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416th Bombardment Wing

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416th Bombardment Wing

416th Air Expeditionary Wing

A 416th Air Expeditionary Group airman positions a fire bottle while preparing a C-17 Globemaster III for parking
Active 1943–1945; 1962-1995; 2002–2005
Country  United States
Branch  United States Air Force
Type Air Expeditionary
Role Combat Support
Engagements European Theater of World War II
Southwest Asia
Decorations Distinguished Unit Citation
Air Force Outstanding Unit Award
Insignia
416th Air Expeditionary Wing emblem (approved 2 March 1964)[2]
World War II Fuselage Identification Codes 5H (668th Bomb Sq) 2A (669th Bomb Sq) F6 (670th Bomb Sq) 5C (671st Bomb Sq)[1]
ACC tail marking at Griffiss AFB)[3] GR

The 416th Air Expeditionary Wing (AEW) is a provisional unit assigned to the Air Combat Command of the United States Air Force to activate or inactivate as needed.

The wing began life in World War II as the 416th Bombardment Group (BG). The group was a Douglas A-20 Havoc light bomb group assigned to Ninth Air Force in Western Europe. It was awarded a Distinguished Unit Citation for its actions in France when, in spite of intense resistance, the group bombed bridges, railways, rolling stock, and a radar station to disrupt the German retreat through the Falaise-Argentan gap. It converted to Douglas A-26 Invaders while engaged in combat and continued to support ground forces through the end of the war.

The group's heritage was continued by the 416th Bombardment Wing (BW), a Strategic Air Command B-52 Stratofortress wing that conducted strategic bombardment training and air refueling operations on a global scale based at Griffiss Air Force Base in New York. 416th BW crews and aircraft deployed to the Pacific during the Vietnam War era to support SAC operations during the conflict. In 1984, the wing and group were consolidated and became a single unit. In 1991, wing crews and aircraft participated in the war in Southwest Asia. The 416th was inactivated as part of the Post-Cold War drawdown of United States strategic forces in 1995 (BRAC 1993) and the closure of Griffiss AFB.

In 2002 the wing was converted to provisional status as the 416th Air Expeditionary Group It served as the host unit at Karshi-Khanabad Air Base (K2), in Qarshi, Uzbekistan, from 2002–2005, where it supported operations against the Taliban and al-Qaeda in Afghanistan. It was redesignated as the 416th Air Expeditionary Wing in 2010, but the current status of this unit is not publicly known.

History

World War II


Training in the United States

The wing was first activated on 5 February 1943[4] without personnel, at Will Rogers Field, Oklahoma as the 416th Bombardment Group (Light) (BG).[5] The original squadrons of the group were the 668th,[6] 669th,[7] 670th,[8] and 671st Bombardment Squadrons[9]

Fifty-one officers and two hundred and forty-one (241) enlisted men were transferred to the group on 15 February 1943. The source of the cadre was the 46th Bombardment Group and units from Will Rogers Field; Blythe AAF, California; Barksdale Field, Louisiana and a number of men with considerable overseas experience from the Third Air Force Replacement Center, Plant Park, Florida. On that date, the 46th BG moved to the North side of Will Rogers Field, leaving the South side to the 416th BG.

The group originally operated as an Operational Training Unit under the III Air Support Command, providing a portion of the initial cadre of the 417th Bombardment Group.[10] The group fell back on the 46th BG for assistance with its training. Pilots were attached to the 46th BG for transition flying during the first three months of its existence. On 11 May, the first eight (8) planes were assigned to the 416th Group. One North American B-25C Mitchell and one Douglas A-20B Havoc was given to each of the 668th and 669th Squadrons. Two A-20B's were assigned to each of the 670th and 671st Squadrons. Classes in all the military occupational specialties were conducted by the 46th until 1 June 1943. The Pilots attended Ground School, for five hours a day, in the following subjects: code, link trainer, aircraft recognition, operation and maintenance of the A-20 and B-25, air navigation, radio, instrument procedure, etc. The Intelligence personnel attended classes for one hour a day.

Combat in the European Theater

The bombardment group moved to England in January to February 1944, and was assigned to Ninth Air Force. It entered combat in March 1944, and during the next several weeks directed most of its attacks against V-1 and V-2 sites in France.[4] In addition to the assigned code markings assigned to each of its squadrons, the 416th's aircraft were marked with a "white diagonal stripe emanating outwards from the [trailing] edge of the . . . rudder."[1] The 416th flew a number of missions against airfields and coastal defenses to help prepare for the invasion of Normandy. It supported the invasion in June 1944 by striking road junctions, marshalling yard, bridges, and railway overpasses. The group assisted ground forces at Caen and Saint-Lô in July and at Brest later in the summer, by hitting transportation facilities, supply dumps, radar installations, and other targets. In spite of intense resistance, the group bombed bridges, railways, rolling stock, and a radar station to disrupt the enemy's retreat through the Falaise gap, 6–9 August 1944, and received a Distinguished Unit Citation for the missions.[4]

