Douglas A/B-26 Invader

3rd Wing history

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The 3rd Bombardment Wing (the 3rd Fighter Wing activated in 1964 and the 3rd Bombardment Group deactivated in 1965) and its component squadrons are among the oldest in the United States Air Force having seen action in the Mexican War, World War I, World War II, the Korean Conflict, and Vietnam. If one looks at its heraldry in the 3rd Wing Emblem above, there is a blue stripe, cactus and Maltese crosses. These represent the earliest missions performed by the wing's predecessors. The blue stripe represents the Rio Grande River. The cactus represents the desert over which the squadrons patrolled. The Maltese crosses represent the enemy aircraft brought down by the squadrons in World War I. ("Per bend Vert and Sable a bend Azure fimbriated Or in sinister chief a prickly pear cactus of the like, all within a bordure Argent semi of nineteen crosses patee Black and fimbriated Yellow.")

Motto: NON SOLUM ARMIS -- Not by Arms Alone. Approved for 3d Group on 17 Jan 1922 and for 3d Wing on 22 Dec 1952 (KE 6707).

Nickname: "Grim Reapers". Adopted from the 13th Bombardment

Squadron -- "The Devil's Own Grim Reapers". Adopted in World War II and used in news articles in the Korean War. Lou Segaloff of Tucson, Arizona wrote, "Actually, from the mid 1930' until the end of WWII, the whole 3rd Group called themselves "The Grim Reapers" and used a modified version of the 13th emblem on the noses of the planes."

The 3rd Wing has a long and distinguished career. From the 3rd Wing History (1999), " remains the only wing level organization which can claim to have served every moment. Indeed, the 3rd Wing, in one form or another, has served the United States on a continuing basis since its activation as the U.S. Army Surveillance Group on 1 July 1919--almost 78 years. Including squadrons active in World War I (the 19th and 90th Fighter Squadrons) the wing and its organizations have participated in virtually every major U. S. conflict of the 20th century. The U. S. Army Air Service emerged from World War I with three distinct missions, pursuit, bomber, and attack/observation. These organizations became today's 1st Fighter Wing, 2nd Bomb Wing, and 3rd Wing." (NOTE: There is some confusion about whether the wing was deactivated in 1964 or not. Some claim it was deactivated after 46 years of continuous service -- and reborn in 1970 as the 3rd Tactical Fighter Wing with all honors intact. However, the truth is that the 3rd Bomb Group was deactivated and all its honors bestowed on the 3rd Bomb Wing. The 3rd Bomb Wing was never deactivated. Though the Wing has not been in existence as long as the Group, it can claim lineage.)


The 17th Bomb Wing After the War


The title of this should probably be The 17th After the Cessation of Hostilities because the action in Korea was not declared a war until the passage of the Defense Act of 1999 and there has never been a peace treaty- only an armistice.


With the cessation of hostilities the mission became:


For the Wing:

Administer, operate, and maintain K-9 AFB (Pusan East)

Cooperate with the CO of the 366 Aviation Btn in maintaining K-1 AFB (Pusan West)

Operate REMCO in support of B-26 and RB-26 Aircraft for the 3rd and 17th Bomb Wings and the 67th Tactical Recon Wing

Prepare and maintain plans to conduct operations and maintain combat effectiveness

Train and maintain thorough proficiency in navigation and bombing using visual and SHORAN methods

Perform Special Missions and assume responsibilities as directed by CG 5th AF


For the Group:

Maintain combat readiness for:

Interdiction of enemy lines of communication by visual and radar

Destruction of enemy installations, equipment, supplies and air and ground forces by visual and radar means

Conduct maximum range low and medium level armed reconnaissance offensive strikes

Conduct Special Missions




The first order of business was to complete the training of the new combat crews, whose training had been delayed by the July maximum effort missions and the adverse weather conditions.  This was accomplished so that  there were 87 combat ready air crews, and the aircraft readiness rate stood at  85% by the end of December 1953.  Upon completion of this training there was an overage of combat crews.  Both the 37th Bomb Squadron and the 95th Bomb Squadron completed successful deployments to K-55.


