461st Bombardment Wing (H)

History

Air Force Fact Sheet : 461st Bombardment Wing (Heavy)

Command: Strategic Air Command (SAC)
  Fifteenth Air Force (15AF)

810th Air Division  

Primary Unit:

461st Bombardment Wing (Heavy)

Squadrons: 764th Bombardment Squadron (Heavy)
  909th Air Refueling Squadron
  461st Headquarters Squadron
  461st Organizational Maintenance Squadron
  461st Field Maintenance Squadron
  461st Armament & Electronics Squadron

461st Combat Defense Squadron

58th Munitions Maintenance Squadron

Equipment: B-52D "Stratotortress" Heavy Strategic Bomber.

KC-135A "Stratotanker" Boeing Jet Refueling Aircraft.

Commander:

Colonel William R. Calhoun, USAF, Wing Commander

Station: Amarillo Air Force Base, Amarillo, Texas 79111.

Extract

In January 1959, the 4128th Strategic Wing was activated at Amarillo Air Force Base.  In February 1963, the wing was redesignated as the 461st Bombardment Wing (Heavy) in accordance with a Strategic Air Command policy of reactivating many old units which boast combat records.

Existence of the wing stemmed from SAC's "Dispersal Concept", designed to strengthen SAC's deterrent power and to weaken the enemy's strike potential by greatly complicating his attack problem.

Plans for great expansion of facilities at Amarillo Air Force Base were being made back in 1957.  Most of these plans hinged around the coming og a Strategic Air Command bomber wing.  According to SAC's despersal plan, Amarillo Air Force Base was selected to support one B-52 wing.  Existing runways had to be extended, additional facilities constructed, and Capehart housing built to accommodate SAC flight and maintenance crews.  In late 1959, construction of the facilities for the SAC bomber wing were completed.  The new long-range runway, necessary for jet bombers, was opened on 16 November, and on 25 November, Air Training Command and SAC's 4128th Strategic Wing completed a joint tenancy agreement.  Occupancy of Capehart housing for Air Force personnel and dependents had begun in September 1959.  The 500-unit Capehart project, completed at a cost of $7.9 million, received a USAF award for the best Capehart housing in the southwest.

The 461st Wing is composed of eight squadrons: Heradquarters, Armament and Electronics Maintenance, Field Maintenance, Organizational Maintenance, Combat Defense, 58th Munitions Maintenance, 764th Bombardment Squadron (Heavy), and the 909th Air Refueling Squadron.

The first permanently assigned B-52 Stratofortress arrived at Amarillo Air Force Base in February 1960.  During the summer of 1963, a squadron of KC-135A tankers arrived at Amarillo Air Force Base.  Locating the 909th Air Refueling Squadron at Amarillo was in line with the SAC long-range plan to station units of KC-135s at B-52 bases.

The 461st Wing was awarded two Distinguished Unit Citations during World War II for its participation in the raids of the Ploesti oil fields and its actions over Budapest.  The764th was assigned to the 461st during World War II.

During the time this SAC unit was designated as the 4128th Strategic Wing, its personnel earned the Outstanding Air Force Unit Citation, highest peacetime unit award presented.

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764th Bombardment Squadron

The 764th Bombardment Squadron (Heavy) was activated 1 July 1943 at Wendover Field, Utah, and assigned to the 461st Bombardment Group.  The 764th Squadron as part of the 461st Group, moved to the Mediterranean Theater in February 1944, and was assigned to the Fifteenth Air Force in Italy and saw combat in the MTO and ETO from 2 April 1944 to 26 April 1945, with B-24 aircraft.  The 764th Bombardment Squadron was inactivated, along with the 461st Group on 28 August 1945 at Sioux Falls Air Base, South Dakota.

The 764th Bombardment Squadron was reactivated at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, on 23 December 1953, as part of the 461st Group, and assigned to the Tactical Air Command, and equipped with B-26C "Invader" light bombers.  In January 1955, the 461st Bombardment Wing converted to B-57B "Canberra" tactical jet bombers, and in October 1955, the 764th Squadron was designated a tactiocal bombardment squadron.  The 764th Squadron was again inactivated on 8 January 1958.

The 764th Squadron was again reactivated as a heavy bombardment squadron and assigned to the 461st Bombardment Wing (Heavy) at Amarillo Air Force Base, Texas, on 15 November 1962, and organizaed on 1 February 1963 and equipped with B-52D aircraft.

