447th Air Expeditionary Group

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447th Air Expeditionary Group
Air Combat Command.png
Pilots from the 817th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron walk around their C-17 Globemaster III during a dust storm on 17 April 2008 that reduced visibility to 100 meters and stopped all air traffic at Sather Air Base.
Active 1943–1945; 1947–1951; 2003–c. 2011
Country  United States
Branch  United States Air Force
Garrison/HQ Sather Air Base, Iraq
Motto Fiat Justicia Ruat Caelum Latin Let Justice be Done Though the Heavens Fall
Engagements European Theater of World War II Iraq Campaign
Decorations Air Force Meritorious Unit Award
Hunter Harris, Jr.[1]
447th Air Expeditionary Group emblem USAF - 447th Air Expeditionary Group 2.png
447th Air Expeditionary Group heritage emblem based on unofficial World War II emblem[2] 447th Air Expeditionary Group.png
World War II Tail Marking[2] Square K

The 447th Air Expeditionary Group was a provisional United States Air Force unit assigned to the Air Combat Command (ACC) and United States Air Forces Central (USAFCENT). The unit was last stationed at Sather Air Base on Baghdad International Airport in Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation New Dawn.

The group was first active during World War II as the 447th Bombardment Group It participated in combat in the European Theater of Operations with B-17 Flying Fortress at RAF Rattlesden as part of Eighth Air Force. During Big Week, 20–25 February 1944, the 447th took part in the intensive campaign of heavy bombers against the German aircraft industry.

2d Lieutenant Robert E. Femoyer, of the 711th Bombardment Squadron, was awarded the Medal of Honor for his heroic actions during a mission over Merseburg, Germany, on 2 November 1944. The group returned to the United States following the war and was inactivated.

The group was activated again in 1947 in the Air Force Reserve. It moved to Castle Air Force Base, California in 1949, where it became a corollary unit of the active duty 93d Bombardment Group. It was called to active service in 1951 and was inactivated shortly thereafter while its members were used as fillers for other units.

In 2003, as the 447th Air Expeditionary Group, the unit was converted to provisional status and assigned to Air Combat Command to activate as needed. From April 2003 to December 2011, the group served at Sather Air Base, Iraq.


World War II[edit]

Boeing B-17G Flying Fortress 42-97392 711th BS, 'Ramblin Wreck' (IR-F)
Boeing B-17G Flying Fortress 42-32081, 708th BS 'Yellow Cab' Hit by flak and crashed into the North Sea killing all nine on board.

Training in the United States[edit]

The group was first activated on 1 May 1943 at Ephrata Army Air Base, Washington as the 447th Bombardment Group.[1] The group's original squadrons were the 708th,[3] 709th,[4] 710th[5] and 711th Bombardment Squadrons.[1][6]

The original mission of the 447th was to be an operational training unit.[7] However, by the time the group had reached full strength in October it had been identified for overseas deployment and its key personnel were assigned to the Army Air Forces School of Applied Tactics at Orlando Army Air Base, Florida for advanced tactical training. The cadre trained at Brooksville Army Air Field with the 1st Bombardment Squadron, engaging in simulated attacks against Mobile, Charleston and New Orleans. The squadron then trained at Rapid City Army Air Base, South Dakota with the 17th Bombardment Training Wing. In June 1943 the group moved to Harvard Army Air Field, Nebraska for Phase I training. The group lost three planes during training, two due to a mid-air collision in August 1943, and one to adverse weather in October.[8]

The first 42 of the group's B-17s began to move from the United States to the European theater of operations in November 1943. The unit sailed on the RMS Queen Elizabeth on 23 November 1943 and arrived at the Firth of Clyde on 29 November 1943.[9] The air echelon moved overseas via southern ferry route in early November 1943.

