461st Operations Group

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For additional lineage and history information, see the 461st Air Control Wing
461st Operations Group
E-8(021220-F-2034C-014).jpg
Active 1943–1945, 1953-1958, 2011-
Country  United States
Branch  United States Air Force
Role Air Control
Part of Air Combat Command
Garrison/HQ Robins Air Force Base
Nickname(s) Liberaiders (World War II)[citation needed]
Motto(s) Al Ataque French On the Attack[citation needed]
Engagements Mediterranean Theater of Operations
Decorations Distinguished Unit Citation
Insignia
461st Operations Group emblem[1][note 1] 461st Air Control Wing.jpg
461st Bombardment Group emblem 461st Bombardment Group - Emblem.png

The 461st Operations Group is a joint Air Force/Army unit flying the Northrop Grumman E-8 Joint STARS aircraft. The group is assigned to the 461st Air Control Wing of Air Combat Command and is stationed at Robins Air Force Base, Georgia. It was most recently activated on 1 Oct 2011.

The group was originally activated in 1943 as the 461st Bombardment Group (Heavy) as a World War II United States Army Air Forces combat organization. The highly decorated unit served primarily in the Mediterranean, African, and The Middle East Theater of World War II.

Later activated as a tactical bomber unit by Tactical Air Command in the 1950s, the group was designated the 461st Bombardment Group, Tactical.

Mission[edit]

The 461 OG is the only active duty Air Force unit operating the E-8C Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System (Joint STARS), an advanced ground surveillance and battle management system. Joint STARS detects, locates, classifies, tracks and targets ground movements on the battlefield, communicating real-time information through secure data links with U.S. Forces command posts.

History[edit]

World War II[edit]

461st Bombardment Group B-24 Liberators attacking Muhldorf Marshalling Yard Germany, 11 March 1945

The group was constituted in May 1943 as a B-24 Liberator heavy bombardment group and activated on 1 July at Wendover Field, Utah.[2] It trained under II Bomber Command at several airfields in Utah, Idaho, and California, with group elements undergoing combat simulation training at the Army Air Force School of Applied Tactics in Florida.

The 461st deployed to the Mediterranean Theater of Operations (MTO) in February 1944, the air echelon flying B-24's via the South Atlantic transport route, stopping in North Africa before joining the ground echelon in Italy.[2] It was assigned to the 49th Bombardment Wing of Fifteenth Air Force at Torretto Airfield, Italy, in late February.

The group began combat operations in April, engaging in long range strategic bombardment operations of Nazi Germany and Occupied Europe. It engaged chiefly in bombardment of communications, industries, and other strategic objectives in Italy, France, Germany, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Austria, Romania, Yugoslavia, and Greece.[2] It supported Fifteenth AF's counter-air operations by bombing enemy airdromes and aircraft centers, receiving a Distinguished Unit Citation (DUC) for a mission on 13 April 1944 when the group battled its way through enemy defenses to attack an aircraft components plant in Budapest.[2] The 461st BG conducted Oil Campaign of World War II operations against Brux, Blechhammer, Moosbierbaum, Vienna, and Ploiești; receiving a second DUC for a July 1944 bombing of Ploiești despite flak, clouds, smoke, and fighters. Also operated in support of ground forces and flew some interdictory missions.[2]

It hit artillery positions in support of the invasion of Southern France in August 1944 and flew supply missions to France in September. The group aided the Allied offensive in Italy in April 1945 by attacking gun emplacements and troop concentrations. After the German Capitulation, the 461st dropped supplies to prisoner-of-war camps in Austria during May 1945.[2] During its operations in the Mediterranean, the group suffered 108 aircraft lost in combat, and was credited with the destruction of 129 enemy aircraft.[3] It dropped over 13,000 tons of bombs in over 46,000 hours of combat flying.[3]

The group was alerted for redeployment to the Pacific Theater in June 1945 and was programmed for Very Heavy bomber training with B-29 Superfortresses. The unit returned to the United States in July; many personnel being demobilized upon arrival. A small cadre formed at Sioux Falls Army Air Field, South Dakota and unit was awaiting new personnel and aircraft when the Japanese capitulation ended the Pacific War in August. The group was inactivated on 18 August.

Tactical Air Command[edit]

461st Bombardment Wing Martin B-57B-MA 53-3934, 1956

The unit was reactivated as the 461st Bombardment Group, Light and assigned to the 461st Bombardment Wing. It was initially equipped with World War II era B-26B Invader light bombers.[2] This aircraft assignment was temporary until the unit received jet-powered Martin B-57 Canberras[4] and moved to a permanent base at Blytheville AFB, Arkansas.[2] After three years of service with the B-57s the group was inactivated at the beginning of 1958 as TAC reorganized under the dual deputy system and its squadrons were transferred directly to the wing.

Lineage[edit]

  • Constituted as 461st Bombardment Group (Heavy) on 19 May 1943
Activated on 1 July 1943
Redesignated as 461st Bombardment Group, Heavy in 1944
Inactivated on 18 August 1945
  • Established as 461st Bombardment Group, Light on 11 December 1953
Activated on 23 December 1953
Redesignated: 461st Bombardment Group, Tactical on 1 October 1955
Inactivated on 8 January 1958
  • Redesignated 461st Operations Group on 1 September 2011
Activated on 1 October 2011[1]

Assignments[edit]

Components[edit]

Stations[edit]

Aircraft[edit]

Awards and Campaigns[edit]

Award streamer Award Dates Notes
Streamer PUC Army.PNG Distinguished Unit Citation 13 April 1944 Budapest, Hungary[2]
Streamer PUC Army.PNG Distinguished Unit Citation 15 July 1944 Ploiești, Romania[2]

Manual campaign table

Campaign Streamer Campaign Dates Notes
European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal streamer.png European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal Air Combat EAME Theater[2]
European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal streamer.png European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal Rome-Arno[2]
European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal streamer.png European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal Air Offensive, Europe[2]
European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal streamer.png European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal Normandy[2]
European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal streamer.png European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal Northern France[2]
European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal streamer.png European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal Southern France[2]
European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal streamer.png European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal North Apennines[2]
European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal streamer.png European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal Rhineland[2]
European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal streamer.png European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal Po Valley[2]

References[edit]

Notes
  1. ^ The group uses the wing emblem with the group designation on the scroll. Air Force Instruction 84-105, Organizational Lineage, Honors and Heraldry, 19 March 2013, para 3.3.3
Citations
  1. ^ a b c d e f Robertson, Patsy (April 9, 2012). "Factsheet 461 Operations Group (ACC)". Air Force Historical Research Agency. Retrieved November 22, 2016. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s Maurer, Combat Units, pp. 335-337
  3. ^ a b Statistical Summary of Operations 1943-1945 (accessed Oct 20, 2012)
  4. ^ Ravenstein, p. 255

Bibliography[edit]

 This article incorporates public domain material from the Air Force Historical Research Agency website http://www.afhra.af.mil/.

Further reading

External links[edit]