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348th Fighter Group

Constituted as 348th Fighter Group on 24 Sep 1942 and activated on 30 Sep. Prepared for combat with P-47's. Moved to the Southwest Pacific, May-Jun 1943, and assigned to Fifth AF. Operated from New Guinea and Noemfoor until Nov 1944. Flew patrol and reconnaissance missions and escorted bombers to targets in New Guinea and New Britain. Col Neel E Kearby was awarded the Medal of Honor for action over New Guinea on 11 Oct 1943: after leading a flight of four fighters to reconnoiter the enemy base at Wewak, Col Kearby sighted a Japanese bomber formation escorted by more than 30 fighters; despite the heavy odds and a low fuel supply, and although his mission had been accomplished, Kearby ordered an attack, personally destroying six of the enemy planes. For covering Allied landings and supporting ground forces on New Britain, 16-31 Dec 1943, the group was awarded a DUC. In 1944 began to attack airfields, installations, and shipping in western New Guinea, Ceram, and Halmahera to aid in neutralizing those areas preparatory to the US invasion of the Philippines. After moving to the Philippines in Nov 1944, provided cover for convoys, flew patrols, escorted bombers, attacked enemy airfields, and supported ground forces. Received a DUC for withstanding assaults by enemy fighters to cover bombers raiding Clark Field on 24 Dec 1944. Also attacked shipping along the China coast and escorted bombers to Formosa and the Asiatic mainland. Moved to the Ryukyus in Jul 1945 and completed some escort and attack missions to Kyushu before the war ended. Moved to Japan in Oct 1945 as part of Far East Air Forces. Inactivated on 10 May 1946.

Redesignated 108th Fighter Group. Allotted to ANG (NJ) on 24 May 1946. Extended federal recognition on 16 Oct 1946. Called to active duty on 1 Mar 1951. Redesignated 108th Fighter-Bomber Group. Assigned first to Strategic Air Command and later to Tactical Air Command. Equipped with F-47's. Relieved from active service on 1 Dec 1952 and returned to the control of ANG (NJ).

Squadrons. 149th: 1951-1952. 153d 1951-1952. 340th: 1942-1946. 341st (later 141st): 1942-1946; 1951-1952. 342d: 1942-1946. 460th: 1944-1946.

Stations. Mitchel Field, NY, 30 Sep 1942; Bradley Field, Conn, 4 Oct 1942; Westover Field, Mass, 29 Oct 1942; Providence, RI, c. 3 Jan 1943; Westover Field, Mass, 28 Apr-9 May 1943; Port Moresby, New Guinea, 23 Jun 1943; Finschhafen, New Guinea, 16 Dec 1943; Saidor, New Guinea, 29 Mar 1944; Wakde, 22 May 1944; Noemfoor, 26 Aug 1944; Leyte, 16 Nov 1944; San Marcelino, Luzon, 4 Feb 1945; Floridablanca, Luzon, 15 May 1945; Ie Shima, 9 Jul 1945; Itami, Japan, Oct 1945-10 May 1946. Newark Mun Aprt, NJ, 1 Mar 1951; Turner AFB, Ga, 14 Mar 1951; Godman AFB, Ky, 9 Dec 1951-1 Dec 1952.

Commanders. Col Neel E Kearby, Oct 1942; Col Robert R Rowland, 17 Nov 1943; Lt Col William M Banks, 8 Jun 1945; Maj Walter G Benz, 26 Nov 1945-unkn. Maj J D Zink, Mar 1951; Col Alvan C Gillem II, Jun 1951; Col Carl W Stapleton, c. Nov 1951; Col Donald J Strait, 14 Jan 1952; Col George Laven Jr, 4 Aug-1 Dec 1952.

Campaigns. Air Offensive, Japan; China Defensive; New Guinea; Bismarck Archipelago; Western Pacific; Leyte; Luzon; China Offensive.

Decorations. Distinguished Unit Citations: New Britain, 16-31 Dec 1943; Philippine Islands, 24 Dec 1944. Philippine Presidential Unit Citation

Insigne. Shield: Azure, within a bordure dimidiated, gules, hand gauntleted in armour proper, encircled with wreath of laurel, vert, grasping a torch argent, flamant proper. Motto: Per Caelum Victoriae - Through the Skies to Victory. (Approved 15 Aug 1951.)

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


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