34th Bomb Squadron

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34th Bomb Squadron
34th Bomb Squadron - B-1B - 2011.jpg
Aircrews from the 34th Bomb Squadron and 28th Operations Support Squadron stand in front of B-1B Lancer 86-0095 at Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., 30 March 2011.
Active 11 June 1917 – 10 June 1919
15 July 1931 – 26 November 1945
19 March 1947 – 10 September 1948
10 May 1952 – 25 June 1958
15 November 1962 – 30 September 1976
1 July 1992 – present
Country United States
Branch United States Air Force
Type Strategic Bombing
Part of Air Combat Command
12th Air Force
28th Bomb Wing
28th Operations Group
Garrison/HQ Ellsworth Air Force Base
Nickname Original Thunderbirds (Doolittle's Raiders)
Colors Red, Black
Mascot T-Bird
Engagements World War I
World War II
Doolittle Raid
Korean War
Operation Enduring Freedom
Operation Iraqi Freedom
Decorations Presidential Unit Citation ribbon.svg DCU
Outstanding Unit ribbon.svg AFOUA
Ruban de la croix de guerre 1939-1945.PNG FCdG w/Palm
Presidential Unit Citation (Korea).svg ROK PUC
Insignia
34th Bomb Squadron emblem 34bs patch.jpg
Not to be confused with the 34th Pursuit Squadron, which fought in the 1941-42 Battle of the Philippines

The 34th Bomb Squadron (34 BS) is part of the 28th Bomb Wing at Ellsworth Air Force Base, South Dakota. It operates B-1 Lancer aircraft providing strategic bombing capability.

Overview[edit]

The 34th Bomb Squadron is presently the 4th-oldest active squadron in the United States Air Force, being formed on 10 May 1917, less than a month after the United States' entry into World War I. Members of the squadron participated in World War I, World War II, Korean War, Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Today, the 34th Bomb Squadron stands ready to provide combat-ready aircrews to project global power anytime in support of the Combatant Commander's objectives.

History[edit]

World War I[edit]

The 34th Bomb Squadron can trace its origins to the organization of 2d Company H, Kelly Field, Texas which was organized on 10 May 1917. At the time Kelly Field consisted mostly of a field of cotton plants, as it was just obtained by the Army for the establishment of a training airfield, just to the south of San Antonio, Texas. When the first soldiers arrived, there were not any tents or cots for them so they slept on the ground. When the first tents arrived, they were assigned locations for them and they were pitched. A few days later, when the Company received its full quota of men, it was changed to 1st Company G, Kelly Field. The men received their indoctrination into the Army as soldiers, standing guard duty and other rudimentary duties. The lack of sanitary facilities and also uniforms meant most men worked in the civilian clothing they arrived in and slept in them without bathing until latrines and washing facilities were constructed. The men dug ditches for water mains, erected wooden buildings for barracks and a large YMCA.[1][2]

Across the Atlantic[edit]

On 15 July, the unit was re-designated as the 34th Provisional Squadron, and rumors began to circulate that the unit would be sent to Europe. On the 25th, it was again re-designated as the 34th Aero Squadron, and they were issued proper uniforms and began to be equipped for overseas duty. On 10 August, the squadron received orders to leave Kelly Field for transport to Hoboken, New Jersey the next day. Five days later, the squadron arrived at Fort Totten, New York. On the 22d they were transported to the Port of Entry, Hoboken, and were boarded on the RMS Baltic. The next day, they left Pier 59, en route to Halifax, Nova Scotia where the ship anchored awaiting for a convoy. Finally, on 5 September, the convoy was formed and the trans-Atlantic journey began.[1]

On the night of 14 September, two red rockets were fired from an accompanying destroyer that had spotted a submarine periscope. The destroyer dropped depth charges on the submarine, and the Baltic made a sudden turn to port, that caused both men and anything loose aboard the ship to move. Suddenly a large explosion was heard and five long blasts were made by the ship's whistle and everyone on board was ordered to report to their assigned lifeboats. The Baltic's captain announced that a torpedo had struck the ship, but it had only made a glancing blow on the bow; that the emergency pumps were working and there was no danger.[1]

Training in England[edit]

The next day the Baltic arrived at Liverpool, England where the squadron boarded a train for Southampton, arriving on the 16th. There, the squadron received orders that it would remain in England for training by the Royal Flying Corps. On the 20th the men (about 200 in all), were divided into groups and sent to schools to take training in the different types of work they would be expected to do. 75 men were sent to the machine-gun school in Grantham; the remainder sere sent to schools in Reading, Upaven Station, Wendover, Farnsborough, Pemlice Station and other RFC stations. The 34th Aero Squadron was the first American unit to completely train in England.[1]

