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359th Fighter Group

Constituted as 359th Fighter Group on 20 Dec 1942. Activated on 15 Jan 1943. Apparently not manned until Mar 1943. Moved to England in Oct 1943 and became part of Eighth AF. Entered combat in mid-Dec, after some of the pilots had already flown combat missions with another fighter group. Began operations with P-47's; converted to P-51's in Apr 1944. In combat, Dec 1943-May 1945, flew escort, patrol, strafing, dive-bombing, and weather-reconnaissance missions. At first, engaged primarily in escort activities to cover bombers that attacked airfields in France. Expanded area of operations in May 1944 to provide escort for bombers that struck rail centers in Germany and oil targets in Poland. Supported the invasion of Normandy (Jun 1944), patrolling the English Channel, escorting bombardment formations to the French coast, and dive-bombing and strafing bridges, locomotives, and rail lines near the battle area. During the period Jul 1944-Feb 1945, engaged chiefly in escorting bombers to oil refineries, marshalling yards, and other targets in such cities as Ludwigshafen, Stuttgart, Frankfurt, Berlin, Merseburg, and Brux. Received a DUC for operations over Germany on 11 Sep 1944 when the group protected a formation of heavy bombers against large numbers of enemy fighters. In addition to its escort duties, the group supported campaigns in France during Jul and Aug 1944, bombed enemy positions to support the airborne invasion of Holland in Sep, and participated in the Battle of the Bulge (Dec 1944-Jan 1945). Flew missions to support the assault across the Rhine in Mar 1945, and escorted medium bombers that attacked various communications targets, Feb-Apr 1945. Returned to the US in Nov 1945. Inactivated on 10 Nov 1945.

Redesignated 123d Fighter Group. Allotted to ANG (Ky) on 24 May 1946. Extended federal recognition on 20 Sep 1947. Ordered into active service on 10 Oct 1950. Redesignated 123d Fighter-Bomber Group. Assigned to Tactical Air Command. Trained with F-51's until late in 1951. Converted to F-84's in Nov and moved to England to become part of United States Air Forces in Europe. Transferred to the US without personnel and equipment, relieved from active duty, returned to control of ANG (Ky), and redesignated 123d Fighter-Interceptor Group, on 10 Jul 1952. Redesignated 123d Fighter-Bomber Group in Jan 1953.

Squadrons. 156th: 1950-1952. 368th (later 165th): 1943-1945; 1950-1952. 369th (later 167th): 1943-1945; 1950-1952. 370th: 1943-1945.

Stations. Westover Field, Mass, 15 Jan 1943; Grenier Field, NH, 7 Apr 1943; Republic Field, NY, 11 Jul 1943; Westover Field, Mass, 23 Aug-2 Oct 1943; East Wretham, England, Oct 1943-Nov 1945; Camp Kilmer, NJ, 9-10 Nov 1945. Standiford Mun Aprt, Ky, 10 Oct 1950; Godman AFB, Ky, c. 20 Oct 1950-15 Nov 1951; Manston RAF Station, England, 10 Dec 1951-10 Jul 1952.

Commanders. Col Avelin P Tacon Jr, Jan 1943; Col John P Randolph, 12 Nov 1944; Lt Col Donald A Baccus, 8 Apr 1945; Lt Col Daniel D McKee, c. 16 Sep 1945-unkn. Col Philip P Ardery, 10 Oct 1950; Lt Col William J Payne, 26 Oct 1950; Lt Col Chesley G Peterson, 20 Apr 1951; Lt Col Delynn E Anderson, 4 Aug 1951-Jul 1952.

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

Decorations. Distinguished Unit Citation: Germany, 11 Sep 1944.

Insigne. Shield: Per chevron, azure and or; in base a star argent over a hurt, between a bar voided per roundle azure; three rays issuing from the hurt to three winged plates argent, over three billets or, in chief; over all a chevron, per chevron, of the last and gules; the shield edged in chief or. Motto: Fortes Fortuna Juvat - Fortune Assists the Brave. (Approved 20 Dec 1951.)

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


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