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319th Bomb Wing

The 319th Bombardment Wing was a unique B-52H unit with strategic projection force responsibilities.

The US Army Air Forces activated the 319th Bombardment Group (Medium) at Barksdale Field, Louisiana on 26 June 1942. The 319th Bomb Group, equipped with B-26 Marauders, was posted in England under the Eighth Air Force in September 1942, and within weeks the group transferred to Algeria to fly B-26 missions for the Twelfth Air Force. It later operated from Morocco, Tunisia, Sardinia, Corsica, and Italy against the Axis powers. Transferred to Okinawa in July 1945, the group flew A-26 Invader bombing mission against Japanese targets before being inactivated at Fort Lewis, Washington on 18 December 1945. The Air Force activated the 319th Fighter-Bomber Wing in 1955, equipped with F-86H Sabrejets, as part of the Air Force Reserve at Memphis Municipal Airport, Tennessee. On 16 November 1957 the 319th Fighter-Bomber Wing was inactivated.

The 319th Bombardment Wing, Heavy, was activated on 15 Nov 1962 at Grand Forks AFB, ND with the personnel and aircraft previously assigned to the 4133d Strategic Wing. On 01 February 1963 the 319th Bomb Wing was organized at Grand Forks with two operational squadrons -- the 46th Bomb Squadron and 905th Air Refueling Squadron -- equipped with with Boeing B-52H Stratofortress bombers and Boeing KC-135A Stratotanker tanker aircraft. The wing placed aircraft on peacetime quick reaction alert duty, and conducted global bombardment training for Emergency War Order operations and air refueling operations to meet SAC commitments.

In the 1969 Strategic Air Command "Proud Shield" Bombing and Navigation Competition the 319th Bomb Wing took first place and won the Fairchild Best Overall Bomb Unit Trophy. Moreover, the wing won the Holloway, Best Unit Bombing, Best Crew Bombing and Navigation, and Best Unit Bombing and Navigation (Single Mission) awards. The following year the wing took first place in the British Royal Air Force Bombing andNavigation Competition, receiving the Blue Steel Trophy.

During the war in Southeast Asia, the 319th Bomb Wing's mission expanded to include sending bomber and tanker aircrews on temporary duty assignments to support B-52 and KC-135 operations from 1963 to 1974. Tanker crews participated in refueling operations for both bombers and fighters. The bomb crews flew B-52Ds from bases in Guam, Okinawa, and Thailand. Bomber crews participated in Operation ARC LIGHT in 1968 and Operations LINEBACKER I and II in 1972.

In 1973, the 319th Bomb Wing acquired the Short Range Attack Missile (SRAM), replacing the older "Hound Dog" air-to-ground missile aboard its B-52Hs. As the activities in Southeast Asia decreased, the 319th Bomb Wing focused its full efforts on training crews to fly strategic strike missions. The wing continued its record of outstanding performance, being selected as the best unit in Fifteenth Air Force and Strategic Air Command and receiving the Riverside Trophy and Omaha Trophy [as the outstanding wing in SAC] in 1978. The wing also earned the Dougharty SRAM Trophy during the SAC Bombing and Navigation Competition in 1978, Mathis Trophy in 1980, and the Bartsch Trophy for the best ECM in SAC. In addition, the 319th Bomb Wing received an Air Force Outstanding Unit Award forits performance during 1977 to 1979. It also participated in SAC program to test admission of females to inflight refueling career field, Jan- Dec 1979. The 319th Bomb Wing received an Air Force Outstanding Unit Award for its performance of duty from 1 Jul 1977 to 20 Jun 1979.

The Strategic Air Command broadened the 319th Bomb Wing's mission by making it the cornerstone of the newly formed Strategic Projection Force in 1980. SAC developed the Strategic Projection Force for use as a quick response conventional force during national emergencies. The unit had the mission of providing massive firepower anywhere in the worldon very short notice. The 319th Bombardment Wing was a unique B-52H unit with strategic projection force responsibilities. Activities included the first non-stop flight of B-52s from North Dakota through a precision low-level bombing mission in Egypt and return, demonstrating US resolve in support of Operation Bright Star in the Middle East. In 1981 the wing flew four B-52H bombers on a 31-hour, 15,000-mile flight from Grand Forks AFB to deliver conventional bombs on a simulated runway target in Egypt during Exercise Bright Star 81.

