|909th Air Refueling Squadron|
|Active||1942–1945; 1945–1946; 1963 – present|
|Branch||United States Air Force|
|Part of||Pacific Air Forces|
|Garrison/HQ||Kadena Air Base, Okinawa|
|Engagements||Mediterranean Theater of Operations|
European Theater of Operations
|Decorations||Distinguished Unit Citation|
Air Force Outstanding Unit Award with Combat "V" Device
Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross with Palm
|Lt Col Travis Epp|
|909th Air Refueling Squadron emblem[a]|
|KC-135 Tail Code||ZZ|
|409th Bombardment Squadron emblem[b]|
|World War II Fuselage Code||YM|
|World War II Tail Marking||Circle B|
The squadron was first activated in 1942 as the 19th Reconnaissance Squadron, but was redesignated the 409th Bombardment Squadron shortly after activation. After briefly serving as an antisubmarine unit, it participated in combat in the Mediterranean and European Theaters of Operations, earning two Distinguished Unit Citations for its actions. After the surrender of Germany the squadron returned to the United States and was inactivated.
The squadron was reactivated shortly after the end of World War II as a Boeing B-29 Superfortress unit, and became one of the first units of Strategic Air Command in 1946. It was inactivated later that year when its parent group was replaced by the 43d Bombardment Group.
The 909th Air Refueling Squadron was activated in 1963 at Amarillo Air Force Base, Texas. The squadron supported Strategic Air Command operations from activation and, starting in 1964, supported operations in Southeast Asia from Amarillo, March Air Force Base, California and Kadena Air Base, Okinawa. After the end of the Vietnam War, the squadron continued to support refueling and reconnaissance operations in the Pacific. In 1985 the 409th and 909th squadrons were consolidated into a single unit. The squadron also provided support for combat operations in Southwest Asia during the 1990s.
The 909th is the Pacific Air Forces (PACAF)'s "lead force" for air refueling U.S. and allied aircraft during contingencies. The squadron accomplishes aeromedical evacuations for military and civilian members, transporting patients to as far away as the United States when necessary. It also conducts Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) and headquarters- and command-directed missions.
World War II
Training and initial operations
The squadron was established as the 19th Reconnaissance Squadron in early 1942 at Barksdale Field, Louisiana as one of the original four squadrons of the 93d Bombardment Group. Since a reorganization of General Headquarters Air Force in September 1936, each bombardment group of the Army Air Forces (AAF) had an attached reconnaissance squadron, which operated the same aircraft as that group's assigned bombardment squadrons. That arrangement continued for units like the 19th that were designated as heavy bombardment units. The squadron was formed from a cadre supplied by the 44th Bombardment Group and was equipped with Consolidated B-24D Liberators. Shortly after activation the 19th was redesignated as the 409th Bombardment Squadron. It completed its Phase I training at Barksdale. The squadron moved to Page Field, Florida, and flew antisubmarine patrols over the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea until the end of July. Its parent group claimed the destruction of three U-boats while stationed in Florida.
Two weeks later the squadron began to deploy to the European Theater of Operations. Its ground echelon sailed aboard the RMS Queen Elizabeth on 31 August, arriving in Scotland on 1 September. The air echelon transferred to Grenier Field, New Hampshire, where it received new B-24Ds. It flew the first formation crossing of the Atlantic in September.
The squadron was a member of the first B-24 heavy bomber group to become part of VIII Bomber Command in England. It flew its first mission on 9 October against a steel factory at Lille. Until December, it operated primarily against submarine pens on the coast of the Bay of Biscay. The squadron flew some antisubmarine patrols with RAF Coastal Command from RAF Holmsley South. Later in the month the 409th transferred some of its personnel to the 329th Bombardment Squadron, which was training for special operations.
