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The Group was originally activated in 1942 as the 79th Pursuit Group (Interceptor), becoming the 79th Fighter Group (Single Engine) a few months later. Later that year it moved overseas to Egypt, where it was assigned to Ninth Air Force and participated in combat in the Mediterranean Theater of Operations in Egypt, Libya, Tunisia and Italy until April 1945. After the end of World War II, it became part of the Army of Occupation until it was inactivated in 1947.
The group was activated again in 1955 as the 79th Fighter Group (Air Defense) as part of a program of Air Defense Command (ADC) to replace its air defense groups with fighter units with distinguished records in World War II. It provided air defense of the Great Lakes region until it was inactivated in 1960.
In 1988, Tactical Air Command activated the 4443d Test and Evaluation Group as an operational test unit at Eglin AFB, an Air Force Systems Command (AFSC) base that was home to AFSC's Armament Center. In December 1991, as the USAF eliminated its Major Command controlled (MAJCON) four-digit units, the 79th was consolidated with the 4443d, and the combined unit was designated the 79th Test and Evaluation Group. In 1998, as a result of USAF policy that subordinate groups carry the same number as their parent wing, the 79th TEG was inactivated and replaced by the newly constituted 53d Test and Evaluation Group. In 1999, the unit moved from Eglin AFB to Nellis AFB, Less than two years later, USAF consolidated the 79th and 53d TEGs to provide one continuous history to its weapons test and evaluation group.
Combat Search and Rescue Combined Test Force - Based at Nellis AFB, the CSAR Combined Test Force currently operates the HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter and Guardian Angel Weapons System in an attempt to consolidate all combat search and rescue operation efforts.
The group trained with P-40 Warhawks's while moving westward in the wake of the British drive across Egypt and Libya to Tunisia. Although many of the group's pilots flew combat missions with other organizations, the 79th group itself did not begin combat operations until March 1943. By escorting bombers, attacking enemy shipping, and supporting ground forces, the 79th took part in the Allied operations that defeated Axis forces in North Africa, captured Pantelleria, and conquered Sicily. The group was awarded a Distinguished Unit Citation (DUC) for its support of British Eighth Army during that period, March-August 1943.
The group was assigned to Twelfth Air Force in August 1943 and continued to support the British Eighth Army by attacking troop concentrations, gun positions, bridges, roads, and rail lines in southern Italy. It operated in the area of the Anzio beachhead, from January to March 1944. The group participated in the drive on Rome, from March to June 1944, and converted to P-47 Thunderbolts during that time. It flew escort and strafing missions in southern France during August and September 1944, and afterward returned to Italy and engaged in interdictory and close support operations in northern Italy. The group received a second DUC for numerous missions flown at minimum altitude in intense flak to help pierce the enemy line at the Santerno River in Italy in April 1945.
The group remained overseas as part of United States Air Forces in Europe after the war as part of the occupation force. It was transferred, without personnel and equipment, to the US in June 1947 and inactivated on 15 July 1947.
Air Defense Command
TF-102 of the 86th FIS at Youngstown MAP
The group was redesignated the 79th Fighter Group (Air Defense), assigned to ADC and activated on 18 August 1955 at Youngstown MAP, Ohio as part of ADC's Project Arrow, which was designed to bring back on the active list the fighter units which had compiled memorable records in the two world wars. At Youngstown, the group assumed the personnel and equipment of the 502d Air Defense Group, which was simultaneously inactivated. The group provided air defense over eastern Ohio as part of 30th Air Division of ADC's Central Air Defense Force and acted as the host unit for the Air Force portion of Youngstown MAP. The 79th was assigned several support organizations to fulfill this responsibility. One of the group's original components, the 86th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron (FIS), flying radar equipped and rocket armed North American F-86D Sabres was already stationed at Youngstown and transferred from the 502d.
^The group uses this emblem with the group designation on the scroll when assigned to the 53d Wing Bailey, Factsheet 53 Test & Evaluation Group.
^This remains the group emblem, but is not used while assigned to the 53d Wing. Bailey, Factsheet 53 Test 7 Evaluation Group.
^Apparently, never officially approved. Maurer, Combat Units, p. 145. The blue stripe at top represent the sky, the hieroglyphic numbers display the group's number and the falcon headed Egyptian god, Horus is the central figure. Lind, Frontispiece.
^Newton & Senning gives figure as 25.99 due to one victory shared by three pilots credited as .33 to each
Buss, Lydus H.(ed), Sturm, Thomas A., Volan, Denys, and McMullen, Richard F., History of Continental Air Defense Command and Air Defense Command July to December 1955, Directorate of Historical Services, Air Defense Command, Ent AFB, CO, (1956)
Watkins, Robert A. (2009). Insignia and Aircraft Markings of the U.S. Army Air Force in World War II. Volume IV, European-African-Middle Eastern Theater of Operations. Atglen,PA: Shiffer Publishing, Ltd. ISBN978-0-7643-3401-6.