41st Electronic Combat Squadron [41st ECS]
The 41st ECS is one of the oldest aeronautical units in the United States military. It began as the U.S. Army's Company A, Fourth Balloon Squadron on Nov. 13, 1917. The unit became the First Observation Squadron in 1942 and then the 41st Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron in 1946. Its name changes reflected the rapidly developing air technology.
During World War I the squadron continuously moved with the front across the French countryside. From baskets dangling below moored balloons they accomplished aerial observation missions, relayed enemy movements by telephone to members on the ground: first for the French, then for the American forces in World War I. A favorite target of the German aviators, more then once crewmen had to jump rather than go down in the flimsy basket.
The aircrews progressed to aircraft and long-range cameras before the beginning or World War II. As a reaction to the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the squadron moved to the Panama Canal where it expanded its mission and flew both air defense over the canal zone and antisubmarine patrols over the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean for most of World War II.
For much of those early years the squadron accomplished visual and photographic reconnaissance of enemy positions. Then, in 1967, the squadron entered into the electronic warfare arena, in which it continued to work during its tour in Southeast Asia. During the Vietnam conflict the squadron participated in nine distinct combat campaigns, for a time under the 355th.
In July, 1980, the squadron, under its current name and mission, was activated at D-M and moved under the 355th in 1992. The 41st has made its home in nine states, two territories and four foreign countries. It served in World War I, World War II, Vietnam, and Operation Desert Storm. For its accomplishments the unit has earned three Presidential Unit Citations, three Air Force Outstanding Unit Awards with Combat "V" devices for actions in Vietnam, an additional two Air Force Outstanding Unit Awards for peacetime service, and the Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross with palm award.
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