Deployments to the Mediterranean Theater
In early December, the air echelon of the squadron deployed to Algeria, where it was attached to XII Bomber Command. Operating with inadequate supplies under difficult conditions the squadron struck heavy blows against enemy shipping and lines of communication during its Mediterranean deployment. Tafaraoui Airfield had no hardened runways, and the first four missions had to be cancelled when heavy rains turned the airfield into a sea of mud, making it impossible to taxi. After flying one mission, the unit moved to Gambut Main, Libya, where it came under the control of IX Bomber Command. At Gambut, dust storms "played havoc" with the engines of the squadron's B-24s. The 409th flew 22 missions, attacking enemy ports and attacking Italian supply centers to support the British Eighth Army. The squadron was awarded its first Distinguished Unit Citation for these efforts.
The squadron returned to England in February 1943 and until June attacked engine repair facilities, power plants, harbors, and other targets in France, the Low Countries and Germany. In May the squadron was withdrawn from operations and began to train for night attacks. However, this training ended abruptly and the squadrons of the 93d group joined those of the only other B-24 group in Eighth Air Force, the 44th Bombardment Group, in flying diversionary missions, while Eighth's Boeing B-17 Flying Fortresses attacked primary targets. On 29 May the squadron was once again taken off operations and began practicing low level flights over England. Norden bombsights were removed from unit B-24s and a modified gunsight, optimized for low level attacks, replaced them. Liberators that had been modified for night operations were sent to another unit and bomb bay tanks were installed in others.
In June, the air echelon returned to Libya and initially supported Operation Husky, the invasion of Sicily, flying ten missions. Following this, the unit resumed low level training in Libya. On 1 August, the squadron participated in Operation Tidal Wave, the low level attack on oil refineries near Ploiești, where 60% of the Axis fuel was produced. This attack involved a round trip of over 2,000 miles. The squadron's formation followed the 376th Bombardment Group which had mistaken the Initial Point for the bomb run and flew the wrong course to the target, bombing targets that had been assigned to other groups, despite heavy opposition from enemy forces that had been fully alerted to the approach of the bombers. For this action, the squadron earned its second Distinguished Unit Citation. Before departing the Mediterranean, the squadron flew an attack against the Messerschmitt Bf 109 factory at Wiener Neustadt, stretching the range of its B-24s and requiring it to recover at bases in Tunisia, which were closer than its station in Libya.
The squadron returned to England in August, but flew only two missions before the air echelon returned to the Mediterranean to fly missions from Tunisia to support the Fifth Army at Salerno during Operation Avalanche, the invasion of Italy. The crews and aircraft returned to England in October.
European Theater and post war
From England, the squadron resumed strategic bombardment raids against marshalling yards, aircraft factories, chemical plants, and oil refineries in Germany. The squadron also made tactical attacks on gun emplacements near Cherbourg Naval Base during Operation Overlord, the Normandy invasion, in June 1944 and attacked troop concentrations during the Saint Lo breakout the following month. In August and September, its bombers were diverted to airlifting food, gasoline, water and other supplies to Allies advancing through northern France. It also dropped supplies to airborne troops engaged in Operation Market Garden airborne attacks in the Netherlands.
Near the end of the war, on 24 March 1945, the squadron dropped supplies to airborne forces near Wesel and bombed a night fighter base near Störmede during Operation Varsity, the airborne assault across the Rhine. The squadron ended combat operations in April, and began returning to the United States in May and June. The ground echelon sailed aboard the RMS Queen Mary and received thirty days leave upon arrival. In July the 409th was inactivated when its parent group began conversion to Boeing B-29 Superfortresses.
The squadron was activated again at Pratt Army Air Field, Kansas in August where it began to train with Boeing B-29 Superfortresses. At the end of the year the squadron moved to Clovis Army Air Field, New Mexico. In the spring of 1946 the squadron became one of the first units assigned to the new Strategic Air Command, and in June it moved to Davis-Monthan Field, Arizona, where it was assigned to the 444th Bombardment Group. In October, the 444th group and its squadrons were inactivated and their mission, equipment and personnel were transferred to the 43d Bombardment Group.
