906th Air Refueling Squadron

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906th Air Refueling Squadron
Air Mobility Command.svg
108th Air Refueling Squadron - Boeing KC-135R-BN Stratotanker 58-0023.jpg
A KC-135R Stratotanker of the 108th Air Refueling Squadron. The 906th is an Active Associate of the 108th.
Active 1941-1945; 1959-present
Country  United States
Branch  United States Air Force
Role Air Refueling
Part of Air Mobility Command
18th Air Force
375th Air Mobility Wing
375th Operations Group
Garrison/HQ Scott Air Force Base, Illinois
Motto Global Refueling
Engagements Aleutian Islands Campaign
Operation Carpetbagger
Decorations Air Force Outstanding Unit Award
French Croix de Guerre with Palm
Insignia
906th Air Refueling Squadron emblem 906th ARS Patch.jpg (approved 10 July 1961)[1]

The 906th Air Refueling Squadron is an active United States Air Force unit. It is an active associate squadron and part of the 375th Air Mobility Wing at Scott Air Force Base, Illinois.

The squadron was first activated in United States military build up just before World War II as the 16th Reconnaissance Squadron. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, the squadron participated in the Antisubmarine Campaign of the American Theater of Operations. As the 406th Bombardment Squadron it also served in the Aleutian Islands Campaign of the Pacific Theater of Operations and several campaigns in the European Theater of Operations. The squadron was unusual in that it received campaign credit in three difference theaters of operation.

The 906th Air Refueling Squadron was activated as part of Strategic Air Command's nuclear deterrent force. It maintained aircraft on alert throughout the Cold War. The squadron deployed aircrews and aircraft to support combat operations in Southeast Asia from the mid 1960s through the early 1970s. It also supported numerous contingency operations from its bases in the northern United States and forward operating locations until moving to Scott in 2009 and becoming an active associate unit of the Illinois Air National Guard.

Mission[edit]

The 906th operates the Boeing KC-135R Stratotanker aircraft conducting air refueling missions. It is an active associate unit and the airmen of the 906th operate and maintain the aircraft of the 108th Air Refueling Squadron of the Illinois Air National Guard.[2]

History[edit]

406th Bombardment Squadron emblem (approved 12 July 1942)[3]

World War II[edit]

The first predecessor of the 906th Air Refueling Squadron was established as the 16th Reconnaissance Squadron. It was assigned to the 3d Bombardment Wing,[1] but was under the operational control of the 42d Bombardment Group, to which it was assigned the following year. The squadron was equipped with a mixture Douglas B-18 Bolos, Lockheed A-29 Hudsons and a few Martin B-26 Marauder medium bombers. After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the squadron flew antisubmarine patrols over the Pacific until early May 1942.[3]

Aleutian Campaign[edit]

Bombing attack on Kiska Island

Following Pearl Harbor, military planning called for Alaska to be defended by units based in the Zone of the Interior, which would deploy only their air echelons, which would move forward to Alaska as they were needed. The 42d Bombardment Group was tabbed as one of the units to deploy combat elements to Alaska.[4] The Japanese invasion of the Aleutian Islands showed that permanent units were necessary for Alaskan defense.[5] However, because of other demands, only the 406th and the 77th Bombardment Squadrons of the group deployed to Alaska, where they were attached to the 28th Composite Group.[3][6] The squadron continued antisubmarine operations in the Gulf of Alaska[7] and detachments of the squadron flew combat missions during the Aleutian Campaign from forward bases on Adak and Amchitka with North American B-25 Mitchells, attacking enemy targets on Dutch Harbor that helped force the withdrawal of enemy ships and on Kiska until the Japanese withdrew from the island.[8][9] The squadron returned to the Continental United States in late 1943 and was briefly assigned to Fourth Air Force.[3]

Combat in Europe[edit]

