361st Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron

Summary

The 361st Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron is an inactive United States Air Force unit. Its last was assigned to the 451st Air Expeditionary Group, stationed at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan. It was inactivated on 1 September 2014.

361st Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron
MC-12 Liberty.jpg
MC-12 Liberty lands after a combat sortie
Active1943–1945; 1966–1971; 1972–1974; 2007; 2010–2014
Country United States
Branch United States Air Force
RoleReconnaissance
Part ofUnited States Air Forces Central Command
EngagementsEuropean Theater of Operations[1]
Global War on Terror
DecorationsPresidential Unit Citation
Air Force Meritorious Unit Award
Air Force Outstanding Unit Award with Combat "V" Device
Air Force Outstanding Unit Award
Vietnamese Gallantry Cross with Palm
Insignia
361 Expeditionary Reconnaissance Sq emblem361 Expeditionary Reconnaissance Sq emblem.png
World War II squadron fuselage code[2][note 1]B

The squadron's first predecessor was the 861st Bombardment Squadron, a United States Army Air Forces unit that was assigned to the 493d Bombardment Group during World War II. It was part of the last bombardment group to be assigned to Eighth Air Force. It flew combat missions until V-E Day, then returned to the United States for inactivation.

The squadron's other predecessor, the 361st Reconnaissance Squadron was formed during the Vietnam War, flying Douglas EC-47 aircraft, performing electronic surveillance in Vietnam and Thailand until inactivating in 1974, when the United States withdrew from Southeast Asia. The squadrons were consolidated in 1985, then converted to provisional status as an expeditionary unit.

HistoryEdit

World War IIEdit

Initial activation and training in the United StatesEdit

 
B-24s of the 493d Bomb Group at Debach

The 861st Bombardment Squadron was first activated at McCook Army Air Field, Nebraska as one of the original four squadrons of the 493d Bombardment Group.[1][3] The formation of the squadron was delayed by an administrative error that caused some of the unit's cadre to report to Davis-Monthan Field, Arizona instead of McCook. It was not until January that all personnel were at McCook.[4] By this time, the squadron had transferred on paper to Elveden Hall, England. The ground personnel of the squadron in the United States had been used to form Boeing B-29 Superfortress units being activated by Second Air Force, while the air echelon remained in Nebraska to conduct training on their assigned Consolidated B-24 Liberators. Meanwhile, Eighth Air Force formed a new ground echelon for the squadron in England from other units assigned to the 3d Bombardment Division. This ground echelon moved to the squadron's combat station, RAF Debach,[note 2] in April 1944. The squadron's air echelon departed for England via the northern ferry route on 1 May, while a small ground component left McCook and sailed from Boston, Massachusetts on the SS Brazil (1928) on 12 May 1944.[3][4]

Combat in EuropeEdit

 
493d Bombardment Group B-17 formation

The squadron flew its first combat mission on D-Day, 6 June 1944. It continued to fly Liberators until 24 August 1944, when it was withdrawn from combat to convert to Boeing B-17 Flying Fortresses, along with other groups of the 93d Bombardment Wing, as Eighth Air Force concentrated all its Liberators in the 2d Bombardment Division. It resumed combat missions with the B-17 on 8 September 1944.[4] The squadron concentrated its attacks on military and industrial targets in Germany, attacking an ordnance depot in Magdeburg, factories near Frankfurt, and a synthetic oil manufacturing plant at Merseburg. It also attacked lines of communications, including a railroad tunnel at Ahrweiler, bridges at Irlich, and marshalling yards near Cologne.[3]

The squadron was occasionally diverted to attack tactical targets. It supported Operation Overlord, the Normandy invasion, striking artillery batteries, airfields and bridges. It struck enemy ground forces south of Caen and during Operation Cobra, the breakout at St Lo. It bombed German fortifications to support Operation Market Garden, airborne attacks attempting to secure a bridgehead across the Rhine in the Netherlands and attacked communications during the Battle of the Bulge. Toward the end of the war, it also supported Operation Varsity, the airborne assault across the Rhine in Germany.[3]

The squadron flew its last combat mission against marshalling yards near Nauen on 20 April 1945, although it flew food-dropping missions in early May.[4] The squadron air echelon departed Debach on 30 June, while the ground echelon sailed for home aboard the RMS Queen Elizabeth on 6 August 1945. In late August, the squadron assembled at Sioux Falls Army Air Field, South Dakota, where it was inactivated on 28 August 1945.[1][3]

Vietnam WarEdit

 
EC-47s in Vietnam

The 361st Reconnaissance Squadron was activated at Nha Trang Air Base, South Vietnam in April 1966. It flew EC-47 aircraft equipped with electronic countermeasures equipment over South Vietnam. The squadron moved to Thailand in 1972 as part of the USAF drawdown in South Vietnam. It continued missions over Indochina until 15 August 1973 when United States military flights over Indochina were halted by congressional mandate. The squadron trained in Thailand until its inactivation on 30 June 1974.