Combat in the European Theater[edit]

The group was stationed at RAF Rattlesden, England from 25 November 1943 to 1 August 1945. The group flew its first combat mission on 24 December 1943 against a V-1 missile site near Saint-Omer in northern France.[10] Until May 1944 the 447th helped prepare for the invasion of the European continent by attacking submarine pens, naval installations, and cities in Germany; missile sites and ports in France; and airfields and marshaling yards in France, Belgium and Germany.[11] The group conducted heavy bombardment missions against German aircraft industry during Big Week, 20 to 25 February 1944.[1] The group lost 21 B-17s during April 1944. Only the 100th Bombardment Group lost move bombers in a single month.[12] Heavy losses continued the following month. In an attack on Zwickau the composite wing in which the group was flying was attacked by over 200 Luftwaffe fighters, and the 447th lost seven Forts.[13]

The group supported the invasion of Normandy in June 1944 by bombing airfields and other targets.[1] On D-Day the group bombed the beachhead area using pathfinder aircraft.[14]

The group aided in the breakthrough at St. Lo, France, and the effort to take Brest, France, from July to September 1944.[1] It bombed strategic targets from October to December 1944, concentrating on sources of oil production.[1] It assaulted marshalling yards, railroad bridges and communication centers during the Battle of the Bulge from December 1944 to January 1945.[1] In March 1945 the group bombed an airfield in support of airborne assault across the Rhine.

On 2 November 1944, 2d Lieutenant Robert E. Femoyer, a navigator with the group, was flying a mission to Merseburg, Germany. His B-17 was damaged by flak and Lt. Femoyer was severely injured in his back and side. He refused morphine to relieve the pain of his injuries in order to keep his mind alert to navigate the plane out of the danger from heavily defended flak areas and then to a place of safety for his crew. Because he was too weak to climb back in his seat, he asked other crew members to prop him up so he could read his charts and instruments. For more than two hours he directed the navigation of his plane back to its home station with no further damage. Shortly after being removed from his plane, Lt. Femoyer died of his injuries.[1][15]

The group flew its last combat mission on 21 April 1945 against a marshalling yard at Ingolstadt, Germany.[16] Two days earlier, it lost a B-17 to an attack by a Messerschmitt Me 262 jet fighter. The six bombers lost by Eighth Air Force that day were its last losses of the war.[17]

The group redeployed to the United States during the summer 1945. The air echelon ferried their aircraft and personnel back to the United States, leaving on 29 and 30 June 1945. The group ground echelon, along with the 708th and 710th squadrons sailed on the SS Joseph T. Robinson on 1 August 1945, while the 709th and 711th squadrons departed on 3 August 1945 on the SS Benjamin R. Milam from Liverpool. Most personnel were discharged at Camp Myles Standish after arrival at the port of Boston. A small cadre proceeded to Drew Field, Florida[18] and the group inactivated on 7 November 1945.[1]

The group had flown 247 combat missions, dropping slightly over 17,000 tons of bombs and just under 400 tons of supplies. One of the group's planes, named "Milk Wagon" flew 129 missions without turning back,[19] a record for the 3d Air Division.[9]

Reserves and Korean War[edit]

Two years later, on 25 July 1947, the 447th was redesignated the 447th Bombardment Group, Very Heavy. It was activated in the Air Force Reserve on 12 August 1947, at Bergstrom Field Texas, and equipped with Boeing B-29 Superfortresses. The group was redesignated as the 447th Bombardment Group, Medium when the B-29 was classified as a medium bomber and reassigned to Castle Air Force Base, California,[1] where it became a corollary unit of the active duty 93d Bombardment Group. The 447th was ordered to active service in May 1951 as a result of the Korean War, with personnel and equipment reassigned to other units. It was inactivated as a "paper unit" on 16 June 1951.[1]

Expeditionary service in Iraq[edit]

Lockheed C-130H Hercules 74-1667 of the 317th Airlift Group being unloaded despite a dust storm at Sather Air Base

