The 12th Operations Group is the flying component of the 12th Flying Training Wing of United States Air Force's Air Education and Training Command. The group headquarters is located at Randolph Air Force Base, Texas. . The unit's main missions include aircraft instructor pilot training in Beechcraft T-6 Texan II, Northrop T-38C Talon and Raytheon T-1 Jayhawk aircraft, Air Force and Navy undergraduate combat systems officer training and fighter fundamentals student pilot instructor training in the Northrop AT-38C.
|12th Operations Group|
|Active||1941–1946; 1947–1948; 1950–1952; 1991–present|
|Branch||United States Air Force|
|Part of||Air Education and Training Command|
|Garrison/HQ||Randolph Air Force Base|
|Motto(s)||Spiritus Omnia Vincet Latin The Spirit Conquers All|
|Engagements||Mediterranean Theater of Operations|
|Decorations||Distinguished Unit Citation|
Air Force Outstanding Unit Award
|12th Operations Group emblem[note 3]|
|12th Bombardment Group emblem (approved 3 February 1942)|
The group was first activated in January 1941 as the 12th Bombardment Group. After training and flying antisubmarine patrols off the Pacific Coast, moved to Egypt in July 1942. In the Mediterranean Theater of Operations, it took part in the Western Desert campaign and Italian campaign, earning a Distinguished Unit Citation. In 1944, it moved to the China Burma India Theater and participated in the Burma campaign before the war's end. The unit returned to the United States in January 1946 and was inactivated on arriving at the port of embarkation.
The group was briefly active in 1947 to 1948, but was not manned or equipped due to budgetary restrictions. It was activated on 1 November 1950 as the 12th Fighter-Escort Group, but transferred its resources to the 12th Fighter-Escort Wing in February 1951 and was inactivated in June 1952 as Strategic Air Command adopted the dual deputy organization.
With the implementation of the Objective Wing Organization, the unit was activated on 15 December 1991, as the 12th Operations Group and assigned to the 12th Flying Training Wing.
The group contains seven squadrons(Tail Code: RA):
The group was first activated as the 12th Bombardment Group at McChord Field, Washington on 15 January 1941 as the United States began building up its armed forces after the beginning of World War II in Europe, drawing its initial cadre from the 17th Bombardment Group. The 81st, 82d, and 83d Bombardment Squadrons were the group's first components, while the 19th Reconnaissance Squadron was attached to the 12th. Although designated a light bomber group, the unit was initially equipped with a mix of Douglas B-18 Bolo and Douglas B-23 Dragon medium bombers and a few Stearman PT-17 trainers. In August 1941, the Air Corps converted its reconnaissance squadrons attached to light bomber groups and the 19th Reconnaissance Squadron became the 94th Bombardment Squadron and was assigned to the group.
At the time of the Japanese Attack on Pearl Harbor, The 12th was the only Air Corps bombardment group on the Pacific Coast north of the San Francisco Bay area and the group began flying antisubmarine patrols and watching for signs of an invasion. At the end of December 1941, the group was designated a medium bomber unit, consistent with its equipment. This resulted in the 94th Squadron again becoming a reconnaissance unit, as the 94th Reconnaissance Squadron. In February, the group moved to Esler Field, Louisiana, where it began converting to the North American B-25 Mitchell. With the Mitchells, the 94th resumed the bombardment mission, this time as the 434th Bombardment Squadron in April. In early May, the group deployed to Stockton Army Air Field, California, where half its crews stood alert during daylight hours. After the defeat of the Japanese Navy in the Battle of Midway, the group returned to Esler Field.
In June 1942, while in the United States for a conference with President Franklin D. Roosevelt, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill received word that the British Eighth Army had been defeated in a tank battle with Field Marshal Erwin Rommel's Afrika Korps near Tobruk, Libya, and was retreating back toward Alexandria, Egypt. Churchill immediately made an urgent plea for military aid to help stop Rommel from over-running Egypt, the Suez Canal and the Arabian oil fields. The United States dispatched the 12th and two other groups to the Middle East to reinforce the British forces there.
The 12th was the second of the three groups to leave the United States. Between 14 July and 2 August, aircrews departed Morrison Field, Florida for Egypt via the South Atlantic ferry route to Egypt by way of Brazil, Ascension Island, across Africa to the Sudan, and then north to Egypt. by mid-August, all crews had arrived in Egypt without a single loss. Ground personnel of all three groups and supporting units sailed from New York City on 16 July 1942 on the SS Pasteur, a fast French ocean liner that had been impressed by the British, for a month-long trip around South Africa and up the Red Sea to Suez, Egypt, arriving on 16 August 1942.
