911th Air Refueling Squadron
|911th Air Refueling Squadron|
The 911th Air Refueling Squadron
|Active||May 15, 1917 - April 14, 1919
May 24, 1923 - October 1, 1933
March 1, 1935 - April 15, 1946
December 1, 1958 - June 8, 2007
April 12, 2008 - Present
|Branch||United States Air Force|
|Part of||Air Mobility Command
18th Air Force
6th Air Mobility Wing
6th Operations Group
|Garrison/HQ||Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, North Carolina|
|Decorations||Distinguished Unit Citation
Air Force Outstanding Unit Award
|911th Air Refueling Squadron emblem|
The 911th Air Refueling Squadron (911 ARS) is part of the 6th Air Mobility Wing at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida. The squadron is geographically separated from the 6th wing and operates as the active duty associate to the 916th Air Refueling Wing at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, North Carolina.
The squadron is one of the oldest in the United States Air Force. Its origins date to 15 May 1917, when it was organized at Kelly Field, Texas. It served in France as part of the 3d Aviation Instructional Center, American Expeditionary Forces, as a pilot training squadron during World War I.
The squadron was activated between the wars. After the attack on Pearl Harbor it flew antisubmarine patrols in the Gulf of Mexico and off the Atlantic Coast. It then became a heavy bomber training unit until 1944. In 1944 it converted to Boeing B-29 Superfortresses and saw combat in the Pacific during World War II
- 1 Overview
- 2 History
- 2.1 World War I
- 2.2 Inter-war years
- 2.3 World War II
- 2.4 Strategic Air Command
- 2.5 Modern era
- 2.6 Operations and Decorations
- 2.7 Lineage
- 2.8 Assignments
- 2.9 Stations
- 2.10 Aircraft
- 3 See also
- 4 References
- 5 External links
The 911th Air Refueling Squadron is presently the fifth oldest active squadron in the United States Air Force. It was formed on 15 May 1917, less than a month after the United States' entry into World War I. Members of the squadron participated in World War I, World War II, Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom.
World War I
The 911th Air Refueling Squadron traces its origins to early May 1917 when newly arrived recruits arrived at Kelly Field, Texas and were formed into 1st Company "B", 1st Regiment, Kelly Field. On 15 May it was redesignated as the 16th Aero Squadron. However, on 13 June it was again redesignated as the 21st Aero Squadron.
When the first soldiers arrived at Kelly, there were no tents or cots for them so they slept on the ground. When the first tents arrived, the men were assigned locations for them and pitched them. The men received their indoctrination into the Army as soldiers, standing guard duty and other rudimentary duties. The lack of sanitary facilities and of uniforms meant most men worked in the civilian clothing they arrived in. They slept in them without bathing until latrines and washing facilities were constructed. The men dug ditches for water mains and erected wooden buildings for barracks. On 4 August, the squadron was ordered to proceed to Scott Field, near Belleville, Illinois, arriving on the 11th. There the squadron worked with the 11th Aero Squadron, preparing the field for training. Training was received in various aircraft engines, and the men were classified as mechanics.
In November the squadron received orders for overseas duty, however an epidemic of sickness put the 21st into quarantine status. It remained quarantined until 21 December when it was cleared by the medical department to move to the Aviation Concentration Center, Garden City, Long Island, arriving on the 23d. It was not long before the squadron was ordered to proceed to the Port of Embarkation at Hoboken, New Jersey, where the squadron sailed for France on 4 January, arriving at Saint-Nazaire on the 17th. After a few days at a rest camp, it traveled by train to the Air Service Replacement Concentration Center, located at the St. Maixent Replacement Barracks, arriving on 23 January. The 21st was classified as a school squadron, and was ordered to proceed to the 3d Aviation Instructional Center (3d AIC) at Issoudun Aerodrome. It arrived at Issoudun on 21 February.