The group was redesignated the 447th Air Expeditionary Group and converted to provisional status on 28 January 2003.[11] The 447th was activated at Baghdad International Airport in April 2003, after elements of the 3rd Infantry Division captured the airport 4 April of the same year. The base was named Sather Air Base on 8 April 2005 in honor of Air Force Staff Sergeant Scott D. Sather, who was killed two years prior in combat during Operation Iraqi Freedom. SSgt Sather was an Air Force Special Operations combat controller serving with the 24th Special Tactics Squadron at Pope Air Force Base, North Carolina.[20] As of 2008, Sather was one of the busiest airports in Iraq, leading in number of passengers handled, and placing second in the amount of cargo.[11]

The 447th Air Expeditionary Group provided aerial port, control of the military runway, aerial control, base operating support, combat airmen and combat medical support. The group also supported United States and Coalition forces with airlift, supplies and delivery of forces and materials within the Baghdad area. The 447th operated a joint environment, with Air Force aerial port airmen working next to United States Army soldiers. The airfield was a joint civilian-military airport, with a military ramp on the west side and a civilian runway and terminal on the other used for international civilian flight operations.[11]


  • Constituted as 447th Bombardment Group (Heavy) on 6 April 1943
Activated on 1 May 1943
Inactivated on 7 November 1945.
  • Redesignated 447th Bombardment Group, Very Heavy and activated in the reserve on 12 August 1947
Redesignated 447th Bombardment Group, Medium on 27 June 1949
Ordered to active duty on 1 May 1951
Inactivated on 16 June 1951[1]
  • Redesignated 447th Air Expeditionary Group and converted to provisional status on 28 January 2003[11]
Activated in April 2003[21]
Inactivated c. 19 December 2011


332d Air Expeditionary Wing, April 2003[21]
321st Air Expeditionary Wing, c. 28 April 2010 - c. 19 December 2011[21]


Bombardment Squadrons

  • 708th Bombardment Squadron: 1 May 1943 – 7 November 1945; 12 August 1947 - 15 June 1951[3]
  • 709th Bombardment Squadron: 1 May 1943 – 7 November 1945; 10 November 1947 - 27 June 1949[4]
  • 710th Bombardment Squadron: 1 May 1943 – 7 November 1945[5]
  • 711th Bombardment Squadron: 1 May 1943 – 7 November 1945[6]

Support Squadrons



  • Boeing B-17G Flying Fortress, 1943–1945
  • Boeing B-29 Superfortress, 1947–1951

Awards and campaigns[edit]

Award streamer Award Dates Notes
AF MUA Streamer.JPG Air Force Meritorious Unit Award 10 September 2003-30 April 2004 447th Air Expeditionary Group[28]
AF MUA Streamer.JPG Air Force Meritorious Unit Award 1 May 2004-30 April 2005 447th Air Expeditionary Group[28]
AF MUA Streamer.JPG Air Force Meritorious Unit Award 1 June 2009-31 May 2010 447th Air Expeditionary Group[28]
AF MUA Streamer.JPG Air Force Meritorious Unit Award 1 June 2011-19 December 2011 447th Air Expeditionary Group[28]
Campaign Streamer Campaign Dates Notes
World War II - American Campaign Streamer (Plain).png American Theater 1 May 1943 – 11 November 1943 447th Bombardment Group[1]
Streamer EAMEC.PNG Air Offensive, Europe 29 November 1943 – 5 June 1944 447th Bombardment Group[1]
Streamer EAMEC.PNG Normandy 6 June 1944 – 24 July 1944 447th Bombardment Group[1]
Streamer EAMEC.PNG Northern France 25 July 1944 – 14 September 1944 447th Bombardment Group[1]
Streamer EAMEC.PNG Rhineland 15 September 1944 – 21 March 1945 447th Bombardment Group[1]
Streamer EAMEC.PNG Ardennes-Alsace 16 December 1944 – 25 January 1945 447th Bombardment Group[1]
Streamer EAMEC.PNG Central Europe 22 March 1944 – 21 May 1945 447th Bombardment Group[1]
Streamer IQCS.PNG Liberation of Iraq April 2003-1 May 2003 447th Air Expeditionary Group
Streamer IQCS.PNG Transition of Iraq 2 May 2003 -28 June 2004 447th Air Expeditionary Group
Streamer IQCS.PNG Iraqi Governance 29 June 2004 – 15 December 2005 447th Air Expeditionary Group
Streamer IQCS.PNG National Resolution 16 December 2005 – 9 January 2007 447th Air Expeditionary Group
Streamer IQCS.PNG Iraqi Surge 10 January 2007 – 31 December 2008 447th Air Expeditionary Group
Streamer IQCS.PNG Iraqi Sovereignty 1 January 2009 – 31 August 2010 447th Air Expeditionary Group
Streamer IQCS.PNG New Dawn 1 September 2010-c. 19 December 2011 447th Air Expeditionary Group

