351st Missile Wing

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351st Missile Wing
Minuteman Missile NHS.jpg
Minuteman Missile in its silo
Active 1942–1945; 1947–1949; 1962-1995
Country  United States
Branch  United States Air Force
Type Missile Wing
Role Strategic Attack
Part of Air Force Space Command
Garrison/HQ Whiteman Air Force Base
Motto(s) Sentinels of Peace
Decorations Distinguished Unit Citation
Air Force Outstanding Unit Award
351st Missile Wing emblem (Approved 7 February 1964)[1] 351st Missile Wing.PNG
Unofficial 351st Bombardment Group emblem 351st Bomb Group Badge.jpg

The 351st Missile Wing is an inactive United States Air Force unit, which was last based at Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri. Assigned to Strategic Air Command for most of its existence, the wing supported LGM-30F Minuteman ICBMs. It was inactivated in 1995.

During World War II, its predecessor unit, the 351st Bombardment Group was a VIII Bomber Command B-17 Flying Fortress unit in England. Assigned to RAF Polebrook in early 1943, the group's 504th Bomb Squadron made 54 consecutive missions on June 1943 to January 1944 without losses. Two members of the 351st Bombardment Group, Lt. Walter E. Truemper and S/Sgt. Archibald Mathies, were posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor on a mission to Leipzig, Germany, 20 February 1944.

The 351st was the unit to which Captain Clark Gable was assigned.[note 1] Gable flew five combat missions, including one to Germany, as an observer-gunner in B-17 Flying Fortresses between 4 May and 23 September 1943, earning the Air Medal and the Distinguished Flying Cross for his efforts.


World War II[edit]

Media related to 351st Bombardment Group at Wikimedia Commons

510th Bombardment Squadron B-17[note 2]

The 351st Bombardment Group was activated 1 October 1942 at Salt Lake City AB, Utah. The group established at Geiger Field in Washington in November 1942 where the Group was assembled for initial training, and the Second phase of training was conducted at Biggs Field, Texas, between December 1942 and March 1943. The unit then moved to Pueblo AAB, Colorado for preparation for overseas movement. The ground unit left Pueblo for New York on 12 April, 1943. The aircraft began movement on 1 April, 1943. In April–May 1943, the unit moved to RAF Polebrook England to serve in combat with Eighth Air Force. It was assigned to the 94th Combat Wing, also at Polebrook. The group tail code was a "Triangle J".

509th Bombardment Squadron B-17[note 3]

The 351st's first completed combat mission took place on 14 May 1943, when 18 B-17's targeted a German Luftwaffe airfield at Kortrijk, Belgium. As the war progressed, the 351st operated primarily against strategic objectives in Germany, striking such targets as ball-bearing plants at Schweinfurt, communications at Mayen, marshalling yards at Koblenz, a locomotive and tank factory at Hanover, industries at Berlin, bridges at Cologne, an armaments factory at Mannheim, and oil refineries at Hamburg.

Clark Gable next to a B-17 in Britain, 1943

The group also struck harbor facilities, submarine installations, airfields, V-weapon sites, and power plants in France, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Norway.

The 351st Received a Distinguished Unit Citation (DUC) for performance on 9 October 1943, when an aircraft factory in Germany was accurately bombed in spite of heavy flak and pressing enemy interceptors. It received another DUC for its part in the successful attack of 11 January 1944, on aircraft factories in central Germany. The group participated in the intensive air campaign against the German aircraft industry during "Big Week", 20–25 February 1944.

In addition to its strategic missions, the group often operated in support of ground forces and attacked interdictory targets. Bombed in support of the Battle of Normandy in June 1944 and the Saint-Lô breakthrough in July. The group hit enemy positions to cover the airborne attack on the Netherlands in September 1944 and subsequently struck front-line positions, communications, and airfields to help stop the German counteroffensive in the Battle of the Bulge, December 1944 – January 1945. The 351st later flew missions in support of Operation Varsity, the airborne assault across the Rhine in March 1945.