3d Air Instructional Center
The 3d AIC was established by the Training Section, American Expeditionary Forces (AEF) to train pursuit (fighter) pilots prior to their assignment to combat on the front. The 21st Aero Squadron (School), was assigned to Field #7, where Nieuport 28 aircraft were used for formation flying training. On 18 March, it moved to the main camp, where Fields #1, #2 and #3 were used for initial training in Nieuport 15s and 18s and 21s. When additional squadrons of mechanics arrived, the 21st concentrated at Field #3 and on maintaining the school's Nieuport 21s. The field strngth grew until nearly 100 airplanes were in use, with solo flying, cross country, and basic aerobatics being taught. The squadron handled all of this. The 21st efficiency was commented on by the Post Commander when a record was established with 69 launches on one day, with several hundred hours of flying recorded. Training was given to many members of the pursuit squadrons of the First Army Air Service as they arrived in France; and beginning in August 1918, to new pilots for the planned Second Army Air Service began to arrive for training.
At the time of the Armistice on 11 November, the men of the 21st Aero Squadron remained on duty completing the training of the pilots assigned to Field #3. Although it did not enter combat, the unit trained the men who went to the front and gave them the best of training so they might accomplish their work. 
The AEF was notoriously slow in returning men to the United States after the end of hostilities, and men who served on the front had priority over those who served in the rear areas. The 21st, therefore, remained at Issoudun until January 1919 when orders were received to proceed to the 1st Air Depot, Colombey-les-Belles Airdrome, France, for demobilization. From Colombey, the squadron moved to a staging camp under the Services of Supply at Bordeaux, waiting for a date to board a troop ship for transportation home. On 18 March, the squadron boarded a troop ship, arriving in New York on 5 April. From there, the 21st moved to Hazelhurst Field, New York where the men were demobilized and returned to civilian life. The 21st Aero Squadron itself was demobilized on 14 April.
On 24 March 1923, the World War I 21st Aero Squadron was reconstituted into the permanent United States Army Air Service as the 21st Observation Squadron. The Army activated the unit in the Organized Reserve, and assigned it to the 9th Observation Group in the Sixth Corps Area. The 21st was designated as an Active Associate Unit for the 15th Observation Squadron, at Chanute Field, Illinois. In 1927 it was withdrawn from the Sixth Corps Area and reassigned to the Fourth Corps Area in Florida and reassigned to support training at Carlstrom Field, Florida. In 1928, it was moved to the Eighth Corps Area at Dodd Field, Texas, but it was never fully organized as a Regular Army Inactive unit. It was disbanded in the reserve on 1 October 1933.
The 21st was returned to active status on 1 March 1935 at Bolling Field, District of Columbia as the 21st Observation Squadron (Long Range Amphibian). It was assigned to the 2d Wing at Bolling. The 21st Observation Squadron flew light reconnaissance aircraft in support of Army maneuvers primarily in northern Virginia. The squadron operated land-based aircraft as well as amphibian seaplanes using the Potomac River for landings/takeoffs. In 1936 it moved to Langley Field, Virginia and expanded to using heavier attack aircraft as well as medium bombers flying neutrality, sea search, and weather reconnaissance missions. 
It was redesignated a long range reconnaissance squadron and received early model Boeing B-17C/D Flying Fortresses and Douglas B-18 Bolos in 1939 and moved to several locations along the Atlantic Coast, flying coastal patrol missions. On 3 September 1941 it was assigned to the 29th Bombardment Group at MacDill Field, Florida, flying antisubmarine patrols from various locations in south Florida over the Gulf of Mexico and the Florida Straits along the Atlantic Coast.
World War II
Heavy Bomber training
On 1 February 1942, the 21st was assigned to the 29th Bombardment Group. In June 1942, I Bomber Command took over the antisubmarine mission and the 21st was reassigned to II Bomber Command as a B-17 Flying Fortress heavy bomber training squadron. It was redesignated as the 411th Bombardment Squadron and moved to Gowen Field, Idaho. At Gowen Field, the squadron was classified as an Operational Training Unit (OTU), training newly formed B-17 squadrons prior to their deployment overseas. In 1943, training was switched to the Consolidated B-24 Liberator, and the squadron became a Replacement Training Unit (RTU) training individual crew members prior to their deployment to combat units overseas as replacement personnel. In a reorganization of training units on 1 April 1944, the 411th was inactivated and replaced by "Squadron D, 40th Army Air Forces Base Unit".