The group assisted the airborne attack on Holland in September. It also supported the assault on the Siegfried Line by pounding transportation, warehouses, supply dumps, and defended villages in Germany.[4] in November, the group converted to Douglas A-26 Invader aircraft. With its new aircraft it attacked transportation facilities, strong points, communications centers, and troop concentrations during the Battle of the Bulge from December 1944 through January 1945. It aided the Allied thrust into Germany by continuing its strikes against transportation, communications, airfields, storage depots, and other objectives, February—May 1945. It also bombed flak positions in support of the airborne assault across the Rhine in March 1945.[4] The group returned to the US between July and October 1945 and was inactivated at the Port of Embarkation on 24 October 1945.

Cold War

4039th Strategic Wing


The origins of the 416th Bombardment Wing begin on 1 August 1958 when Strategic Air Command established the 4039th Strategic Wing at Griffiss AFB, New York[11] as part of SAC's plan to disperse its B-52 Stratofortress heavy bombers over a larger number of bases, thus making it more difficult for the Soviet Union to knock out the entire fleet with a surprise first strike. The wing remained a headquarters only until 5 January 1959 when the 41st Air Refueling Squadron, flying Boeing KC-135 Stratotankers and three maintenance squadrons were activated and assigned to the wing and the wing was transferred from Eighth Air Force to the 820th Air Division. In July, the 56th Aviation Depot Squadron was activated to oversee the wing's special weapons. It became fully organized on 15 October 1959 when the 75th Bombardment Squadron (BS), consisting of 15 Boeing B-52 Stratofortresses moved to Griffiss from Loring AFB, Maine where it had been one of the three squadrons of the 42d Bombardment Wing. Half of the wing's aircraft were maintained on fifteen-minute alert, fully fueled, armed, and ready for combat. The 4039th (and later the 416th) continued to maintain an alert commitment until December 1991.[12] In 1962, the wing bombers began to be equipped with the GAM-77 Hound Dog and the GAM-72 Quail air-launched cruise missiles, The 4039th Airborne Missile Maintenance Squadron was activated in November to maintain these missiles. However, SAC Strategic Wings could not carry a permanent history or lineage and SAC looked for a way to make its Strategic Wings permanent.

416th Bombardment Wing

In 1962, in order to perpetuate the lineage of many currently inactive bombardment units with illustrious World War II records, Headquarters SAC received authority from Headquarters USAF to discontinue its Major Command controlled (MAJCON) strategic wings that were equipped with combat aircraft and to activate Air Force controlled (AFCON) units, most of which were inactive at the time which could carry a lineage and history.

The 4039th SW was replaced by the newly constituted 416th Bombardment Wing (416th BW) on 1 February 1963[2] and was assigned to SAC's 6th Air Division.[13] The 75th BS was also replaced by the 668th Bombardment Squadron, one of the unit's World War II historical bombardment squadrons. The 41st Air Refueling Squadron and 56th Munitions Maintenance Squadron transferred to the 416th. The 4039th's maintenance and security squadrons were replaced by ones with the 416th numerical designation of the newly established wing. Each of the new units assumed the personnel, equipment, and mission of its predecessor. Under the Dual Deputate organization, all components were directly assigned to the wing, no operational or maintenance group element was activated. The history, lineage and honors of the 416th Bombardment Group were temporarily bestowed upon the newly established wing upon activation.

The 416th Bomb Wing continued to conduct strategic bombardment training and air refueling operations to meet operational commitments of Strategic Air Command, including deployments to Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War with tankers and crews from December 1964 through December 1975 and with bomber crews from June 1968 through 1975.[2] The 416th BW assumed host wing responsibility at Griffiss AFB, New York on 1 July 1970,[2] when the base was transferred from Air Force Systems Command to SAC.[11]

In 1988, the wing began to prepare for a primarily conventional warfare role.[12] In June 1990, the wing added a second air refueling squadron when the 509th Air Refueling Squadron moved to Griffiss from Pease AFB, New Hampshire and became part of the wing. Shortly afterward, in August, it began to deploy KC-135s to Seeb International Airport and B-52s to Spain, Diego Garcia, and England. From January to April 1991 the wing flew combat missions in Southwest Asia.[12]

In September 1991, the wing ended its support of world wide air refueling operations.[12] The wing was assigned to Air Combat Command (ACC) after inactivation of SAC on 1 June 1992 and its refueling squadrons were assigned to the 380th Operations Group of Air Mobility Command.[14] Wing aircraft carried ACC Tail Code "GR". The wing was inactivated in 1995 due to closure of Griffiss AFB. The 416th transferred the last two of its B-52Hs to the 5th Bomb Wing at Minot AFB, North Dakota on 15 November 1994 in preparation for inactivation in 1995 with the closure of Griffiss AFB.[12]