The decline began in January.  In this period, rotation of personnel and material shortages took their toll. All combat crews who had flown any combat missions were deployed to the ZI before Christmas.  By the end of June, aircrews qualified during the last half of the 1953 were completing their tours and returning to the ZI. The number of Wing aircrews available fell from 89 in January to 60 in June.  The 34th went from 29 crews in January to 9 in June - representative of what happened to all squadrons during this period.  The transfer of A/C reduced the number of available aircraft from 54 in January to 33 by the end of June. For example the 34th Squadron lost 12 aircraft and received 5 in return.  All SHORAN capable aircraft were transferred to the 3rd Bomb Wing and a significant number of aircraft were transferred to the French for use in Indo-China. The aircraft received from the 3rd Bomb Wing in exchange for the SHORAN Aircraft, were in poor condition and required extensive maintenance before they could be declared combat ready.  The loss of maintenance personnel and the unavailability of spare parts caused the  aircraft readiness rate to fall from an 87% in January to 65% in June.


In June, the situation began to improve with the arrival of replacement crewmembers and the improved availability of spare parts.  Unfortunately, the reporting aircrew members were far from being ready.  The crews had not been through training at Langley.  Of 17 reporting pilots, 14 had less than 50 hours in type.  None of the Navigator-Bombardiers had ever dropped a bomb.  With extensive training and hard work, the Wing was brought back up to a combat ready status.  In November and December, the 95th and 37th Squadrons accomplished a successful deployment to K-8.


On 10 October, the Wing received orders to move to Miho AFB in Japan. This move was accomplished and operations commenced from Japan.  These operations were not altogether satisfactory for the flying time from Japan to Korea reduced time over any training routes or ranges.  REMCO was disestablished as each wing assumed responsibility for is own maintenance.


In January, the Wing received orders to prepare for movement to the ZI on 1 April.  Initially the movement was to be made without aircraft, as the Wing was to be re outfitted with B-57's, the new jet light bomber.  On 26 January, due to problems in the B-57 program, this decision was reversed and the Wing was directed to transfer with 39 aircraft to Hurlburt Auxiliary Field Florida.  Training flights continued through January.  In February, all flying except that concerned with cruise control missions was terminated.  The aircraft were stripped of all armament (guns, turrets, sighting equipment and rocket racks) and fitted with 625 gallon auxiliary tanks.  On 16 April the first section of 4 aircraft departed.  The last section departed on 19 April.  Either a B-29 or a C-124, as a lead ship, escorted each flight of four aircraft.  The last aircraft landed in Hulburt on 29 April.  Many of the personnel took leave so that the wing did not become operational again until June.


The major change in Group operations was from flying fully armed aircraft in a potentially active arena to flying stripped down aircraft in the ZI.


Preparations and training to transition into the "B-57 effectively terminated the 17th Bomb Wing as we knew it.  On 1 October 1955 it was redesignated the 17th Bomb Wing (Tactical).  It was inactivated on 25 June 1958.


Wing Commanders

Col. Clinton C. Wassem             (In command at cessation of hostilities)

Col. Murdoch W Campbell     c. Aug 1953

Col. Daniel F Tatum             c. Sept 1953

Col. George D. Hughes             8 July 1954

Col. Walter H Williamson             4 August 1954

Col. George D. Hughes             4 Sept 1954

Col. Howard F. Bronson Jr.    10 Sept 1954

Col. Carroll H. Bolender             9 May 1956

Col. Reginald J. Clizbe             25 June 1956

Col. Kenneth C Dempster             31 March - 25 June 1958



K-9 AFB Pusan,  Korea            (Station at cessation of hostilities)

Miho AFB Japan                      10 October 1954

Hurlburt Field, FL                      29 April 1955


Unit Designation

On 1 October Wing was re-designated   17th Bomb Wing (Tactical)


Unit De-activation


The 17th Bomb Wing was deactivated 25 June 1958.


This terminated  the operation of the 17th Bomb Group/Wing  as a Medium/Light bomber organization.