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31st Fighter Group

Constituted as 31st Pursuit Group (Interceptor) on 22 Dec 1939. Activated on 1 Feb 1940. Trained with P-39's and participated in maneuvers. Redesignated 31st Fighter Group in May 1942. Moved to England, May-Jun 1942. Assigned to Eighth AF and equipped with Spitfires. Entered combat in Aug 1942. Supported a raid made by Canadian, British, American, and French forces at Dieppe on 19 Aug. Escorted bombers and flew patrol and diversionary missions until Oct. Assigned to Twelfth AF for the invasion of North Africa, the pilots of the group flying Spitfires from Gibraltar to Algeria on 8 Nov 1942 and the ground echelon landing at Arzeu beach the same day. Attacked motor transports, gun positions, and troop concentrations during the three-day campaign for Algeria and French Morocco. Helped to defeat Axis forces in Tunisia by supporting ground troops and providing cover for bomber and fighter aircraft. During May and Jun 1943, provided escort for bombers on raids to Pantelleria and cover for naval convoys in the Mediterranean. Supported the landings on Sicily in July and took part in the conquest of that island. Covered the landings at Salerno early in Sep 1943 and at Anzio in Jan 1944. Also operated in close support of Allied ground forces in Italy and flew patrol and escort missions.

Assigned to Fifteenth AF in Apr 1944, converted to P-51's, and thereafter engaged primarily in escort work. Received a DUC for a mission on 21 Apr 1944 when the group, despite the severe weather that was encountered, provided cover for a force of heavy bombers during a raid on production centers in Rumania. On numerous other occasions escorted bombers that attacked objectives in Italy, France, Germany, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Austria, Hungary, Bulgaria, Rumania, Yugoslavia, and Greece. In addition provided escort for reconnaissance aircraft and for C-47's engaged in the airborne operation connected with the invasion of Southern France. Also flew strafing missions against airdromes and communications targets. Took part in an operation in which a task force from Fifteenth AF attacked targets in Rumania while flying to Russia on 22 Jul 1944 and while returning to Italy on 26 Jul; on 25 Jul, after escorting P-38's from a base in Russia for a raid on an airdrome in Poland, the 31st group made attacks on a convoy of German trucks and on a force of German fighter-bombers, being awarded a DUC for its performance. Strafed rail and highway traffic in northern Italy in Apr 1945 when Allied forces were engaged in their final offensive in that area. Returned to the US in Aug. Inactivated on 7 Nov 1945.

Activated in Germany on 20 Aug 1946. Assigned to United States Air Forces in Europe. Transferred, without personnel and equipment, to the US in Jun 1947. Assigned to Tactical Air Command and equipped with P-51's. Converted to F-84's in 1948. Redesignated 31st Fighter-Bomber Group in Jan 1950. Assigned to Strategic Air Command in Jul 1950. Redesignated 315t Fighter-Escort Group. Inactivated on 16 Jun 1952.

Squadrons. 39th: 1940-1942. 40th: 1940-1942. 41st: 1940-1942. 307th: 1942-1945; 1946-1952. 308th: 1942-1945; 1946- 1952. 309th: 1942-1945; 1946-1952.

Stations. Selfridge Field, Mich, 1 Feb 1940; Baer Field, Ind, 6 Dec 1941; New Orleans AB, La, Feb-19 May 1942; Atcham, England, 11 Jun 1942; Westhampnett, England, 1 Aug 1942; Tafaraoui, Algeria, 8 Nov 1942; La Senia, Algeria, c. 12 Nov 1942; Thelepte, Tunisia, c. 7 Feb 1943; Tebessa, Algeria, 17 Feb 1943; Youks-les-Bains, Algeria, 21 Feb 1943; Kalaa Djerda, Tunisia, c. 25 Feb 1943; Thelepte, Tunisia, 11 Mar 1943; Djilma, Tunisia, 7 Apr 1943; Le Sers, Tunisia, 12 Apr 1943; Korba, Tunisia, 15 May 1943; Gozo, c. 30 Jun 1943; Ponte Olivo, Sicily, c. 13 Jul 1943; Agrigento, Sicily, 21 Jul 1943; Termini, Sicily, 2 Aug 1943; Milazzo, Sicily, 2 Sep 1943; Montecorvino, Italy, 20 Sep 1943; Pomigliano, Italy, 14 Oct 1943; Castel Volturno, Italy, 19 Jan 1944; San Severo, Italy, 2 Apr 1944; Mondolfo, Italy, 3 Mar 1945; Triolo Airfield, Italy, 15 Jul-Aug 1945; Drew Field, Fla, Aug-7 Nov 1945. Giebelstadt, Germany, 20 Aug 1946; Kitzingen, Germany, 30 Sep 1946; Langley Field, Va, 25 Jun 1947; Turner Field, Ga, 4 Sep 1947-16 Jun 1952.

Commanders. Lt Col Harold H George, Feb 1940; Col John R Hawkins, 1 Jul 1941; Col Fred M Dean, 5 Dec 1942; Lt Col Frank A Hill, c. Jul 1943; Col Charles M McCorkle, c. Sep 1943; Col Yancey S Tarrant, 4 Jul 1944; Col William A Daniel, Dec 1944-unkn. Lt Col Horace A Hanes, Aug 1946-unkn; Lt Col Frederick H LeFebre, Jan 1947; Maj Arland Stanton, Feb 1947; Col Dale D Fisher, Mar 1947; Lt Col Donald M Blakeslee, May 1947; Maj Leonard P Marks, 22 Oct 1947; Col Carroll W McColpin, 1 Nov 1947; Col Earl H Dunham, c. Dec 1949; Col David C Schilling, 1 Jun 1951-16 Jun 1952.

Campaigns. Air Combat, EAME Theater; Air Offensive, Europe; Algeria-French Morocco; Tunisia; Sicily; Naples-Foggia; Anzio; Rome-Arno; Normandy; Northern France; Southern France; North Apennines; Rhineland; Central Europe; Po Valley.

Decorations. Distinguished Unit Citations: Rumania, 21 Apr 1944; Poland, 25 Jul 1944.

Insigne. Shield: Per bend nebule or and azure, in chief a wyvern, sans legs, wings endorsed of the second. Motto: Return With Honor. (Approved 28 Jun 1941.)

Data from Air Force Combat Units of World War II By Maurer, Maurer, Published 1986


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