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3rd Bombardment Group

Organized as Army Surveillance Group on 1 Jul 1919. Redesignated 1st Surveillance Group in Aug 1919. Used DH-4B's to patrol the border from Brownsville, Tex, to Nogales, Ariz, until 1921. Redesignated 3d Attack Group in 1921, and 3rd Bombardment Group (Light) in 1939. Equipped with O-1, O-2, A-5, A-12, A-17, A-18, A-20, A-24, and other aircraft, 1921-1941. Trained, participated in maneuvers, tested new equipment, experimented with tactics, flew in aerial reviews, patrolled the Mexican border (1929), and carried air mail (1934). Furnished personnel for and helped to train new organizations, 1939-1941.

Moved to Australia early in 1942 and became part of Fifth AF. Redesignated 3rd Bombardment Group (Dive) in Sep 1942, and 3rd Bombardment Group (Light) in May 1943. Served in combat from 1 Apr 1942 until V-J Day. Used A-20, A-24, and B-25 aircraft for operations.

The group had its headquarters in Australia until Jan 1943, but its squadrons operated from New Guinea, bombing and strafing enemy airfields, supply lines, installations, and shipping as the Allies halted the Japanese drive toward Port Moresby and drove the enemy back from Buna to Lae. At the end of that campaign in Jan 1943, headquarters moved to New Guinea. For the next year and a half the group continued to serve in the Southwest Pacific, where it played an important role in the offensives in which the Allies pushed along the northern coast of New Guinea, taking Salamaua, Lae, Hollandia, Wakde, Biak, and Noemfoor. In Mar 1943 it took part in the Battle of the Bismarck Sea, which ended Japanese attempts to send convoys to Lae. In Aug 1943, when Fifth AF struck airfields at Wewak to neutralize Japanese airpower that threatened the advance of Allied forces in New Guinea, the group made an attack in the face of intense antiaircraft fire on 17 Aug, destroyed or damaged many enemy planes, and won a DUC for the mission. In the fall of 1943 the group struck Japanese naval and air power at Rabaul to support the assaults on Bougainville and New Britain. In an attack on shipping at Simpson Harbor, New Britain, on 2 Nov 1943, the 3rd group encountered heavy opposition from enemy fighters and from antiaircraft batteries on the ships. In that attack Maj Raymond H Wilkins, commander of the 8th squadron, sank two ships before he was shot down as he deliberately drew the fire of a destroyer so that other planes of his squadron could withdraw safely - an action for which Maj Wilkins was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor. The group moved to the Philippines late in 1944. Equipped with A-20's, it bombed and strafed airfields; supported ground forces on Mindoro, Luzon, and Mindanao; attacked industries and railways on Formosa; and struck shipping along the China coast. Moved to Okinawa early in Aug 1945 and flew some missions to Japan before the war ended. Moved to Japan in Sep 1945 and, as part of Far East Air Forces, became part of the army of occupation.

Served in combat in the Korean War from 27 Jun 1950 until the armistice on 27 Jul 1953. Operated first from Japan and later from Korea, using B-26 aircraft. Flew most of its missions at night to attack such targets as airfields, vehicles, and railways. Capt John S Walmsley Jr was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions on 14 Sep 1944: flyding a night mission in a B-26, Capt Walmsley discovered and attacked an enemy supply train, and after exhausting his ammunition he flew at low altitude to direct other aircraft to the same objective; the train was destroyed but Walmsley's plane crashed in the target area. The group returned to Japan in 1954. Redesignated 3rd Bombardment Group (Tactical) in Oct 1955.

Squadrons. 8th: 1919-. 12th: 1919-1921. 13th (formerly 104th): 1919-1924; 1929-. 26th: 1921-1929. 51st: 1935-1936. 89th (formerly 10th): 1941-1946. 90th: 1919-.

Stations. Kelly Field, Tex, 1 Jul 1919; Ft Bliss, Tex, 12 Nov 1919; Kelly Field, Tex, 2 Jul 1921; Ft Crockett, Tex, 1 Jul 1926; Barksdale Field, La, 28 Feb 1935; Savannah, Ga, 6 Oct 1940-19 Jan 1942; Brisbane, Australia, 25 Feb 1942; Charters Towers, Australia, 10 Mar 1942; Port Moresby, New Guinea, 28 Jan 1943; Dobodura, New Guinea, 20 May 1943; Nadzab, New Guinea, 3 Feb 1944; Hollandia, New Guinea, 12 May 1944; Dulag, Leyte, 16 Nov 1944; San Jose, Mindoro, c. 30 Dec 1944; Okinawa, 6 Aug 1945; Atsugi, Japan, c. 8 Sep 1945; Yokota, Japan, 1 Sep 1946; Johnson AB, Japan, c. 15 Mar 1950; Iwakuni, Japan, 1 Jul 1950; Kunsan, Korea, 22 Aug 1951; Johnson AB, Japan, c. 5 Oct 1954-.

