376th Expeditionary Operations Group

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376th Expeditionary Operations Group
376th Air Expeditionary Wing.png
376th Air Expeditionary Wing emblem
Active 1942–1945
1947–1948
2001–present
Country United States
Branch United States Air Force
Type Air Refueling
Role Combat Support
Part of Air Combat Command/United States Air Forces Central
Garrison/HQ Transit Center at Manas, Kyrgyzstan
Motto LIBERANDOS
Engagements
World War II Victory Medal ribbon.svg European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign ribbon.svg
 Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary ribbon.svg Afghanistan Campaign ribbon.svg
  • World War II
European Campaign (1942–1945)
  • Global War on Terrorism
Afghanistan Service ( since 2001)

The 376th Expeditionary Operations Group (376 EOG) is a provisional United States Air Force Air Combat Command unit. It is currently stationed at the Transit Center at Manas International Airport, Kyrgyz Republic.

Originally activated in World War II as the 376th Bombardment Group (Heavy), it was the first B-24 Liberator group to be based on European Continent. The 376 BG(H) engaged in combat as part of the Ninth, Twelfth and Fifteenth Air Forces in the Egypt-Libya and Italian Campaigns. The 376 BG(H) was awarded Distinguished Unit Citations: for operations over North Africa and Sicily, November 1942–17 August 1943; Ploiești, Romania, 1 August 1943 and Bratislava, Czechoslovakia, 16 June 1944. The B-24D "Lady Be Good" was assigned to the 514th Bombardment Squadron.

Units

Staff Sgt. Manuel Garibay directs a KC-135 Stratotanker at Manas Air Base, Kyrgyzstan, 11 November taxiing out for a refueling mission. Sergeant Garibay is a maintainer with the 376th Air Expeditionary Wing
  • 376th Expeditionary Operations Group
The 376 EOG is the lead KC-135 aerial refueling unit for Afghanistan operations. Other USAF aircraft supporting the mission include KC-135s and C-17s.

History

World War II

File:376bg-b24-1.jpg
B-24 of the 376th Bomb Group, Italy, 1944

The 376th Bombardment Group has its origins in the British mandate of Palestine, as a result of the buildup of American air power in the Middle East in January 1942.

Following the attack on Pearl Harbor, President Franklin D. Roosevelt ordered the Army Air Forces to mount retaliatory raids on the Japanese Home Islands. A task force, commanded by Colonel Harry E. Halverson and composed of 231 officers and enlisted men and 23 B-24D Liberator bombers, was assembled at Fort Myers Army Airfield, Florida. The unit was given the code name "HALPRO" for Halverson Project. This organization, destined to be the parent unit of the 376th Bombardment Group, departed the United States on 20 May 1942 over the southern Air Transport Command route though the Caribbean and Natal, Brazil and across Central Africa and arrived at RAF Lydda in British Palestine. However, before the group could depart for India and begin attacks on Japanese targets from a base located in China, the unit learned that its proposed base in China had been captured by Japanese forces.

To make matters worse, the German Afrika Korps under General Erwin Rommel was poised to attack Allied forces in Egypt. HALPRO was quickly diverted from its original mission to a new one: interdictory raids from airfields in Egypt against shipping and North African ports supporting Axis operations as part of United States Middle East Air Forces (USMEAF) on 20 June 1942, a quickly assembled organization based in Cairo. The Halverson Project was dissolved and the organization was renamed the 1st Provisional Bombardment Group.

As early as 7 September, Ninth Air Force commander Maj. Gen. Lewis H. Brereton sought to have the 1st Provisional Bomb Group assigned a tactical designation and number, and a formal TO&E to make it a permanent organization. At the same time, the U.S. and British had reached an understanding with the Soviets about establishing an Anglo-American air force in the Transcaucasus to protect its flank in the Middle East. The American contribution was to be one troop carrier group and one "highly mobile" heavy bomber group. Gen. George C. Marshall on 11 October ordered Brereton to create the 376th Bombardment Group, composed of a Headquarters Squadron and four tactical squadrons designated 512 to 515 inclusively, intended for the Transcaucasus assignment. The group was constituted on 19 October and activated at midnight 31 October from personnel and equipment of the 1st Provisional Group. The first commander was Col. George F. McGuire, who taken charge of the provisional group when Halverson returned to the United States in August 1942. After several weeks, the Soviets declared that they wanted only the aircraft and not British or American crews. None could be spared and the Anglo-American air force proposal was cancelled.

Members of the 376th adopted the nickname "Liberandos". Initially, the 376th was formed with the 23 B-24Ds which had flown from Florida, along with a detachment of B-17Ds from the 7th Bombardment Group (Heavy) and other personnel. Some of the B-17s were Pearl Harbor attack and Philippines campaign survivors, which had been assigned to the China Burma India Theater. After the Japanese capture of Burma, the Burma Road was cut so the detachment could not be logistically supported in China. By the end of 1942, all of the squadrons were equipped with B-24 Liberators as the older model B-17s were reassigned to non-combat roles.

Operating from bases in Palestine, Egypt, Libya and Tunisia, the 376th attacked shipping in the Mediterranean and harbor installations in Libya, Tunisia, Sicily, and Italy to cut enemy supply lines to North Africa. It struck airdromes, marshalling yards, and other objectives in Sicily and Italy after the fall of Tunisia in May 1943. It received a Distinguished Unit Citation for action against the enemy in the Middle East, North Africa, and Sicily, November 1942 – August 1943. Participated in the famed low-level assault on oil refineries at Ploiești and received another DUC: nearing Ploiești on 1 August 1943 and realizing that it was off course, the group attempted to reach its assigned objective from another direction; by that time, however, enemy defenses were thoroughly alerted and intense opposition forced the 376th to divert to targets of opportunity in the general target area.

