34th Bomb Squadron [34th BS]
In mid-2001 the Department of Defense proposed to retire 33 B-1B aircraft at three locations and use a portion of the savings to upgrade the remaining 60 aircraft in the fleet. The Pentagon claims the proposal would save enough money to modernize the remaining fleet. The active Air Force wing at Mountain Home is due to lose its seven B-1Bs, which would result in the loss of 508 jobs.
The 34th Bomb Squadron is part of the 366th Wing at at Mountain Home Air Force Base. The 34th's B-1Bs are part one of the Air Force's composite wings, which also includes F-15 Eagles, F-16 Fighting Falcons, and KC-135s. In July 1992 the 366th also gained the 34th Bomb Squadron. Located at Castle AFB, California, the 34th flew the B-52G Stratofortress, giving the composite wing deep interdiction bombing capabilities as the only B-52 unit armed with the deadly, long-range HAVE NAP missile.
In March 1994 Ellsworth AFB welcomed the 34th Bomb Squadron, a geographically separated unit awaiting airfield upgrades before it could return to its parent organization, the 366 BW, at Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho. On 01 April 1994 the 34th Bomb Squadron transferred its flag to Ellsworth AFB, South Dakota. At the same time the squadron's B-52Gs were retired, making way for the squadron to be equipped with the technologically advanced B-1B Lancer.
The first two B-1B bombers to be permanently stationed at Mountain Home arrived 22 August 1996. The next two aircraft arrived in September 1996 from Ellsworth, with the remaining four aircraft arriving by March 1997. The relocation of the aircraft and a squadron of 300 people required the building of new facilities to house the people and planes. Construction projects included a large airframe hangar, a new dormitory, a squadron operations building, armament shop, corrosion control facility, munitions shop,avionics shop and a B-1B munitions storage facility.
In November 1997 the 366th Air Expeditionary Wing, nicknamed the Gunfighters, accomplished a series of firsts while deployed to Bahrain in support of Operation Southern Watch. It was the first time an Operational Readiness Inspection was completed in theater during a real-world contingency; the first time bombers, fighters and tankers from the same wing deployed to a location in support of a contingency; and the first time the B-1B Lancers from the 34th Bomb Squadron have bedded down with the wing in a deployed location. Conducting an ORI during a real-world contingency came as an ACC initiative to lower operational tempo in a unit.
As of mid-2001 it was reported that three of the planes in the B-1 squadron at Mountain Home Air Force Base were operational. The others were either inoperable or had been cannibalized, because the backlog for some spare parts for the B-1 is over 360 days.
The history of the 34th Bomb Squadron dates back to World War I, when the U.S. Army organized the 34th Aero Squadron on 11 June 1917. The unit was originally stationed at Camp Kelly, TX, but it departed for England on 11 August 1917. Following a month in transit and three months in England, the squadron arrived at Tours, France, where it was assigned to the Second Aviation Instruction Center. In France, it conducted ground training for flyers who were later transferred to combat units. In May 1919, the 34th Aero Squadron was moved to Mitchell Field, NY, and demobilized on 10 June of that year.
The unit was reactivated on 15 July 1931 at March Field, CA. It had been redesignated the 34th Pursuit Squadron while inactive. At March Field, it was assigned to the 17th Pursuit Group and equipped with the P-12 biplane fighter. It conducted flight operations from March Field for the next nine years, undergoing many changes. In addition to the P-12, the unit later gained the open-cockpit, monoplane P-26. In 1935 and 1936, the squadron transitioned to the A-17 and YA-19 aircraft, which it kept until 1940. As a part of this transition, the unit was redesignated the 34th Attack Squadron on 1 March 1935. In March 1938, the 34th aided in Southern California flood relief by flying humanitarian food drop missions.
On 17 October 1939, the squadron was redesignated as the 34th Bombardment Squadron (Medium) and began receiving the B-18 Bomber. This lasted only a year, however, as the B-23 replaced the B-18, A-17, and YA-19. This changes also brought a change in station, with the squadron moving to McChord Field, WA, on 24 June 1940. As the US. Increased the size of its military in response to the war in Europe and the growing Japanese threat, the 34th moved several times over the next few years and transitioned into the B-25 Mitchell Bomber. Between June 1941 and February 1942, the squadron moved four times, conducting antisubmarine patrols along the Oregon coast before finally moving to Lexington Country Airport, SC, on 16 February 1942. While there, the 34th and other B-25 units fell under the command of Lt. Col. James Doolittle. Some members of the 34th launched from the aircraft carrier Hornet and conducted the famous "Doolittle Raid" on Japan. Shortly thereafter the 34th moved to Barksdale Field, LA, and transitioned to the B-26 Marauder.
Staying at Barksdale for training from June to November 1942, the squadron left for the Mediterranean Theater to enter combat. Its first overseas station was at Telegrama, Algeria, but the squadron moved every few months as Allied forces gained ground. Throughout the war, the 34th flew bombing missions in the B-26, advancing through Algeria, Tunisia, Sardinia, Corsica, and finally France. After the German surrender, the unit moved to Austria as part of the occupation force before returning to the U.S. in November 1945. The day after its 25 November arrival at Camp Myles Standish, Massachusetts, the squadron was inactivated.
The 34th was again activated on 10 May 1952, with the squadron newly renamed the 34th Bombardment Squadron (Light, Night Intruder). This activation took place at Pusan, Korea, in the midst of the Korean War. The 34th flew the B-26 Invader, a different aircraft from the World War II B-26 Marauder. In Korea, the squadron flew interdiction and close support missions until the war ended in July 1953. The 34th remained in Korea until 10 October 1954, when it moved to Miho, Japan. On 1 April 1955, it moved to Eglin Field, FL, still flying the B-26. While there, the squadron transitioned into the B-57 and later the B-66 Bombers. The receipt for the B-57 caused another redesignation to the 34th Bombardment Squadron (Tactical) on 1 October 1955. Following three years of peacetime operations at Eglin, the unit was again inactivated on 25 June 1958.
After a redesignation to the 34th Bombardment Squadron (Heavy), the unit reactivated on 1 February 1963 at Wright-Patterson AFB, OH, and received the B-52 Stratofortress. For the next thirteen years, the unit served as part of SAC's deterrent forces during the Cold War. Although the squadron itself never served in Vietnam, it did supply crews and aircraft to other SAC units conducting combat operations. On 30 September 1976, the squadron was inactivated.
On 29 June 1992, the unit was reactivated at Castle AFB, CA, as the 34th Bomb Squadron and equipped with the B-52G. Although located at Castle, the unit was assigned to the 366th Wing, a new air interdiction composite wing located at Mountain Home AFB, ID. These B-52G's gave the 366th the unique ability to employ the AGM-142 HAVE NAP optically-guided, precision standoff missile.
The squadron was again relocated to Ellsworth AFB, SD, on 31 March 1994 and transitioned to the B-1B Lancer. Still assigned to the 366th Wing, the B-1 gave the wing a heavy bomber with the speed capability necessary to integrate into composite strike packages.
A decision was made on 15 June 1996 to finally relocate the squadron to Mountain Home AFB, home of the 366th Wing "Gunfighters." The actual relocation began on 1 July 1996, and was to be completed on 1 April 1997 with the transfer of the 34th's flag ship, tail number 68-0134.
After the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks on the US, the 34th was one of the first units to deploy overseas in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. And now on 19 September 2002, the 34th moved back from Mountain Home AFB, ID to Ellsworth AFB, SD.
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