Air refueling operations
The 909th Air Refueling Squadron was organized at Amarillo Air Force Base, Texas in Apr 1963. Once the squadron was combat ready in July, half 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. The squadron trained with Boeing KC-135 Stratotankers and conducted worldwide air refueling and participated in Strategic Air Command (SAC) directed exercises. The 909th deployed to refuel tactical units in Southeast Asia as part of Operation Young Tiger and deployed crews and planes to Spain and Alaska for support of Operation Chrome Dome airborne alert forces. The squadron also supported Operation Arc Light B-52 strikes in Southeast Asia.
The 909th maintained combat proficiency at Amarillo until June 1966, when it moved to March Air Force Base, California, where it was assigned to the 22d Bombardment Wing, which became a "super wing" with two bombardment squadrons and two air refueling squadrons assigned. From May to October 1967 the squadron was non-operational as the 22d wing was reduced to a small rear echelon non-combat organization with all its tactical resources allotted to SAC organizations involved in combat in Southeast Asia.
The unit rotated aircrews to Southeast Asia from 1967 to 1973. In 1971 SAC decided to maintain a permanent tanker presence in the Pacific and the squadron moved to Kadena Air Base on Okinawa. The squadron supported the tanker task force at Kadena (Giant Bear) and reconnaissance operations (Rivet Joint and Cobra Ball). In 1991, the squadron was transferred to Pacific Air Forces and reassigned from the 376th Strategic Wing to the 18th Operations Group.
The 909th provided air refueling in Southwest Asia during Operation Desert Storm from August 1990 to March 1991. In 1996 it revisited Southwest Asia to support Operation Desert Strike, an attack against fixed surface-to-air missile sites and air defense sites in Iraq.
The 909th has been a major force provider for a number of operations in the Pacific area. For these operations, PACAF has activated a provisional 909th Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron for the operations, using the squadron's resources.
The 909th expeditionary squadron has been:
- Assigned to the 613th Air Expeditionary Group from 1 January 2000 to 31 January 2000 at Korat Royal Thai Air Force Base for Cope Tiger
- Assigned to the 13th Air Expeditionary Group from 5 February 2004 to 9 March 2004 at Korat Royal Thai Air Force Base for Cope Tiger 04
- Assigned to the 605th Air Expeditionary Group from 30 October 2004 to 30 November 2004 at Yokota Air Base for Keen Sword 05
- Assigned to the 3d Air Expeditionary Group from 2 October 2005 to 24 October 2005 at Eielson Air Force Base for Cope Thunder 06-1
- Assigned to the 5th Air Expeditionary Group from 31 October 2005 to 24 November 2005 at Yokota Air Base for Cope North 06-1
- Assigned to the 13th Air Expeditionary Group from 14 January 2008 to 13 February 2008 at Korat Royal Thai Air Force Base for Cope Tiger 08
- Attached to Thirteenth Air Force from 21 November 2008 to 9 December 2008 at RAAF Base Darwin for Aces North 09
- Assigned to the 13th Air Expeditionary Wing from c. March 2009 to 3 April 2009 at Korat Royal Thai Air Force Base for Cope Tiger 09
- Assigned to the 18th Air Expeditionary Wing from 6 July 2009 to 26 July 2009 at RAAF Base Darwin for Talisman Saber 09
409th Bombardment Squadron
- Constituted as the 19th Reconnaissance Squadron (Heavy) on 28 January 1942
- Activated on 1 March 1942
- Redesignated 409th Bombardment Squadron (Heavy) on 22 April 1942
- Redesignated 409th Bombardment Squadron, Heavy on 6 March 1944
- Inactivated on 6 July 1945
