Aviano Air Base
31st Fighter Wing
World War I and II
Located about 2 miles north of Aviano, and 50 miles northeast of Venice Italy, Aviano Air Base was originally built as one of the Italian Air Force's first flight training schools and as a construction facility for aircraft parts on 19 Apr 1911. The air field was for missions against Austro-Hungarian and German Armies used in World War I. In 1919 it was renamed Aeroporto Pagliano e Gori after two Italian pilots that conducted unauthorized attacks on the Austrian naval yards in Pula; it was also overrun by the Austro-German army before the end of the war. The Base was again used for flight training between 1919 and 1939.
During World War II, both the Luftwaffe and the Italian Air Force shared and flew missions from Aeroporto Pagliano e Gori before being captured by British forces in 1945. The RAF then conducted Air operations from the base until 1947, when it was returned to Italian control.
U.S. Army Air Forces Missions against Targets in the Vicinity of Aviano:
|5 Dec 1943||12 AF||Fighters and fighter-bombers attack airfield|
|28 Jan 1944||15 AF||B-17's bomb airfield with fighter escort|
|31 Jan 1944||15 AF||B-17's and B-24's bomb airfield. Escorted by P-38's and P-47's.|
|14 May 1944||15 AF||48 P-38's strafe airfield.|
|6 Jul 1944||15 AF||B-17's and B-24's bomb oil and gasoline storage. P-51's and P-38's provide escort.|
|4 Oct 1944||13 AF||Heavy bombers attack airfield.|
|11 Nov 1944||15 AF||Heavy bombers attack airfield with fighter escort.|
|18 Nov 1944||15 AF||Heavy bombers attack airfield with P-51 escort.|
|2 Mar 1945||12 AF||Fighters and fighter-bombers attack airfield.|
USAF & NATO Use
The Italians continued to use the base until 1954, when the US government signed a Joint-use agreement that commissioned the base as part of the North American Treaty Organiztion (NATO). USAFE officially activated the base on 15 Feb 1955, and in turn activated the 7207th Air Base Squadron. At this time Aviano had no permanent tactical aircraft on station, instead the base hosted a rotation of fighter deployments from Tactical Air Command bases in the US to support NATO alert commitments and air Force weapons-training deployments.
Effective 1 Dec, the 7227th Combat support group was host unit of Aviano, when it was replaced by the 40th Tactical Group on 1 Apr 1966 to manage rotational units from the US on a permanent basis.
With the closing of Torrejon Air Base, Spain on 21 May 1992, the 401st Tactical Fighter Wing moved operations to Aviano, replacing the 40th Tactical Group. After the destruction of Homestead AFB, Florida by Hurricane Andrew, the 401st was decommissioned and replaced by the 31st Fighter Wing on 1 Apr 1994.
March 2003, Aviano became the launch point for airborne/air-operations that opened a second front in Northern Iraq as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom; securing, supporting and feeding over 2300 personnel from the USAF and US Army.
USAF Captain Scott O'Grady of the 555th Fighter Squadron, Aviano AB, was shot down over Bosnia in 1995. He was later rescued by U.S Marines of the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit stationed aboard the USS Kearsarge.