The four fighter squadrons of the 354th Tactical Fighter Wing were intimately involved in the Cold War from the time the Wing became combat ready until it was deployed to the Pacific Theater during the Vietnam War. From 1958 through 1965, the Wing maintained a presence in Europe with one rotational squadron continuously in place in Italy.
At the close of World War II, Germany was divided into east and west sectors, as was the capital Berlin. The Berlin Crisis was a political/military confrontation caused by tens of thousands of East Germans fleeing to the West through Berlin. The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics decreed that a peace treaty between the two Germanys be negotiated by December 1961, and in August began building a wall dividing Berlin. East-West tensions rose, and President John F. Kennedy brought the United States military to a wartime stance. In November, thousands of military personnel were deployed throughout Europe to augment existing forces. The 355th Tactical Fighter Squadron deployed to Hahn Air Base, Germany. The crisis ended when East Germany backed down, which occasioned President Kennedy's "Ich bin ein Berliner" statement to the people of Berlin. Speaking from the balcony of Rathaus Schöneberg, Kennedy said, "Two thousand years ago the proudest boast was civis romanus sum (I am a Roman citizen).
Today, in the world of freedom, the proudest boast is 'Ich bin ein Berliner' All free men, wherever they may live, are citizens of Berlin, and, therefore, as a free man, I take pride in the words "Ich bin ein Berliner!'
Five of the 354th Tactical Fighter Wing F-100s in formation over the Atlantic Ocean