- Redesignated 409th Bombardment Squadron, Very Heavy on 5 August 1945
- Activated on 20 August 1945
- Inactivated on 1 October 1946
- Consolidated on 19 September 1985 with the 909th Air Refueling Squadron as the 909th Air Refueling Squadron
909th Air Refueling Squadron
- Constituted as the 909th Air Refueling Squadron, Heavy on 18 January 1963 and activated (not organized)
- Organized on 1 April 1963
- Consolidated on 19 September 1985 with the 409th Bombardment Squadron
- Redesignated 909th Air Refueling Squadron on 1 October 1991
- 93d Bombardment Group, 1 March 1942 – 6 July 1945
- 93d Bombardment Group, 20 August 1945
- 444th Bombardment Group, 6 May 1946 – 1 October 1946
- Strategic Air Command, 18 January 1963 (not organized)
- 461st Bombardment Wing, 1 April 1963
- 22d Bombardment Wing, 25 June 1966
- 376th Strategic Wing, 1 July 1971
- 18th Operations Group, 1 October 1991 – Present
- Barksdale Field, Louisiana, 1 March 1942
- Page Field, Florida, 18 May 1942 – 13 August 1942
- RAF Alconbury (AAF-102), England, 7 September 1942
- RAF Hardwick (AAF-104), England, c. 6 December 1942 – 15 June 1945
- Air echelon operated from:
- Sioux Falls Army Air Field, South Dakota, 26 June 1945 – 26 July 1945
- Pratt Army Air Field, Kansas, 20 August 1945
- Clovis Army Air Field, New Mexico, 13 December 1945
- Davis-Monthan Field, Arizona, 18 June 1945 – 1 October 1946
- Amarillo Air Force Base, Texas, 1 April 1963
- March Air Force Base, California, 25 June 1966
- Kadena Air Base, Japan, 1 July 1971 – Present
Awards and campaigns
|Distinguished Unit Citation||17 Dec 1942-20 Feb 1943 North Africa||409th Bombardment Squadron|
|Distinguished Unit Citation||1 August 1943 Ploiești, Romania||409th Bombardment Squadron|
|Air Force Outstanding Unit Award w/Combat "V" Device||1 July 1971 – 31 March 1972||909th Air Refueling Squadron|
|Air Force Outstanding Unit Award w/Combat "V" Device||1 April 1972 – 28 January 1973||909th Air Refueling Squadron|
|Air Force Outstanding Unit Award||1 April 1967 – 1 October 1967||909th Air Refueling Squadron|
|Air Force Outstanding Unit Award||25 March 1968 – 1 May 1968||909th Air Refueling Squadron|
|Air Force Outstanding Unit Award||1 July 1969 – 30 June 1970||909th Air Refueling Squadron|
|Air Force Outstanding Unit Award||1 September 1970 – 30 June 1971||909th Air Refueling Squadron|
|Air Force Outstanding Unit Award||29 January 1973 – 31 March 1974||909th Air Refueling Squadron|
|Air Force Outstanding Unit Award||1 July 1974 – 30 June 1976||909th Air Refueling Squadron|
|Air Force Outstanding Unit Award||1 July 1976 – 30 June 1977||909th Air Refueling Squadron|
|Air Force Outstanding Unit Award||1 July 1977 – 30 June 1979||909th Air Refueling Squadron|
|Air Force Outstanding Unit Award||1 July 1981 – 30 June 1983||909th Air Refueling Squadron|
|Air Force Outstanding Unit Award||1 July 1985 – 30 June 1987||909th Air Refueling Squadron|
|Air Force Outstanding Unit Award||1 July 1987 – 30 June 1988||909th Air Refueling Squadron|
|Air Force Outstanding Unit Award||1 July 1989 – 30 June 1991||909th Air Refueling Squadron|
|Air Force Outstanding Unit Award||1 June 1991 – 31 May 1993||909th Air Refueling Squadron|
|Air Force Outstanding Unit Award||1 June 1993 – 31 August 1994||909th Air Refueling Squadron|
|Air Force Outstanding Unit Award||1 September 1995 – 31 August 1997||909th Air Refueling Squadron|
|Air Force Outstanding Unit Award||1 October 1998 – 30 September 2000||909th Air Refueling Squadron|
|Air Force Outstanding Unit Award||1 October 2000 – 30 September 2002||909th Air Refueling Squadron|
|Air Force Outstanding Unit Award||1 October 2002 – 30 September 2004||909th Air Refueling Squadron|
