306th Flying Training Group
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|306th Flying Training Group|
306th Flying Training Group Emblem
|Active||1 March 1942 – present|
|Branch||United States Air Force|
|Type||Aircraft Flight Training|
|Part of||United States Air Force Academy|
The 306th Flying Training Group (306 FTG) is a unit of the United States Air Force, previously assigned to the Air Education and Training Command's (AETC) Nineteenth Air Force (19 AF). With the inactivation of 19 AF on 9 July 2012, the 306 FTG now reports directly to HQ AETC. The group is stationed at the United States Air Force Academy Airfield on the USAFA campus in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
The 306 FTG is the airmanship training unit of the United States Air Force Academy (USAFA), having replaced the 34th Operations Group in 2004. The designation "306th" was deliberately selected by the historian of the Air Education and Training Command (AETC) to connect the training mission of the current Group with its relationship to the book and movie "Twelve O'Clock High".
During World War II, the group's predecessor unit, the 306th Bombardment Group was the first operational bombardment group in the VIII Bomber Command. It was stationed at RAF Thurleigh, England from 6 September 1942 until 25 December 1945, the longest tenure at one station for any one Eighth Air Force group.
The 306th was the first Eighth Air Force heavy bombardment group to complete 300 missions over Occupied Europe and Nazi Germany and also was the first USAAF heavy bomb group to attack a strategic target located in Nazi Germany when the group attacked Wilhelmshaven led by Colonel Frank A. Armstrong on 27 January 1943. Colonel Armstrong's experiences with the 97th and 306th groups became the basis of Sy Bartlett and Beirne Lay, Jr.'s novel and film Twelve O'Clock High.
Reactivated as a Strategic Air Command (SAC) bombardment wing during the Cold War, it later operated B-47 Stratojets at MacDill AFB, Florida in the 1950s and 1960s; B-52 Stratofortress and KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft at McCoy AFB, Florida (and forward deployed to Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War) in the 1960s and 1970s; and as a strategic wing, KC-135 Stratotanker, KC-10 Extender, RC-135 Rivet Joint and U-2 aircraft rotating/deploying from CONUS bases to RAF Mildenhall, United Kingdom in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s.
The group consists of the following squadrons:
- Conducts flight training for all USAF Pilot, Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) Pilot, and Combat Systems Officer (CSO) trainees
- Conducts glider training
- 98th Flying Training Squadron "Wings of Blue"
- Conducts freefall parachute training
- 306th Operations Support Squadron
- Airfield and Airspace Management of the USAF Academy Airfield and Bullseye Auxiliary Airfield
- Conducts flying training (powered)
- For additional history and lineage, see 306th Strategic Wing
World War II 
Activated 1 March 1942 at Salt Lake City Army Air Base, Utah. Personnel moved to Wendover Army Air Field, Utah on 6 April 1942 and began flying training, where it trained for bombardment operations using 40 B-17E aircraft. Group left Wendover 1 August 1942 to began movement to the United Kingdom. The Ground unit first moved to Richmond AAB, Virginia and remained a week before leaving for Fort Dix, New Jersey. On 13 August 1942, the Group's personnel sailed on the RMS Queen Elizabeth on 30 August 1942 and arrived 5 September 1942 at Greenock, Scotland. The aircraft flew from Wendover to Westover Field, Massachusetts on 2 August 1942. The remainder of the Group departed for the United Kingdom on 1 September 1942 via Gander-Prestwick ferry route.
Based at RAF Thurleigh, Bedfordshire, in south-central England, as part of the Eighth Air Force, the 306th was the longest continuously-serving bomb group of the Eighth Air Force during World War II, and led the first mission against a target in Germany. The novel and film Twelve O'Clock High were based in large part on incidents occurring in the group in 1942 and 1943.
Between October 1942 and April 1945, the Group bombed a variety of enemy targets in Europe, including railroad facilities and submarine pens in France and ball-bearing works, oil plants, marshaling yards, chemical plants, aircraft factories, and foundries in Germany. Took part in the first penetration into Germany by heavy bombers of the Eighth Air Force on 27 January 1943 by attacking the U-boat yards at Wilhelmshaven.
