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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)


462nd Strategic Aerospace Wing

Crews and aircraft of the 327th Bombardment Squadron arrived at Larson AFB from Fairchild AFB, Washington on 13 July 1960. The first B-52D to arrive was christened "Larson's Lucky Lady". The 43rd Air Refueling Squadron and its KC-135's moved from Davis-Monthan AFB, Arizona to Larson AFB on 15 November 1960, thus completing one of the most advanced air weapon systems in the Strategic Air Command.

Construction work on Larson's Titan I missile facilities was completed on 16 March 1962 when the Army Corps of Engineers turned the complexes over to the Site Activation Task Force. Larson's Titan I missiles arrived from Denver, Colorado on 23 Jan 1962. On 16 July 1962 the first complex was declared operational.

On 1 February 1963 the 4170th Strategic Wing was re-designated the 462d Strategic Aerospace Wing in honor of the 462d Bomb Group of World War II. The 327th Bomb Squadron was redesignated the 768th Bomb Squadron after on of the 462d units.

The 462d Bomb Group was activated at Smoky Hill Army Air Field, Kansas on 1 July 1943. The "Hellbirds" were re-designated as "Very Heavy" while preparing for combat in B-29s at Walker AFB, New Mexico. The Group moved to the China-Burma-India theater via Africa in mid-1944 and was assigned to the Twentieth Air Force. First duty of the 462d was carrying over the "hump" to China. They entered combat with an attack on railroads at Bangkok, Thailand on 5 June 1944. In June the 462d took part in the first strike of Japanese home islands since the Doolittle raid in 1942. In the spring of 1945 the 462d moved to Tinian. From West Field the "Hellbirds" bombed strategic targets, took part in mining operations and made incendiary raids on Japan. The unit returned to the United States in late 1945, and was assigned to the Strategic Air Command on 21 March 1946 and was inactivated on 31 March. The 462d received Distinguished Unit Citations for attacks on Yawata, Japan on 20 August 1944, on Tokyo and Yokohoma on May 23, 24, 25, and 29 of 1945 and on Tarazuka on 24 July 1945.

The 43rd Air Refueling Squadron was assigned to Larson AFB, in November 1960. The mission of the 43rd ARS was to insure the global strike capability of SAC bombers by providing high speed aerial refueling support with modern jet taker aircraft, the KC-135. Known as the "First Gobal Refuelers", the squadron had a lengthy record of achievements including the Distinguished Unit Citation with two clusters and the USAF Outsanding Unit Award.

The 568th Strategic Missile Squadron was officially activated on 1 April 1961 as a 4170th Strategic Wing unit. There were three missile complexes consisting of three Titan I's each. On September 28, 1962, SAC placed the 568th Strategic Missile Squadron on operational status in time for the Cuban missile crisis. The Titan Is remained on alert for just over 2 years. In May 1964 Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara directed that the phase-out of the Atlas and Titan I missiles be accelerated, and in January 1965 the missiles of the 568th squadron were taken off operational alert. The squadron was deactivated 2 months later on March 25th.

The Wing, since the Strategic Air Command assumed control of Larson, had four commanders. Headquarters, 4170th Strategic Wing was organized and established at Larson AFB on 1 July 1959 under the comand of Lt Colonel Robert R. Johnston. Assisted by one master sergeant, the colonel's job was to pave the way for SAC's assumption of command of the base on 1 January 1960. The 4170th Wing was activated on 1 January 1960, with maintenance, support and medical units. Also on this date command of Larson was taken from Military Air Transport Service's 62d Troop Carrier Wing. The 4170th Strategic Wing was a heavy bombardment organization to be equipped with B-52 bombers, KC-135 jet tankers and the Titan I Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles at a later date. On 8 April 1960, Colonel Everett W. Best assumed command of the Wing. Under the command of Colonel Best, the 4170th SW became a functional unit of the Strategic Air Command on 13 July 1960 upon assignment of the 327th Bombardment Squadron's crews and aircraft. The 43rd Air Refueling Squadron was assigned to the 4170th on 15 November 1960. The first crews of the 43rd arrived on 19 March 1961 from Davis-Monthan AFB, Arizona, and the first of the KC-135's arrived on 24 March 1961.

The 568th Strategic Missile Squadron was also activated while Larson AFB was under the command of Colonel Best. The 568th SMS was activated by General Order 86, dated 7 November 1960, Headquarters, SAC, and read as follows: "Effective 1 April 1961, the 568th Bombardment Squadron, very heavy, having been redeignated the 568th Strategic Missile Squadron, ICBM-Titan I, activated and assigned to the Strategic Air Cocmmand, was organized at Larson AFB, Washington and further assigned to the 4170th Strategic Wing." Activation of the 568th SMS was observed in a ceremony at Larson AFB on 15 April 1961.

Colonel David A. Tate assumed command of the 4170th Strategic Wing in November 1961 and, on 1 February 1963, when the wing was redesignated the 462d Strategic Aerospace Wing, Colonel Tate became the commander of the newly designated unit. The redesignation of the wing was part of the Air Force's program to honor former units with outstanding combat records. Colonel Alex W. Talmant assumed command of the 462d Strategic Aerospace Wing upon the retirement of Colonel Tate on 31 July 1965. Under his command Larson AFB was scheduled to be inactivated on 30 June 1966, with Wing phase out scheduled to be complete by 25 June 1966.




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