|Air Force Outstanding Unit Award||1 October 2005 – 30 September 2007||909th Air Refueling Squadron|
|Vietnamese Gallantry Cross with Palm||1 July 1971 – 28 January 1973||909th Air Refueling Squadron|
|Antisubmarine||1 March 1942 – 13 August 1942||409th Bombardment Squadron|
|Egypt-Libya||16 December 1942 – 12 February 1943||409th Bombardment Squadron|
|Air Offensive, Europe||7 September 1942 – 5 June 1944||409th Bombardment Squadron|
|Tunisia||12 November 1942 – 13 May 1943||409th Bombardment Squadron|
|Sicily||14 May 1943 – 17 August 1943||409th Bombardment Squadron|
|Naples-Foggia||18 August 1943 – 21 January 1944||409th Bombardment Squadron|
|Normandy||6 June 1944 – 24 July 1944||409th Bombardment Squadron|
|Northern France||25 July 1944 – 14 September 1944||409th Bombardment Squadron|
|Rhineland||15 September 1944 – 21 March 1945||409th Bombardment Squadron|
|Ardennes-Alsace||16 December 1944 – 25 January 1945||409th Bombardment Squadron|
|Central Europe||22 March 1944 – 21 May 1945||409th Bombardment Squadron|
|Air Combat, EAME Theater||7 September 1942 – 11 May 1945||409th Bombardment Squadron|
|Defense of Saudi Arabia||2 August 1990 – 16 January 1991||909th Air Refueling Squadron|
|Liberation and Defense of Kuwait||17 January 1991 – 11 April 1991||909th Air Refueling Squadron|
- List of United States Air Force air refueling squadrons
- B-24 Liberator units of the United States Army Air Forces
- Explanatory notes
- Approved 2 December 1963, updated 7 November 1995. Description: On a disc divided into an Air Force blue sky and a white cloud formation with a narrow black border, two stylized yellow aircraft in horizontal flight each emitting a yellow thunderbolt to a double six-pointed star with orange center, yellow, and black tips giving off black rays. Endicott, p. 888.
- Approved 16 February 1943. Description: On a yellow disc, a caricatured panda bear, emitting three drops of perspiration proper and running with a large white aerial bomb, trimmed black grasped under left forepaw, point to dexter chief. Maurer, Combat Squadrons, pp. 500-501.
- The aircraft visible are B-24D-25-CO, serial 41-24226, Joisey Bounce (later Utah Man), collided in midair with B-24D-95-CO 42-40765 on 13 November 1943 on a mission to Bremen, Germany, and crashed near Husum, Germany (Missing Air Crew Report 2179); B-24D-20-CO, serial 41-24147, The Duchess, shot down 25 February 1944 over Herxheim, Germany, (Missing Air Crew Report 2924); B-24D-1-CO, serial 41-23722 "Bomerang"; B-24D-40-CO, serial 42-40246 Thunder Mug, salvaged 10 October 1943. Baugher, Joe (1 April 2023). "1941 USAF Serial Numbers". Joe Baugher. Retrieved 2 April 2023. Baugher, Joe (28 December 2022). "1942 USAF Serial Numbers". Joe Baugher. Retrieved 2 April 2023.
- Consolidated B-24J-55-CO Liberator, serial 42-99949 Naughty Nan is visible in the foreground. Taken on a mission to Friedrichshafen Germany during August 1944. This aircraft was lost over Belgium on 21 September 1944, Missing Air Crew Report 9662.
- Robertson, Patsy (27 May 2010). "Factsheet 909 Air Refueling Squadron (PACAF)". Air Force Historical Research Agency. Archived from the original on 12 January 2015. Retrieved 6 March 2014.
- Maurer, Combat Squadrons, pp. 500–501
- Watkins, pp. 38–39
- "Factsheet 18th Operations Group". 18th Wing Public Affairs. 11 September 2007. Archived from the original on 3 March 2016.
- Maurer, Combat Units, pp. 160–162
- Maurer (1987), p. 340
- Maurer (1987), p. 436
- Freeman, pp. 244–245
- Freeman, pp. 33–35
- Freeman, p. 38
- Freeman, pp. 86–89
- "Abstract, History Davis-Monthan Field October–November 1946". Air Force History Index. Retrieved 28 August 2013.
