History

The crewmembers of the 79 TFS attending the 1964 NATO Tiger Meet at Cambrai, France. On the left Captain Mike Dugan, who later became General Mike Dugan. In the early days of the association Mike Dugan was one of the driving forces behind the NATO Tiger Meet.The crewmembers of the 79 TFS attending the 1964 NATO Tiger Meet at Cambrai, France. On the left Captain Mike Dugan, who later became General Mike Dugan. In the early days of the association Mike Dugan was one of the driving forces behind the NATO Tiger Meet.

When 74 squadron first re-equipped with the Lightning in 1960, its CO, John Howe, had been well aware of the US Air Force Tigers at Woodbridge, the 79th TFS of the 20TFW. Correspondence between the two units had been going on since the first contacts had been established a few years before, and occasionally a social meeting was arranged. On impulse, John picked up the phone to speak to his counterpart at the Suffolk base, perhaps with a subconscious idea to set the ball rolling on some sort of operational exchange rather than a purely social one so that 74 could show off their new mount. What he was not aware of at that time was that an old friend of his, Ed Rackham, had just taken command of the 79th TFS. Their meeting again after almost ten years prompted the idea of the two squadrons getting together on a regular operational basis. In 1962 the Tiger Meet was a much bigger affair and eight squadron were represented; the credit to this goes again to Mike Dugan (future CofS USAF), who had spent a large part of his time identifying Tiger Squadrons in all the European and European Based Air Forces.

Escadron de Chasse 01.012 Cambresis was one of the 3 units to participate at the very first Tiger Meet in 1961. Here the team is leaded by Captain Lerche who was the EC 01.012 squadron commander.Escadron de Chasse 01.012 Cambresis was one of the 3 units to participate at the very first Tiger Meet in 1961. Here the team is leaded by Captain Lerche who was the EC 01.012 squadron commander.

74 was heavily involved in the workup for Farnborough at the time and, sadly, this commitment allowed the squadron to send only officers to observe and to participate in the social activities, although, as we have seen, it was able to display the lightning at the end of the Meet. Activity was not confined to the air, for apart from a full flying program, a series of conferences was held which dealt with a variety of problems and activities within the sphere of NATO operations. Social aspects were also not overlooked. Receptions and dinners were organized for air as well as ground crews; and at the final banquet the guest of honor was General Anderson, the SHAPE Air Deputy, who by his very presence underlined the importance of the Tiger Meet in the eyes of the highest command. In his speech, General Anderson put into words for perhaps the first time the underlying aims and objectives of the Meet - The promotion of NATO solidarity, the achievement and maintenance of firmer professional relationships amongst NATO personnel and the creation of better understanding of NATO military objectives and the problems of NATO partners. These objectives remain as valid today as they did 53 years ago