As soon as they arrived in Egypt, group headquarters and the 81st and 82d Squadrons moved to RAF Deversoir, while the 83d and 434th Squadrons were at RAF Ismailia, about 15 miles apart on the Suez Canal. It began training with Royal Air Force (RAF) and South African Air Force Boston[note 4] units in desert warfare tactics and navigation. A month of training included five combat missions in combined formations with the Bostons. The group flew its first mission on its own on 31 August against enemy airfields at Daba (LG 105) and Fuka (LG 17) and port facilities at Matruh, Egypt.
The group's first missions were night attacks. However, the lack of flame dampeners on its Mitchells made them easy targets for flak defenses and night fighters. Losses, which included the group commander, Colonel Goodrich, caused the withdrawal of the unit from night operations until its planes could be modified with "finger exhausts". The unit's first missions were flown to support forces opposing Rommel's final effort to break through to the Suez Canal at the Battle of Alam Halfa between 31 August and 4 September 1942. These missions helped the British Eighth Army repel the Afrika Corps attacks. Rommel attributed this defeat to air attacks enabled by the air superiority established by the RAF and Allied forces Both Allied and enemy forces had learned that the open nature of the western desert made it easy to disperse armored forces, making pinpoint bombing ineffective. As a result, the group adopted the RAF tactic of pattern bombing. Group Mitchells would fly at medium altitude, flying spaced apart to saturate a target area with bombs spaced to damage any vehicles or other objectives in a defined target area.
During the battles in north Africa, the RAF had established numerous Landing Grounds, identified by LG plus a number. These stretched across northern Egypt and Libya and were used by both sides as the front moved. These landing grounds had no defined runways, and as many as eighteen bombers could take off at the same time, headed directly into the wind. In early October, intelligence reports reported that Regia Aeronautica and Luftwaffe airplanes at two of these landing grounds, near Daba (LG 105) and Qattafa (LG 104), had been trapped by heavy rains. The 12th Group and RAF forces attacked the airfields on 9 October, destroying ten enemy aircraft and damaging an additional 22.
A few days later, the operational elements of the group, consisting of the combat crews and a few essential ground personnel needed to keep the B-25s flying, began flying missions from LG 88, about 20 miles from the front lines. This move made them immediately available for strikes requested by the Eighth Army. The bulk of each squadron and headquarters remained behind at their bases near the Suez Canal. Operations from LG 88 began on the night of 19/20 October, just before the Second Battle of El Alamein began on 23 October with a tremendous artillery bombardment. The 12th Group began a week-long shuttle missions, attacking targets phoned in to Eighth Army Air Liaison Officers attached to the group. Eighteen ship formations took off or landed every half-hour during daylight on 24 October. There was little rest as ground crews rushed to refuel, reload bombs and ammunition, and patch flak holes, with operations peaking on 27 October. By 4 November, Rommel began withdraw and main targets became columns of tanks, trucks and troops retreating to the west. Group operational elements advanced to new Landing Grounds to keep up with ground troops, sometimes having to ferry munitions from their old bases to their new stations. Support equipment could not keep up with this rapid advance, and the forward elements depended on commandeered German and Italian materiel until rains bogged down the advance, permitting Rommel to withdraw to Tunisia.
By 14 December, the advanced elements of the group were operating from Magrun Landing Ground (LG 142), also called Gambut No. 2, a satellite of RAF Gambut (LG 139), stretching the group over 1200 miles of north Africa. The new base was within range of German bases on Crete, and a raid was planned for 2 January 1943. However to reach this target, dust filters had to be removed from the attack force's engines to increase range. Just as the Mitchells were taking off, a dust storm hit the Landing Ground and only twelve planes were able to fly the mission, which had little effect on enemy forces.
American forces under General Dwight D. Eisenhower landed in Algeria and Morocco, and were met by German divisions under Rommel's command. The situation became desperate as they drove the Americans back through the Kasserine Pass. To reinforce Twelfth Air Force, the 81st and 82d Squadrons of the 12th Group were dispatched to reinforce the 310th Bombardment Group at Berteaux Airfield, Algeria on 3 and 4 February 1943. These two squadrons continued operating under the Twelfth Air Force until the fall of Tunis in May 1943, when they were returned to the group. Meanwhile, the 83d and 434th Squadrons helped break up an attack along the Mareth Line. After the fall of Tunis, the 12th was reunited at Hergla Airfield, Tunisia, and all of the personnel of its squadrons were together again for the first time since their advance parties moved out into the desert eight months earlier.
