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344th Bombardment Group

Constituted as 344th Bombardment Group (Medium) on 31 Aug 1942. Activated on 8 Sep 1942. Equipped with B-26's and served as a replacement training unit. Moved to England, Jan-Feb 1944. Began operations with Ninth AF in Mar, attacking airfields, missile sites, marshalling yards, submarine shelters, coastal defenses, and other targets in France, Belgium, and Holland. Beginning in May, helped prepare for the Normandy invasion by striking vital bridges in France. On D-Day 1944 attacked coastal batteries at Cherbourg; during the remainder of Jun, supported the drive that resulted in the seizure of the Cotentin Peninsula. Bombed defended positions to assist British forces in the area of Caen. Received a DUC for three-day action against the enemy, 24-26 Jul 1944, when the group struck troop concentrations, supply dumps, a bridge, and a railroad viaduct to assist advancing ground forces at St Lo. Knocked out bridges to hinder the enemy's withdrawal through the Falaise gap, and bombed vessels and strong points at Brest, Aug-Sep 1944. Attacked bridges, rail lines, fortified areas, supply dumps, and ordnance depots in Germany, Oct-Nov 1944. Supported Allied forces during the Battle of the Bulge, Dec 1944-Jan 1945, and continued to strike such targets as supply points, communications centers, bridges, marshalling yards, roads, and oil storage tanks until Apr 1945. Made training flights and participated in air demonstrations after the war. Moved to Germany in Sep 1945 and, as part of United States Air Forces in Europe, served with the army of occupation. Began training in A-26 but continued to use B-26 aircraft. Redesignated 344th Bombardment Group (Light) in Dec 1945. Transferred, without personnel and equipment, to the US on 15 Feb 1946. Inactivated on 31 Mar 1946.

Redesignated 126th Bombardment Group (Light). Allotted to ANG (Ill) on 24 May 1946. Extended federal recognition on 29 Jun 1947. Redesignated 126th Composite Group in Nov 1950, and 126th Bombardment Group (Light) in Feb 1951. Ordered to active service on 1 Apr 1951 and assigned to Tactical Air Command. Moved to France, Nov-Dec 1951, and assigned to United States Air Forces in Europe. Used B-26's for training and maneuvers. Relieved from active duty and transferred, without personnel and equipment, to the control of ANG (Ill), on 1 Jan 1953. Redesignated 126th Fighter-Bomber Group.

Squadrons. 108th: 1951-1953. 115th: 1951. 168th: 1951-1953. 180th: 1951-1953. 494th: 1942-1946. 495th: 1942-1946. 496th: 1942-1946. 497th: 1942-1945.

Stations. MacDill Field, Fla, 8 Sep 1942; Drane Field, Fla, 28 Dec 1942; Hunter Field, Ga, 19 Dec 1943-26 Jan 1944; Stansted, England, Feb 1944; Cormeilles-en-Vexin, France, 30 Sep 1944; Florennes/Juzaine, Belgium, 5 Apr 1945; Schleissheim, Germany, c. 15 Sep 1945-15 Feb 1946; Bolling Field, DC, 15 Feb-31 Mar 1946. O'Hare Intl Aprt, Ill, 1 Apr 1951; Langley AFB, Va, 25 Jul-19 Nov 1951; Bordeaux AB, France, 7 Dec 1951; Laon AB, France, c. 25 May 1952-1 Jan 1953.

Commanders. Lt Col Jacob Brogger, 10 Oct 1942; Col Guy L McNeil, 2 Nov 1942; COl John A Hilger, 7 Nov 1942; Lt Col Vernon L Stintzi, 20 Jul 1943; Maj Robert W Witty, c. 6 Aug 1943; Col Reginald F C Vance, 19 Sep 1943; Col Robert W Witty, 7 Nov 1944; Lt Col Lucius D Clay Jr, 18 Aug 1945-15 Feb 1946. Col Russell B Daniels, 1 Apr 1951; Lt Col Carl R Norton, 25 Jun 1951; Lt Col Max H Mortensen, 21 Jul 1952; Col Glen W Clark, 5 Aug 1952; Lt Col Max H Mortensen, 18 Nov 1952-c. 1 Jan 1953.

Campaigns. American Theater; Air Offensive, Europe; Normandy; Northern France; Rhineland; Ardennes-Alsace; Central Europe.

Decorations. Distinguished Unit Citation: France, 24-26 Jul 1944.

Insigne. Shield: Azure, a bend nebule or, between four spears, points to base, two and two of the last, inflamed proper. Motto: We Win Or Die. (Approved 9 Jan 1943.)

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


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