B-24 Liberator equipped for Carpetbagger missions

The squadron moved on paper to the European Theater of Operations in November where it was organized from crews and aircraft formerly assigned to the 479th Antisubmarine Group. The 406th received its cadre at RAF Alconbury from the ground echelon of the 4th Antisubmarine Squadron and the air echelon of the 22d Antisubmarine Squadron,[10] which had been disbanded at RAF Podington.[11] The squadron was equipped with modified B-24Ds that had been stripped of armament except for the tail turret.[10] The aircraft were painted gloss black overall and the openings left by the removal of the gun turrets from their bellies were used by agents being dropped by parachute. In addition, plexiglass bubbles were added to the cockpit side windows to improve visibility for the pilots.[12]

Safe conduct pass, probably the most successful Allied propaganda leaflet of the war

The unit flew its first Carpetbagger mission to drop supplies to members of the Resistance in Occupied Europe under the guidance of the Royal Air Force (RAF) in early January.[10] In April the squadron moved to RAF Harrington, which was near RAF Tempsford, where the RAF was engaged in similar activities.[12] Carpetbagger missions also began to include the infiltration of agents with most missions flown over occupied France and the low countries. In August 1944 the squadron transferred its personnel and equipment to the 858th Bombardment Squadron[12] of the 492d Bombardment Group, which assumed the Carpetbagger mission.[10]

When the 492d took over the Carpetbagger mission, its 858th Bombardment Squadron, which was engaged in psychological warfare against Nazi Germany, joined it at RAF Harrington.[13] The 406th moved on paper to RAF Cheddington and took over the dozen Boeing B-17 Flying Fortresses of the 858th. These aircraft used laminated paper leaflet bombs that burst at one to two thousand feet above the ground and could accurately deliver 80,000 leaflets. As the squadron assumed its new mission in August 1944, the pace of missions accelerated to about eight per night. Squadron strength expanded to 24 aircraft and the B-17s were replaced by B-24s by the end of the year. The squadron flew these missions over France, Germany, Norway and the low countries. After the surrender of Germany in May 1945, the squadron continued flying missions for the Office of Strategic Services.[14] Just under two billion leaflets were delivered by the night leaflet unit.[15]

In July 1945, the unit returned to the United States, where it was redesignated as a very heavy bombardment squadron. The war in the Pacific Theater ended and the squadron was inactivated in October 1945.[3]

Strategic Air Command[edit]

906th Air Refueling Squadron KC-135A on deployment to the Pacific in 1982

In 1959 the Air Force assigned the 906th Air Refueling Squadron to Strategic Air Command (SAC), which organized it at Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota in June, where it was assigned to the 4136th Strategic Wing.[16] The 4136th wing was established by SAC in a program to disperse its Boeing B-52 Stratofortress 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.[17] The squadron received its first Boeing KC-135 Stratotanker on 23 September 1959 and was judged to be combat ready on 31 October.[18] Starting in 1960, one third of the squadron's aircraft were maintained on fifteen minute alert, fully fueled and ready for combat to reduce vulnerability to a Soviet missile strike. This was increased to half the squadron's aircraft in 1962.[19] The 4136th (and later the 450th and 5th wings) continued to maintain an alert commitment until the end of the Cold War. The 906th refueled B-52s participating in Operation Chrome Dome,[16] the airborne component of SAC's alert force, until Chrome Dome was terminated in 1968. The squadron's ground alert commitment was increased in the fall of 1962 during the Cuban Missile Crisis, when all available aircraft assumed an alert status.

In February 1963, The 450th Bombardment Wing assumed the aircraft, personnel and equipment of the discontinued 4136th wing. The 4136th was a Major Command controlled (MAJCON) wing, which could not carry a permanent history or lineage,[20] and SAC wanted to replace it with a permanent unit. The 900th was assigned to the newly-activated 450th wing.[21] In 1966 the squadron was awarded the Saunders Trophy for outstanding refueling operations.[22]

The squadron deployed aircrews and aircraft to support the Spanish, Great Lakes and Alaskan Tanker Task Forces.[23][24][25] It engaged in worldwide operations supporting combat operations in Southeast Asia from 1968 through 1975 through participation in Operation Young Tiger and support for Operation Arc Light.[1][22][26] Afterwards it continued to support forward based tanker task forces.[27] It supported combat operations in Southwest Asia from 1990 through 1991.[1]