Sergeant Maynard Harrison Smith received the Medal of Honor for his actions on 1 May 1943. When the aircraft on which he was a gunner was hit by the enemy and set on fire, the sergeant threw explosive ammunition overboard, manned a gun until the German fighters were driven off, administered first aid to the wounded tail gunner, and extinguished the fire.
The 306th was the center of media attention on 6 July 1944, when Thurleigh was visited by the British Royal Family. As cameras rolled, King George VI, his wife Queen Elizabeth, and their daughter Heiress Presumptive Princess Elizabeth (the future Queen Elizabeth II) were led to a new B-17G of the 367th Bomb Squadron. The new replacement aircraft had been named Rose Of York in honor of the 18-year old Princess, who ceremonially christened the bomber. Rose Of York was shot down over Germany on 3 February 1945.
Without fighter escort and in the face of powerful opposition, the group completed an assault against aircraft factories in central Germany on 11 January 1944, earning a Distinguished Unit Citation (DUC) for the mission. The group participated in the Big Week intensive campaign against the German aircraft industry, 20–25 February 1944. The group earned another DUC for effectively bombing an aircraft assembly plant at Bernberg, Gummersbach, Germany on 22 February, even though escort fighters had abandoned the mission because of weather. Often supported ground forces and attacked interdictory targets in addition to its strategic operations. Hit airfields and marshaling yards in France, Belgium, and Germany in preparation for Normandy. On D-Day, 6 June 1944, the unit raided railroad bridges and coastal guns in support of the assault. Assisted ground forces during the Saint-Lô breakthrough in July, then participated in the airborne portion of Operation Market Garden, the invasion of the Netherlands in September. During the Battle of the Bulge, December 1944 – January 1945, the 306th attacked airfields and marshaling yards to help stop the German advance. Bombed enemy positions in support of the airborne assault across the Rhine River in March 1945, the Operation Varsity portion of the Western Allied invasion of Germany.
Selected for duty with occupational air forces in Germany. The unit engaged in "Casey Jones" mapping photography project. Group then moved to Giebelstadt, Germany on 1 December 1945, and on 28 February 1946 to Istres, France, where it absorbed the remnants of the 92nd and 384th Bomb Groups. In August 1946 the unit re-established in Germany at Furstenfeldbruck and in September 1946 located at Lechfeld. The unit inactivated on 25 December 1946, although the group had virtually ceased to exist as flying unit in the late summer of that year. Inactivated December 1946, the group received the Distinguished Unit Citation with one Oak Leaf Cluster and six campaign stars.
Cold War 
Reactivated as a Strategic Air Command (SAC) B-29 Superfortress Bombardment Group, Very Heavy, then redesignated in 1948 as a Medium Bombardment Group. The group trained in the United States for strategic bombardment operations.
Deliveries of the new Boeing B-47A Stratojet to the USAF began in December 1950, and the aircraft entered service in May 1951 with the redesignated 306th Bombardment Wing (306 BMW) at MacDill AFB, Florida. The 306th was intended to act as a training organization in order to prepare future B-47 crews and the 306th's B-47As were primarily training aircraft and not considered as being combat ready; none of the B-47As ever saw any operational duty.
On 19 November 1951, the 306 BMW received its first operational Boeing B-47B and christened it "The Real McCoy" in honor of Colonel Michael N. W. McCoy, the 306th's wing commander, who flew it from the Boeing Wichita plant to MacDill AFB. During 1952, the 306th developed combat procedures and techniques for the new bomber and the wing soon emerged as a leader in jet bombardment tactics and strategies. The first Boeing KC-97E Stratotanker air refueling aircraft assigned to Strategic Air Command was delivered to the 306th Air Refueling Squadron at MacDill AFB on 14 July 1951 and inflight refueling operations started in May 1952, with KC-97s refueling B-47s on operational training missions leading toward combat ready status.