The group's actions during the north African campaign earned it a Distinguished Unit Citation for its operations from primitive landing grounds under difficult weather and terrain conditions and, despite repeated enemy attacks on its advanced positions and limited resources, mad a major contribution to the defeat of enemy forces in the Middle East.
From Hergla, the group attacked targets on Pantellaria and Sicily. Little more than a month later, Operation Husky, the invasion of Sicily, was executed and the 12th flew missions supporting the advances on that island. The group's advance party boarded LSTs for Licata Sicily, where they set up their first base in Europe at Ponte Olivo Airfield, flying the group's first mission from Italy on 5 August. An attack on Randazzo on 13 August was the last significant action of the 12th as part of the Ninth Air Force, which moved to England, while the 12th became part of Twelfth Air Force. Major personnel changes occurred as most of the group's aircrews had served enough time in theater that they were rotated back to the United States and replaced by new aircrews fresh from the States.[note 5] Later in August, the group moved to Gerbini Airfield on Sicily, from which it struck bridges, tunnels and other targets to support Operation Baytown, the invasion of southern Italy. In September, the group flew missions every day to support the foothold around Salerno established during Operation Avalanche.
The group began operating out of Foggia Airfield, Italy in November 1943. The 12th attacked German targets in support of the American Fifth Army, and in eastern Italy supporting the British Eighth Army. It attacked aerodromes, docks, marshaling yards, bridges, and other targets in Italyand the Balkans.
Shortly after the group's combat elements moved to Gaudo Airfield in January 1944, the group was directed to prepare for movement out of the Mediterranean Theater. On 8 February, the group sailed on the SS Dilwara and the MS Batory from Taranto. Although some in the group hoped the move was a withdrawal from combat, the ships sailed east, passing through the Suez Canal on the way to India.
The 12th Group moved to India to help the British Fourteenth Army repel a Japanese invasion from Burma toward Imphal, threatening the whole subcontinent and the Indian Ocean. The group's advance element arrived at Bombay on 12 March 1944, and after a four-day train trip to Calcutta and a day on a river boat to Dacca in eastern Bengal, group headquarters and the 81st and 82d Squadrons were established at Tezgaon Airfield, India, while the 83d and 434th Squadrons were at Kurmitola Airfield. The rear echelon of the unit did not arrive at the new bases in India until 24 April. In April, new B-25H[note 6] and B-25J models began to arrive. The group equipped each of its squadrons with a 50/50 mix of the two models.[note 7]
The 12th flew its first mission as part of Tenth Air Force, bombing Japanese supply dumps at Mogaung, Burma, on 16 April 1944. The lessened threat of flak in the new theater and added firepower of the updated Mitchells the group now flew resulted in a change of tactics. Rather than the medium altitude pattern bombing the group specialized in the Mediterranean, the group now focused on low altitude bombing and strafing.
In April, Japanese forces that had broken out of the Burma mountains the previous month surrounded two Indian divisions at Imphal. The British still controlled the Imphal Airfield, however, and the 12th flew ammunition to the besieged troops, unloading the ammunition carried in the bomb bays of its Mitchells. The "ammo" runs continued for three weeks, until British forces repelled the Japanese invasion of India.
In June, the group and two squadrons moved to Pandaveswar Airfield, India, while the 81st and 434th Squadrons moved to nearby Madhaiganj Airfield. This move added to the distance the group had to fly when attacking targets in Burma, sometimes requiring returning bombers to land at Comilla Airfield to refuel on their return flight. The logistics problems created by this move was lessened when the group moved to Fenny Airfield, while the 434th began to operate from Comilla. This reduced the distance to most targets in Burma, but the group also flew missions to targets in northern Burma that tested the range of their B-25s. The first of these missions flown from Fenny was to Myitkyina to support Merrill's Marauders on 26 July.
After some vicious fighting, the British captured Meiktila on 3 March and swept down the road to Mandalay, which was defended by 400-year-old Fort Dufferin complete with high thick walls and a wide moat. The 12th was called upon to bomb the fort on 9 March 1945, which they did successfully with 2000-pound bombs dropped from 200 feet by four Mitchells, followed by attacks from 6000 feet by another squadron, and a 35-ship blasting of the entire area of the fort to complete the job.
The last major mission of the 12th was an overnight where the crews spent the night under the wings of their B-25s at Rameree, near Rangoon, and took off the next morning to bomb Ban-Takli airfield north of Bangkok, Thailand. The group began to equip with Douglas A-26 Invaders and were still training when the war ended. The group's aircrews flew the A-26s to Frankfurt, Germany, and the rest of the group waited at Fenny Airfield until they went to Karachi Airport in December to return to the United States.