After flying B-52H bombers for 20 years, the 319th Bomb Wing changed to B-52G bombers in 1983. The unit also became operationally ready with the Air Launched Cruise Missile (ALCM) in 1984. During 1985, a 319th Bomb Wing B-52G, in a test called Global Cruise, launched an ALCM over northern Canada. The missile made a perfect simulated strike on its target, marking the first time SAC had launched a missile over foreign territory. In 1986, the 319th flew the first triple weapons drop ever by a SAC bomber when it delivered an inert ALCM, SRAM, and gravity weapon during a Global Shield exercise. During further SAC Bombing and Navigation Competitions, the 319th Bomb Wing earned the Dougherty SRAM and Davis Trophies in 1985 and Bartsch ECM Trophy in 1986.

The Wing converted from B-52 to B-1 bombers, 1986-1987, and flew training missions with conventional and nuclear configurations. In 1987 the 319th Bomb Wing converted to the Boeing KC-135R Stratotanker. The first B-1B landed at Grand Forks AFB on 19 September 1987, and the wing put its first Lancer on alert on 1 October 1988. In 1989, it deployed B-1Bs and KC-135Rs to Mountain Home AFB, Idaho, during Exercise Mighty Warrior to demonstrate the wing's capability in flying from a forward operatinglocation. Tanker crews assisted in air refueling efforts during the Operation JUST CAUSE invasion of Panama in December 1989. The Wing deployed tankers to Oman, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia to provide air refueling and cargo missions in Southwest Asia during August 1990-April 1991. The 319th's tankers provided air-to-air refueling during the deployment of USforces to the Middle East during Operation DESERT SHIELD, followed by supporting Alliedaircraft in the Middle East during Operation DESERT STORM in 1991.

After the Persian Gulf War, the US Air Force began to make a series of changes reflecting plans for a smaller, more efficient Air Force for the future as a direct result of the end of the Cold War as well as from lessons learned during Operation DESERT STORM. In its organizational restructuring of the Strategic Air Command, the Air Force inactivated the 42d Air Division and reassigned the 319th Bomb Wing directly to the Eighth Air Force on 9 July 1991.

The bomb wing became the host unit at Grand Forks on 09 July 1991, resulting in a significant growth inassigned units and personnel. The wing acquired four new groups, the 319th Operations,Logistics, Support, and Medical Groups, to manage and support B-1B and KC-135R aircraftoperations in addition to supporting the 321st Missile Wing. To reflect the fact that it was a composite unit, the 319th Bomb Wing was redesignated by Strategic Air Command as the 319th Wing on 01 September 1991.

In line with the changing international situation, President George Bush decided to reduce the US nuclear alert force. Thus, on 28 September 1991, the 319th Wing pulled itsB-1B bombers and KC-135R tankers from quick reaction alert duty, ending nearly three decades of such activity at Grand Forks AFB. Shortly afterwards, the 319th Wing acquired the secondary mission of training for conventional bombing operations. The 319th Wing broke 11 time-to-climb world records with the B-1B bomber on 28 - 29 February 1992, and on 18 March 1992 the wing broke an additional time-to-climb world record with the B-1B bomber, giving the unit ownership to a total of 12 world records.

With the inactivation of the Strategic Air Command on 1 June 1992, the Air Force redesignated the 319th Wing as the 319th Bomb Wing, assigned to the newly established Air Combat Command. At the same time, the wing's 905th Air Refueling Squadron and its KC-135R tankers were assigned to the 305th Air Refueling Wing at Grissom Air Force Base, Indiana, despite the fact that they remained physically stationed at Grand Forks AFB. Still remaining at Grand Forks, the 905th was reassigned to the 43d Air Refueling Wing, Malmstrom AFB, Montana, on 1 July 1993.

On 01 February 1993 the Air Combat Command dropped the 319th Bomb Wing's primary nuclear mission and gave the wing the primary mission of B-1B conventional bombardment operations. The wing began planning and training to support such a mission to counter worldwide regional threats.

Looking to the future, the US Air Force continued its worldwide restructuring process. The Air Force planned to restructure Grand Forks AFB into one of three major KC-135 tankerbases in 1994. Thus, on 01 October 1993 the Air Force redesignated the 319th Bomb Wing as the 319th Air Refueling Wing. The wing was reassigned from the Air Combat Command to the Air Mobility Command. It also reacquired the 905th Air Refueling Squadron and its KC-135R tankers while turning over its B-1B bombers to the newly activated 319th Bomb Group, an Air Combat Command organization. On 01 February 1994 the Air Mobility Command transferred the 906th Air Refueling Squadron from Minot AFB, North Dakota, to the 319th Air Refueling Wing.

The 319th Air Refueling Wing provides extensive "Global Engagement" capability through worldwide mobility operations, including air refueling and airlift requirements executed by 48 KC-135R/T aircraft and 3,100 personnel. Supports global contingency and conventional operations and the Single Integrated Operational Plan (SIOP). Provides support functions for an Air Mobility Command (AMC) major weapon system.




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