B-29 Superfortress operations against Japan
The 411th Bombardment Squadron was reactivated on 1 June 1944 as part of the new 502d Bombardment Group (Very Heavy), and began training as a Boeing B-29 Superfortress squadron at Pratt Army Air Field, Kansas. After a month of flying B-17 Flying Fortresses (no training B-29s were yet available), it moved to Davis-Monthan Field, Arizona where the unit was equipped with some early model B-29s and joined the rest of the 502d, which was already training in Arizona. It moved with the group to Dalhart Army Air Field, Texas, where it trained before moving to Grand Island Army Air Field, Nebraska where it was equipped with new B-29B Superfortresses. The B-29B was a limited production aircraft, optimized for low-level night bombing missions. B-29Bs were stripped of most defensive guns to increase speed and bomb load, The tail gun was aimed and fired automatically by the new AN/APG-15B radar fire control system that detected the approaching enemy plane and made all the necessary calculations for aiming the guns.
After completion of training the squadron deployed to the central Pacific Area, and became part of XXI Bomber Command at Northwest Field (Guam) for operational missions. The mission of the squadron was the strategic bombardment of the Japanese Home Islands. It entered combat on 16 June 1945 with a bombing raid against an airfield on Moen. It flew its first mission against the Japanese home islands on 26 June 1945 and afterwards operated principally against the enemy's petroleum industry. The squadron primarily flew low-level, fast attacks at night using a mixture of high-explosive and incendiary bombs to attack targets.
The 411th flew its last combat mission on 15 August 1945. It later flew in a "Show of Force" mission on 2 September 1945 over Tokyo Bay during the formal Japanese surrender. It was inactivated on Guam 15 April 1946 and its personnel returned to the United States and its aircraft were sent to storage in Southwest United States.
Strategic Air Command
The 911 Air Refueling Squadron, Heavy was organized on 1 December 1958 at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, North Carolina. The squadron was equipped with first generation Boeing KC-135A Stratotankers as part of the 4241st Strategic Wing, a dispersed Strategic Air Command (SAC) Cold War wing formed to spread its Boeing B-52 Stratofortress heavy bombers over a larger number of bases, thus making it more difficult for the Soviet Union to knock out the entire fleet with a surprise first strike. The wing was equipped with the B-52G. The squadron flew worldwide training missions with the KC-135s until 15 April 1963 when the 4241st was inactivated, and the 911th was transferred to the 68th Bombardment Wing, which replaced the 4241st wing at Seymour Johnson AFB.
Beginning on 1 May 1972, the 911th deployed to Andersen Air Force Base, Guam and was attached to the Strategic Wing, Provisional,72. Its mission was to support B-52 long-range air strikes over Southeast Asia with air refueling. It remained at Andersen supporting that mission until withdrawn in July 1973, returning to Seymour Johnson.
On 19 September 1985 the 911th was consolidated with the 411th Bombardment Squadron, giving the squadron a lineage and history dating to May 1917. Also in 1985, the squadron traded in its KC-135As and received KC-10 Extenders. Peacetime training missions continued until October 1989 when it supported tactical air operations as part of Operation Just Cause, the United States invasion of Panama. During the 1991 Gulf War, aircraft and crews from the squadron were attached to the 1710th Air Refueling Wing (Provisional), at King Abdul Aziz Air Base, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. It operated from 31 December 1990-March 1991 from its forward deployed base in Saudi Arabia, then returned to Seymour Johnson.
On 22 April 1991, the squadron was transferred to the Tactical Air Command (TAC) 4th Operations Group at Seymour Johnson, becoming part of the composite 4th Wing when SAC pulled out of Seymour Johnson AFB. With the inactivation of SAC and TAC in June 1992, Air Combat Command (ACC) began a reorganization of its air refueling assets and moved the refueling component out of the 4th Wing. The 911th was reassigned to the 319th Operations Group at Grand Forks Air Force Base, North Dakota as part of the 319th Air Refueling Wing of Air Mobility Command (AMC). With the move to the 319th, the 911th converted from the KC-10 to the KC-135R Stratotanker.
With the 319th the 911th supported operations in the Balkans during the 1990s and deployed frequently to Saudi Arabia and Turkey in support of Operation Northern Watch and Operation Southern Watch over Iraq.
