23d Bomb Squadron
|23d Bomb Squadron
|Active||1917–1919; 1921–1947; 1947–present|
|Branch||United States Air Force|
|Part of||Global Strike Command|
|Garrison/HQ||Minot Air Force Base|
|Engagements||World War I|
Southwest Pacific Theater
|Decorations||Distinguished Unit Citation|
Navy Presidential Unit Citation
Air Force Outstanding Unit Award with Combat "V" Device
Air Force Outstanding Unit Award
Philippine Presidential Unit Citation
|23d Bomb Squadron emblem (approved 30 September 1931, reinstated 13 January 1994)[note 1]|
The 23d Bomb Squadron is a United States Air Force unit, assigned to the 5th Bomb Wing. It is stationed at Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota. The mission of the squadron is to fly the Boeing B-52H Stratofortress strategic bomber. The squadron stands ready to deploy and fly its B-52Hs to enforce national security policy by being ready to deliver overwhelming nuclear or conventional firepower to destroy targets, worldwide, at any time.
The squadron is one of the oldest in the United States Air Force, dating to 16 June 1917, when it was organized at Kelly Field, Texas. It deployed to England as part of the American Expeditionary Forces, being engaged as an aircraft repair squadron during World War I. The squadron saw combat during World War II, and became part of the Strategic Air Command (SAC) during the Cold War.
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World War I
Originally organized at Camp Kelly, Texas on 16 June 1917 as the 18th Aero Squadron but redesignated the 23d Aero Squadron six days later. Arriving in late July, 1918, in Britain, it started training before going to France, where it arrived on Armistice day. It was stationed at the Air Service Replacement Concentration Barracks St. Maixent Replacement Barracks until c. 29 January, 1919, then moved to Saint-Nazaire, from where it sailed back to US on 20 February. The squadron arrived at the port of embarkation in March and was demobilized there.
The 23d Bombardment Squadron was born in 1921 and in April 1924 was consolidated with the World War I 23d Aero Squadron. It spent the decades of the 1920s and 1930s stationed in Hawaii. There, the squadron flew a number of bomber types, most notably the Keystone bomber series and later the Douglas B-18 Bolo. It was during the squadron’s stay in Hawaii that the event signified by the squadron emblem took place. On 27 December 1935, the Mauna Loa volcano on the island of Hawaii erupted, threatening the city of Hilo. Six Keystones of the 23d used precision bombing tactics to drop twenty 600-pound bombs in the path of the volcano’s lava flow, thus saving the city of Hilo by diverting the lava away from the city.
World War II
Part of the 5th Bombardment Group, the 23d fought its way across the Southwest Pacific during World War II. The 23d initially flew Boeing B-17E Flying Fortresses into combat, replacing those with Consolidated B-24 Liberators by early 1943. Long-range over-water missions were the squadron’s forte, and in April 1944 the squadron won its first of two Distinguished Unit Citation (DUC)s for flying the longest over-water bombing mission ever flown to date, some 1,300 miles each way, to bomb the Japanese base at Woleai Island. After winning a second DUC for another long range strike against oil refineries on Borneo on 30 September 1944, the 23d found itself in the Philippines at the close of the war.
After a brief period in the Far East after the war, the 23d Strategic Reconnaissance Squadron relocated to Travis Air Force Base, Calif ornia, in 1949. There, the squadron flew global strategic reconnaissance missions with Boeing RB-29 Superfortresses from 1949–51, Convair RB-36F Peacemakers from 1951–53, and RB-36Hs from 1953-55. On 1 October 1955, the squadron was again redesignated the 23d Bombardment Squadron and reverted to training for long range nuclear strike missions with the same RB-36Hs. On 13 February 1959, the 23d entered the jet age when it received its first Boeing B-52G Stratofortress and also entered the missile age, as the B-52Gs were equipped with the AGM-28 Hound Dog standoff missile and the ADM-20 Quail decoy missile. The squadron flew the B-52G from Travis until July 1968.
On 25 July 1968, the 23d moved, without personnel or equipment, to Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota, where it absorbed the personnel, equipment, and B-52H bombers of the inactivating 720th Bombardment Squadron. The 23d has been combat ready in B-52Hs since that time, continuously adding improvements in avionics, weapons, and tactics to its arsenal. In 1973, the squadron was the first unit to receive the AGM-69 SRAM (Short Range Attack Missile). In 1980, the 23d gained the offensive avionics system, and led Strategic Air Command’s venture into modern conventional war fighting as the lead unit for the Strategic Projection Force, in support of the U.S. Rapid Deployment Force. During the 1980s, the squadron pioneered night vision goggle tactics. The 23d added the AGM-86B Air Launched Cruise Missile in 1989 and the AGM-129 Advanced Cruise Missile in 1994.