The 306th Bomb Group was officially inactivated on 16 June 1952 when its operational squadrons were reassigned to the 306th Bombardment Wing (306 BW) as part of the tri-deputate reorganization. At this point, the heraldry of the 306th was passed from the group organization to the wing organization.
The 306 BW figured prominently in the 1955 Paramount Pictures film, Strategic Air Command starring James Stewart and June Allyson. The film was made with the full cooperation of the Air Force, with significant filming occurring at MacDill AFB utilizing B-47 aircraft of both the 306th Bombardment Wing and the collocated 305th Bombardment Wing. In the film's plot Stewart's character is assigned to fly B-47s as a vice wing commander at MacDill.
The 306th Bombardment Wing continued to operate from MacDill AFB until 31 March 1963. On 1 April 1963, the 306th Bombardment Wing moved without personnel or equipment from MacDill AFB to McCoy AFB, Florida and converted to the B-52D Stratofortress and KC-135A Stratotanker aircraft. The assets of the former 4047th Strategic Wing at McCoy AFB were then absorbed by the 306th Bombardment Wing.
In 1966, the 306 BW began preparing and training for deployment to the Western Pacific in support of Projects Arc Light & Young Tiger. In September 1966, the wing deployed to Andersen AFB, Guam and Kadena Air Base, Okinawa. Its mission while in the Western Pacific was to "...Conduct bombing raids in support of US and allied ground forces fighting in the Vietnamese War." Later, the wing also operated from U-Tapao Royal Thai Navy Airfield, Thailand as U.S. forces built up in the Vietnam theater. The 919th Air Refueling Squadron (919 ARS) was assigned to McCoy in March 1967. When not forward deployed for operations over Vietnam, the 306th continued to operate out of McCoy AFB for both training evolutions and in its stateside strategic nuclear alert role. In January 1968, the 306 BW received another Air Force Outstanding Unit Award for this "double-duty" for combat operations in Southeast Asia while maintaining an alert status for SAC.
In 1972, the 306 BW was part of the heavy bombing raids Linebacker I and Linebacker II over North Vietnam. The 306 BW returned to McCoy AFB from its final Southeast Asia deployment in early 1973 after the Paris Peace Accords ended American involvement in the conflict. From 1971 through 1973, other training activities at McCoy AFB included KC-135Q instruction by the 306th Air Refueling Squadron (306 ARS) and KC-135A instruction by the 32nd Air Refueling Squadron (32 ARS). Whereas KC-135A aircraft typically carried JP-4 jet fuel, KC-135Q aircraft were specifically modified and equipped to offload JP-7 fuel and supported worldwide in-flight refueling requirements for USAF U-2 and SR-71 reconnaissance aircraft.
On 31 March 1972, a 306th Bombardment Wing B-52D Stratofortress, AF Serial Number 56-0625, sustained multiple engine failures and an engine pod fire shortly after takeoff from McCoy AFB on a routine training mission. The aircraft was not carrying any weapons. The aircraft immediately attempted to return to the base, but crashed just short of Runway 18R in a civilian residential area of Orlando, Florida immediately north of the airfield, destroying or damaging eight homes. The crew of 7 airmen and 1 civilian on the ground were killed.
In May 1973 it was announced that the 306th Bombardment Wing would be deactivated and McCoy AFB closed no later than early 1975 as part of a post-Vietnam reduction in force (RIF). The 306th Bomb Wing (Heavy) inactivated in July 1974 as activities at McCoy AFB were phased down prior to closure while wing personnel, along with B-52D and KC-135A aircraft assets, were reassigned to other SAC bomb wings.
Following deactivation of the 306th Bombardment Wing, the unit was reactivated a few months later as the 306th Strategic Wing (306 SW) at Ramstein AB, West Germany. The 306 SW subsequently relocated to RAF Mildenhall, United Kingdom, functioning as the focal point for all SAC operations in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and as a liaison between SAC and United States Air Forces in Europe (USAFE) for all KC-135, SR-71, U-2 and RC-135 support within USAFE. The 306 SW also provided liaison for KC-10 support when that aircraft entered the active SAC inventory in the mid-1980s.
