The group toured static display aircraft, received unit capabilities briefings, viewed a combat search and rescue demonstration by the 347th Rescue Group and the 23rd Fighter Group, and gathered for a dedication of Moody's P-40 pavilion in memory of retired Lt. Col. Robert "Muck" Brown, an A-10 pilot who passed way in March 2014.
Miller said his favorite part about the reunions is "... just everybody coming together. Honestly I came because the other two guys weren't going to beat me. I picture myself as the foundation of the guys, at least the information bit. As the newsletter editor and past 75th association president, I try to keep them all together."
Epperson, his friend and wingman, chimed in with "seeing all of your old friends and classmates and people you flew alongside is worth the trip."
The reunion concluded with a formal banquet in downtown Valdosta, and opportunities for golf and skeet shooting over the weekend.
Moody's 23rd Fighter Group traces its roots back to the 23rd Pursuit Group (Interceptor), constituted at Langley Field, Virginia, Dec. 17, 1941, just 10 days after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
Claire L. Chennault had been recalled to active duty with the rank of brigadier general and placed at the head of the China Air Task Force (later to become 14th Air Force). The 23rd FG, a component of the CATF, was assigned three squadrons: The 74th, 75th and 76th. These three fighter squadrons are today based at Moody. The group's aircraft have evolved from the P-40 Warhawk, which lacked gun sights or bomb racks, to the current A-10C Thunderbolt II.
The group was nicknamed the "Flying Tigers" and became famous for the shark teeth painted on the P-40, which were thought to intimidate enemies. Air Force A-10Cs still bear the infamous teeth to this day.
After World War II, the Flying Tigers were inactivated and reactivated several times, flying different fighter aircraft at different locations before being reactivated as the 23rd Wing at Moody in 2006.
The reunions, which began in 1946, provide an opportunity for Flying Tigers, past and present, to get together, celebrate their heritage, and share war stories.
Courtesy of U.S. Air Force 23rd Wing Public Affairs
Moody Air Force Base
Provided through DVIDS
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