128th Bomb Squadron
The Air National Guard's 116th Bomb Wing relocated to Robins AFB, Georgia in 1996, equipped with the Rockwell B1-B Lancer. The 116th BW currently has assigned one flying unit: the 128th Bomb Squadron at Robin AFB, flying B-1Bs. The squadron stood up as a B-1B unit April 1, 1996, and had previously flown F-15s out of Dobbins Air Reserve Base, GA as the 128th Tactical Fighter Squadron.
The 128th Bomb Squadron flew the supersonic B-1 bomber, In October 2002, the unit was renamed the 128th Air Control Squadron, flying the Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System (JSTARS) aircraft.
On 05 March 1999 Air Force officials announced changes in the service's force structure affecting the operating locations of people, aircraft and organizations across the United States. These changes result from mission changes, adjustments for efficiency, congressional directives and implementation of the expeditionary aerospace force concept. The Guard's 128th Bomb Squadron saw an increase of five civilians and the conversion of five military positions to drill positions.
In FY92 USAF officials determined a need to restructure the overall strategic bomber force. The B-1B, originally developed to be a nuclear bomber, was designated for modification as a lethal rapid-deployment conventional weapon. This meant that many changes in the basic design of the aircraft would be necessary, especially in the bomb capacity and delivery systems. In FY93, USAF leaders initiated the B-1B Conventional Mission Upgrade Program (CMUP). Most of the B-1Bs modified by crews at Robins AFB during FY96 and FY97 came from Ellsworth AFB, South Dakota and Dyess AFB, Texas. With the stand up of the 116th Bomb Wing (116BW) in late FY96, at Robins AFB, many of these bombers remained on station following their conversion.
For over half a century, the 128th Bomb Squadron has served with pride and distinction. From the bleak days of World War II to the new millennium, the Squadron has flown a total of twenty-one different aircraft. Furthermore, as a direct result of the efforts of the Squadron, the Wing has received an unprecedented ten Air Force Outstanding Unit Awards, more than any other unit in the Air Force. From the Wing guidon fly ten battle streamers, a tribute to those who flew into harm's way on two continents.
The rich, diverse, and dedicated history of the present day 128th Bomb Squadron began over half a century ago during the grim days of World War II. Called to Federal service on 1 September 1941, the 128th Bomb Squadron began as the 128th Observation Squadron at Atlanta Municipal Airport. The Squadron was initially assigned an O-46 Douglas for training, a BC-1A, and two OZ-38E Douglas biplanes. A combination A-18 Curtis, the L-4 Piper, O-47, and the B-25 were flown during 1942 and early 1943 along the Gulf Coast with a anti-submarine patrol mission to rid the US of the Nazis' U-boat scourge. As the war progressed, the Squadron moved to Italy in 1943 and conducted bombing missions in the heart of the German industrial complex. As this tragic chapter in world history closed, six battle streamers flew from the wing guidon. These were: Air Offence in Europe 1942-1944, Normandy 1944, Northern France 1944, Rhineland 1944-1945, Ardennes-Alsace1944-1945, and Central Europe1945. Neither the Squadron's bombing role nor world peace lasted very long.
As the post war era began, the 128th Observation Squadron was redesignated as the 128 Fighter Squadron. Once again the Squadron progressed through a rapid series of fighter aircraft. Beginning with the F-51, the 128th progressed to the F-84 Thunder Jet, F-84F Thunder Streak, then the F-86 Saber Jet. It was during the F-84 years that the Squadron was again called into federal service for the Korean War. As it had ten years before, the Squadron served with distinction and dedication earning four more battle streamers. Added to the guidon were, Korean Service 1950-1952,United Nations Summer- Fall 1951, second Korean Winter 1951-1952, and Korean Summer-Fall 1952. As the conflict ended, the 128th was released from Federal duty in 1952 and returned to Georgia.
As the next decade began, the 128th once again answered the USAF changing needs and was assigned to Air Transport Command in 1961. The Squadron again converted aircraft, this time flying air transport aircraft. The 128th first flew the C-97 Stratocruiser and later the C-124 Globemaster. The Squadron flew worldwide missions delivering anything it was asked to Europe, Greenland, the Caribbean, Africa, Australia and Southeast Asia. This important mission lasted twelve years. The C-124 was particularly useful in carrying outsized cargo.
The 128th returned to the Tactical Air Command flying fighters in 1973. The Squadron flew the F-100 Super Saber, the F-105G Thunderchief, the F-4D Phantom, and the F-15 A/B Eagle. The mission was three-fold: air superiority, air to ground bombing, and suppression of enemy air defenses. In fact, while flying the F-105G Thunderchief, the 128th was the only guard unit to fly the "Wild Weasel" mission. While flying the F-4D, the 128th was tasked with all three primary missions. In 1986, the 128th began flying the premier air superiority aircraft in the world, the F-15 Eagle. This would continue for the next ten years with great success before the wind of change blew again for the 128th.
In 1996, the 128th returned to its roots. The Squadron, commanded by Lt Col Richard Zatorski, completed one of the most complex and difficult conversions in Air National Guard history - from F-15's to B-1B bombers. Not only was the entire mission of the 128th changed, the Squadron was uprooted from its home of fifty years and moved 130 miles to the south, Robins AFB. The 128th began a tedious task of rebuilding new aircrews to accommodate the change from a single seat fighter to a four-place bomber. While the Squadron's 68 aircrew were undergoing training, the remaining personnel moved to Robins. At Robins the Wing revamped the temporary facilities, wrote the flight training programs, and started flight operations. After the Squadron members returned from training it became "Combat Mission Ready", 1 May 1997. The 128th, then commanded by Lt Col Thomas Jordan, was the first bomb squadron to complete B-1B tactical formation training and now leads the bomber community in formation training and employment. The 128th also developed and implemented use of an airborne video tape recording system for the B-1B training/mission documentation. This has proven to be a valuable aircrew-training tool and has become the standard for B-1B operations.
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