Shaw Air Force Base reactivates WWII fighter training group

Airmen stood to welcome the 495th Fighter Group at its reactivation ceremony Friday.

SHAW AIR FORCE BASE, SC (WACH) -- After more than 60 years, a military fighter training group is back in action. The group was reactivated to allow the military to do more with less while adjusting to a shrinking defense budget.

Airmen stood to welcome the 495th Fighter Group at its reactivation ceremony Friday. The group was designed to streamline training, spending and resource use.

"It brings active duty people into the reserve forces to take advantage of the older more experienced reserve folks, and we can train them and then send them back to the active duty ready to go," said Col. Mike Hudson, wing commander at McEntire Joint National Guard Base.

The group is integrating training between active duty airmen and guard and reserve units as the Air Force downsizes.

"We're down to the lowest number of aircraft and service members that we've had in the Air Force since 1947, so we've actually been disbanding or disassociating units as opposed to building them," said Maj. Gen. Lawrence Wells, air combat commander at Shaw Air Force Base.

This group disbanded 68 years ago after training pilots for action in World War II. Now the newly reactivated group is using guard and reserve members to train more than 800 airmen for active duty.

"By its very nature, the guard and reserve tend to have a more experienced group of pilots," said Lt. Col. Juris Jansons, commander of the 495th Fighter Group at Shaw Air Force Base. "Which means that there is a great resource there that we can get our young pilots to, and we can capitalize on the experiences that they have to offer."

Once trained by the new 495th fighter group, pilots will leave the base for active duty in ten different states across the U.S.