File:Lady Be Good crash photos 1960 -3.jpg
Wreckage of the 376th Bomb Group B-24D Liberator "Lady Be Good" (41-24301) when found in the Libyan Desert, November 1958

On 9 November 1958, British geologists flying over the Libyan Desert spotted an aircraft resting on the sand dunes approximately 400 statute miles (640 km) south of Benghazi, Libya. A ground party reached the site in March 1959 and discovered the plane to be the Lady Be Good, a B-24D Liberator of the 514th Bomb Squadron, 376th Bombardment Group. The bomber had disappeared after a 4 April 1943 attack against Naples, Italy. In 1960, the remains of eight airmen were found; the body of the ninth crewman was never found.

With the transfer of Ninth Air Force to England in 1943, the 322d was reassigned to Fifteenth Air Force and moved to Manduria, Italy under the 47th Bomb Wing. From Italian bases, the unit engaged primarily in long-range missions to targets in Italy, France, Germany, Czechoslovakia, Austria, Hungary, and the Balkans to bomb factories, marshalling yards, oil refineries, oil storage facilities, airdromes, bridges, harbors, and other objectives.

It received a Distinguished Unit Citation for attacking the oil industry at Bratislava on 16 June 1944. Also flew support and interdictory missions, assisting Allied forces at Anzio and Cassino during February–March 1944, supporting the Invasion of Southern France in August 1944, aiding the Russian sweep into the Balkans during the fall of 1944, and assisting Allied troops in northern Italy during April 1945.

Flying from North Africa and Italy, the Group flew 451 missions, was awarded three Distinguished Unit Citations and earned 15 campaign awards. The Liberandos destroyed 220 enemy aircraft in aerial combat and suffered casualties totaling 1479 officers and enlisted personnel and 169 aircraft.

With the end of the war in Europe, the 322d Bomb Group was reassigned to Harvard AAFld, Nebraska, on 8 May 1945 and redesignated 322d Bombardment Group (Very Heavy) and began B-29 Superfortress transition training in preparation for a move to the Pacific Theater of Operations. However, with the end of the war in August, the training ended and the unit was inactivated at Grand Island AAF, Nebraska on 10 November 1945.

Cold War

376bw-patch.jpg

The unit was redesignated the 376th Reconnaissance Group and activated at Gravelly Point, Virginia on 23 May 1947. The wartime 512th and 513th Squadrons were assigned to the group and equipped with B/WB-29s. The unit operated as a weather reconnaissance group until its inactivation on 20 September 1948.

Global War On Terrorism

Manas Air Base operations began 16 December 2001 and included the 86th Contingency Response Group from Ramstein Air Base, Germany as well as contractors and French engineers. Since then it has hosted forces from Australia, Denmark, France, Italy, New Zealand, Norway, South Korea, Spain and the Netherlands. Coalition aircraft previously based here have included tankers (KC-135s), tactical airlift (C-130s), fighters (F-18, F-16, Mirage 2000) and helicopters (Super Puma).

Lineage

  • Constituted as 376th Bombardment Group (Heavy) on 19 October 1942
Activated on 31 October 1942
Redesignated: 376th Bombardment Group (Very Heavy) in May 1945
Inactivated on 10 November 1945.
  • Redesignated: 376th Reconnaissance Group
Activated on 23 May 1947.
Inactivated on 20 September 1948
  • Redesignated: 376th Bombardment Group and activated on 1 June 1951
Inactivated on 16 June 1952 (never made operational)
  • Redesignated 376th Expeditionary Operations Group, and converted to provisional status, on 4 December 2001

Assignments

376th Expeditionary Operations Group

Components

376th Expeditionary Operations Group

Stations

Aircraft

See also

References

 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the Air Force Historical Research Agency.

Notes

Bibliography

  • Byers, Richard G. Attack: Death in the Skies Over the Middle East. Winona, Minnesota: Apollo Books, 1984.
  • McClendon, Dennis E. The Lady Be Good: Mystery Bomber of World War II. Fallbrook, California: Aero Publishers, Inc., 1962 (2nd edition 1982).
  • Rogers, B. United States Air Force Unit Designations Since 1978. 2006. ISBN 1-85780-197-0.
  • Ravenstein, Charles A. Air Force Combat Wings: Lineage and Honors Histories, 1947–1977 Washington, DC: USGPO, 1984.
  • Uncredited. 200th Mission, Liberator-Athens-Tatos A/D 14 December 1943. APO 681, Italy: 376th Bomb Grp.,1943.
  • Uncredited. A Short History of the 376th Bombardment Group, 20 May 1942 – 22 February 1945. N.p. 1945.
  • "US Air Force Air Power Directory" World Airpower Journal. London: Aerospace Publishing, 1992. ISBN 1-880588-01-3.
  • Walker, James W. The Liberandos: A World War II History of the 376th Bomb Group (H) and Its Founding Units. Waco, Texas: 376th Heavy Bombardment Group Association, 1994.
  • Johnson, David C. (1988), U.S. Army Air Forces Continental Airfields (ETO), D-Day to V-E Day; Research Division, USAF Historical Research Center, Maxwell AFB, Alabama.

External links