320th Missile Squadron

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320th Missile Squadron
LGM-30G Minuteman III test launch.jpg
LGM-30G Minuteman III test launch at Vandenburg AFB, California
Active 1942-1946; 1947–1948; 1951–1960; 1964–present
Country  United States
Branch  United States Air Force
Type Squadron
Role Intercontinental ballistic missile
Part of Air Force Global Strike Command
Garrison/HQ Francis E. Warren Air Force Base
Nickname(s) Moby Dick (World War II)
Engagements Southwest Pacific Theater
Decorations Distinguished Unit Citation
Air Force Outstanding Unit Award
Philippine Presidential Unit Citation
Commanders
Current
commander
Lt Col Russell S. "Wheels" Williford
Notable
commanders
Lincoln D. Faurer
Insignia
320th Missile Squadron emblem (approved 17 May 1965)[1] 320th Missile Squadron.jpg
Patch with unofficial 320th Strategic Reconnaissance Squadron emblem[2] 320th Strategic Reconnaissance Squadron - SAC - Emblem.png
320th Bombardment Squadron emblem (approved 27 March 1943)[3] 320th Bomb Sq emblem.png
320th Bombardment Squadron "Jolly Rogers" patch[note 1] 320th Bombardment Squadron - Emblem.png

The 320th Missile Squadron is a United States Air Force unit. It is assigned to the 90th Operations Group, stationed at F.E. Warren AFB, Wyoming. The 320 MS is equipped with the LGM-30G Minuteman III Intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), with a mission of nuclear deterrence.

History[edit]

World War II[edit]

Media related to 90th Bombardment Group at Wikimedia Commons

The squadron was first organized as the 320th Bombardment Squadron at Key Field, Mississippi in April 1942 as a Consolidated B-24 Liberator unit and one of the original squadrons of the 90th Bombardment Group. The squadron trained with Liberators in the southeastern United States under III Bomber Command until August.[4][1]

"Jolly Rogers" of the 90th Bombardment Group on a mission, 1943
B-24J with the distinct nose turret, probably in 1944.

The squadron moved to Willow Run Airport, Michigan for conversion training on newly manufactured Ford Liberators. Assigned to VII Bomber Command with B-24Ds, the unit moved to Hickam Field, Hawaii in September. The squadron arrived in northern Queensland, Australia in November 1942 and began bombardment missions under V Bomber Command almost immediately.[4]

The squadron attacked enemy airfields, troop concentrations, ground installations and shipping in New Guinea, the Bismarck Archipelago, Palau and the southern Philippines. The 3209th was awarded a Distinguished Unit Citation for its operations in Papua through January 1943. The unit participated in the Battle of Bismarck Sea in March 1943, and earned another citation for strikes on enemy airfields at Wewak, New Guinea in September 1943 despite heavy flak and fighter opposition.[4]

During 1944, the 320th supported the New Guinea Campaign through the end of June, then made long-range raids on oil refineries at Balikpapan, Borneo, in September and October. In January 1945, the squadron moved to the Philippines and supported ground forces on Luzon, attacked industrial targets on Formosa, and bombed railways, airfields, and harbor facilities on the Asiatic mainland. Shortly before the end of the war in the Pacific, the 90th moved to Okinawa, from which it would be able to strike the Japanese home islands.[4]

After VJ Day, the squadron flew reconnaissance missions over Japan and ferried Allied prisoners of war from Okinawa to Manila. It ceased operations by November 1945. The squadron was inactivated in the Philippines in early 1946.[1]

Superfortress operations[edit]

Main article: 90th Bombardment Wing

The squadron was reactivated in July 1947 as a very heavy unit at Andrews Field, Maryland. It was a component of one of seven bombardment groups activated at Andrews by Strategic Air Command (SAC) that day. Most of these units, including the 320th, were inactivated by September 1948 and it does not appear they were manned during this period.[1][5][6]

