8th Fighter Wing provides lead Wolf with fitting look
April 11, 2005
PYONGTAEK, South Korea — When airmen at a maintenance hangar at Kunsan Air Base in South Korea were tasked with repainting the 8th Fighter Wing commander’s jet, they knew it was a special job that would help preserve a part of the wing’s warfighting heritage.
Since the Vietnam War, the wing has been known as the “Wolf Pack,” and its wing commander as “The Wolf.”
The wolf tradition dates to when the wing was the 8th Tactical Fighter Wing, based in Thailand, said 1st Lt. Michelle Estep, a wing spokeswoman.
“And while we were in Thailand, we began combat operations in Vietnam and ... downed more enemy aircraft during the war in Southeast Asia than any other wing,” Estep said. “We actually had 38.5 downed aircraft.”
The wing’s commander at the time, then-Col. Robin Olds, gave the wing its Wolf Pack nickname.
“And that’s how people … know us now,” Estep said.
The current Wolf is Col. William W. Uhle Jr.
When the time came to give the Wolf’s F-16 fighter its regularly scheduled paint job last month, the 8th Maintenance Squadron airmen did the usual things — masked and taped it, sanded it and applied the right coats in the right colors in the right order.
But they also gave the jet the unique symbol that sets it apart from all the other F-16 fighter planes in the Wolf Pack — they stenciled onto its tail section the head of a wolf.
In addition to the wolf’s head, the jet carries the stenciled word “Wolf” and is further distinguished by having two stripes painted across the upper edge of its tail fin, a bar of blue over a bar of gold.
Blue is the unit color of the wing’s 35th Fighter Squadron, gold the 80th Fighter Squadron. Each squadron’s jets have only their squadron’s single stripe.
“But this particular jet represents both squadrons,” said Estep, “because it’s flown by the Wolf.”
The tail section also is marked with the letters “WP” for Wolf Pack.
Also different on the Wolf’s jet is white shadowing on the letters to make it have a 3-D effect, said Staff Sgt. Robert Shepherd of the 8th Maintenance Squadron. Shepherd, an aircraft structural maintenance craftsman, supervised the painting.
The job began in mid-March and took five days, with about 10 airmen working day and night shifts inside the corrosion control facility hangar, he said.
The wolf symbology helps foster unit pride, Shepherd said, and boosts morale.
“I guess it’s just the historical thing, kind of esprit de corps,” he said.
Wing brass said the airmen brought it off well.
“We’ve had our supervision look at it,” said Shepherd, “and our group commander came down and said it looked great.”