|409th Air Expeditionary Group
|Active||1943–1945; 2001-unknown; 2003; 2005; 2007; 2008; 2011-present|
|Branch||United States Air Force|
|Role||Air Expeditionary Operations|
|Part of||United States Air Forces in Europe – Air Forces Africa|
|Garrison/HQ||Nigerien Air Base 201, Niger|
|Engagements||European Theater of Operations|
|Decorations||Air Force Outstanding Unit Award|
|Col. Daniel Kobs|
|409th Air Expeditionary Group emblem|
|Group marking during World War II||Yellow band on trailing edge of rudder|
The group was first activated in June 1943 during World War II as the 409th Bombardment Group. After moving to Europe, it served in combat with Ninth Air Force, flying Douglas A-20 Havoc, and later Douglas A-26 Invader light bombers Europe from the spring of 1944 through V-E Day. The group returned to the United States in the summer of 1945 and was inactivated in November 1945.
The 409th was reactivated in 2001 as an air expeditionary unit under USAFE in 2001 at Camp Sarafovo, Bulgaria as a support and air refueling unit in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom using six McDonnell Douglas KC-10 Extender aircraft deployed from McGuire Air Force Base, New Jersey to help keep coalition aircraft fueled and flying on their air routes through Bulgaria and on to the theater of war. The group has subsequently been activated to support several humanitarian operations.
Air Force (magazine) notes in its 2012/13 annual survey of units that the group operated Intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) aircraft from unspecified locations in the United States Air Forces Africa area of responsibility.
The 409th AEG is currently made up of:
The group was constituted as the 409th Bombardment Group (Light) on 1 June 1943, activated the same day at Will Rogers Field, Oklahoma and assigned the 640th, 641st, 642d and 643d Bombardment Squadrons flying Douglas A-20 Havocs. However, it did not receive manning until 20 June and it was 3 August before the group had sufficient manning or equipment to begin training. The group trained with its A-20s until 10 February 1944 when it moved to RAF Little Walden, England, arriving on 7 March 1944, when it became part of Ninth Air Force. On 13 April, it flew its first combat mission against a target in France.
The 409th was originally trained in low-level attack missions. However, the group was busy flying medium-altitude bombing runs from 10,000 ft. Over 100 missions were flown by the group, attacking coastal defenses, V-1 and V-2 launch sites, airfields and other targets in France in preparation for Operation Overlord, the invasion of Normandy. The group supported ground forces during the Battle of Normandy by hitting gun batteries, rail lines, bridges, communications, and other objectives. During July 1944, it aided the Allied offensive at Caen and Operation Cobra, the breakout at Saint-Lô with attacks on enemy troops, flak positions, fortified villages, and supply dumps.
The group moved to Bretigny Airfield, France on 10 September to support United States Third Army's advance toward Germany. A total of ten aircraft had been lost by the group flying from Little Walden. In December 1944, the group began to convert to the Douglas A-26 Invader, but its upgrade was delayed as it provided close air support during the Battle of the Bulge, attacking lines of communication during December 1944 and January 1945. It flew its A-26s in combat from Bretigny and, after February from Laon-Couvron Air Base, until 3 May 1945, when flew its last mission against an ammunition dump in Czechoslovakia.
After V-E Day, the group began its return to the United States in June and gathered at Seymour Johnson Field North Carolina in August. It moved to Westover Field on 6 October 1945 and was inactivated there on 7 November 1945.
The group was converted to provisional status, redesignated the 409th Air Expeditionary Group and assigned to United States Air Forces Europe, which activated it in November 2001 as an air refueling unit at Camp Sarafovo, Bulgaria as part of the leadup to the Iraq War. It conducted flying operations from Burgas Airport. The 409th Group was responsible for refueling operations in support of the US-led Operation Iraqi Freedom. Its mission included the use of six McDonnell Douglas KC-10 Extender aircraft, deployed from McGuire Air Force Base New Jersey, to help keep coalition aircraft fueled and flying on their air routes through Bulgaria and on to the theater of war. At the time, the 407th Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron formed part of the group. The 409th was inactivated in June 2003.[note 3]
Later, the group participated in RESCUER/MEDCEUR 03, a regional multinational exercise held in the spirit of "Partnership for Peace" at Vaziani Military Base, Georgia, in September 2003. The United States sponsored the exercise that the Georgians hosted. A U.S. exercise Joint Task Force administered the exercise. It was activated at Vaziani in 2005 for a similar exercise.
In August 2007, the group was activated at Keflavik Air Station, Iceland to act as a command headquarters for elements of the 493d Fighter Squadron and 351st Air Refueling Squadron which were temporarily deployed there.
The following January saw the group active for three months at Accra, Ghana. In 2011, it was activated in Ethiopia with an air base squadron and with detachments in the Seychelles and Djibouti. In March 2012 it added the 324th Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron to its strength.
In 2012, United States Air Forces Africa reported that "[t]he 409th Air Expeditionary Group provides the primary intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions across the [command's] entire area of responsibility from multiple locations as required. The objective is to promote regional security and stability, dissuade conflict and protect U.S. and coalition interests." The group has shared a commander during its most recent activations with the 404th Air Expeditionary Group, which provides expeditionary support units in the same area.
2011 and later
|Air Force Outstanding Unit Award||1 January 2011–30 June 2011||409th Air Expeditionary Group|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to 409th Air Expeditionary Group (United States Air Force).|