Wing Boeing B-29[note 2]

The squadron was again organized at Fairchild Air Force Base, Washington in January 1951 and equipped with the Boeing B-29 Superfortress. In February, as part of a reorganization of Strategic Air Command wings, the 90th Bombardment Group was reduced to paper status and the squadron was attached to the wing for operational control. In June 1952, this organization, which was designed to permit the wing commander to focus on the wing's combat units and the maintenance necessary to support combat aircraft, was formalized as the Dual Deputy Organization and the squadron was assigned to the wing.[7][8]

In March 1951, the squadron moved to Forbes Air Force Base, where it served primarily as a training unit. In May, it began serving as an Operational Training Unit for B-29 aircrews and mechanics of newly-activating units. The squadron help organize and train the 376th, 308th, and 310th Bombardment Wings.[9][10][11]

In June, the squadron added duty as a Replacement Training Unit, primarily providing individual training for aircrew being assigned to existing Far East Air Forces B-29 units during the Korean War.[12][note 3] In November of 1952 it also began training replacement crews for the RB-29 reconnaissance model of the Superfortress and SHORAN personnel for Strategic Air Command (SAC). These training activities continued through November 1953.[7]

Strategic reconnaissance[edit]

B-47 and KC-97 as flown by the wing

The squadron began to fly strategic reconnaissance missions in September 1953.[7] The following year, it replaced its RB-29s with the jet Boeing RB-47 Stratojet, with the first B-47E arriving on 25 June, although crews had begun training in March.[13] One year later, the squadron and the entire 90th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing deployed as a unit to Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska from 5 May until 31 August 1955, where the wing performed the final mapping of Alaska.[7][14] In May 1958, the 90th Wing returned to the training mission serving as a combat crew training wing for RB-47 aircrews until it was inactivated on 20 June 1960.[7] The squadron's personnel and equipment were transferred to the 44th Bombardment Squadron, which moved to Forbes on paper from Schilling Air Force Base, Kansas the same day.[15]

Intercontinental ballistic missiles[edit]

LGM-30 Minuteman Missile Alert and Launch Facilities

Media related to 90th Missile Wing at Wikimedia Commons

The squadron was reactivated on 8 January 1964 as an intercontinental ballistic missile squadron assigned to the 90th Strategic Missile Wing at Francis E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyoming, and equipped with fifty LGM-30B Minuteman Is, armed with a single reentry vehicle. The squadron was the second of the 90th Wing's four Minuteman squadrons to activate, as construction on launch facitlities continued until the middle of 1964. Beginning in June 1973, its Minuteman I missiles began to be replaced by LGM-30G Minuteman IIIs, which could carry up to three reentry vehicles.[7][16] In 2001 in compliance with the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, these missiles were limited to a single reentry vehicle[16]

In 1997 the squadron won the Blanchard Trophy as the best missile operations squadron at the Guardian Challenge missile competition. It also received awards that year for the best missile maintenance team and the best missile crew.[17][note 4] In more recent competitions, the squadron won the Samuel C. Phillips Award as the best missile squadron in Air Force Space Command in 2005. It was awarded the Neary Trophy and the Linhard Trophy for best USAF missile crew in 2012.[18]

Lineage[edit]

  • Constituted as the 320 Bombardment Squadron (Heavy) on 28 January 1942
Activated on 15 April 1942
Redesignated 320 Bombardment Squadron, Heavy on 6 March 1944
Inactivated on 27 January 1946
  • Redesignated 320 Bombardment Squadron, Very Heavy on 11 June 1947
Activated on 1 July 1947
Inactivated on 6 September 1948
  • Redesignated 320 Bombardment Squadron, Medium on 20 December 1950
Activated on 2 January 1951
Redesignated 320 Strategic Reconnaissance Squadron, Medium on 16 June 1952
Discontinued on 20 June 1960
  • Redesignated 320 Strategic Missile Squadron (ICBM-Minuteman) on 30 July 1963 (not organized)
Organized on 8 January 1964
Redesignated 320 Missile Squadron on 1 September 1991[1]