Air Mobility Command[edit]

In 1992 the air force reorganized its major commands. As a result, the 906th's parent 5th Operations Group was reassigned to Air Combat Command as a bomber unit, while the 906th became an element of Air Mobility Command (AMC) and was assigned as a geographically separated unit to the 43d Operations Group at Malmstrom Air Force Base.[27] This assignment continued until 1994, when AMC decided to make the 319th Air Refueling Wing one of three "super tanker wings" and transferred the squadron to Grand Forks Air Force Base, North Dakota, where it became the second of four tanker squadrons assigned to the wing's 319th Operations Group.[28][29]

Under AMC control, the unit supported Operation Deny Flight, the United Nations no-fly zone over Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1994 and 1995 from Pisa Airport, Italy and Istres Air Base, France.[30] It supported Operation Uphold Democracy, the United Nations action to remove the military junta and restore the elected president of Haiti in 1995. In 1996 the squadron deployed planes and crews to Riyadh Air Base, Saudi Arabia for Operation Southern Watch, the Southwest Asia Task Force operation to monitor and control airspace in southern Iraq.[30] It also deployed for the sister operation patrolling northern Iraq, Operation Northern Watch.[28]

For three months in the summer of 2000, the squadron was forced to operate from MacDill Air Force Base, Florida as the Grand Forks runways underwent a nine million dollar renovation. For the first time in ten years, following the 9/11 attacks, the squadron once again placed aircraft on alert as part of Operation Noble Freedom and also began support for Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. Toward the end of the following year, the squadron began to deploy forward in what became Operation Iraqi Freedom, the war in Iraq.[31]

AMC began to prepare for the end of air refueling operations at Grand Forks in preparation for the arrival of Global Hawk unmanned aircraft.[32] As a result it began to inactivate or transfer the tanker squadrons stationed there. On 2 October 2009 the 906th moved without personnel or equipment from Grand Forks Air Force Base to Scott Air Force Base, Illinois, where it was assigned to the 375th Air Mobility Wing as an active associate unit with the 126th Air Refueling Wing of the Illinois Air National Guard. The 375th maintains administrative control of the squadron, while the 126th has operational control. The airmen of the 906th operate and maintain the aircraft of the 126th wing's 108th Air Refueling Squadron.[2]

Lineage[edit]

406th Bombardment Squadron

  • Constituted as the 16th Reconnaissance Squadron (Medium) on 20 November 1940
Activated on 15 January 1941
Redesignated 406th Bombardment Squadron (Medium) on 22 April 1942
Redesignated 406th Bombardment Squadron, Medium on 1 June 1943
Redesignated 406th Bombardment Squadron (Heavy) on 2 November 1943
Redesignated 406th Bombardment Squadron, Heavy on 20 August 1943
Redesignated 406th Bombardment Squadron, Very Heavy on 5 August 1945
  • Inactivated on 17 October 1945[33]
  • Consolidated with the 906th Air Refueling Squadron on 19 September 1985 as the 906th Air Refueling Squadron[1]

906th Air Refueling Squadron

  • Constituted as the 906th Air Refueling Squadron, Heavy on 9 March 1959
Activated on 1 June 1959
  • Consolidated with the 406th Bombardment Squadron on 19 September 1985
Redesignated 906th Air Refueling Squadron on 1 September 1991[1]

Assignments[edit]

Stations[edit]

Aircraft[edit]

Awards and campaigns[edit]

