344th Air Refueling Squadron
||This article includes a list of references, but its sources remain unclear because it has insufficient inline citations. (December 2012)|
|344th Air Refueling Squadron
"Raunchy", a B-24D of the 344th Bomb Squadron lost on the 1 August 1943 low-level mission to Ploesti, Romania
|Active||3 February 1942 – 27 March 1946
1 July 1947 – 25 June 1966
1 October 1986 - Present
|Branch||United States Air Force|
|Part of||Air Mobility Command
18th Air Force
22d Air Refueling Wing
22d Operations Group
|Garrison/HQ||McConnell Air Force Base|
|Decorations||Distinguished Unit Citation
Air Force Outstanding Unit Award
Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation
|344th Air Refueling Squadron emblem (approved 17 October 1994)|
|Patch with 344th Bombardment Squadron emblem (approved 17 August 1956)|
The 344th Air Refueling Squadron (344 ARS) is part of the 22d Air Refueling Wing at McConnell Air Force Base, Kansas. It operates the KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft conducting aerial refueling missions.
Established as a B-24 Liberator heavy bomb squadron and trained by Third Air Force. Deployed to Egypt in June 1942 over South Atlantic Transport Route transiting from Morrison Field, Florida though the Caribbean to Brazil; performed trans-Atlantic crossing from Brazil to Liberia, then transited east across central Africa to Sudan. Lastly the group reformed with the ground echelon which traveled by ship around the Cape of Good Hope, joining with air echelon in British Palestine.
Assigned to the newly formed IX Bomber Command, the squadron operated from airfields in Egypt; Libya and Tunisia supporting the British Eighth Army in the Western Desert Campaign. Also staged long-range strategic bombardment of enemy military and industrial targets in Sicily; Italy and the Southern Balkans, including attacking the Nazi-controlled oilfields at Ploesti, Romania.
Reassigned to Fifteenth Air Force in southern Italy; continuing strategic bombardment raids on Occupied France; Southern Germany; Austria and targets in the Balkans. In the summer of 1944, the squadron participated in the invasion of southern France, assisted in the Soviet advance into the Balkans, and supported the partisans and guerrillas in Yugoslavia and neighboring countries.
The squadron returned to the United States in May 1945 where it was redesignated as a Boeing B-29 Superfortress very heavy bombardment squadron and began training for deployment to the Central Pacific Area. Training continued until November when the unit was transferred to Merced Army Air Field, California and reassigned to the 444th Bombardment Group, where it replaced the 678th Bombardment Squadron, which was converted into a reconnaissance unit. The squadron was inactivated at what was now Castle Field in March 1946.
Reactivated in 1947 as a Strategic Air Command B-29 Superfortress medium bomb squadron. Performed strategic bombardment training missions during the postwar era. In 1950 the squadron deployed to Far East Air Forces at Yokota Air Base, Japan and flew strategic bombardment missions over North Korea after the breakout of the Korean War. The squadron flew its first combat mission on 7 August, striking marshalling yards at Pyongyang, capital of North Korea. Attacked enemy communication lines and supported United Nations ground forces. Targets included rail facilities, oil centers, bridges, roads, troop concentrations, airfields, and military installations. Engaged in combat operations until the 1953 armistice, however the squadron remained in Japan until July 1954 when reassigned administratively to Lincoln AFB, Nebraska and its B-29s sent to storage and reclamation.
At Lincoln, re-equipped with new B-47E Stratojets. Engaged in strategic bombardment training with the B-47 throughout the rest of the 1950s, into the early 1960s. Inactivated in 1966 with the phaseout of the B-47 and closure of Lincoln AFB.
Reactivated in 1986 as an air refueling squadron.
- Constituted as the 344th Bombardment Squadron (Heavy) on 28 January 1942
- Activated on 3 February 1942
- Redesignated 344th Bombardment Squadron, Heavy on 1 July 1943
- Redesignated 344th Bombardment Squadron, Very Heavy on 23 May 1945
- Inactivated on 27 March 1946
- Activated on 1 July 1947
- Redesignated 344th Bombardment Squadron, Medium on 28 May 1948
- Discontinued and inactivated, on 25 June 1966
- Redesignated 344th Air Refueling Squadron, Heavy on 7 May 1986
- Activated on 1 October 1986
- Redesignated 344th Air Refueling Squadron on 1 July 1992
- 98th Bombardment Group, 3 February 1942
- 444th Bombardment Group, 10 November 1945 – 27 March 1946
- 98th Bombardment Group, 1 July 1947
- 98th Bombardment Wing, 16 June 1952
- 98th Strategic Aerospace Wing, 1 February 1964 – 25 June 1966
- 68th Air Refueling Wing, 1 October 1986
- 4th Operations Group, 22 April 1991
- 22d Operations Group, 29 April 1994 – Present
- Consolidated B-24 Liberator, 1942–1945
- Boeing B-29 Superfortress, 1945; 1947–1954
- Boeing B-47 Stratojet, 1954–1966
- McDonnell Douglas KC-10 Extender, 1986–1993
- Boeing KC-135 Stratotanker, 1994 – present
- This B-24D-CO serial number 41-11819 was hit by Antiaircraft artillery over the target and exploded at an altitude of 150 feet, crashing into a field. Eight of its crew were killed in action, and two taken prisoner of war. Missing Aircrew Report (MACR) 169.
- Robertson, Patsy (2008-02-15). "Factsheet 344 Air Refueling Squadron (AMC)". Air Force Historical Research Agency. Retrieved 27 August 2014.
- Maurer, Combat Squadrons, pp. 246-247
- Maurer, Combat Squadrons, p. 704
- 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.