Commanders. Maj B B Butler, 1 Jul 1919; Maj William G Schauffler Jr, 1 Sep 1919; Lt Col Henry B Clagett, 27 Sep 1919; Maj Leo A Walton, 20 Nov 1919; Maj Leo G Heffernan, 10 Oct 1921; Lt Col Seth W Cook, 22 Aug 1922; Maj Lewis H Brereton, 5 Feb 1923; Maj Harvey B S Burwell, 25 Jun 1924; Capt Joseph H Davidson, Feb 1926; Maj Frank D Lackland, 26 Jun 1926; Maj John H Jouett, 15 Aug 1928; Maj Davenport Johnson, 27 Feb 1930; Lt Col Horace M. Hickam, 18 Jun 1932; Lt Col Earl L Naiden, 5 Nov 1934; Col A Rader, Jul 1937; Maj O S Ferson, Aug 1938; Col John C McDonnell, Sep 1938; Lt Col R G Breen, Nov 1940; Lt Col Paul L Williams, Dec 1940; Lt Col Phillips Melville, 18 Aug 1941; 1st Lt Robert F Strickland, 19 Jan 1942; Col John H Davies, 2 Apr 1942; Lt Col Robert F Strickland, 26 Oct 1942; Maj Donald P Hall, 28 Apr 1943; Lt Col James A Downs, 20 Oct 1943; Col John P Henebry, 7 Nov 1943; Lt Col Richard H Ellis, 27 Jun 1944; Col John P Henebry, 30 Oct 1944; Col Richard H Ellis, 28 Dec 1944; Col Charles W Howe, 1 May 1945; Lt Col James E Sweeney, 7 Dec 1945; Maj L B Weigold, c. 7 Feb 1946; Col Edward H Underhill, 23 Apr 1946; Lt Col John P Crocker, 3 Jan 1947; Col Edward H Underhill, 28 Mar 1947; Col James R Gunn Jr, 2 Jun 1947; Lt Col Joseph E Payne, 27 Sep 1948; Col Donald L Clark, 3 Jan 1950; Lt Col Leland A Walker, Jr, 5 Aug 1950; Col Henry C Brady, 17 Oct 1950; Col Chester H Morgan, 4 Jan 1952; Col William G Moore, 17 Jan 1952; Col Sherman R Beaty, 1952; Col John G Napier, 1 Apr 1953; Col Straughan D Kelsey, 22 Jul 1953; Col William H Matthews, 18 Aug 1953; Col Sam L Barr, 2 Feb 1954; Col Rufus H Holloway, 21 Sep 1954; Lt Col William D Miner, 9 Jun 1955; Lt Col Charles E Mendel, 25 Jul 1955; Col Rufus H Holloway, 17 Aug 1955-.

Campaigns. World War II: East Indies; Air Offensive, Japan; China Defensive; Papua; New Guinea; Bismarck Archipelago; Western Pacific; Leyte; Luzon; China Offensive. Korean War: UN Defensive; UN Offensive; CCF Intervention; 1st UN Counteroffensive; CCF Spring Offensive; UN Summer-Fall Offensive; Second Korean Winter; Korea Summer-Fall, 1952; Third Korean Winter; Korea Summer-Fall, 1953.

Decorations. Distinguished Unit Citations: Papua, 23 Jul 1942-23 Jan 1943; New Guinea, 17 Aug 1943; Korea, 27 Jun-31 Jul 1950; Korea, 22 Apr-8 Jul 1951; Korea, 1 May-27 Jul 1953. Philippine Presidential Unit Citation. Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation: 27 Jun-31 Jul 1950.

Insigne. Shield: Party per bend vert and sable in chief a cactus (prickly pear) or, a bend azure fimbriated of the third, all within a bordure argent charged with nineteen crosses patee of the second. Crest: On a wreath of the colors an arm couped near the shoulder paleways with hand clenched proper between two wings conjoined in lure argent. Motto: Non Solum Armis - Not by Arms Alone. (Approved 17 Jan 1922. This insigne was modified 22 Dec 1952.)

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


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