Award streamer Award Dates Notes
Air Force Outstanding Unit Award Streamer.jpg Air Force Outstanding Unit Award 1 July 1977-30 June 1979 906th Air Refueling Squadron[1]
Air Force Outstanding Unit Award Streamer.jpg Air Force Outstanding Unit Award 1 July 1983-30 June 1984 906th Air Refueling Squadron[1]
Air Force Outstanding Unit Award Streamer.jpg Air Force Outstanding Unit Award 1 July 1984-30 June 1985 906th Air Refueling Squadron[1]
Air Force Outstanding Unit Award Streamer.jpg Air Force Outstanding Unit Award 1 July 1985-30 June 1986 906th Air Refueling Squadron[1]
Air Force Outstanding Unit Award Streamer.jpg Air Force Outstanding Unit Award 1 July 1991-31 May 1992 906th Air Refueling Squadron[1]
Air Force Outstanding Unit Award Streamer.jpg Air Force Outstanding Unit Award 1 June 1992-30 June 1993 906th Air Refueling Squadron[1]
Air Force Outstanding Unit Award Streamer.jpg Air Force Outstanding Unit Award 1 October 1993-30 June 1995 906th Air Refueling Squadron[1]
Air Force Outstanding Unit Award Streamer.jpg Air Force Outstanding Unit Award 1 July 1995-30 June 1997 906th Air Refueling Squadron[1]
Air Force Outstanding Unit Award Streamer.jpg Air Force Outstanding Unit Award 1 July 2000-30 June 2002 906th Air Refueling Squadron[1]
Air Force Outstanding Unit Award Streamer.jpg Air Force Outstanding Unit Award 1 July 2002-30 June 2004 906th Air Refueling Squadron[1]
Air Force Outstanding Unit Award Streamer.jpg Air Force Outstanding Unit Award 1 July 2004-30 June 2005 906th Air Refueling Squadron[1]
Air Force Outstanding Unit Award Streamer.jpg Air Force Outstanding Unit Award 1 July 2005-30 June 2006 906th Air Refueling Squadron[1]
Air Force Outstanding Unit Award Streamer.jpg Air Force Outstanding Unit Award 1 July 2006-30 June 2007 906th Air Refueling Squadron[1]
Air Force Outstanding Unit Award Streamer.jpg Air Force Outstanding Unit Award 1 July 2007-19 June 2009 906th Air Refueling Squadron[1]
Air Force Outstanding Unit Award Streamer.jpg Air Force Outstanding Unit Award 1 October 2009-31 August 2011 906th Air Refueling Squadron[1]
Streamer FCDG WWII.png French Croix de Guerre with Palm none given 406th Bombardment Squadron[3]
Campaign Streamer Campaign Dates Notes
American Campaign Streamer.png Antisubmarine 7 December 1941 – 6 May 1942 16th Reconnaissance Squadron
(later 406th Bombardment Squadron[3]
Streamer APC.PNG Aleutian Islands 7 June 1942 – 24 August 1943 406th Bombardment Squadron[3]
Streamer APC.PNG Air Combat, Asiatic-Pacific Theater 7 June 1942-October 1943 406th Bombardment Squadron[3]
Streamer EAMEC.PNG Air Offensive, Europe 11 November 1943 – 5 June 1944 406th Bombardment Squadron[3]
Streamer EAMEC.PNG Normandy 6 June 1944 – 24 July 1944 406th Bombardment Squadron[3]
Streamer EAMEC.PNG Northern France 25 July 1944 – 14 September 1944 406th Bombardment Squadron[3]
Streamer EAMEC.PNG Rhineland 15 September 1944 – 21 March 1945 406th Bombardment Squadron[3]
Streamer EAMEC.PNG Central Europe 22 March 1944 – 21 May 1945 406th Bombardment Squadron[3]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x Robertson, Patsy (4/6/2012). "Factsheet 906 Air Refueling Squadron (AMC)". Air Force Historical Research Agency. Retrieved February 24, 2014. 
  2. ^ a b "Active Associate 906th Air Refueling Squadron stands up at Scott Air Force Base". 126th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs. 10/2/2009. Retrieved February 25, 2014. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Maurer, Combat Squadrons, pp. 496–497
