Who Are We?
The 82nd Fighter Group, flying the incomparable P-38, and comprised of the 95th (Boneheads), 96th (Fighting Jack Rabbits) and 97th (Devilcats) Fighter Squadrons, is one of the most decorated Army Air Force units of WWII. Originally formed at Muroc Dry Lake (Edwards AFB) in 1942, the 82nd distinguished itself in the Mediterranean and European Theaters of Operation. US Air Force heritage units like the 96th Fighter Training Squadron at Laughlin AFB and 97th Fighter Training Squadron at Sheppard AFB, both in Texas, carry on that tradition. Sadly, the 95th FTS at Tyndall AFB, FL was disbanded in 2010.
Though it was a while before it was called such, our Association got its start during a meeting of the Fighter Aces Association at Harlingen, Texas in 1976. It appears that, through the efforts of Harley Vaughn and Wayne Jorda, the group decided to meet again the following year in New Orleans using the Fighter Aces Reunion for support. At Harlingen the 82nd Aces also decided to look for other 82nd people including EMs, and invite them to join the in New Orleans. According to Harley there were about two dozen 82nders at that second get-together.
1978 was a repeat of ’77 with the Fighter Aces again and at the Ostness Hotel in New Orleans. There was one giant step for Harley Vaughn and one great leap for 82ndkind in 1979 when Harley went away out on a limb and invited everyone to Corpus Christi – sans the support of the Fighter Aces. Harley said 75 turned out and the 82nd Fighter Group Association was on its way – even though it hadn’t pulled its wheels up yet (that would take another couple of years). It appears 1980 was a dark year – for reasons unknown and if anyone can furnish hard evidence of a date and a location we will so acknowledge in the next newsletter.
Reunions resumed in Corpus Christi in 1981 and it was then the members decided to associate formally and Bill Holeman volunteered to draw up a set of By-Laws which were somewhat patterned after those used by the 1st FG Association.
George Simpson hosted the Orlando, Florida Reunion in 1982 and it was at that time the By-Laws prepared by Holeman were adopted and a slate of Officers elected.
The Officers were: Harley Vaughn, Pres.; Ralph Embrey, Vice Pres.; Jerry Loewenberg, Sec. – Treas. Squadron Reps were also elected. The 82nd Association was back in Corpus for the 1983 Reunion. It was in Denver, in ’84, San Antonio in ’85, in Atlanta in 86, in Boise in ‘87, in Dayton in ’88 and took that great cruise on the Queen in ’89.
In Denver in ’84, Paul Jorgensen volunteered to begin a Newsletter for the Association and that really solidified all the great work done previously by Harley Vaughn, Wayne Jorda, Bill Holeman, Ralph Embrey and several others to make our Association the great organization it is today.
The 82nd Fighter Group Association is a 501(c)19 tax exempt veteran's organization.
Original deployment Orders