2d Aviation Instructional Center[edit]

After the detachments received their training, the squadron was re-assembled at Winchester for a final inspection. On the 18th, the squadron departed for France, arriving at the port of Le Havre on the 20th. After a few days wait in a "Rest Camp", they boarded a troop train for the city of Tours, arriving on the 23d. From there, the squadron marched to the American 2d Air Instructional Center (2d AIC), at Tours Aerodrome, their assigned duty station in France on 23 December 1917.[1]

Men of the 34th Aero Squadron, 2d Air Instructional Center, Tours Aerodrome, France, November 1917. (Several Salmson 2A2 reconnaissance aircraft are parked behind the formation)

The 2d AIC was established by the Training Section, AEF to train aerial observers and observation pilots. The observer also manned two Lewis Machine Guns for defense. Several squadron members, who had been trained by the RFC in machine guns, started a machine gun school at the base. Other men were engaged in construction activities, putting up aircraft hangars and wooden buildings for all manner of uses from training classes to barracks. Men were assigned as mechanics to airplanes arriving at Tours, and others were used as instructors for the various classes that were organized at the base. In February, there ws a general reorganization of the 2d AIC and about half the men of the 34th were transferred to other squadrons, and new men were transferred into the 34th. Many promotions were given to the senior members of the squadron who had arrived the previous December. Training was given to many members of the Corps Observation squadrons of the First Army Air Service as they arrived in France; and beginning in August 1918, new pilots and observers for the planned Second Army Air Service began to arrive for training.[1]

By the time of the Armistice on 11 November, the men of the 34th Aero Squadron held about 75% of the responsible positions at the 2d AIC. Although they did not enter combat, the men trained the men who went to the front and gave them the best of training so they might accomplish their work.[1]

Demobilization[edit]

The AEF was notoriously slow in returning men to the United States after the end of hostilities, and men who served on the front had priority over those who served in the rear areas. The 34th, therefore, remained at Tours until May, 1919 when orders were received to proceed to the 1st Air Depot, Colombey-les-Belles Airdrome, France, for demobilization. From Colombey, the squadron was moved to a staging camp under the Services of Supply waiting for a date to report to a base port for transportation home. In mid-May, the squadron boarded a troop ship, arriving in New York on the 27th. From there, the 34th moved to Mitchel Field, New York where the men were demobilized and returned to civilian life.[1][3]

Inter-war years[edit]

34h Pursuit Squadron Boeing P-12s at March Field, about 1932.

On 24 March 1923, the World War I 34th Aero Squadron was reconstituted into the permanent United States Army Air Service as the 34th Pursuit Squadron. The Army activated the unit in the reserves, and assigned it to the 8th Pursuit Group in the VI Corps Area. The 34th was designated as an Active Associate Unit for the 27th Pursuit Squadron, Selfridge Field, Michigan. In 1927 it was withdrawn from the VI Corps Area and reassigned to the IX Corps Area in California. In 1928, it was moved again to the VIII Corps area in Texas, being re-organized into a Regular Army Inactive (RAI) unit with reserve officers assigned to train at Kelly Field, Texas. Organized Reserve Officers assigned to the unit participated in Summer Training exercises at Kelly Field between 1929 and 1931.[4]

The 34th Pursuit Squadron was returned to active status on 15 July 1931, less reserve personnel at March Field, California. It was re-organized and re-designated as the 34th Pursuit Squadron, and assigned to the new 17th Pursuit Group at March.[5]

In the early 1930s, the squadron flew Boeing P-12 and Boeing P-26 fighter aircraft until, in 1935, it was re-designated the 34th Attack Squadron and acquired the Northrop A-17 attack dive bomber. In 1939 the A-17 was considered obsolete, and the squadron was re-equipped with the new Douglas B-18 Bolo medium bomber, being re-designated as the 34th Bombardment Squadron.[5]

In June, 1940 the squadron was moved to McChord Field, Washington where it began flying reconnaissance patrols over the Pacific Northwest. The B-18 had a short life in front-line service, and the 34th was re-equipped with the new B-25 Mitchell medium bomber in February 1941, being one of the first squadrons in the Army Air Corps to receive the new bomber. In June, the squadron was reassigned to Pendleton Airport, Oregon, as part of a dispersal plan by the Northwest Air District as part of the buildup of the Air Corps. In August, it received the updated B-25B, that had a much heavier defensive armament, dictated by the results of combat reports coming in from Europe.[6]

