The 79thFighter Group was constituted as the 79thPursuit Group (Interceptor) on January 13, 1942 and activated on February 9, 1942. It was redesignated as the 79thFighter Group in May 1942. The group then moved to the Middle East in October and November 1942, and became part of Ninth Air Force. It trained with P-40s 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 79thFighter Group itself did not begin operations until March 1943. By escorting bombers, attacking enemy shipping, and supporting ground forces, the 79thtook 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 for its support of the British Eighth Army during the period of March through August 1943. It was then assigned to the 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. The group operated in the area of the Anzio beachhead in January through March 1944 and participated in the drive on Rome in March through June 1944. It converted to P-47s during that time. The group flew escort and strafing missions in southern France during August and September 1944, and afterward engaged in interdictory and close support operations in northern Italy.
The 79thFighter Group received second Distinguished Unit Citation for numerous missions flown at minimum altitude in intense flak to help pierce the enemy line at the Santerno River in Italy during April 16 – 20, 1945. The group remained overseas as part of United States Air Forces in Europe after the war and was transferred, without personnel and equipment, to the United States in June 1947. The 79thFighter Group inactivated on July 15, 1947.
Campaigns: Air Combat, EAME Theater; Egypt-Libya; Tunisia; Sicily; Naples-Foggia; Anzio; Rome-Arno; Southern France; North Apennines; Po Valley.