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351st Air Refueling Squadron [351st ARS]

The 351st Aerial Refueling Squadron was originally constituted as the 351st Bombardment Squadron (Heavy) on 28 January 1942. It activated on 1 June 1942 at Orlando AB, FL and was assigned to the 100 Bombardment Group, flying the B-17 aircraft.

The squadron relocated to Thorpe, England, on 2 June 1943. Thereafter, the unit saw combat in ETO from 25 June 1943 to 20 April 1945. During that period, the squadron was redesignated as the 351st Bombardment Squadron, Heavy, on 20 August 1943.

Leaving England on 9 December 1945 to return to the United States, the 351st inactivated on 15 December 1945 at Camp Kilmer, NJ.

Redesignated as the 351st Bombardment Squadron, Very Heavy, on 3 July 1947, the unit activated in the Reserve on 17 July 1947 at Orlando AAB (later, AFB) and assigned to the 100th Bombardment Group. It inactivated on 27 June 1949.

Redesignated as the 351st Bombardment Squadron, Medium, on 1 August 1955, the squadron activated on 1 January 1956 at Portsmouth (later, Pease) AFB, NH. Assigned to the 100th Bombardment Wing, the 351st operated the B-47 and was tasked with a Global strategic bombardment mission. The unit deployed to Brize Norton RAF Stn, England from 7 January-4 April 1958. It was discontinued, and inactivated, on 25 June 1966.

Redesignated as the 351st Air Refueling Squadron on 26 March 1992, it reactivated on 31 March 1992 at RAF Mildenhall, England. Assigned to the 100th Air Refueling Wing, the 351st operated the KC-135 and was tasked with conducting aerial refueling operations.

351st Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron

About 200 US Air Force support and operations airmen, deployed to Bulgaria, make up the 351st Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron. The unit is based at Camp Sarafovo on the shores of the Black Sea near the city of Burgas [Bourgas], flying air refueling missions for aircraft providing humanitarian aid to Afghanistan.

The first rotation of airmen arrived 05 December 2001 to replace members of the 100th Air Refueling Wing and 351st Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron, deployed since 24 November 2001. The contingent, about 25 people from Royal Air Force Mildenhall, England, worked alongside other airmen already in place from U.S. Air Forces in Europe installations, including Ramstein and Spangdahlem air bases in Germany. U.S. Air Force personnel supported Operation Enduring Freedom with KC-135 Stratotanker support.

Air Force KC-135 aerial refueling tankers deployed 23 November 2001 to fly missions in support of ongoing Operation Enduring Freedom humanitarian relief operations, the first time U.S. military forces have conducted operational missions from Bulgaria.

The KC-135s deployed from the 100th Air Refueling Wing, RAF Mildenhall, England, to conduct aerial refueling missions supporting Operation Enduring Freedom. Mildenhall's tankers are the first U.S. Air Force assets to perform operational missions out of Bulgaria. The aircraft, previously flying out of Souda Bay, Greece, and Incirlik, Turkey, are now consolidated into one unit, the 351st Expeditionary Aerial Refueling Squadron.

Taking two flying operations from bases that had established support operations and combining into one new location requiring the creation and build-up for an entirely new support system has been quite a challenge. Especially while simultaneously maintaining the ongoing mission support to the humanitarian relief mission from a combination of these three locations.

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