World War II[edit]

In the immediate aftermath of the Pearl Harbor Attack, the 34th flew anti-submarine warfare patrols in the Pacific Northwest from 22 December 1941–c. March 1942. It was reassigned to Lexington County Airport, South Carolina, on 9 February 1942 in order to meet the greater threat from German submarines operating off the East Coast. At that time, the only B-25s in service were with the 17th Bombardment Group.[5][6]

Planning for a retaliatory bombing raid on Japan began in December 1941, and the B-25 was determined to be the only Army land-based bomber with the range to be able to attack the Japanese Home Islands that could be launched (one-way) from an aircraft Carrier. 24 B-25Bs were diverted from the 17th Bombardment Group, and volunteers from all three squadrons (34th, 37th and 95th) were recruited, the crews being told only that this was going to be a secret and very dangerous mission against heavy odds. The volunteers moved to Elgin Field in Florida for training. Still not knowing what kind of mission they were training for, the crews practiced making takeoffs in as short a distance as possible. Upon completion of training, seventeen crews left Elgin Field, some from the 34th for McClellan Field in California for final modifications to the B-25s before moving to NAS Alameda, where the bombers were loaded on the USS Hornet and the men of the Doolittle Raider task force departed on 2 April 1942.[6]

34th Bombardment Squadron Martin B-26 Marauders returning from a mission, about 1943. B-26C-25-MO Marauder 41-35177 identifiable, flying on one engine over the Mediterranean.

The remainder of the squadron remained in Columbia, flying antisubmarine patrols until 23 June when it was moved to Barksdale Field, Louisiana. There, the squadron was re-equipped with the Martin B-26 Marauder, and began transition training under Third Air Force.[5]

In November 1942, the squadron was deployed to North Africa in December 1942 as part of Operation Torch, and was assigned to the new Twelfth Air Force in Algeria. The squadron flew tactical bombing raids on enemy targets in Algeria and later Tunisia as the American forces moved east and participated in the Tunisian Campaign. Remaining assigned to the Mediterranean Theater of Operations, the squadron flew combat missions in the invasion of Sicily; invasion of southern Italy; Corsican Campaign; and the invasion of southern France during the summer of 1944.[5][7]

Moving into southern France, the squadron supported American ground forces moving north through Lyon and eventually joined American forces in eastern France which had participated in the northern France Campaign after the Normandy D-Day landings in June. The 39th participated in the Western Allied invasion of Germany in the spring of 1945, carrying out tactical bombing missions from Lyon Airfield, primarily hitting enemy targets in central and southern Germany until the German capitulation in May.[5][7]

After the end of hostilities, the 34th became part of the United States Air Forces in Europe occupation forces, being assigned to the American Zone of Occupation in Austria; performing occupation duty at Linz Airport and other cities. It remained in Austria until November 1945, its personnel being demobilized in France and returning to the United States. The squadron was inactivated as a paper unit in late November.[5]

Korean War[edit]

B-26B Invaders on a day interdiction mission over Korea.

The squadron was reactivated as part of the Tactical Air Command Ninth Air Force in 1947, and programmed as a A-26 Invader light bombardment squadron. Funding issues associated with the postwar Air Force meant that the "Attack Bomber" concept had to be shelved, with TAC's resources being put into jet fighters. In June 1948, the Attack designation category was officially eliminated and the aircraft was re-designated as the B-26. The B-26B and B-26Cs that were available were subsequently transferred to Air Force Reserve or Air National Guard units. Subsequently the squadron was never manned or equipped and was inactivated in 1948.[5][8]

When the North Korean army invaded the South on 25 June 1950, the USAF was critically short of light bombers. In particular, the 1054 B-26s that were still officially in the USAF inventory were mostly in reserve units or in storage in the southwest. To meet the emergency needs of the Korean War, the 452d Bombardment Group (Light), an Air Force Reserve unit out of Long Beach Airport, California, was called to active duty. When the 452d reached the end of its federalization period, the group was re-designated as the 17th Bombardment Group (Light) as part of Far East Air Force, and the reserve 728th Bomb Squadron was re-designated as the 34th Bombardment Squadron (Light, Night Intruder) at Pusan West (K-1) Air Base, South Korea, on 10 May 1952. Reserve personnel were replaced by active duty personnel that had been trained on the B-26 at George AFB, California, then deployed to South Korea.[5][8]

