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6th Bombardment Group

Organized as 3rd Observation Group in the Panama Canal Zone on 30 Sep 1919. Redesignated 6th Group (Observation) in 1921, 6th Group (Composite) in 1922, 6th Bombardment Group in 1937, 6th Bombardment Group (Medium) in 1939, and 6th Bombardment Group (Heavy) in 1940. Operations, which were concerned chiefly with defense of the canal, included training, participating in maneuvers, flying patrol missions, photographing the canal area, staging aerial reviews, making good-will flights to Central and South American countries, and flying mercy missions in Jan 1939 to earthquake victims at Santiago, Chile. Equipped with R-4's and DH-4's in 1919; used SE-5A, MB-3A, and P-12B aircraft in the period 1922-1929; received B-10's in 1936 and B-18's in 1939; used B-17, B-18, B-24, LB-30, and L-4E aircraft after the US entered World War II. Disbanded in the Canal Zone on 1 Nov 1943.

Reconstituted on 29 Jun 1944 and consolidated with 6th Bombardment Group (Very Heavy), which had been constituted on 28 Mar 1944 and activated in the US on 19 Apr 1944. Equipped first with B-17's; later trained for combat with B-29's. Moved to Tinian, Nov 1944-Feb 1945. Assigned to Twentieth AF. Commenced operations by attacking Iwo Jima and the Truk Islands in Feb 1945. Afterward, struck industrial targets in Japan, flying in daylight and at high altitude to carry out these missions. Began incendiary raids on area targets in Japan in Mar 1945 and was awarded a DUC for action on 25 May when the group flew at night and at low altitude through alerted enemy defenses to drop incendiaries on Tokyo. Participated in mining operations in the Shimonoseki Strait and received second DUC for contributing to the blockade of the Japanese Empire by mining harbors in Japan and Korea in Jul 1945. Assisted the invasion of Okinawa in Apr 1945 with strikes on Kyushu, hitting airfields that were used by kamikaze pilots. After the war, dropped food and supplies to Allied prisoners and took part in show-of-force flights over Japan. Moved to the Philippines in Jan 1946 and to the Ryukyus in Jun 1947. Inactivated on Okinawa on 18 Oct 1948.

Redesignated 6th Bombardment Group (Medium). Activated in the US on 2 Jan 1951. Assigned to Strategic Air Command and equipped with B-29's. Inactivated on 16 Jun 1952.

Squadrons. 3d: 1940-1942. 24th: 1922-1929; 1944-1948; 1951-1952. 25th: 1922-1943. 29th: 1943. 39th: 1944-1948; 1951-1952. 40th: 1944-1948; 1951-1952. 44th: 1930-1937. 74th: 1940-1942, 1943. 395th: 1942-1943. 397th (formerly 7th): 1919-1940, 1942-1943.

Stations. France Field, CZ, 30 Sep 1919; Rio Hato, Panama, 9 Dec 1941; Albrook Field, CZ, 14 Jan 1943; Howard Field, CZ, Oct-1 Nov 1943. Dalhart AAFld, Tex, 19 Apr 1944; Grand Island AAFld, Neb, 19 May-18 Nov 1944; North Field, Tinian, 28 Dec 1944; Clark Field, Luzon, 28 Jan 1946; Kadena, Okinawa, 1 Jun 1947-18 Oct 1948. Walker AFB, NM, 2 Jan 1951-16 Jun 1952.

Commanders. Unkn, 1919-1923; Maj Follett Bradley, 1923-1926; Lt Col Lewis H Brereton, Aug 1931-c. Jun 1935; Lt Col William O Butler, c. Jan. 1937-Jul 1939; Lt Col Edwin House, 1939-1940; Maj Samuel M Connell, c. Sep 1940-Feb 1941, Col Henry K Mooney, 15 Sep 1941-20 Jan 1943; unkn, 20 Jan-1 Nov 1943. Maj William E Taylor, 19 Apr 1944; Lt Col Howard D Kenzie, 28 Apr 1944; Col Kenneth H Gibson, 17 Jun 1944; Lt Col Theodore W Tucker, 31 Aug 1945; Col John P Kenny, 29 Aug 1946; Col Frank P Sturdivant, 4 Dec 1946-unkn. Col William K Martin, 15 Jan 1951-16 Jun 1952.

Campaigns. Antisubmarine, American Theater; Air Offensive, Japan; Eastern Mandates; Western Pacific.

Decorations. Distinguished Unit Citations: Tokyo, Japan, 25 May 1945; Japanese Empire, 9-19 Jul 1945.

Insigne. Shield: Per fess debased or and azure issuant against the rays of the setting sun a full rigged ship (black hull and white sails), in the gaillard cut (light and dark green), in chief a biplane (black) diving bend sinisterwise all proper. Crest: On a wreath of the colors (or and azure) a pirate's head and shoulders tattooed on the chest with skull and bones proper, garbed and coifed or and sable. Motto: Parati Defendere - Ready to Defend. (Approved 22 Jan 1924.)

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


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