Assignments[edit]

  • 90th Bombardment Group, 15 April 1942 - 27 January 1946
  • 90th Bombardment Group, 1 July 1947 - 6 September 1948
  • 90th Bombardment Group, 2 January 1951 (attached to 90th Bombardment Wing after 16 February 1951)
  • 90th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing, 16 June 1952 - 20 June 1960
  • Strategic Air Command, 30 July 1963 (not organized)
  • 90th Strategic Missile Wing, 8 January 1964
  • 90th Operations Group, 1 September 1991 – present[1]

Stations[edit]

Aircraft and missiles[edit]

Awards and campaigns[edit]

Award streamer Award Dates Notes
Streamer PUC Army.PNG Distinguished Unit Citation c. 4 November 1942–23 January 1943 Papua, 320th Bombardment Squadron[1]
Streamer PUC Army.PNG Distinguished Unit Citation 13 and 15 September 1943 New Guinea, 320th Bombardment Squadron[1]
Air Force Outstanding Unit Award Streamer.jpg Air Force Outstanding Unit Award 1 July 1968–30 June 1969 320th Strategic Missile Squadron[1]
Air Force Outstanding Unit Award Streamer.jpg Air Force Outstanding Unit Award 1 July 1973–30 June 1975 320th Strategic Missile Squadron[1]
Air Force Outstanding Unit Award Streamer.jpg Air Force Outstanding Unit Award 1 July 1982–30 June 1984 320th Strategic Missile Squadron[1]
Air Force Outstanding Unit Award Streamer.jpg Air Force Outstanding Unit Award 1 July 1986–30 June 1988 320th Strategic Missile Squadron[1]
Air Force Outstanding Unit Award Streamer.jpg Air Force Outstanding Unit Award 1 July 1987–30 June 1989 320th Strategic Missile Squadron[1]
Air Force Outstanding Unit Award Streamer.jpg Air Force Outstanding Unit Award 1 August 1991–31 July 1993 320th Strategic Missile Squadron
(later 320th Missile Squadron)[1]
Air Force Outstanding Unit Award Streamer.jpg Air Force Outstanding Unit Award 1 October 1994–30 September 1995 320th Missile Squadron[1]
Air Force Outstanding Unit Award Streamer.jpg Air Force Outstanding Unit Award 1 September 1996–31 August 1998 320th Missile Squadron[1]
Air Force Outstanding Unit Award Streamer.jpg Air Force Outstanding Unit Award 1 October 1999–30 September 2000 320th Missile Squadron[1]
Air Force Outstanding Unit Award Streamer.jpg Air Force Outstanding Unit Award 1 January 2001–31 December 2001 320th Missile Squadron[1]
Air Force Outstanding Unit Award Streamer.jpg Air Force Outstanding Unit Award 1 October 2003–30 September 2005 320th Missile Squadron[1]
Air Force Outstanding Unit Award Streamer.jpg Air Force Outstanding Unit Award 1 October 2005–30 September 2007 320th Missile Squadron[1]
Air Force Outstanding Unit Award Streamer.jpg Air Force Outstanding Unit Award 1 October 2007–30 September 2008 320th Missile Squadron[1]
Presidential Unit Citation (Philippines) Streamer.png Philippine Republic Presidential Unit Citation 17 October 1944–4 July 1945 320th Bombardment Squadron[1]
Campaign Streamer Campaign Dates Notes
Streamer APC.PNG Guadalcanal c. 4 November 1942–21 February 1943 320th Bombardment Squadron[1]
Streamer APC.PNG Papua c. 4 November–23 January 1943 320th Bombardment Squadron[1]
Streamer APC.PNG Northern Solomons 23 February 1943–21 November 1944 320th Bombardment Squadron[1]
Streamer APC.PNG Bismarck Archipelago 15 December 1943–27 November 1944 320th Bombardment Squadron[1]
Streamer APC.PNG New Guinea 24 January 1943–31 December 1944 320th Bombardment Squadron[1]
Streamer APC.PNG Leyte 17 October 1944–1 July 1945 320th Bombardment Squadron[1]
Streamer APC.PNG Luzon 15 December 1944–4 July 1945 320th Bombardment Squadron[1]
Streamer APC.PNG Southern Philippines 27 February 1945–4 July 1945 320th Bombardment Squadron[1]
Streamer APC.PNG China Defensive November 1942–4 May 1945 320th Bombardment Squadron[1]
Streamer APC.PNG China Offensive 5 May 1945–2 September 1945 320th Bombardment Squadron[1]
Streamer APC.PNG Air Offensive, Japan November 1942–2 September 1945 320th Bombardment Squadron[1]
Streamer APC.PNG Western Pacific 17 April 1944–2 September 1945 320th Bombardment Squadron[1]

