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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

22nd Bomb Wing

22nd Bomb Wing traced its lineage to the 22nd Bombardment Group (Medium), constituted on December 22, 1939 and made active on February 1, 1940, at Mitchell Field, NY. The group served under the 2d Bombardment Wing. Made up of the 19th, 20th, 33rd Bombardment Squadrons and the 18th Reconnaissance Squadron, the group trained with the B-18 and B-26 bombers and reconnaissance aircraft.

On April 5, 1942, the group launched its first combat mission from bases in Australia. This action made the 22nd the first bomb unit to engage the enemy. The unit used its B-26 bombers to attack enemy shipping, installations and airfields in New Guinea and New Britain. The group also bombed troop concentrations, installations, and enemy merchant marine shipping in New Guinea. On November 5, 1943, the group bombed enemy entrenchments, near Dumpu and Wewak, aiding Australian ground force's efforts to liberate the island. By replacing its B-25s and B-26s with B-24s in February 1944, the group became the 22nd Bombardment Group (Heavy) making it the only known Army Air Forces/Air Force unit to engage the enemy with distinction in three different types of aircraft. The group also gained the nickname "Red Raiders" named after the group commander's, Col. Richard W. Robertson, first B-24.

After the war, the 22nd remained in the theater under Far East Air Forces, Pacific Air Forces' predecessor. In November 1945, the 22nd moved without personnel and equipment to Clark Field, Philippines. In April 1946, the group became the 22nd Bombardment Group (Very Heavy), and returned to Okinawa-- this time, to Kadena Air Base. The following month, the unit replaced their older planes for B-29 Superfortresses and remanned in June 1946. The group remained at Kadena until it moved to Smoky Hills AFB, near Salina, Kan. in May 1948.

Like other combat groups during the now independent Air Force's first reorganization, the 22nd became subordinate to a newly created wing with the same number designation. On 1 August 1948, the Group joined the newly created the 22nd Maintenance and Supply Group and the 22nd Air Base Group that made up the newly established the 22nd Bombardment Wing. In 1952, the Air Force reorganized, inactivating the groups.

Activated as the 22nd Bombardment Wing on August 1, 1948 at Smoky Hill AFB, Kan., the wing shared its commander with the 301st Bombardment Wing until the 22nd moved to March AFB, Calif., on May 9, 1949. There, the 22nd had a commander in common with the 1st Tactical Fighter Wing until the fighter unit moved to George AFB, Calif., the next year.

In July 1950, the wing deployed its B-29s to Okinawa, Ryukyu Islands, to participate in the Korean War. Operating from their island base, the 22nd's Superfortresses bombed North Korean marshaling yards, airfields and industries. The unit also provided air support to United Nations ground forces defending the South Korean nation from the communist invaders. After eliminating all of its assigned strategic targets, the 22nd returned to March AFB in October 1950. In 1952, the wing added the KC-97 Stratofreighter tanker to its inventory.

The next year, the wing retired its B-29 fleet and replaced them with the jet powered B-47 "Stratojet." With this 600 mile-per-hour plane, wing aircrews flew the longest non-stop mass flight in history. It happened in 1954 when the 22nd's crews flew 5,840 miles from England to California. From April to Jull 1957, it deployed at Andersen AFB, Guam.

The 22nd Wing converted to the KC-135 Stratotanker, a jet refueling tanker developed from the Boeing 707 airframe and the B-52B Stratofortress. The wing was not tactically operational 11 Mar- 15 Sep 1963, while converting to B-52 bombers and KC-135 tankers. By late 1963, the wing had finished converting its bomber and tanker fleet to and assumed strategic alert status a short time later.

The Wing supported Fifteenth Air Force's post-attack command and control system with EC-135s, Sep 1964-Mar 1970. The 22d was a "super" wing, 1966- 1971, with two bombardment and two tanker squadrons.

The Gulf of Tonkin incident in 1964 brought the 22nd into its third major conflict in as many decades. From 10 Mar to c. 1 Oct 1967 the wing was reduced to a small "rear-echelon" non-tactical organization with all tactical resources and most support resources loaned to SAC organizations involved in combat operations in Southeast Asia. The wing's KC-135s refueled Tactical Air Command aircraft deploying to Southeast Asia, and supported Strategic Air Command bombers on rotation to Anderson AFB, Guam. During the war in Vietnam, the 22nd Bombardment Wing deployed aircraft and crews several times, participating in operations such as Young Tiger, Rolling Thunder, Arc Light, and Linebacker II. In March 1973, the wing received an Air Force Outstanding Unit Award for its operations in Southeast Asia--the fourth in its history before returned to nuclear deterrence alert at the war's end.

The wing continued to support SAC operations in the Far East and Southeast Asia through 1975, and from 10 Apr 1972 to 29 Oct 1973 again had all of its bomber resources loaned to other organizations for combat and contingency operations. KC-135 resources were also on loan from 10 Apr to Sep 1972; afterwards a few tankers returned to wing control. The wing maintained a strategic bombardment alert posture, 1973-1982, and in 1978 it assumed additional conventional warfare missions, including mine-laying and sea reconnaissance/surveillance. Lost bombardment mission in 1982 and equipped with KC-135 and KC-10 aircraft.

In August 1982, the wing received the first of its fleet of new KC-10A Extenders, making the 22nd the second Air Force unit to use the giant new tankers. Two months later, the wing lost its bomber mission and became the 22nd Air Refueling Wing. The 22nd used the KC-10A's cargo, passenger, and fuel load capacity to provide support during the evacuation of U.S. nationals in Grenada the next year. In December 1989, the wing's 22nd Air Refueling Squadron inactivated and all its KC-135A Stratotankers, retired or transferred to other SAC bases. This left the 6th and 9th ARS's as the wing's only flying squadrons.

After the Cold War, Air Force planners looked back to the first organization, what they called the objective wing, to restructure the Air Force in the post Cold War era. Providing Air Force assets in support of world peace through readiness and the deterrence of armed aggression. This commitment also includes supporting the Department of Defense in many contingency situations, from strategic force projection and strategic force mobility, to humanitarian assistance. Assigned to the Air Mobility Command, the 22nd Air Refueling Wing is the host unit at McConnell Air Force Base, Kan. Commanded by Colonel Frederick Roggero, the wing consists of four groups: the 22nd Operations Group, 22nd Logistics Group, 22nd Support Group and the 22nd Medical Group.

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Page last modified: 24-07-2011 03:40:19 ZULU