After the 11 September 2001 attacks, the 911th contributed personnel and aircraft to the 319th Air Expeditionary Group. It was deployed to a makeshift tent city somewhere in the arid desert of Southwest Asia. From the start of air operations over Afghanistan 7 October to 2 November 2001 the 319th had flown over 150 sorties and more than 1050 hours; pumping over 1.4 million US gallons (5,300 m3) of gas into more than 450 planes. The squadron remained in a partially deployed state, supporting Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom throughout the 2000s. Due to budgetary reductions, the 911th was inactivated on 30 June 2007.
The 911th Air Refueling Squadron was reactivated on 12 April 2008 at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base as a geographically separated unit, the second KC-135 squadron of the 6th Air Mobility Wing at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida. With its return to its long-time base at Seymour Johnson, the squadron became an "Active Associate" unit with the Air Force Reserve 77th Air Refueling Squadron of the 916th Air Refueling Wing. Today, the 77th shares its KC-135R/T aircraft with the 911th Air Refueling Squadron and personnel operating between the two squadrons. 
Operations and Decorations
- Combat Operations: Antisubmarine patrols, Dec 1941-Jan 1942 Combat in Western Pacific, 23 Jun-14 Aug 1945.
- Campaigns: Antisubmarine, American Theater; Air Offensive; Japan; Eastern Mandates; Western Pacific; Operation Desert Storm; Operation Southern Watch; Operation Provide Comfort; Operation Deliberate Force; Operation Northern Viking; Operation Noble Eagle; Operation Enduring Freedom; Operation Iraqi Freedom
- Decorations: Distinguished Unit Citation, Japan 6-13 Jul 1945
- Organized as 1st Company "B", 1st Regiment, Kelly Field in early May 1917
- Redesignated 16th Aero Squadron on 15 May 1917
- Redesignated 21st Aero Squadron on 13 June 1917
- Demobilized on 14 April 1919
- Reconstituted, and redesignated 21st Observation Squadron, on 24 March 1923
- Activated in the reserve as associate to: 15th Observation Squadron
- Disbanded on 1 October 1933
- Constituted as the 21st Observation Squadron (Long Range Amphibian), on 1 March 1935
- Redesignated as 21st Reconnaissance Squadron on 1 September 1936
- Consolidated with the 21st Observation Squadron on 2 December 1936
- Redesignated 21st Reconnaissance Squadron (Long Range) on 6 December 1939
- Redesignated 21st Reconnaissance Squadron (Heavy) on 20 November 1940
- Redesignated 411th Bombardment Squadron (Heavy) on 22 April 1942
- Redesignated 411th Bombardment Squadron, Very Heavy, on 28 March 1944
- Inactivated on 1 April 1944
- Activated on 1 April 1944
- Inactivated on 10 May 1944
- Activated on 1 June 1944
- Inactivated on 15 April 1946
- Consolidated on 19 September 1985 with the 911th Air Refueling Squadron as the 911th Air Refueling Squadron
- Constituted as the 911th Air Refueling Squadron, Heavy on 28 May 1958
- Activated on 1 December 1958
- Consolidated on 19 September 1985 with the 411th Bombardment Squadron
- Redesignated 911th Air Refueling Squadron on 1 July 1992
- Inactivated on 30 Jun 2007
- Activated on 12 Apr 2008
- Series "E", Volume 4, History of the 16th-21st Aero Squadrons. Gorrell's History of the American Expeditionary Forces Air Service, 1917–1919, National Archives, Washington, D.C.
- Series "D", Weekly Statistical Reports of Air Service Activities, October 1918-May 1919. Gorrell's History of the American Expeditionary Forces Air Service, 1917–1919, National Archives, Washington, D.C.
- Clay, Steven E. (2011). US Army Order of Battle 1919-1941. 3 The Services: Air Service, Engineers, and Special Troops 1919-1941. Fort Leavenworth, KS: Combat Studies Institute Press. ISBN 978-0-98419-014-0. LCCN 2010022326. OCLC 637712205. Retrieved October 16, 2012.
- AFHRA 911th Air Refueling Squadron
- It had been attached to the group since 1941
- 911th Air Refueling Squadron deactivation at Grand Forks AFB
- 911th Air Refueling Squadron activation at Seymour Johnson AFB