The 764th Bomb Squadron Campaigns in the MTO and ETO are: Air Offensive, Europe; Rome-Arno; Normandy; Northern France; Southern France; North Apennines; Rhineland; Central Europe; Po Valley; Air Combat, EAME Theater, and two DUCs for Budapest, Hungary, 13 April 1944; Ploesti, Rumania, 15 July 1944.

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New Unit Designation

On 1 February 1963 the 4128th Strategic Wing was redesignated the 461st Bombardment Wing (Heavy).  The following is the history of the 461st.

461st Bombardment Group

Constituted as 461st Bombardment Group (Heavy) on 19 May 1943.  Activated on 1 July 1943.  Moved to the Mediterranean Theater, January - February 1944, the air echelon flying B-24s via the south Atlantic and stopping in North Africa before joining the ground echelon in Italy.  Began combat with the Fifteenth Air Force in April 1944.  Engaged chiefly in Bombardment of communications, undustries, and other strategic objectives in Italy, France, Germany, Czechoslavakia, Hungary, Austria, Rumania, Yugoslavia and Greece.  Supported Fifttenth Air Force counter-air operations by bombing enemy airdromes and aircraft centers, receiving a Distinguished Unit Citation for a mission on 13 April 1944 when the group battled its way through enemy defenses to attach an aircraft components plant in Budapest.  Participated in the effort against the enemy's oil supply by flying missions to such oil centers as Brux, Blechhammer, Moosbierbaum, Vienna and Ploesti.  Received second Distinguished Unit Citation for a mission against oil facilities at Ploesti in July 1944 when, despite flak, clouds, smoke and fighter attachs, the group bombed its objective.  Also operated in support of ground forces and flew some interdictory missions.  Hit artillery positions in support of the invasion of France in September.  Aided the Allied offensive in Italy in April 1945 by attacking gun emplacements and troop concentrations.  Dropped suppies to prisoner-of-war camps in Austria during May 1945.  Returned to the U.S. in July 1945.  Inactivated on 28 August 1945.

Redesignated 461st Bombardment Group (Light).  Activated on 23 December 1953.  Assigned to Tactical Air Command.  Trained witnh B-26s and later converted to B-57s.  Redesignated 461st Bombardment Group (Tactical) in October 1955.

Squadrons.  764th: 1943-1945; 1953-.  765th: 1943-1945; 1953-.  766th: 1943-1945; 1953-.  767th: 1943-1945.

Stations.  Wendover Field, Utah, 1 July 1943; Gowen Field, Idaho, 29 July 1943; Kearns, Utah, 11 September 1943; Wendover Field, Utah, 30 September 1943; Hammer Field, California, 30 October 1943-January 1944; Torretta Airfield, Italy, C. 20 February 1944-July 1945; Sioux Falls, AAFLD, SD, 22 July-28 August 1945.  Hill AFB, Utah, 23 December 1953-.

Commanders.  Unknown, 1 July-12 August 1943; Lt. Col. Willis G. Carter, 12 August 1943; Col. Frederic E. Glantzberg, C. 25 October 1943; Col. Philip R. Hawes, 22 September 1944; Col. Brooks A Lawhon, 20 December 1944; Col. Craven C. Rogers, 16 April 1945-unknown; Major Gordon Baker, C. December 1953; Lt. Col. F. Blake, 4 February 1954; Col. Maxwell W. Roman, C. 14 July 1954; Lt. Col. John A. McVey, C. 16 May 1955; Lt. Col. William F. Furman, C. 1 August 1955-.

Campaigns.  Air Combat, EAME Theater; Air Offensive, Europe; Rome-Arno; Normandy; Northern France; Southern France; North Apennines; Rhineland; Central Europe; Po Valley.

Decorations.  Distinguished Unit Citations: Budapest, Hungary, 13 Pril 1944; Ploesti, Rumania, 15 July 1944.

Insigne. Shield: Per bend azure and light blue, superimposed over the bend a thunderbolt, bendwise, or, piercing through a cloud formation proper, over an increscent moon to the sinister chief, and a sun to the dexter base of the third; on a chief argent, over a bar to base of chief, embattled gules, and olive branch and seven arrows in saltire, between two spheres all proper. (Approved 4 August 1955.)