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55th Fighter Group

Constituted as 55th Pursuit Group (Interceptor) on 20 Nov 1940. Activated on 15 Jan 1941. Trained with P-43's. Redesignated 55th Fighter Group in May 1942. Converted to P-38's and prepared for combat. Moved to England, Aug-Sep 1943. Assigned to Eighth AF. Began operations with P-38's on 15 Oct 1943; converted to P-51's in Jul 1944. Engaged primarily in escorting bombers that attacked such targets as industries and marshalling yards in Germany, and airfields and V-weapon sites in France. Provided cover for B-17's and B-24's that bombed aircraft plants during Big Week in Feb 1944, gun emplacements during the St Lo breakthrough in Jul 1944, and transportation facilities during the Battle of the Bulge, Dec 1944-Jan 1945. Also patrolled the air over the Channel and bombed bridges in the Tours area during the invasion of the Continent in Jun 1944; patrolled the Arnhem sector to support the airborne invasion of Holland in Sep 1944; strafed trucks, locomotives, and oil depots near Wesel when the Allies crossed the Rhine in Mar 1945. Received a DUC for eight missions to Germany between 3 and 13 Sep 1944 when the group not only destroyed enemy fighters in the air to protect the bombers it was escorting, but also descended to low levels, in spite of intense antiaircraft fire, to strafe airdromes and to destroy enemy aircraft on the ground. Received second DUC for operations on 19 Feb 1945 when the organization flew a sweep over Germany to hit railway tracks, locomotives, oil cars, goods wagons, troop cars, buildings, and military vehicles. Flew last combat mission on 21 Apr 1945. Moved to Germany in Jul 1945 as part of the occupation forces. Assigned to United States Air Forces in Europe. Trained with P-51 and P-80 aircraft. Inactivated in Germany on 20 Aug 1946.

Redesignated 55th Reconnaissance Group (Very Long Range, Mapping). Activated in the US on 24 Feb 1947. Assigned to Strategic Air Command. Redesignated 55th Strategic Reconnaissance Group in Jun 1948. Aircraft included RB-17's and B-29's and RB-29's. Inactivated on 14 Oct 1949.

Redesignated 55th Strategic Reconnaissance Group (Medium). Activated in Puerto Rico on 1 Nov 1950. Assigned to Strategic Air Command. Equipped with RB-29 and RB-50 aircraft. Inactivated on 16 Jun 1952.

Squadrons. 7th Geodetic: 1949. 37th: 1941-1943. 38th: 1941-1946; 1949; 1950-1952. 54th: 1941-1942. 338th: 1942-1946; 1949; 1950-1952. 343d: 1943-1946; 1947-1949; 1950-1952.

Stations. Hamilton Field, Calif, 15 Jan 1941; Portland, Ore, 21 May 1941; Paine Field, Wash, 10 Feb 1942; McChord Field, Wash, 22 Jul 1942-23 Aug 1943; Nuthampstead, England, 14 Sep 1943; Wormingford, England, 16 Apr 1944; Kaufbeuren, Germany, 22 Jul 1945; Giebelstadt, Germany, 29 Apr-20 Aug 1946. MacDill Field, Fla, 24 Feb 1947; Topeka AFB, Kan, 30 Jun 1948-14 Oct 1949. Ramey AFB, PR, 1 Nov 1950-16 Jun 1952.

Commanders. Capt Kenneth S Wade, 15 Jan 1941; Maj James W McCauley, 1 May 1941; Lt Col Karl K Bowen, 1 May 1942; Maj Jack S Jenkins, 1 Aug 1942; Maj Ernest W Keating, 13 Nov 1942; Lt Col Frank B James, 15 May 1943; Col Jack S Jenkins, 6 Feb 1944; Col George T Crowell, 10 Apr 1944; Lt Col Elwyn C Righetti, 22 Feb 1945; Col Ben Rimerman, 22 Apr 1945; Lt Col Jack W Hayes Jr, 21 May 1945; Lt Col Horace A Hanes, Jul 1946-unkn. Capt Daniel W Burrows, 24 Feb 1947; Lt Col Albert M Welsh, 20 May 1947-unkn; Lt Col George Humbrecht, 26 Oct 1948-unkn; Col Herbert K Baisley, unkn-1949. Col Richard T King, 1 Nov 1950; Brig Gen Sydney D Grubbs Jr, 20 Dec 1950; Col Alfred K Kalberer, 18 Feb-16 Jun 1952.

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

Decorations. Distinguished Unit Citations: ETO, 3-13 Sep 1944; Germany, 19 Feb 1945.

Insigne. Shield: Azure, on a fess indented or a similar bar gules. Motto: Pursuit To Defend. (Approved 18 Feb 1942. This insigne was replaced 4 Feb 1954.)

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


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