Constitution and activation 32nd Pursuit Squadron:
The US Army Air Corps constituted the 32nd Pursuit Squadron (Interceptor) on 22 December, 1939. Seven weeks later, on 1 February 1940, the squadron activated at Kelly Field, Texas. After completing training in November, 1940 the 32nd transferred to Langley Field in Virginia to join the 36th Pursuit Group. Once there, the 36th equipped the squadron with Curtiss P-36A Hawk aircraft. During its stay at Langley the 32nd Pursuit Squadron flew a number of Curtiss YP-37 aircraft for a short period.
Panama Canal Defense
On 6 January 1941, the squadron moved to Losey Field on the island of Puerto Rico as a reaction to the German presence in South America. By June the Squadron had a mix of Curtiss P-40 Warhawks and Bell P-39 Airacobras at Ponce Field. Also, several Curtiss P-36As had been briefly assigned earlier during its first days on Puerto Rico. This strength remained essentially unchanged up to 7 December 1941.
After the Pearl Harbor Attack the Squadron dispatched a detachment to Arecibo Field, Puerto Rico. In early 1942 the German Navy began anti-shipping operations using U-Boats in the Caribbean. The subs sank several tankers in the harbor at San Nicholas, Aruba and even shelled an oil refinery on the island. The Squadron standardized on the P-39, and established detachments at Arecibo Field and Bourne Field, Saint Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands. The Squadron moved entirely to Arecibo by 19 February. Another detachment was established at Hato Field, Curaçao. The mission was to provide air defense for the bomber and anti-submarine units that had been assembled there. The Puerto Rico-based elements of the Squadron went through a training program which included maneuvers with Puerto Rican Infantry and Artillery units. Re-designated as the 32nd Fighter Squadron on 15 May 1942, by the end of June the main body was still at Arecibo, although the detachments at St. Thomas and Hato Field continued.
32nd Fighter Squadron:
The 32nd Fighter Squadron had responsibility for tracking down German U-boat Wolfpacks. The Wolfpacks were three or more German subs working together in search and destroy missions. This was the origin of the famous “Wolfhounds” name and insignia. In the fall of 1942 the Germans reduced their submarine activity in the Caribbean region to concentrate their activity on the North Atlantic convoy route and the approaches to northwest Africa. With the withdrawal of submarines from the Caribbean region the Antilles Air Task Force, which included the 32nd, concentrated its efforts as a striking force. Its primary mission was guarding against possible attacks on the Panama Canal.
With the departure of its parent 36th Fighter Group to the United States in June 1943, the 32nd remained in the Caribbean. On 3 August 1943, the squadron was transferred to the Antilles Air Command. The Squadron was further assigned to the Trinidad Detachment and VI Fighter Command, Antilles Air Command. However, despite the assignment to Antilles Air Command, a detachment of the Squadron remained at Howard Field in the Panama Canal Zone detached to XXVI Fighter Command. Effective 13 March 1944, the entire Squadron moved to France Field in the Panama Canal Zone to replace the 52d Fighter Squadron. The squadron was placed under XXVI Fighter Command, whose task was to defend the Panama Canal and to perform reconnaissance missions.
The unit moved from France Field to Howard Field between 7 and 10 January 1945. There it was to replace the 43d Fighter Squadron and prepare for the transition to Lockheed P-38 Lightnings. On 1 February 1945, the unit was re-designated as the 32nd Fighter Squadron, Twin Engine. However, no sooner had conversion to the P-38’s been completed than the entire complement of P-38s was hangared and the unit activities ran down with the end of the war in Europe. The squadron ceased all flying activities in June, and the P-38s were stored in a hangar. By October 1945, the squadron was reduced to a non-operational administrative organization and it was inactivated on 15 October 1946.