Global War on TerrorEdit

The squadron reactivated as the 361st Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron as part of the Global War on Terrorism in 2003. Assigned to the first the 407th Air Expeditionary Group, then later the 451st Air Expeditionary Group, the squadron operated a variety of Intelligence, Surveillance & Reconnaissance aircraft before the United States pullout from Iraq in 2011 and Afghanistan in 2014.

LineageEdit

861st Bombardment Squadron
  • Constituted as the 861st Bombardment Squadron (Heavy) on 14 September 1943
Activated on 1 November 1943
Redesignated 861st Bombardment Squadron, Heavy on 21 February 1944
Inactivated on 28 August 1945[1]
  • Consolidated with the 361st Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron as the 361st Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron on 19 September 1985[5]
361st Reconnaissance Squadron
  • Constituted as the 361st Reconnaissance Squadron and activated on 4 April 1966 (not organized)
Organized on 8 April 1966
Redesignated 361st Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron on 15 March 1967
Inactivated on 1 December 1971
  • Activated on 1 September 1972
Inactivated on 30 June 1974[5]
  • Consolidated with the 861st Bombardment Squadron on 19 September 1985[5]
Redesignated 361st Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron and converted to provisional status
Activated c. December 2007
Inactivated unknown
Activated 1 May 2010
Inactivated on 1 September 2014

AssignmentsEdit

407th Air Expeditionary Group, c. November 2007 – unknown
451st Air Expeditionary Group, 20 May 2010 – 1 September 2014

StationsEdit

  • McCook Army Air Field, Nebraska, 1 November 1943 – 1 Jan 1944
  • Elveden Hall (Station 116),[9][note 3] England, 1 January 1944
  • RAF Debach (Station 152),[10] England, 17 April 1944 – 6 August 1945
  • Sioux Falls Army Air Field, South Dakota, c. 13–28 August 1945[1]
  • Nha Trang Air Base, Republic of Vietnam, 8 April 1966
  • Phù Cát Air Base, Republic of Vietnam, 1 September 1969 – 1 December 1971
  • Nakhon Phanom Royal Thai Air Force Base, Thailand, 1 September 1972 – 30 June 1974
  • Ali Air Base, Iraq, c. November 2007
  • Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, 20 May 2010 – 1 September 2014