The 351st conducted routine 8th Air Force missions from RAF Polebrook until the end of the war. The unit completed 311 combat missions from Polebrook. The 351st lost 175 B-17's and their crews. The gunners in the Group fired off 2,776,028 rounds of ammunition and were credited with destroying 303 enemy aircraft.

The Group was redeployed to the US in May and June 1945. The first aircraft left on 21 May 1945. The ground unit sailed for the US on 25 June, 1945, aboard the Queen Elizabeth. The ship docked in the US in July 1945, but the group was not inactivated until 28 August 1945.

During the early years of the Cold War, the 351st Bombardment Group (Very Heavy) was part of the Air Force Reserve between 1947 and 1949.

Cold War[edit]

Media related to 351st Missile Wing at Wikimedia Commons

During the Cold War, the United States Air Force Strategic Air Command 351st Strategic Missile Wing stood alert with Minuteman I and later, Minuteman II ICBMs starting in 1963 at Whiteman AFB, Missouri. The wing was bestowed the lineage, honors and history of the World War II USAAF 351st Bomb Wing upon activation.

The 351st supervised missile training operations and coordinated construction of SM-30B (later, LGM-30B) Minuteman I missile facilities from 1 February 1963, to 29 June 1964. The first missile arrived 14 January 1964 and was placed its silo two days later. The 508th SMS became combat ready on 5 June and the 509th on 10 June 1964. The last flight of the fifteen missiles was accepted 29 June 1964, making the 510th operational. The wing then had 150 fully operational missiles. Meanwhile, the 340th Bombardment Wing phased down for inactivation and 351st Strategic Missile Wing gradually assumed host-wing responsibilities at Whiteman AFB, between 1 July and 1 September 1963. Later, the Wing converted to LGM-30F Minuteman II missiles between 7 May 1966, and 3 October 1967.

The wing won the Colonel Lee R. Williams Memorial Missile Trophy for Calendar Years 1965, 1967 and 1973, as well as the SAC missile combat competition and Blanchard Trophy in 1967, 1971, 1977, 1981,1989, and 1993. It was named SAC's "Best Minuteman Wing" in 1972.

On 1 September 1991, the wing was redesignated as the 351st Missile Wing and implemented the objective wing organization. It was relieved from SAC and reassigned to Eighth Air Force in the new Air Combat Command on 1 June 1992. It was again reassigned on 1 July 1993 to Air Force Space Command and assigned to the new Twentieth Air Force. The same day, it relinquished "host wing" responsibilities for Whiteman AFB, transferring that role to Air Combat Command's 509th Bomb Wing, operating the B-2 Spirit strategic bomber.

The 351st Missile Wing and its three squadrons of Minuteman II ICBMs were inactivated on 31 July 1995 as a result of planned phaseout of the Minuteman II.


351st Bombardment Group
  • Constituted as the 351st Bombardment Group (Heavy) on 25 September 1942
Activated on 1 October 1942
  • Redesignated 351st Bombardment Group, Heavy on 11 August 1944
Inactivated on 28 August 1945
  • Redesignated 351st Bombardment Group, Very Heavy
Activated on 9 April 1947
Inactivated on 27 June 1949[2]
  • Consolidated with the 351st Strategic Missile Wing as the 351st Strategic Missile Wing on 31 January 1984[3]
351st Missile Wing
  • Established as 351st Strategic Missile Wing (ICBM—Minuteman) and activated, on 9 August 1962
Organized on 1 February 1963[1]
  • Consolidated with the 351st Bombardment Group on 31 January 1984[3]
Redesignated as 351st Missile Wing on 1 September 1991
Inactivated on 31 July 1995





Coordinates: 38°43′49″N 093°32′53″W / 38.73028°N 93.54806°W / 38.73028; -93.54806 (Whiteman AFB)

Aircraft and missiles[edit]