See also[edit]

List of B-29 units of the United States Air Force



  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t Maurer, Maurer, ed. (1983) [1961]. Air Force Combat Units of World War II (PDF) (reprint ed.). Washington, DC: Office of Air Force History. pp. 321–322. ISBN 0-912799-02-1. LCCN 61060979. 
  2. ^ a b 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. pp. 92–93. ISBN 0-7643-1987-6. 
  3. ^ a b Maurer, Maurer, ed. (1982) [1969]. Combat Squadrons of the Air Force, World War II (PDF) (reprint ed.). Washington, DC: Office of Air Force History. p. 711. ISBN 0-405-12194-6. LCCN 70605402. OCLC 72556. 
  4. ^ a b Maurer, Combat Squadrons, pp. 711-712
  5. ^ a b Maurer, Combat Squadrons, p. 712
  6. ^ a b Maurer, Combat Squadrons, pp. 712-713
  7. ^ Surridge, & Dooley, Edward C., ed. (1946). Pictorial History of the 447th Bombardment Group (H). World War II Regimental Histories No. 107. Tampa, FL. p. 18. Retrieved January 16, 2014. 
  8. ^ a b Surridge & Dooley, pp. 19-21
  9. ^ a b 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. p. 257. ISBN 978-0-87938-638-2. 
  10. ^ "Abstract, History 447 Bombardment Group May 1943-Apr 1944". Air Force History Index. Retrieved January 20, 2014. 
  11. ^ a b c d e f "447th Air Expeditionary Group". GlobalSecurity.org. Retrieved January 18, 2014. 
  12. ^ Freeman, p. 139
  13. ^ Freeman, p. 142
  14. ^ "Abstract, History 447 Bombardment Group Mar-Jun 1944". Air Force History Index. Retrieved January 20, 2014. 
  15. ^ Freeman, p. 180
  16. ^ "Abstract, History 447 Bombardment Group Apr 1945". Air Force History Index. Retrieved January 20, 2014. 
  17. ^ Freeman, p. 228
  18. ^ Surridge & Dooley, pp. 214-215
  19. ^ The crew of "Milk Wagon" marked missions by painting milk bottles on the aircraft nose, rather than the traditional bombs. Freeman, p. 232
  20. ^ "447th Air Expeditionary Group Public Affairs". Al Bawaba News. March 18, 2008. Retrieved January 18, 2014. 
  21. ^ a b c Summers, Jr., Sr Amn Eric (2010-04-27). "447th Transition of Authority". 447th Air Expeditionary Group Public Affairs. Retrieved January 18, 2014. 
  22. ^ Maurer, Combat Units, p. 376
  23. ^ Maurer, Combat Units, p. 383
  24. ^ Maurer, Combat Units, p. 414
  25. ^ Ravenstein, Charles A. (1984). Air Force Combat Wings, Lineage & Honors Histories 1947-1977 (PDF). Washington, DC: Office of Air Force History. p. 130. ISBN 0-912799-12-9. 
  26. ^ Exact dates of squadron activations and inactivations, if different than the group, have not been publicly disclosed
  27. ^ Station number in 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. Retrieved July 7, 2012. 
  28. ^ a b c d "Air Force Recognition Programs". Air Force Personnel Center. Retrieved January 18, 2014. 


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

External links[edit]