Army Air Corps Library and Museum Logo

38th Bombardment Group

Constituted as 38th Bombardment Group (Medium) on 20 Nov 1940. Activated on 15 Jan 1941. Trained with B-18, B-25, and B-26 aircraft. The ground echelon moved to Australia, Jan-Feb 1942, while the air echelon remained in the US for further training. Air echelons of two squadrons arrived in Hawaii in May 1942 and took part in the Battle of Midway; they did not rejoin the group and eventually were reassigned. Air echelons of the other squadrons arrived in Australia in Aug 1942. Assigned to Fifth AF and equipped with B-25's, the group operated from bases in Australia, New Guinea, and Biak, Sep 1942-Oct 1944, attacking Japanese airfields and shipping and supporting ground forces in New Guinea and the Bismarck Archipelago. Maj Ralph Cheli was awarded the Medal of Honor for action on 18 Aug 1943: while leading the 405th squadron to attack a heavily defended airdrome on New Guinea, his plane was severely hit by enemy fire; rather than disrupt the formation, Maj Cheli remained in position and led the attack on the target before his bomber crashed into the sea. The group was awarded a DUC for bombing and strafing Japanese troops and fortifications on Cape Gloucester, New Britain, Dec 1943, preparatory to the Allied invasion. Received another DUC for two missions over New Guinea, 16 and 17 Jun 1944, against Japanese airfields, merchant ships, and naval vessels. Moved to the Moluccas in Oct 1944 and bombed airfields, ground installations, harbors, and shipping in the southern Philippines in support of the US invasion of Leyte. Struck a large enemy convoy in Ormoc Bay in Nov 1944 to prevent the landing of reinforcements, being awarded a DUC for the mission. After moving to the Philippines in Jan 1945, supported US ground forces on Luzon, bombed industries on Formosa, and attacked shipping along the China coast. Stationed temporarily on Palawan in Jun 1945 for participation in the preinvasion bombing of Japanese installations on Borneo. Moved to Okinawa in Jul 1945 and conducted several attacks on industries, railways, and shipping in southern Japan. Moved to Japan in Nov 1945 as part of Far East Air Forces. Redesignated 38th Bombardment Group (Light) in May 1946. Equipped with A-26 aircraft. Inactivated in the Far East on 1 Apr 1949.

Activated in France on 1 Jan 1953. Assigned to United States Air Forces in Europe. Equipped with B-26 and later with B-57 aircraft. Redesignated 38th Bombardment Group (Tactical) in Oct 1955.

Squadrons. 69th: 1941-1943. 70th: 1941-1943. 71st: 1941-1949; 1953-. 89th: 1946-1949. 405th: 1942-1949; 1953-. 822d: 1943-1946; 1953-. 823d: 1943-1946.

Stations. Langley Field, Va, 15 Jan 1941; Jackson AAB, Miss, c. 5 Jun 1941-18 Jan 1942; Doomben Field, Australia, 25 Feb 1942; Ballarat, Australia, 8 Mar 1942; Amberley Field, Australia, 30 Apr 1942; Eagle Farms, Australia, c. 10 Jun 1942; Breddan Field, Australia, 7 Aug 1942; Townsville, Australia, 30 Sep 1942; Port Moresby, New Guinea, Oct 1942; Nadzab, New Guinea, 4 Mar 1944; Biak, 1 Oct 1944; Morotai, 15 Oct 1944; Lingayen, Luzon, c. 29 Jan 1945; Okinawa, 25 Jul 1945; Itazuke, Japan, c. 22 Nov 1945; Itami, Japan, 26 Oct 19461 Apr 1949. Laon AB, France, 1 Jan 1953-.

Commanders. Lt Col Robert D Knapp, 15 Jan 1941; Col Fay R Upthegrove, c. 18 Jan 1942-unkn; Lt Col Brian O'Neill, 19 Oct 1942; Lt Col Lawrence Tanberg, 1 Oct 1943; Lt Col Carl C Lausman, Jul 1944; Maj Howard M Paquin, 18 Aug 1944; Col Edward M Gavin, 9 Nov 1944; Lt Col Edwin H Hawes, 16 Mar 1945; Lt Col Vernon D Torgerson, 9 Aug 1945; Lt Col Bruce T Marston, 12 Sep 1945; Lt Col Joseph P Gentile, 17 Mar 1946; Lt Col John P Crocker, 16 May 1946; Col C Bondley Jr, 2 Jul 1946; Col Dale D Brannon, 12 Nov 1946; Col C Bondley Jr, 13 Dec 1946; Col John Hutchison, 25 Jan 1947; Col Donald D Fitzgerald, 26 Feb 1948; Col Preston P Pender, 7 May 1948; Lt Col Charles R Johnson, 18 Jul 1948-1 Apr 1949. Lt Col Max H Mortensen, 1 Jan 1953; Col Glen W Clark, 16 Mar 1953; Col Broadus B Taylor, 6 Jun 1955-.

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

Decorations. Distinguished Unit Citations: Papua, [Sep] 1942-23 Jan 1943; New Britain, 24-26 Dec 1943; New Guinea, 17 Jun 1944; Leyte, 10 Nov 1944. Philippine Presidential Unit Citation.

Insigne. Shield: Azure a winged sword point downward argent, the hilt and pommel charged with a torteau, a pomeis, and a bezant, a fleur-de-lis fretting the blade or, between two cloud formations of the second issuing from dexter and sinister base. (Approved 16 Apr 1954.)

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


Do you have items such as papers, photos, uniforms, gear and other artifacts? Read more about Supporting the AALCM.

Volunteers Needed

We need help with transcribing data. Personnel and group records to digital. Want to help? Contact Us

Servicemen Data

If you have any data on servicemen and units and would be like to add it to our digital library; please Contact Us