Post Cold War era

The wing became a provisional air expeditionary group as part of the Global War on Terrorism in 2002. It was assigned to Uzbekistan as an Air Combat Command unit in early 2002. There it operated the base, which was used for transshipments of cargo and supplies from United States, for onward tactical airlift to combat forces in Afghanistan fighting Taliban and Al-Qaeda forces. The group was inactivated in November 2005 after the Uzbek government requested the United States withdraw its forces from their territory. In 2010, the group was upgraded to wing but is not known to have been active under that designation.

Lineage

416th Bombardment Group

  • Constituted as 416th Bombardment Group (Light) on 25 January 1943
Activated on 5 February 1943
Redesignated 416th Bombardment Group, Light on 20 August 1943
Inactivated on 24 October 1945[4]
  • Consolidated with the 416th Bombardment Wing, Heavy on 31 January 1984 as the 416th Bombardment Wing, Heavy[12]

416th Bombardment Wing

  • Constituted as 416th Bombardment Wing, Heavy, on 15 November 1962
Activated on 15 November 1962
Organized on 1 February 1963
Consolidated with the 416th Bombardment Group, Light on 31 January 1984[2]
Redesignated 416th Wing on 1 September 1991
Redesignated 416th Bomb Wing on 1 June 1992
Inactivated on 30 September 1995
  • Redesignated 416th Air Expeditionary Group, and converted to provisional status, on 3 May 2002
Redesignated 416th Air Expeditionary Wing on 23 Feb 2010[12]

Assignments

Components

Groups

  • 416th Combat Support Group (later 416th Support Group),[11] 1 July 1970 - 30 September 1995
  • 416th Logistics Group, 1 September 1991 - 30 September 1995
  • 416th Operations Group, 1 September 1991 - 30 September 1995

Operational Squadrons

  • 41st Air Refueling Squadron: 1 February 1963 - 1 September 1991[12]
  • 509th Air Refueling Squadron: 30 June 1990 - 1 September 1991[14]
  • 668th Bombardment Squadron: 5 February 1943 – 24 October 1945; 1 February 1963 - 1 September 1991[6]
  • 669th Bombardment Squadron: 5 February 1943 – 24 October 1945[7]
  • 670th Bombardment Squadron: 5 February 1943 – 24 October 1945[8]
  • 671st Bombardment Squadron: 5 February 1943 – 24 October 1945[9]

Support Squadrons

  • 56th Munitions Maintenance Squadron, 1 February 1963 - 1 October 1972[11]
  • 416th Airborne Missile Maintenance Squadron, 1 February 1963 - 30 September 1974[11]
  • 416th Armament & Electronics Maintenance Squadron (later 416th Avionics Maintenance Squadron, 416th Intermediate Level Maintenance Squadron), 1 February 1963 - 1 September 1991[11]
  • 416th Combat Defense Squadron (later 416th Security Police Squadron), 1 February 1963 - 1 July 1970[11]
  • 416th Field Maintenance Squadron,[11] 1 February 1963 - 1 September 1991
  • 416th Munitions Maintenance Squadron,[11] 1 October 1972 - 1 September 1991
  • 416th Organizational Maintenance Squadron,[11] 1 February 1963 - 1 September 1991

Detachments

  • Detachment 1
Otis AFB Massachusetts 2 Alert KC-135A's (Shared with Detachment , 99th Bombardment Wing from Westover AFB, Massachusetts also with 2 Alert KC-135A's, 2 April 1969 - 31 December 1971
  • Detachment
Minot AFB, North Dakota 2 Alert B-52G's & 2 KC-135A's (Shared with a Detachment 380th Bombardment Wing from Plattsburgh AFB, New York with 2 Alert KC-135A's Relocated after April 1972 but prior to October 1973 Attached to the 5th Bombardment Wing

Stations

Aircraft

Awards and Campaigns

Campaign Streamer Campaign Dates Notes
Air Offensive, Europe 1 February 1944-5 June 1944 416th Bombardment Group[4]
Normandy 6 June 1944-24 July 1944 416th Bombardment Group[4]
Northern France 25 July 1944-14 September 1944 416th Bombardment Group[4]
Rhineland 5 September 1944-21 March 1945 416th Bombardment Group[4]
Ardennes-Alsace 6 December 1944-25 January 1945 416th Bombardment Group[4]
Central Europe 22 March 1944-21 May 1945 416th Bombardment Group[4]
Defense of Saudi Arabia 416th Air Expeditionary Group[12]
Liberation of Kuwait 416th Air Expeditionary Group[12]

See also

References

Notes

Bibliography

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