LGM-30 Minuteman Missile Alert Facilities
508 MS (Black)
509 MS (Green)
510 MS (Blue)

LGM-30F Minuteman III Missile Alert Facilities (MAF) (each controlling 10 missiles) are located as follows:[note 4]

508th Missile Squadron
A-01 3.5 mi SE of Blackburn MO, 39°04′05″N 093°26′20″W / 39.06806°N 93.43889°W / 39.06806; -93.43889 (A-01)
B-01 38.1 mi ExNE of Houstonia MO, 38°55′38″N 093°12′41″W / 38.92722°N 93.21139°W / 38.92722; -93.21139 (B-01)
C-01 5.6 mi SxSW of Pilot Grove MO, 38°47′59″N 092°57′05″W / 38.79972°N 92.95139°W / 38.79972; -92.95139 (C-01)
D-01 6.1 mi SE of Syracuse MO, 38°36′45″N 092°47′15″W / 38.61250°N 92.78750°W / 38.61250; -92.78750 (D-01)
E-01 7.3 mi WxSW of Florence MO, 38°33′46″N 093°06′33″W / 38.56278°N 93.10917°W / 38.56278; -93.10917 (E-01)
509th Missile Squadron
G-01 7.4 mi WxNW of Lowry City MO, 38°11′00″N 093°51′07″W / 38.18333°N 93.85194°W / 38.18333; -93.85194 (G-01)
H-01 2.8 mi WxSW of Eldorado Springs MO 37°51′36″N 094°03′59″W / 37.86000°N 94.06639°W / 37.86000; -94.06639 (H-01)
J-01 4.7 mi NxNW of Rockville MO, 38°08′10″N 094°06′27″W / 38.13611°N 94.10750°W / 38.13611; -94.10750 (J-01)
K-01 6.3 mi WxSW of Adrian MO, 38°21′16″N 094°27′16″W / 38.35444°N 94.45444°W / 38.35444; -94.45444 (K-01)
L-01 8.8 mi NE of Adrian MO, 38°29′55″N 094°15′10″W / 38.49861°N 94.25278°W / 38.49861; -94.25278 (L-01)
510th Missile Squadron
F-01 6.0 mi SE of Windsor MO, 38°28′48″N 093°26′00″W / 38.48000°N 93.43333°W / 38.48000; -93.43333 (F-01)
I-01 6.7 mi W of Calhoun MO, 38°28′48″N 093°44′55″W / 38.48000°N 93.74861°W / 38.48000; -93.74861 (I-01)
M-01 32.6 mi ExNE of Holden MO, 38°43′30″N 093°56′40″W / 38.72500°N 93.94444°W / 38.72500; -93.94444 (M-01)
N-01 3.9 mi ExSE of Odessa MO, 38°58′14″N 093°53′32″W / 38.97056°N 93.89222°W / 38.97056; -93.89222 (N-01)
*O-01 On Whiteman AFB, MO 38°43′14″N 093°33′56″W / 38.72056°N 93.56556°W / 38.72056; -93.56556 (N-01)
*Preserved, but not open to the public.

See also[edit]



External video
Combat America Film at Google Video
  1. ^ A film of the unit activities in the war, Combat America, featured Gable and was narrated by him. See: Combat America at the American Film Institute Catalog.
  2. ^ Aircraft is Boeing B-17G-85-BO Flying Fortress serial 43-38465. This aircraft survived the war and returned to USA on 8 June 1945
  3. ^ Aircraft is Douglas-Long Beach built B-17G-30-DL Flying Fortress serial 43-38116.
  4. ^ The adjacent map incorrectly indicates the flights in the 509th and 510th Squadrons. The list below is correct.


  1. ^ a b Ravenstein, p. 186
  2. ^ Maurer, Combat Units, pp. 230-231
  3. ^ a b Department of the Air Force/MPM Letter 539q, 31 January 1984, Subject: Consolidation of Units


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

External links[edit]