On return to United States in January 1946, the 12th Bombardment Group was inactivated at the port of embarkation.
The unit was again designated the 12th Bombardment Group, Light and was activated on 19 May 1947 under Tactical Air Command as part of the Air Force's expansion to its peacetime goal of 70 combat groups. Although nominally stationed at Langley Air Force Base, Virginia, the unit was neither manned or equipped and only existed on paper. President Truman's reduced 1949 defense budget required reductions in the number of Air Force groups to 48, and the 12th was inactivated on 10 September 1948.
The 12th Fighter-Escort Group was activated at Turner Air Force Base, Georgia on 1 November 1950 as the flying element of the 12th Fighter-Escort Wing under the wing base organization system. The 559th, 560th and 561st Fighter-Escort Squadrons were assigned to the group.[note 9] The group's mission was to fly fighter escort for Strategic Air Command strategic bombers.
As the group was organizing, the 27th Fighter-Escort Wing at Bergstrom Air Force Base, Texas deployed to Japan. The 12th Group moved to Bergstrom in December, and was filled out by personnel from the 27th that had not deployed and personnel that had been transferred from the 31st Fighter-Escort Group at Turner. On 12 December the group received its first Republic F-84E Thunderjets. These aircraft, however, were rejected as Republic Aviation had equipped them with an engine that was incapable of supporting the extended bomber escort missions projected by SAC.
Strategic Air Command (SAC)'s mobilization for the Korean War highlighted that SAC wing commanders focused too much on running the base organization and were not spending enough time on overseeing combat preparations. To allow wing commanders the ability to focus on combat operations, the air base group commander became responsible for managing the base housekeeping functions. Under the plan finalized in June 1952, the wing commander focused primarily on the combat units and the maintenance necessary to support combat aircraft by having the combat and maintenance squadrons report directly to the wing and eliminating the intermediate group structures. In February 1951, the group's three squadrons were attached to the wing and the group was reduced to paper status. When the reorganization was finalized, the group was inactivated and the squadrons reassigned.
The group was reactivated at Randolph Air Force Base, Texas on 9 December 1991 as the 12th Operations Group and assigned to the 12th Flying Training Wing as part of the Objective Wing reorganization by the Air Force. The new group performed flight screening and undergraduate pilot training. Due to impending closure of Mather Air Force Base, California, in 1992 group assumed undergraduate navigator training which was moved from Mather. Also, conducted specialized undergraduate pilot training. In 1995, began transition to joint navigator training.
|Distinguished Unit Citation||October 1942 – 17 August 1943||12th Bombardment Group|
|Air Force Outstanding Unit Award||15 December 1991 – 31 December 1991||12th Operations Group|
|Air Force Outstanding Unit Award||1 January 1992 – 30 June 1993||12th Operations Group|
|Air Force Outstanding Unit Award||1 July 1993 – 30 June 1994||12th Operations Group|
|Air Force Outstanding Unit Award||1 July 1995 – 30 June 1996||12th Operations Group|
|Air Force Outstanding Unit Award||1 July 1996 – 30 June 1998||12th Operations Group|
|Air Force Outstanding Unit Award||1 July 1998 – 30 June 2000||12th Operations Group|
|Air Force Outstanding Unit Award||1 July 2002 – 30 June 2004||12th Operations Group|
|Air Force Outstanding Unit Award||1 July 2004 – 30 June 2006||12th Operations Group|
|Air Force Outstanding Unit Award||1 July 2008 – 30 June 2009||12th Operations Group|
|Air Force Outstanding Unit Award||1 July 2009 – 30 June 2011||12th Operations Group|
|Air Combat, EAME Theater||c. 31 July 1942 – 11 May 1945||12th Bombardment Group|
|Egypt-Libya||c. 31 July 1942 – 12 February 1943||12th Bombardment Group|
|Tunisia||12 November 1942 – 13 May 1943||12th Bombardment Group|
|Sicily||14 May 1943 – 17 August 1943||12th Bombardment Group|
|Naples-Foggia||18 August 1943 – 21 January 1944||12th Bombardment Group|
|Rome-Arno||22 January 1944 – 6 February 1944||12th Bombardment Group|
|India-Burma||c. 31 March 1944 – 28 January 1945||12th Bombardment Group|
|Central Burma||29 January 1945 – 15 July 1945||12th Bombardment Group|
|China Defensive||4 July 1942 – 4 May 1945||12th Bombardment Group|