During the conflict, the 17th and the 3d Bombardment Groups flew a total of 55,000 interdiction sorties throughout the war, at first in both day and night conditions and later almost exclusively at night. Attacks were carried out on Communist forces, primarily over South Korea, until the Korean War armistice.[5]

Cold War[edit]

Tactical Air Command[edit]

Douglas B-66B Destroyer in flight

After the Korean armistice in June 1953, the squadron remained in South Korea for a year and a half until being moved to Miho AB, Japan in October 1954. Funding reductions after the Korean War led to the squadron's B-26s being reassigned to the 3d Bombardment Group; and the 34th, along with the 17th Bombardment Wing, was moved to Eglin AFB, Florida on 1 April 1955 and transferred to Tactical Air Command (TAC) as the 34th Bombardment Squadron, Tactical.[5]

At Eglin, the squadron was re-equipped with the new Martin B-57B Canberra, which had gone into service with TAC as a replacement for the B-26 Invader. The early model B-57Bs, however suffered from many technical problems, including an engine malfunction which filled up the cockpit with toxic fumes, which led to a brief grounding. The type was also found to be severely accident prone, due to difficulties with the aircraft's control surfaces.[9]

The Canberras were replaced by the Douglas B-66B Destroyer, which began arriving in March 1956, with the 34th being the first recipient. The B-66, being an Air Force version of the Navy Douglas A3D Skywarrior, was a much more reliable aircraft that filled the needs of the Air Force for a jet medium bomber. In January 1958, the squadron deployed to RAF Sculthorpe, England where its aircraft were subsequently transferred to the 47th Bombardment Wing, replacing obsolete North American B-45C Tornadoes.[5][10]

The 43d returned to Axillary Field #9 (Hurlburt Field) at Eglin AFB in March 1958, but due to budget issues, the squadron and its host 17th Bombardment Group were inactivated on 25 June 1958.[5][11]

Strategic Air Command[edit]

The squadron designation was transferred from TAC to Strategic Air Command (SAC) in November 1962 as part of a process to re-designate B-52 Stratofortress "Strategic Wings", which were set up by SAC to disperse its bombers to numerous bases to avoid a single nuclear strike taking out an entire wing at one place. The dispersal, or "Strategic" wings consisted of one bomb and one air refueling squadron. As SAC Major Command designated units (MAJCOM), the wings were not able to carry a lineage or history as Air Force designated wings (AFCON) could.

To remedy this, the Strategic Wings would be given designations of inactive MAJCOM Wings that had notable combat records in World War II, and/or low pre-war designations. The 17th Bombardment Wing, Heavy, was organized on 1 February 1963 which assumed the assets of the 4043d Strategic Wing at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio. The 34th Bombardment Squadron, Heavy, was placed under the 17th Bomb Wing, and assumed the personnel and B-52Es of the 42d Bombardment Squadron, which was inactivated. These changes were administrative in nature, and no actual personnel changes were made.[5]

The squadron stood nuclear alert at Wright-Patterson, and also provided crews to other Strategic Air Command units conducting combat operations over Southeast Asia ss part of Operation Arc Light, however the squadron's B-52Es were never deployed and remained on nuclear alert. Upgraded to the B-52H in 1968 when the E-models were retired and sent to storage at Davis-Monthan AFB.[5]

Reassigned to Beale AFB, California when SAC pulled out of Wright-Patterson in 1975, absorbing the B-52G assets of the 744th Bombardment Squadron. It flew training missions at Beale for about a year when it was inactivated along with the 17th Bombardment Wing as part of the phaseout of the B-52 at Beale in 1976.[5]

Modern era[edit]

The 34th Bomb Squadron was re-activated at Castle AFB, California on 1 July 1992 by Air Combat Command (ACC). With the inactivation of SAC, ACC formed a B-52G squadron at Castle as a geographically separated unit (GSU) under the 366th Wing, a composite wing based at Mountain Home AFB, Idaho. It operated its B-52 squadron at Castle separately from the 93d Bomb Wing, that had the facilities to support the Stratofortress and provided logistical and maintenance support for the 34th.

In early 1994 the B-52Gs were retired with the closing of Castle and the squadron was reassigned to Ellsworth AFB, South Dakota where it transitioned to the B-1B Lancer, remaining part of the 366th Operations Group at Mountain Home. In 1997 the squadron moved to Mountain Home, taking its B-1s with it. In 2001, the squadron assigned conducted devastating attacks versus the Taliban and Al Queda after the 9/11 attacks.