See also[edit]

Coordinates: 41°07′59″N 104°52′01″W / 41.13306°N 104.86694°W / 41.13306; -104.86694 (Francis E. Warren AFB)

References[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ The 90th Bombardment Group "Jolly Rogers" emblem was used as a squadron patch and as a tail marking on B-24s with each squadron having its own color in the background. Watkins, pp. 86-87
  2. ^ Aircraft is Boeing B-29-100-BW Superfortress serial 45-21846
  3. ^ Replacement Training Units trained individuals to fill positions in existing units. See Goss, p. xxxvi
  4. ^ The Blanchard Trophy was awarded at the squadron level for only a few years. For most of its existence it was awarded at the wing level. The 90th Wing has also won this award. 90th Missile Wing Heritage Pamphlet, p. 26

Citations[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 y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj Bailey, Carl E. (June 18, 2015). "Factsheet 320 Missile Squadron (AFGCS) [sic]". Air Force Historical Research Agency. Retrieved May 16, 2016. 
  2. ^ See Maurer, Combat Squadrons, p. 392 (no approved emblem)
  3. ^ Watkins, pp. 86-87
  4. ^ a b c d Robertson, Patsy (May 27, 2010). "Factsheet 90 Operations Group (AFSPC)". Air Force Historical Research Agency. Retrieved May 11, 2016. 
  5. ^ Mueller, p. 8
  6. ^ Maurer, Combat Units, pp. 102, 176, 178
  7. ^ a b c d e f Robertson, Patsy (April 6, 2012). "Factsheet 90 Missile Wing (AFGSC)". Air Force Historical Research Agency. Retrieved May 8, 2016. 
  8. ^ Deaile, pp. 175–176
  9. ^ Ravenstein, pp. 200–202
  10. ^ Robertson, Patsy (August 27, 2015). "Factsheet 308 Armament Systems Wing (AFMC)". Air Force Historical Research Agency. Retrieved May 8, 2016. 
  11. ^ Kane, Robert B. (December 23, 2010). "Factsheet 310 Space Wing (AFRC)". Air Force Historical Research Agency. Retrieved May 9, 2016. 
  12. ^ "Abstract, History 90 Bombardment Wing". Air Force History Index. 1 October 1951. Retrieved May 9, 2016. 
  13. ^ 90th Missile Wing Heritage Pamphlet, pp. 3, 15
  14. ^ 90th Missile Wing Heritage Pamphlet, p. 15
  15. ^ Ravenstein, p. 68
  16. ^ a b "90 MW Fact Sheet". 90th Missile Wing Public Affairs. August 19, 2010. Retrieved May 8, 2016. 
  17. ^ 90th Missile Wing Heritage Pamphlet, p. 20
  18. ^ 90th Missile Wing Heritage Pamphlet, pp. 23, 26

Bibliography[edit]

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

External links[edit]