AircraftEdit

Awards and campaignsEdit

Award streamer Award Dates Notes
  Presidential Unit Citation 8 April 1966-13 June 1967 361st Reconnaissance Squadron (later 361st Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron)[11]
  Presidential Unit Citation 1 September 1967-10 July 1968 361st Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron[12]
  Presidential Unit Citation 11 July 1968-31 August 1969 361st Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron[12]
  Presidential Unit Citation 1 February 1971-31 March 1971 361st Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron[12]
  Air Force Meritorious Unit Award 1 June 2011-31 January 2012 361st Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron[13]
  Air Force Meritorious Unit Award 1 February 2012-31 January 2013 361st Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron[13]
  Air Force Meritorious Unit Award 1 February 2013-1 April 2014 361st Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron[13]
  Air Force Meritorious Unit Award 1 October 2014-9 April 2015 361st Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron[13]
  Air Force Meritorious Unit Award 15 May 2014-2 May 2016 361st Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron[13]
  Air Force Outstanding Unit Award with Combat "V" Device 1 July 1969-30 June 1970 361st Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron[12]
  Air Force Outstanding Unit Award with Combat "V" Device 1 July 1970-30 June 1971 361st Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron[12]
  Air Force Outstanding Unit Award with Combat "V" Device 1 September 1971-31 December 1971 361st Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron[12]
  Air Force Outstanding Unit Award with Combat "V" Device 23 February 1973-28 February 1974 361st Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron[12]
  Air Force Outstanding Unit Award 15 April 1966-31 May 1967 361st Reconnaissance Squadron (later 361st Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron)[11]
  Vietnamese Gallantry Cross with Palm 8 April 1966-14 Mar 1967 361st Reconnaissance Squadron[11]
  Vietnamese Gallantry Cross with Palm 15 March 1967-1 September 1972 361st Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron[12]
Campaign Streamer Campaign Dates Notes
  Air Combat, EAME Theater 1 January 1944 – 11 May 1945 861st Bombardment Squadron[1]
  Normandy 6 June 1944 – 24 July 1944 861st Bombardment Squadron[1]
  Northern France 25 July 1944 – 14 September 1944 861st Bombardment Squadron[1]
  Rhineland 15 September 1944 – 21 March 1945 861st Bombardment Squadron[1]
  Ardennes-Alsace 16 December 1944 – 25 January 1945 861st Bombardment Squadron[1]
  Central Europe 22 March 1944 – 21 May 1945 861st Bombardment Squadron[1]
  Vietnam Air 8 April 1966 – 28 June 1966 361st Reconnaissance Squadron[11]
  Vietnam Air Offensive 29 June 1966 – 8 March 1967 361st Reconnaissance Squadron[11]
  Vietnam Air Offensive, Phase II 9 March 1967 – 31 March 1968 361st Reconnaissance Squadron (later 361st Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron)
  Vietnam Air/Ground 22 January 1968 – 7 July 1968 361st Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron[11]
  Vietnam Air Offensive, Phase III 1 April 1968 – 31 October 1968 361st Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron[12]
  Vietnam Air Offensive, Phase IV 1 November 1968 – 22 February 1969 361st Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron[12]
  Tet 1969/Counteroffensive 23 February 1969 – 8 June 1969 361st Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron[12]
  Vietnam Summer-Fall 1969 9 June 1969 – 31 October 1969 361st Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron[12]
  Vietnam Winter-Spring 1970 3 November 1969 – 30 April 1970 361st Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron[12]
  Sanctuary Counteroffensive 1 May 1970 – 30 June 1970 361st Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron[12]
  Southwest Monsoon 1 July 1970 – 30 November 1970 361st Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron[12]
  Commando Hunt V 1 December 1970 – 14 May 1971 361st Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron[12]
  Commando Hunt VI 15 May 1971 – 31 July 1971 361st Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron[12]
  Commando Hunt VII 1 November 1971 – 29 March 1972 361st Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron[12]
  Iraqi Surge 10 January 2007 – 31 December 2008 361st Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron[14]
  Iraqi Sovereignty 1 January 2009 – 31 August 2010 361st Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron[14]
  Global War on Terror Expeditionary Medal 361st Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron[15]

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

NotesEdit

Explanatory notes
  1. ^ The 493d Group used single letter squadron codes, unlike other Eighth Air Force units, which used two letter codes. Watkins, p. 122
  2. ^ Unlike the majority of World War II Army Air Forces bases in Britain, Debach was built by Army aviation engineers. Anderson, p. 6.
  3. ^ Elveden Hall was a manor house, not an airfield. Anderson, p. 9. It was also referred to as Camp Blainey. Anderson, p. 12.
Citations
  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Maurer, Combat Squadrons, pp. 785-786
  2. ^ Watkins, p. 122
  3. ^ a b c d e Maurer, Combat Units, pp. 362-363
  4. ^ a b c d Freeman, p. 262
  5. ^ a b c Department of the Air Force/MPM Letter 662q, 19 September 85, Subject: Reconstitution, Redesignation, and Consolidation of Selected Air Force Tactical Squadrons
  6. ^ Ravenstein, pp. 253-254
  7. ^ Ravenstein, pp. 268-270
  8. ^ Ravenstein, pp. 90-92
  9. ^ Station number in Anderson, p. 20.
  10. ^ Station number in Anderson, p. 22.
  11. ^ a b c d e f AF Pamphlet 900-2, 15 June 1971, p. 343
  12. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r AF Pamphlet 900-2, Vol. 2, 30 September 1976, p. 64
  13. ^ a b c d e "Air Force Personnel Services: Unit Awards". Air Force Personnel Center. Retrieved 29 April 2017. (search)
  14. ^ a b "Special Order G-33995" (PDF). United States Air Forces Central Command. 14 July 2014. Retrieved 19 January 2019.
  15. ^ "Special Order G-33994" (PDF). United States Air Forces Central Command. 14 July 2014. Retrieved 21 February 2016.

BibliographyEdit

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

  • 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 23 January 2016. Retrieved 7 July 2012.
  • 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.
  • Maurer, Maurer, ed. (1983) [1961]. 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. Retrieved 17 December 2016.
  • Maurer, Maurer, ed. (1982) [1969]. 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. Retrieved 17 December 2016.
  • 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. Retrieved 17 December 2016.
  • 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.
  • "AF Pamphlet 900-2, Unit Decorations, Awards and Campaign Participation Credits" (PDF). Washington, DC: Department of the Air Force. 15 June 1971. Retrieved 11 August 2016.
  • "AF Pamphlet 900-2, Unit Decorations, Awards and Campaign Participation Credits, Vol II" (PDF). Washington, DC: Department of the Air Force. 30 September 1976. Retrieved 11 August 2016.