Reassigned to the 28th Bomb Wing in 2002 when the 366th ended its composite organization and moved back to Ellsworth AFB. Deployed again to South Asia and, in 2003, the squadron kicked off Operation Iraqi Freedom with the largest precision guided bomb strike in history, when four B-1s delivered 96 GBU-31 2,000 lb JDAMs.

Lineage[edit]

World War II squadron emblem
34th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron emblem
The 34th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron during Operation Enduring Freedom consisted of personnel and aircraft from the 34th and 37th Bomb Squadrons. This patch is a combination of the two units' emblems.
  • Organized as: 2d Company "H", Camp Kelly, 10 May 1917
Re-designated: 1st Company "G", Camp Kelly, 15 May 1917
Re-designated: 34th Provisional Squadron, 15 July 1917
Re-designated: 34th Aero Squadron (Construction), 25 July 1917
Re-designated: 34th Aero Squadron (Training), 23 December 1917
Demobilized on 10 April 1919[1]
  • Reconstituted, and re-designated 34th Pursuit Squadron, on 24 March 1923
Activated in the reserve as associate to: 27th Pursuit Squadron
Assigned as associate to: 17th Pursuit Squadron, 1 September 1928
Organized in June 1929 as Regular Army Inactive (RAI)
Inactivated as reserve, Activated in Regular Army on 15 July 1931
Re-designated: 34th Attack Squadron on 1 March 1935
Re-designated: 34th Bombardment Squadron (Medium) on 17 October 1939
Re-designated: 34th Bombardment Squadron, Medium, on 9 October 1944
Inactivated on 26 November 1945[4]
  • Re-designated 34th Bombardment Squadron, Light, on 29 April 1947
Activated on 19 May 1947
Inactivated on 10 September 1948
  • Re-designated: 34th Bombardment Squadron, Light, Night Intruder, on 8 May 1952
Activated on 10 May 1952
Re-designated: 34th Bombardment Squadron, Tactical, on 1 October 1955
Inactivated on 25 June 1958
  • Re-designated 34th Bombardment Squadron, Heavy, and activated, on 15 November 1962
Organized on 1 February 1963; receiving personnel, aircraft and equipment from 42d Bombardment Squadron (Inactivated)
Organized on 30 September 1975; receiving personnel, aircraft and equipment from 744th Bombardment Squadron (Inactivated)
Inactivated on 30 September 1976
  • Re-designated 34th Bomb Squadron, and activated, on 1 July 1992
  • Designated as: 34th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron and placed in provisional status when squadron elements deployed to combat areas after 11 September 2001.[5]

Assignments[edit]

  • Headquarters, Camp Kelly, 10 May 1917
  • Aviation Concentration Center, 11 August 1917
  • Air Service Headquarters, AEF, British Isles, 19 September 1917
Attached to Royal Flying Corps for training: 20 September – 18 December 1917
  • 2d Air Instructional Center, 23 December 1917 – May 1919
  • Commanding General, Services of Supply, May 1919
  • Eastern Department, 27 May – 10 June 1919[1]

Bases stationed[edit]

Aircraft operated[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the Air Force Historical Research Agency.

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Series "E", Volume 7, History of the 30th–37th Aero Squadrons. Gorrell's History of the American Expeditionary Forces Air Service, 1917–1919, National Archives, Washington, D.C.
  2. ^ Order of Battle of the United States Land Forces in the First World War, Volume 3, Part 3, Center of Military History, United States Army, 1949 (1988 Reprint)
  3. ^ Series "D", Weekly Statistical Reports of Air Service Activities, October 1918 – May 1919. Gorrell's History of the American Expeditionary Forces Air Service, 1917–1919, National Archives, Washington, D.C.
  4. ^ a b c Clay, Steven E. (2011). US Army Order of Battle 1919–1941. 3 The Services: Air Service, Engineers, and Special Troops 1919–1941. Fort Leavenworth, KS: Combat Studies Institute Press. ISBN 978-0-98419-014-0. LCCN 2010022326. OCLC 637712205
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s AFHRA 34th Bomb Squadron
  6. ^ a b c Baugher, B-25 Mitchell
  7. ^ a b 17th Bombardment Group
  8. ^ a b Baugher, A-26/B-26 Invader in USAAF/USAF Service
  9. ^ Baugher, Martin B-57B
  10. ^ Baugher, Douglas B-66B Destroyer
  11. ^ 34th Bomb Squadron [34th BS]

External links[edit]