- 23d Aero Squadron
- Organized as the 18th Aero Squadron on 16 June 1917[note 2]
- Redesignated 23d Aero Squadron (Repair) on 22 June 1917
- Demobilized on 22 March 1919
- 23d Bomb Squadron
- Authorized as the 23d Squadron on 30 August 1921
- Organized on 1 October 1921
- Redesignated 23d Bombardment Squadron on 25 January 1923
- Consolidated with the 23d Aero Squadronon 8 April 1924
- Redesignated 23d Bombardment Squadron (Medium) on 6 December 1939
- Redesignated 23d Bombardment Squadron (Heavy) on 20 November 1940
- Redesignated 23d Bombardment Squadron, Heavy on 6 March 1944
- Redesignated 23d Bombardment Squadron, Very Heavy on 30 April 1946
- Inactivated on 10 March 1947
- Redesignated 23d Reconnaissance Squadron, Very Long Range, Photographic on 16 September 1947
- Activated on 20 October 1947
- Redesignated 23d Strategic Reconnaissance Squadron, Photographic on 16 June 1949
- Redesignated 23d Strategic Reconnaissance Squadron, Heavy on 14 November 1950
- Redesignated 23d Bombardment Squadron, Heavy on 1 October 1955
- Redesignated 23d Bomb Squadron on 1 September 1991
- Unknown, 16 June 1917 – 22 March 1919
- Ninth Corps Area, 1 October 1921
- 5th Group (Observation) (later 5th Group (Pursuit and Bombardment); 5th Group (Composite), 5th Composite Group), 29 March 1922
- 19th Bombardment Group, 8 May 1929 (attached to 5th Composite Group (later 5th Bombardment Group))
- 5th Bombardment Group, 12 October 1938 – 10 March 1947
- 5th Reconnaissance Group, (later 5th Strategic Reconnaissance Group), 20 October 1947 (attached to 71st Tactical Reconnaissance Wing, 18–24 August 1948; 32d Composite Wing, 24 August 1948-16 March 1949; 55th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing, 1–17 June 1949; 5th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing after 10 February 1951)
- 5th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing (later 5th Bombardment Wing), 16 June 1952
- 5th Operations Group, 1 September 1991 – present
- Martin NBS-1, 1922-1929
- Curtiss JN-6, 1922-1929
- Dayton-Wright DH-4, 1922-1929
- Keystone B-4, 1929-1937
- Keystone B-5, 1929-1937
- Keystone LB-6, 1929-1937
- Martin B-12, 1937–1939
- Douglas B-18 Bolo, 1938–1942
- Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress, 1941–1943, 1947–1948
- Consolidated B-24 Liberator, 1943–1945
- Curtiss C-46 Commando, 1947–1948
- Boeing FB-17 Flying Fortress, 1947–1948
- Boeing F-2 Flying Fortress, 1947–1948
- Boeing RB-29 Superfortress, 1948–1951
- Convair RB-36 Peacekeeper, 1951–1958
- Convair B-36 Peacekeeper, 1955–1958
- Boeing B-52 Stratofortress, 1959–present
- Explanatory notes
- The unit emblem is a blue disk with a black volcano with red lava flowing from the crater, extending upward as red and yellow rays intermingling with clouds. On the front are five black bombs signifying the 23 BS with three on the dexter (right) side, and two on the sinister (left) side. On 27 December 1935 the unit was tasked to drop twenty 600-pound bombs in the path of the flow of lava from Mauna Loa volcano, thus saving the city of Hilo, Hawaii, from destruction. In May 1952, this emblem was replaced when the squadron was a reconnaissance unit. Although the original emblem was used after the squadron returned to the bombardment mission, it was not officially restored until 1994.
- Another 18th Aero Squadron was activated at Rockwell Field, California on 20 August 1917. Maurer, Combat Squadrons, pp. 499-500. It is not related to the first 18th Aero Squadron, and was last active as the 908th Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron.
- Robertson, Patsy (February 28, 2017). "Factsheet 23 Bomb Squadron (ACC)". Air Force Historical Research Agency. Retrieved March 26, 2018.
- Lineage information in Robertson, except as otherwise noted.
- Clay, p. 1390
- Clay, Steven E. (2011). US Army Order of Battle 1919-1941 (PDF). Vol. 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. Archived from the original (PDF) on 27 September 2013. Retrieved 16 October 2012.
- Maurer, Maurer, ed. (1983) . Air Force Combat Units of World War II (PDF) (reprint ed.). Washington, DC: Office of Air Force History. ISBN 0-912799-02-1. LCCN 61060979. Retrieved December 17, 2016.
- Maurer, Maurer, ed. (1982) . Combat Squadrons of the Air Force, World War II (PDF) (reprint ed.). Washington, DC: Office of Air Force History. ISBN 0-405-12194-6. LCCN 70605402. OCLC 72556. Retrieved December 17, 2016.
- Ravenstein, Charles A. (1984). Air Force Combat Wings, Lineage & Honors Histories 1947-1977 (PDF). Washington, DC: Office of Air Force History. ISBN 0-912799-12-9. Retrieved December 17, 2016.
- Further reading
- Gorrell, Col. Edgar S. (1974). History of the American Expeditionary Forces Air Service, 1917-1919. Series B: Air Service Activities with the French, British, and Italians. Vol. 2 History of the Air Service in Great Britain. Washington, DC: National Archives and Records Service, General Services Administration. OCLC 215070705.
- Gorrell, Col. Edgar S. (1974). History of the American Expeditionary Forces Air Service, 1917-1919. Series E: Squadron Histories. Vol. 4 History of the 22d-24th Aero Squadron. Washington, DC: National Archives and Records Service, General Services Administration. OCLC 215070705.