Air defense in the Netherlands:
In 1954 the Netherlands government agreed, at the instigation of NATO, to accept the offer of the American government to deploy a squadron of American military planes. The task of the squadron would be to provide a contribution to Dutch air defense within the context of NATO. The 512th Fighter Day Squadron, stationed at RAF Manston in Great Britain, was detailed by Headquarters USAFE for transfer to the Netherlands. Its new home base would be Soesterberg Air Base. The American portion of the base became known as Camp New Amsterdam, again recognizing the historical ties between the Netherlands and the United States. The first group of American airmen, compromised of quartermasters and air traffic controllers, arrived at Soesterberg on 6 October 1954 led by Lt/col Haynie the 512th Fighter day Squadron Commander, the first F-86 to land in the Netherlands that day was flown by (then) Lt. Rezk Mohammed.
32nd Fighter Day Squadron:
In September 1955 the 512th moved to RAF Bentwaters, England without personnel or equipment. Its aircraft, personnel and equipment however stayed in the Netherlands and were assigned to the newly activated 32nd Fighter Day Squadron. The squadron designation was chosen by the USAF in light of the World War II ties by the squadron to the defense of Dutch possessions in the Caribbean which gave the unit an historical link to the Netherlands. The 32nd was assigned to the 36th Fighter-Day Wing at Bitburg Air Base in West Germany, its historical parent unit at the time of its activation.
32nd Tactical Fighter Squadron
On 18 July 1958, as a result of an Air Force–wide re-designation of tactical air units, USAFE re-designated the unit as the 32nd Tactical Fighter Squadron, 36th Tactical Fighter Wing. In 1959 the 32nd received the signature “Royal”. The crown and wreath of the Dutch Royal Family (the House of Orange) were added to the emblem, giving it its unique look. This singular honor was granted in recognition of the unit’s contribution to the defense of the Netherlands and graphically illustrates the 32nd’s close ties with the Royal Netherlands Air Force. This designation was brief, however, and the squadron became the 32nd Fighter-Interceptor Squadron a year later.
Tactical fighter operations and again the 32nd Tactical Fighter Squadron
On 1 November 1968 the USAF transferred the 32nd Fighter Interceptor Squadron to the command of Seventeenth Air Force at Sembach Air Base, Germany. On 1 July 1969 the USAF re-designated the unit as the 32nd Tactical Fighter Squadron and re-equipped the squadron with the McDonnell-Douglas F-4 Phantom II. On 19 October 1977 the USAF decided that the 32nd would receive the McDonnell-Douglas F-15 Eagle. In 1978 the Eagles arrived at Soesterberg and the Phantoms were flown to Ramstein Air Base, West Germany and assigned to the 86th Tactical Fighter Wing.
32nd Tactical Fighter Group:
In 1989 the Dutch government allowed USAF to expand its headquarters unit at Soesterberg from squadron to group. The 32nd Tactical Fighter Group was activated at Soesterberg on 16 November 1989. The Group took over functions of the old 32nd Squadron headquarters element and its support flights (later squadrons) were assigned support responsibilities.
During the 1991 Gulf War, after more than forty years, the Wolfhounds saw action again. Aircrew and ground support personnel were deployed at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey during Operations DESERT SHIELD and DESERT STORM, August 1990 until March 1991,. On 28 January 1991 one of the pilots killed an Iraqi MiG. After the War they continued their air activities in theatre as a part of Operation Provide Comfort from April 1991 until April 1993. Headquarters USAFE replaced the 32d Fighter Group on 1 July with the 632d Air Base Squadron. Its duty was to complete the closure of Camp New Amsterdam.
On 19 April the group furled its colors in formal ceremonies attended by members of the Royal family and the American ambassador. The 32d Group’s subordinate units were inactivated on 1 July and the group on 1 October 1994.
32nd Air Operations Group
In the spring of 1994, USAFE received permission from HQ USAF to use the 32nd designation for the new 32nd Air Operations Group. The 32d Fighter Squadron was inactivated at Soesterberg Air Base in July and re-designated the 32d Air Operations Squadron on 1 August 1994. The squadron was assigned to the 32d Air Operations Group, formerly the 32d Fighter Group, which was also re-designated on 1 July 1994. Both the group and the squadron were stationed at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, under the USAFE Theater Air and Space Operations Center. The 32d Air Operations Squadron was inactivated on 1 November 2005.