74th FS Flagship retires

  • Published
  • By Mark “Radio” Godwin
  • 23rd Wing Public Affairs
Feb. 27, 2024 marks the end of an era for A-10C Thunderbolt II serial number 78-0674. A-10C serial number 78-0674 was originally assigned to the 354th Tactical Fighter Wing at Myrtle Beach Air Force Base, South Carolina when it came off the assembly line.

After Operation DESERT STORM (1991), Myrtle Beach AFB, SC along with England Air Force Base, Louisiana were caught up in the Base Realignment and Closure. The 23d Fighter Wing left England AFB and moved to Pope Air Force Base, North Carolina and was activated on June 1, 1992 as a composite wing. A composite wing is a wing that flies multiple airframes.

The 23rd Wing received tail number 78-0674 from the 354th FW on August 14, 1992 and assigned that tail number to the 75th Fighter Squadron. The 74th Fighter Squadron did not activate at Pope AFB until June 15, 1993 and flew F-16C/Ds. The 74th transitioned back to A-10As in July 1996 and completed this transition in April 1997. During this transition, tail number 78-0674 moved over to the 74th FS and became the commander's flagship.

The flagship aircraft in a squadron is an aircraft that carries the squadron commander's name below the cockpit and the tail flash is painted differently than the rest of the squadron's aircraft. Lt. Col. Timothy B Vigil became the first 74th commander to fly 78-0674 as his flagship. The 74th FS deployed to Al Jaber Air Base, Kuwait on Dec. 1, 2000 in support of Operation Southern Watch. Lt. Col. Charles L. Schneider, 74th FS commander, led 12 A-l0s into Kuwait with 78-0674. On this deployment, eight 74th FS A-l0s participated in the largest strike on Iraq since Operation DESERT FOX and generated a total of 680 combat missions and accumulated 1,249.5 flying hours.

The 74th FS deployed again to Al Jaber AB, Kuwait from February to May 2002 in support of Operation Southern Watch. Lt. Col. Arden B. Dahl, 74th FS commander, led 12 A-l0s into Kuwait with 78-0674. While deployed, the 74th FS performed split operations between Al Jaber and Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan in support of Operation ENDURING FREEDOM. The 74th FS became the first fixed-wing aircraft stationed in Afghanistan. They supported Operation ANACONDA and flew 36 sorties, 275 flight hours, expended 19,500 lbs of bombs, 50 rockets, and 3000 rounds of 30mm high explosive incendiary. The 74th FS returned a second time to Bagram AB during their deployment and flew 160 sorties with 486.8 flight hours in support of the 18th Airborne Corps.

Lt. Col. Charles "Chan" Floyd assumed command of the 74th FS on July 12, 2002 and his name went on 78-0674. The 74th FS deployed to Tallil Air Base, Iraq from July 9 through Dec. 11, 2003. Floyd led 12 A-l0s into Tallil AB with 78-0674. On this deployment, the 74th FS flew 835 sorties and totaled 2040.6 flight hours.
Lt. Col. Jeffrey L. Cowan assumed command of the 74th FS on April 26, 2004 and his name went on 78-0674. The 74th FS deployed to Bagram AB, Afghanistan from Jan. 10 through May 15, 2005.

On Oct. 1 2006, the 23rd Wing was activated at Moody Air Force Base, Georgia. The 23rd Fighter Group and the 74th FS moved with their aircraft to Moody AFB as well. Lt. Col. Russell Myers took command of the 74th FS on Oct. 1, 2006.

Lt. Col. Philip “Wallflower” Wielhouwer assumed command of the 74th FS on Jan. 11, 2008, Lt. Col. James D. Clark assumed command of the 74th FS on Nov. 6, 2009, and both commander’s names went on 78-0674 respectfully.

Lt. Col. David P. Haworth assumed command of the 74th FS on Nov. 18, 2011. On March 31, 2013, the 74th FS deployed to Bagram AB, Afghanistan. Haworth, 74th FS commander, landed his A-l0C and SSgt Rebecca Gaddy and Andres Araugo marshaled 78-0674 into parking at Bagram AB.

On Nov. 1, 2013, Lt. Col. Ryan “FRAG” Haden made history by becoming the first father and son to command an A-10 squadron. Lt. Col. Haden’s father, Lt. Col. Robert Haden commanded the 25th Fighter Squadron at Suwon Air Base, Republic of Korea from Dec. 4, 1985 until Dec. 28, 1986. On Nov. 1, Lt. Col. Ryan Haden became the 74th FS commander. Like the commanders before him, his name went on 78-0674.

On Sept. 21, 2015, the 74th FS deployed to Amari Air Base, Estonia as part of a theater security package in support of Operation Atlantic Resolve. Lt. Col. Bryan “Gump” France, 74th FS commander, led 12 A-10Cs in Amari AB with tail number 78-0674. For six months, the 74th FS performed military exercises in conjunction with North Atlantic Treaty Organization allied forces in the region to strengthen interoperability and demonstrate U.S. commitment to the security and stability of Europe, and to deter Russian aggression in Syria.

Lt. Col. Craig “Ahab” Morash took command of the 74th FS on April 21, 2017, followed by Lt. Col. Michael “LOFT” Sackenheim on March 15, 2019. Lt. Col. Matthew “ARAB” Shelly took command of the 74th FS on March 19, 2021, and Lt. Col. Richard Olson Jr. took command on June 2, 2023. Lt. Col. “TIDE” Olson became the last 74th FS commander to have his name on 78-0674. On Feb. 27, 2024, A-10C serial number 78-0674 took off for the last time from Moody AFB. Next stop, Davis Monthan AFB, Arizona to be transferred to the Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group.

For the last 32 years, A-10C serial number 78-0674 has belonged to the 23rd Wing at two different duty locations, Pope AFB and Moody AFB. When it first showed up at Pope AFB, it belonged to the 75th FS. When the 74th FS transitioned back to A-10s in 1996, 78-0674 moved over to the 74th and became the squadron flagship. From 1996 until Feb. 27, 2024, 78-0674 has been the flagship for ten 74th FS commanders at two duty assignments and deployed six times. A-10C serial number 78-0674 left Moody AFB with 16,311.5 hours. THUNDER!!!