|416th Air Expeditionary Wing|
|Active||1943–1945; 1962–1995; 2002–2005|
|Branch||United States Air Force|
|Engagements||European theater of World War II|
|Decorations||Distinguished Unit Citation|
Air Force Outstanding Unit Award
|416th Air Expeditionary Wing emblem (approved 2 March 1964)|
|World War II Fuselage Identification Codes||5H (668th Bomb Sq) 2A (669th Bomb Sq) F6 (670th Bomb Sq) 5C (671st Bomb Sq)|
|ACC tail marking at Griffiss AFB)||GR|
The wing began life in World War II as the 416th Bombardment Group (BG). The group was a Douglas A-20 Havoc light bomb group assigned to Ninth Air Force in Western Europe. It was awarded a Distinguished Unit Citation for its actions in France when, in spite of intense resistance, the group bombed bridges, railways, rolling stock, and a radar station to disrupt the German retreat through the Falaise-Argentan gap. It converted to Douglas A-26 Invaders while engaged in combat and continued to support ground forces through the end of the war.
The group's heritage was continued by the 416th Bombardment Wing (BW), a Strategic Air Command B-52 Stratofortress wing that conducted strategic bombardment training and air refueling operations on a global scale based at Griffiss Air Force Base in New York. 416th BW crews and aircraft deployed to the Pacific during the Vietnam War era to support SAC operations during the conflict. In 1984, the wing and group were consolidated and became a single unit. In 1991, wing tanker crews and KC-135R aircraft participated in the war in Southwest Asia. The 416th was inactivated as part of the Post-Cold War drawdown of United States strategic forces in 1995 (BRAC 1993) and the closure of Griffiss AFB.
In 2002 the wing was converted to provisional status as the 416th Air Expeditionary Group It served as the host unit at Karshi-Khanabad Air Base (K2), in Qarshi, Uzbekistan, from 2002 to 2005, where it supported operations against the Taliban and al-Qaeda in Afghanistan. It was redesignated as the 416th Air Expeditionary Wing in 2010, but the current status of this unit is not publicly known.
Media related to 416th Bombardment Group (United States Army Air Forces) at Wikimedia Commons
The wing was first activated on 5 February 1943 without personnel, at Will Rogers Field, Oklahoma as the 416th Bombardment Group (Light) (BG).[note 1] The original squadrons of the group were the 668th, 669th, 670th, and 671st Bombardment Squadrons
Fifty-one officers and two hundred and forty-one (241) enlisted men were transferred to the group on 15 February 1943. The source of the cadre was the 46th Bombardment Group and units from Will Rogers Field; Blythe AAF, California; Barksdale Field, Louisiana and a number of men with considerable overseas experience from the Third Air Force Replacement Center, Plant Park, Florida. On that date, the 46th BG moved to the North side of Will Rogers Field, leaving the South side to the 416th BG.
The group originally operated as an Operational Training Unit under the III Air Support Command, providing a portion of the initial cadre of the 417th Bombardment Group. The group fell back on the 46th BG for assistance with its training. Pilots were attached to the 46th BG for transition flying during the first three months of its existence. On 11 May, the first eight (8) planes were assigned to the 416th Group. One North American B-25C Mitchell and one Douglas A-20B Havoc was given to each of the 668th and 669th Squadrons. Two A-20B's were assigned to each of the 670th and 671st Squadrons. Classes in all the military occupational specialties were conducted by the 46th until 1 June 1943. The Pilots attended Ground School, for five hours a day, in the following subjects: code, link trainer, aircraft recognition, operation and maintenance of the A-20 and B-25, air navigation, radio, instrument procedure, etc. The Intelligence personnel attended classes for one hour a day.
The bombardment group moved to England in January to February 1944, and was assigned to Ninth Air Force. It entered combat in March 1944, and during the next several weeks directed most of its attacks against V-1 and V-2 sites in France. In addition to the assigned code markings assigned to each of its squadrons, the 416th's aircraft were marked with a "white diagonal stripe emanating outwards from the [trailing] edge of the ... rudder." The 416th flew a number of missions against airfields and coastal defenses to help prepare for the invasion of Normandy. It supported the invasion in June 1944 by striking road junctions, marshalling yard, bridges, and railway overpasses. The group assisted ground forces at Caen and Saint-Lô in July and at Brest later in the summer, by hitting transportation facilities, supply dumps, radar installations, and other targets. In spite of intense resistance, the group bombed bridges, railways, rolling stock, and a radar station to disrupt the enemy's retreat through the Falaise gap, 6–9 August 1944, and received a Distinguished Unit Citation for the missions.
The group assisted the airborne attack on the Netherlands in September. It also supported the assault on the Siegfried Line by pounding transportation, warehouses, supply dumps, and defended villages in Germany. in November, the group converted to Douglas A-26 Invader aircraft. With its new aircraft it attacked transportation facilities, strong points, communications centers, and troop concentrations during the Battle of the Bulge from December 1944 through January 1945. It aided the Allied thrust into Germany by continuing its strikes against transportation, communications, airfields, storage depots, and other objectives, February—May 1945. It also bombed flak positions in support of the airborne assault across the Rhine in March 1945. The group returned to the US between July and October 1945 and was inactivated at the port of embarkation on 24 October 1945.