In February 1992, with SAC's impending inactivation, the 306 SW was inactivated and replaced at RAF Mildenhall by the 100th Air Refueling Wing (100 ARW). The 100 ARW was established as a USAFE unit, maintaining its own organic inventory of KC-135R Stratotanker aircraft permanently based at RAF Mildenhall and eliminating the need for rotational KC-135 or KC-10 aircraft from bases in the United States.
Modern era 
The 306th was redesignated the 306th Flying Training Group (306 FTG) and reactivated in October 2004 as part of the Air Education and Training Command's (AETC) Nineteenth Air Force (19 AF) at the United States Air Force Academy. In addition to operating the USAF Academy Airfield and the associated aviation training activities for USAFA Cadets at the that facility, the 306 FTG also has oversight of the Initial Flight Screening (IFS) program for USAF commissioned officer aviation candidates, including pilots and combat systems officers commissioned through Air Force ROTC and Officer Training School as well as the USAF Academy. IFS is performed under a civilian contract program at Pueblo Memorial Airport, Colorado and the 306 FTG provides a contingent of Air Force personnel to oversee the students and provide military training, supervision, and rigor to the course. With the inactivation of 19 AF in July 2012, the 306 FTG now reports to HQ AETC.
- Established as 306th Bombardment Group (Heavy) on 28 January 1942
- Activated on 1 March 1942
- Redesignated 306th Bombardment Group, Heavy, on 20 August 1943
- Inactivated on 25 December 1946
- Redesignated 306th Bombardment Group, Very Heavy, on 11 June 1947
- Activated on 1 July 1947
- Redesignated 306th Bombardment Group, Medium, on 11 August 1948
- Inactivated on 16 June 1952
- Redesignated 306th Bombardment Training Group, on 1 January 1959
- Inactivated on 1 January 1962
- Redesignated 306th Bombardment Wing, on 1 April 1963
- Inactivated on 1 March 1975
- Redesignated 306th Strategic Wing, on 1 June 1975
- Inactivated on 1 February 1992
- Redesignated 306th Flying Training Group on 30 September 2004
- Activated on 4 October 2004.
- 34 Reconnaissance (later, 423 Bombardment) Squadron (RD): 1 March 1942 – 25 December 1946; 1 January 1959 – 1 January 1962
- 94th Flying Training Squadron: 4 October 2004–present
- 98th Flying Training Squadron: 4 October 2004–present
- 306th Air Refueling Squadron: 1 September 1950 – 16 June 1952
- 367th Bombardment Squadron (GY): 1 March 1942 – 25 December 1946; 1 July 1947 – 16 June 1952
- 368th Bombardment Squadron (BO): 1 March 1942 – 25 December 1946; 1 July 1947 – 16 June 1952
- 369th Bombardment Squadron (WW): 1 March 1942 – 29 June 1946; 1 July 1947 – 16 June 1952
- 557th Flying Training Squadron: 4 October 2004–present
- Distinguished Unit Citations:
- Germany: 11 January 1944
- Germany: 22 February 1944
- Europe Air Offensive
- Vietnam War
Commanding officers 
|(1 April 1942 – June 1946)|
|Col Charles B Overacker Jr.||16 March 1942 – 3 January 1943|
|Col Frank A Armstrong Jr.||3 January 1943 – 17 February 1943|
|Col Claude E Putnam||17 February 1943 – 20 June 1943|
|Col George L Robinson||20 June 1943 – September 1944|
|Col James S Sutton||September 1944 – 16 April 1945|
|Col Hudson H Upham||16 April 1945 – May 1946|
- AETC News Service release 100104308, 1 October 2004
- "Behind the Legend of Col. Mike McCoy". OrlandoSentinel.com. Archived from the original on 23 May 2011. Retrieved 21 May 2011.
- This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the Air Force Historical Research Agency.
- 306th Alumni site
- The 306th Bombardment Group Museum
- The 306th at the Eighth Air Force
- 306th Bomb Wing Reunion Association
- Behind The Legend Of Colonel Mike McCoy