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5th Bombardment Group

 5th Bombardment Group

Authorized as 2nd Group (Observation) on 15 Aug 1919 and organized in Hawaii. Redesignated 5th Group (Observation) in Mar 1921, 5th Group (Pursuit and Bombardment) in Jun 1922, and 5th Group (Composite) in Jul 1922. Used DH-4, MB-2, B-12, LB-5, LB-6, PW-9, P-12, O-19, and other aircraft. Activities included training, participating in Army-Navy maneuvers, staging aerial reviews, sowing seeds from the air for the Territorial Forestry Division, and bombing a stream of lava flowing from Mauna Loa to divert it from the city of Hilo. Redesignated 5th Bombardment Group in Mar 1938, 5th Bombardment Group (Medium) in Dec 1939, and 5th Bombardment Group (Heavy) in Nov 1940. Equipped with B-17's and B-18's by Dec 1941. Assigned to Seventh AF in Feb 1942. Engaged primarily in search and patrol missions off Hawaii from Dec 1941 to Nov 1942.

Left Hawaii in Nov 1942 and, operating from bases in the South and Southwest Pacific with B-17 and B-24 aircraft, served in combat with Thirteenth AF during the Allied drive from the Solomons to the Philippines. Flew long patrol and photographic missions over the Solomon Islands and the Coral Sea, attacked Japanese shipping off Guadalcanal, and raided airfields in the northern Solomons until Aug 1943. Then struck enemy bases and installations on Bougainville, New Britain, and New Ireland. Raided the heavily defended Japanese base on Woleai during Apr and May 1944 and received a DUC for the action. Helped to neutralize enemy bases on Yap and in the Truk and Palau Islands, Jun-Aug 1944, preparatory to the invasion of Peleliu and Leyte. Flew missions to the Netherlands Indies, receiving a DUC for an attack, conducted through heavy flak and fighter defenses, on oil installations at Balikpapan, Borneo, on 30 Sep 1944. Completed a variety of missions from Oct 1944 until the end of the war, these operations including raids on enemy bases and installations on Luzon, Ceram, Halmahera, and Formosa; support for ground forces in the Philippines and Borneo; and patrols off the China coast. Remained in the theater as part of Far East Air Forces after the war, but all personnel evidently had been withdrawn by early in 1946. Redesignated 5th Bombardment Group (Very Heavy) in Apr 1946, and 5th Reconnaissance Group in Feb 1947. Remanned in Mar 1947, equipped with FB-17's and F-2's, and engaged in mapping areas of the Philippines, Formosa, and the Pescadores.

Moved to the US in May 1949. Assigned to Strategic Air Command. Redesignated 5th Strategic Reconnaissance Group in Jul 1949. Equipped with RB-29's. Redesignated 5th Strategic Reconnaissance Group (Heavy) in Sep 1950. Began converting to B-36's. Inactivated on 16 Jun 1952.

Squadrons. 6th Pursuit: 1919-1927. 19th Pursuit: 1924-1927. 23d: 1922-1930, 1938-1947, 1947-1952. 26th Attack: 1930-1938. 31st: 1938-1947, 1947-1952. 38th: 1947-1949. 72d: 1923-1930, 1938-1947, 1949-1952. 338th: 1947-1949. 394th (formerly 4th): 1920-1922, 1927-1938, 1939-1946. 431st (formerly 50th, later 5th): 1930-1938, 1946, 1947.

Stations. Luke Field, TH, 15 Aug 1919; Hickam Field, TH, 1 Jan 1939; Espiritu Santo, 1 Dec 1942; Guadalcanal, 19 Aug 1943; Munda, New Georgia, 4 Feb 1944; Momote Airfield, Los Negros, 7 Apr 1944; Wakde, 17 Aug 1944; Noemfoor, 22 Sep 1944; Morotai, Oct 1944; Samar, 5 Mar 1945; Clark Field, Luzon, Dec 1945-6 May 1949; Mountain Home AFB, Idaho, 26 May 1949; Fairfield-Suisun AFB, Calif, 9 Nov 1949-16 Jun 1952.

Commanders. Unkn, 1919-1938; Col Shepler W FitzGerald, c. Sep 1938-unkn; Lt Col Edwin B Bobzien, 1941; Col Arthur W Meehan, 1942; Col Brooke E Allen, 1 Nov 1942; Col Marion D Unruh, 10 Aug 1943; Lt Col Joseph E Reddoch Jr, 31 Dec 1943; Col Thomas C Musgrave Jr, 4 Apr 1944; Col Joseph E Reddoch Jr, 21 Apr 1944; Col Thomas C Musgrave Jr, 15 Aug 1944; Maj Albert W James, 28 Feb 1945; Col Isaac Haviland, 15 Mar 1945; Lt Col Albert W James, 5 Jul 1945-unkn; Col Herbert K Baisley, 16 Jan 1947- unkn; Col William E Basye, 1949; Col Walter E Arnold, 27 Feb 1950-16 Jun 1952.

Campaigns. Central Pacific; Guadalcanal; New Guinea; Northern Solomons; Eastern Mandates; Bismarck Archipelago; Western Pacific; Leyte; Luzon; Southern Philippines.

Decorations. Distinguished Unit Citations: Woleai Island, 18 Apr-15 May 1944; Borneo, 30 Sep 1944. Philippine Presidential Unit Citation.

Insigne. Shield: Party per pale nebuly vert and sable a death's head argent winged or. Crest: On a wreath of the colors (argent and vert), a bull's head caboshed azure and armed or. Motto: Kiai O Ka Lewa - Guardians of the Upper Regions. (Approved 21 Jun 1924.)

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

Museum Collection

    Carlos Wilcox



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