  4. ^ Ferguson, Arthur B. (April 1944). "Alaskan Air Defense and the Japanese Invasion of the Aleutians, USAF Historical Study No. 4". Assistant Chief of Staff Intelligence Historical Division. Retrieved February 26, 2014. , pp. 35-37
  5. ^ Ferguson, p. 64
  6. ^ Maurer, Combat Squadrons, pp. 276-277
  7. ^ "Abstract, History 406 Bombardment Squadron Jun-Oct 1942". Air Force History Index. Retrieved March 4, 2014. 
  8. ^ Maurer, Combat Units, pp. 80–81
  9. ^ "Abstract, History 406 Bombardment Squadron Jun 1942 -Oct 1943". Air Force History Index. Retrieved March 4, 2014. 
  10. ^ a b c d Freeman, p. 263
  11. ^ Maurer, Combat Squadrons, pp. 25-26, 114-115
  12. ^ a b c Freeman, p. 159
  13. ^ Maurer, Combat Squadrons, p. 784
  14. ^ Freeman, p. 264
  15. ^ "Abstract, History 406 Bombardment Squadron Oct 1944-Apr 45". Air Force History Index. Retrieved March 4, 2014. 
  16. ^ a b "Abstract, History 4136 Strategic Wing Apr 1962". Air Force History Index. Retrieved March 4, 2014. 
  17. ^ "Abstract (Unclassified), Vol 1, History of Strategic Air Command, Jan-Jun 1957 (Secret)". Air Force History Index. Retrieved March 4, 2014. 
  18. ^ "Abstract, History 4136 Strategic Wing Jan 1958-Jun 1960". Air Force History Index. Retrieved March 4, 2014. 
  19. ^ "Abstract (Unclassified), History of the Strategic Bomber since 1945 (Top Secret, downgraded to Secret)". Air Force History Index. 1 April 1975. Retrieved March 4, 2014. 
  20. ^ Ravenstein, Guide to Air Force Lineage, p. 12
  21. ^ Ravenstein, Combat Wings, pp. 245-246
  22. ^ a b "Abstract, History 450 Bombardment Wing Oct-Dec 1966". Air Force History Index. Retrieved March 4, 2014. 
  23. ^ "Abstract, History 450 Bombardment Wing Apr-Jun 1965". Air Force History Index. Retrieved March 4, 2014. 
  24. ^ "Abstract, History 4136 Strategic Wing Sep 1962". Air Force History Index. Retrieved March 4, 2014. 
  25. ^ "Abstract, History 450 Bombardment Wing Oct-Dec 1965". Air Force History Index. Retrieved March 4, 2014. 
  26. ^ "Abstract, History 450 Bombardment Wing Oct-Dec 1967". Air Force History Index. Retrieved March 4, 2014. 
  27. ^ a b "Abstract, Vol. 1 History 5 Bomb Wing (date omitted but narrative covers 1992)". Air Force History Index. Retrieved March 4, 2014. 
  28. ^ a b History of Grand Forks Air Force Base and the 319th Air Refueling Wing, p. 10
  29. ^ The 905th Air Refueling Squadron was already at Grand Forks. The 911th and 912th Air Refueling Squadrons arrived in April.
  30. ^ a b History of Grand Forks, p. 15
  31. ^ History of Grand Forks, p. 11
  32. ^ "Mission Complete". Valleynewslive.com. Dec 01, 2010 (updated Dec 06, 2010). Retrieved February 24, 2014. 
  33. ^ a b c d Lineage, including assignments, stations and aircraft of the 406th Bombardment Squadron in Maurer, Combat Squadrons, pp. 495-496
  34. ^ Maurer, in Combat Squadrons only states the squadron was attached to the 42d. Robertson, in the AFHRA Factsheet indicates the squadron was assigned to the "3d Wing" until it was assigned to the 42d. However, the 3d Wing had been redesignated as the 3d Bombardment Wing in October 1940 and was inactivated in September 1941. (Maurer, Combat Units. pp. 413-414). It seems likely that from 15 September 1941 until 25 February 1942 the squadron was assigned to 2d Air Force
  35. ^ a b c d e Station number in Anderson

Bibliography[edit]

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

Further reading