- "Abstract, History 461 Bombardment Wing Jul 1963". Air Force History Index. Retrieved 11 March 2014.
- "Abstract (Unclassified), History of the Strategic Bomber since 1945 (Top Secret, downgraded to Secret)". Air Force History Index. 1 April 1975. Retrieved 4 March 2014.
- "Abstract, History 461 Bombardment Wing Oct–Dec 1965". Air Force History Index. Retrieved 11 March 2014.
- "Abstract, History 461 Bombardment Wing Apr–Jun 1965". Air Force History Index. Retrieved 11 March 2014.
- "Abstract, History 461 Bombardment Wing Jan–Mar 1965". Air Force History Index. Retrieved 11 March 2014.
- Ravenstein, pp. 254–256
- Ravenstein, pp. 41–43
- "Abstract, Vol. 1, History 376 Strategic Wing Jul–Dec 1988". Air Force History Index. Retrieved 11 March 2014.
- "Abstract, Vol. 1, History 376 Strategic Wing Jan 1996 – Dec 1997". Air Force History Index. Retrieved 11 March 2014.
- Activations and inactivations of the 909th Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron in the monthly Organization Status Change Report, Research Division, Air Force Historical Research Agency.
- Lineage, including assignments, stations and aircraft in Robertson, 909 Air Refueling Squadron Factsheet
- Station number in Anderson
- Landing ground number in Freeman, p. 245
- Anderson, Capt. Barry (1985). Army Air Forces Stations: A Guide to the Stations Where U.S. Army Air Forces Personnel Served in the United Kingdom During World War II (PDF). Maxwell AFB, AL: Research Division, USAF Historical Research Center. Archived from the original (PDF) on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 7 July 2012.
- Endicott, Judy G. (1998). Active Air Force Wings as of 1 October 1995 and USAF Active Flying, Space, and Missile Squadrons as of 1 October 1995 (PDF). Air Force History and Museums Program. Washington, DC: Office of Air Force History. ASIN B000113MB2. Retrieved 2 July 2014.
- Freeman, Roger A. (1970). The Mighty Eighth: Units, Men and Machines (A History of the US 8th Army Air Force). London, England, UK: Macdonald and Company. ISBN 978-0-87938-638-2. (ISBN for 1993 reprint)
- Maurer, Maurer (1987). Aviation in the U.S. Army, 1919-1939 (PDF). Washington, DC: Office of Air Force History, United States Air Force. ISBN 0-912799-38-2. LCCN 87012257. OCLC 15661556. Retrieved 17 December 2016.
- Maurer, Maurer (1987). Aviation in the U.S. Army, 1919-1939 (PDF). Washington, DC: Office of Air Force History, United States Air Force. ISBN 0-912799-38-2. LCCN 87012257. OCLC 15661556. Retrieved 17 December 2016.
- 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.
- 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.
- Ravenstein, Charles A. (1984). Air Force Combat Wings, Lineage & Honors Histories 1947–1977. Washington, DC: Office of Air Force History. ISBN 0-912799-12-9.
- Watkins, Robert (2008). Battle Colors: Insignia and Markings of the Eighth Air Force in World War II. Vol. I (VIII) Bomber Command. Atglen, PA: Shiffer Publishing Ltd. ISBN 978-0-7643-1987-7.
- Smith, Richard K. (1998). Seventy-Five Years of Inflight Refueling: Highlights, 1923–1998 (PDF). Air Force History and Museums Program. Washington, DC: Government Printing Office. Retrieved 13 August 2013.
- Stout, Jay A (November 2003). Fortress Ploiesti: The Campaign to Destroy Hitler's Oil Supply. Archived from the original on 22 June 2010. Retrieved 4 February 2009.
- Dugan, James; Stewart, Carroll (2002). Ploesti: The Great Ground-Air Battle of 1 August 1943. Potomac Books, Incorporated. ISBN 978-1-57488-510-1.
- The 93rd Bombardment Group Museum, Station 104, Hardwick. A small museum on the actual airfield site in Nissen (Quonset) and brick built huts.