The origins of the 416th Bombardment Wing begin on 1 August 1958 when Strategic Air Command established the 4039th Strategic Wing at Griffiss AFB, New York as part of SAC's plan to disperse its 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 remained a headquarters only until 5 January 1959 when the 41st Air Refueling Squadron, flying Boeing KC-135 Stratotankers and three maintenance squadrons were activated and assigned to the wing and the wing was transferred from Eighth Air Force to the 820th Air Division. In July, the 56th Aviation Depot Squadron was activated to oversee the wing's special weapons. It became fully organized on 15 October 1959 when the 75th Bombardment Squadron (BS), consisting of 15 Boeing B-52 Stratofortresses moved to Griffiss from Loring AFB, Maine where it had been one of the three squadrons of the 42d Bombardment Wing. Starting in 1960, one third of the squadron's aircraft were maintained on fifteen-minute alert, fully fueled and ready for combat to reduce vulnerability to a Soviet missile strike. This was increased to half the squadron's aircraft in 1962. The 4039th (and later the 416th) continued to maintain an alert commitment until December 1991. On 1 April 1961 the wing was reassigned from the 820th to the 6th Air Division, which was activated at Dow. In 1962, the wing bombers began to be equipped with the GAM-77 Hound Dog and the GAM-72 Quail air-launched cruise missiles, The 4039th Airborne Missile Maintenance Squadron was activated in November to maintain these missiles. However, SAC Strategic Wings could not carry a permanent history or lineage and SAC looked for a way to make its Strategic Wings permanent.
In 1962, in order to perpetuate the lineage of many currently inactive bombardment units with illustrious World War II records, Headquarters SAC received authority from Headquarters USAF to discontinue its Major Command controlled (MAJCON) strategic wings that were equipped with combat aircraft and to activate Air Force controlled (AFCON) units, most of which were inactive at the time which could carry a lineage and history.
The 4039th SW was replaced by the newly constituted 416th Bombardment Wing (416th BW) on 1 February 1963 and was assigned to SAC's 6th Air Division.[note 2] The 75th BS was also replaced by the 668th Bombardment Squadron, one of the unit's World War II historical bombardment squadrons. The 41st Air Refueling Squadron and 56th Munitions Maintenance Squadron transferred to the 416th. The 4039th's maintenance and security squadrons were replaced by ones with the 416th numerical designation of the newly established wing. Each of the new units assumed the personnel, equipment, and mission of its predecessor. Under the Dual Deputate organization, all components were directly assigned to the wing, no operational or maintenance group element was activated. The history, lineage and honors of the 416th Bombardment Group were temporarily bestowed upon the newly established wing upon activation.
The 416th Bomb Wing continued to conduct strategic bombardment training and air refueling operations to meet operational commitments of Strategic Air Command, including deployments to Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War with tankers and crews from December 1964 through December 1975 and with bomber crews from June 1968 through 1975. The 416th BW assumed host wing responsibility at Griffiss AFB, New York on 1 July 1970, when the base was transferred from Air Force Systems Command to SAC.
In 1988, the wing began to prepare for a primarily conventional warfare role. In June 1990, the wing added a second air refueling squadron when the 509th Air Refueling Squadron moved to Griffiss from Pease AFB, New Hampshire and became part of the wing. Shortly afterward, in August, it began to deploy KC-135s to Seeb International Airport and B-52s to Spain, Diego Garcia, and England. From January to April 1991 the wing flew combat missions in Southwest Asia.
In September 1991, the wing ended its support of worldwide air refueling operations. The wing was assigned to Air Combat Command (ACC) after inactivation of SAC on 1 June 1992 and its refueling squadrons, while physically remaining at Griffiss, were assigned to the 380th Operations Group, Plattsburgh AFB of Air Mobility Command. Wing aircraft carried ACC Tail Code "GR". The wing was inactivated in 1995 due to closure of Griffiss AFB. The 416th transferred the last two of its B-52Hs to the 5th Bomb Wing at Minot AFB, North Dakota on 15 November 1994 in preparation for inactivation in 1995 with the closure of Griffiss AFB.
The wing became a provisional air expeditionary group as part of the Global War on Terrorism in 2002. It was assigned to Uzbekistan as an Air Combat Command unit in early 2002. There it operated the base, which was used for transshipments of cargo and supplies from United States, for onward tactical airlift to combat forces in Afghanistan fighting Taliban and Al-Qaeda forces. The group was inactivated in November 2005 after the Uzbek government requested the United States withdraw its forces from their territory. In 2010, the group was upgraded to wing but is not known to have been active under that designation.
416th Bombardment Group
416th Bombardment Wing
|Distinguished Unit Citation||6 August 1944 – 9 August 1944||France, 416th Bombardment Group|
|Air Force Outstanding Unit Award w/Combat "V" Device||1 July 2004 – 31 May 2005||416th Air Expeditionary Group|
|Air Force Outstanding Unit Award w/Combat "V" Device||1 June 2005 – 31 May 2006||416th Air Expeditionary Group|
|Air Force Outstanding Unit Award||15 September 1981 – 31 October 1982||416th Bombardment Wing|
|Air Force Outstanding Unit Award||1 July 1984 – 30 June 1986||416th Bombardment Wing|
|Air Force Outstanding Unit Award||1 July 1989 – 30 June 1991||416th Bombardment Wing|
|Air Offensive, Europe||1 February 1944 – 5 June 1944||416th Bombardment Group|
|Normandy||6 June 1944 – 24 July 1944||416th Bombardment Group|
|Northern France||25 July 1944 – 14 September 1944||416th Bombardment Group|
|Rhineland||5 September 1944 – 21 March 1945||416th Bombardment Group|
|Ardennes-Alsace||6 December 1944 – 25 January 1945||416th Bombardment Group|
|Central Europe||22 March 1944 – 21 May 1945||416th Bombardment Group|
|Defense of Saudi Arabia||416th Air Expeditionary Group|
|Liberation of Kuwait||416th Air Expeditionary Group|