|908th Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron
908th Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron KC-10 Extenders in Southwest Asia, 2010
|Active||1917-1919; 1921-1922; 1922-1928; 1936-1946; 1958-1962; 1963-1977, 2002 - present|
|Branch||United States Air Force|
|Engagements||South West Pacific Theater of World War II|
War in Afghanistan
War in Iraq
Military intervention against ISIL
|Decorations||Distinguished Unit Citation Philippine Republic Presidential Unit Citation|
|908th Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron emblem|
|408th Bombardment Squadron emblem (approved 9 February 1937 for the 18th Reconnaissance Squadron)|
The 908th Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron is a provisional United States Air Force (USAF) unit. It is assigned to the 380th Expeditionary Operations Group at Al Dhafra Air Base in United Arab Emirates. It has supported combat operations in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria from this location. The squadron has a varied background, having been formed by a series of consolidations of no fewer than five distinct units.
The squadron is one of the oldest in the USAF. Its origins date to 16 June 1917, when the 18th Aero Squadron was organized at Rockwell Field, San Diego, California. This unit served as a pilot training squadron during World War I until it was demobilized in 1919. A second predecessor was also active under the same name at Rockwell for nine months in the early 1920s.
The fourth predecessor of the squadron was the 18th Reconnaissance Squadron, which was activated at Langley Field, Virginia in 1936. The squadron saw combat during World War II as the 408th Bombardment Squadron in the South West Pacific Theater of World War II, where it earned two Distinguished Unit Citations and a Philippine Republic Presidential Unit Citation. Elements of the squadron also participated in the Battle of Midway. It was inactivated in the Philippines in 1946.
The 408th Bombardment Squadron was again activated at March Air Force Base, California in 1958 as part of Strategic Air Command (SAC) during the expansion of Boeing B-47 Stratojet wings during the Cold War. It was inactivated as the B-47 was being replaced by the longer-ranged Boeing B-52 Stratofortress.
The unit's fifth predecessor was also part of SAC as the 908th Air Refueling Squadron, stationed at Kincheloe Air Force Base, Michigan equipped with Boeing KC-135 Stratotankers. It stood alert at Kincheloe and deployed aircrews and aircraft to support combat operations in Vietnam until it was inactivated when the Air Force closed the base.
The squadron was converted to provisional status c. 2002 as part of the War on Terror. It has served as a McDonnell Douglas KC-10 Extender squadron in Southwest Asia since then, with KC-135 aircraft added in late 2003 until an undetermined time.
The first predecessor of the squadron was established in the summer of 1917 as the Air Service 18th Aero Squadron,[note 1] training aviation students during World War I at Rockwell Field in southern California. The squadron apparently operated Curtiss JN-4 and improved Curtiss JN-6 "Jenny" two-seat trainers and Thomas-Morse S-4 single-seat advanced trainers. In July 1918, it was redesignated as Squadron B, Rockwell Field. It was demobilized in late 1918 when the training squadrons at Rockwell were combined into a single flying school detachment.
The second predecessor of the squadron was established at Rockwell in 1921 as the 18th Squadron (Observation). Its mission as an observation squadron was to fly aerial photographic missions and to act as an airborne observation post during maneuvers, but it is not certain that the squadron was manned or equipped. It was inactivated nine months after its activation.
The third predecessor of the squadron was organized in 1922 as the Headquarters Detachment, Bolling Field, District of Columbia. It replaced the 99th Squadron (Observation) as the Air Service host unit at Bolling responsible for station administration. In 1924 the detachment was expanded to a squadron and the following year, it was redesignated the 18th Headquarters Squadron and consolidated with the two previous 18th squadrons. The squadron operated various aircraft at Bolling. It was inactivated in 1928 and was replaced as the Air Corps host by the Air Corps Detachment, Bolling Field.
The fourth predecessor of the squadron was established in 1935 as the 18th Observation Squadron and activated in 1936 at Mitchel Field on Long Island, New York. It was assigned to the 2d Wing of General Headquarters Air Force and equipped with Martin B-10 bombers. The squadron flew reconnaissance and coastal patrol flights over Long Island Sound and southern New England. The squadron received Douglas B-18 Bolos in 1937 along with a mixture of obsolete attack and light observation aircraft in the build-up before World War II The unit received early model Martin B-26 Marauders while retaining its B-18s.
Media related to 22d Bombardment Group (United States Army Air Forces) at Wikimedia Commons
After the Pearl Harbor Attack, the squadron was transferred to the West Coast, flying antisubmarine patrols from Muroc Army Air Field, California from December 1941 to the end of January 1942. It was then assigned to Fifth Air Force. By the time the squadron arrived in the Southwest Pacific Theater the situation on the Philippines was desperate, and the squadron was based in Australia, where it was redesignated as the 408th Bombardment Squadron.
While the squadron was stationed at Reid River Airfield, Australia, two of the squadron's aircraft were diverted from their flight to Australia and flew missions during the Battle of Midway between 29 May 1942 and 4 June 1942. These aircraft operated under the control of the Navy, whose Patrol Wing Two controlled both Army and Navy aircraft operating from Midway. They were armed with torpedoes and on 4 June, along with two B-26s of the 69th Bombardment Squadron of VII Bomber Command, attacked the enemy fleet. They met with heavy antiaircraft fire and opposition from enemy fighters. Two of the Marauders were shot down. Although the other two made successful attacks, both aircraft crash landed upon their return to Midway. From Australia, the 408th also attacked Japanese targets on Papua New Guinea and New Britain. Its actions in New Guinea earned the squadron two Distinguished Unit Citations. In October 1943 the B-26 Marauders were joined by North American B-25 Mitchells, and for the rest of the year the group continued to operate in support of Allied troops on New Guinea.
While stationed at Nadzab Airfield in February 1944 the unit converted to Consolidated B-24 Liberators optimized for long range bombing missions. While transitioning, the squadron was attached to the 309th Bombardment Wing for operational control. With the new bombers came a designation as a heavy bomber unit. The squadron's Liberators attacked targets on Borneo, Ceram and Halmahera, among them the crucial oil fields of the Dutch East Indies. In September 1944 the squadron moved its attention to the Philippines, attacking targets on Leyte. It moved to Leyte on 15 November 1944. From then until August 1945 it flew against targets on Luzon, as well as supporting the campaign on Borneo and even ranging as far as China. Its actions in the Philippines won it a Philippine Presidential Unit Citation. Finally, in August 1945 the unit moved to Okinawa, from where it flew a number of armed reconnaissance missions over southern Japan. The squadron moved on paper to the Philippines in November, leaving its personnel and equipment behind on Okinawa. It was inactivated at Fort William McKinley in early 1946.
Media related to 22d Bombardment Wing at Wikimedia Commons
The 408th was activated at March Air Force Base, California in 1958 when Strategic Air Command (SAC) expanded its wings flying Boeing B-47 Stratojets from three to four squadrons. In March 1961, President John F. Kennedy directed that the phaseout of the B-47 be accelerated. and the squadron was inactivated on 1 January 1962 as part of the drawdown of the USAF B-47 force. Two years later, the squadron was combined with the preceding units, but remained inactive.
The 908th Air Refueling Squadron was activated on 1 July 1963 by SAC at Kincheloe Air Force Base, Michigan and equipped with Boeing KC-135 Stratotankers. Its mission was to provide air refueling to the Boeing B-52 Stratofortress strategic bombers of its parent 449th Bombardment Wing and other USAF units as directed. This included taskings to provide air refueling for McDonnell F-4 Phantom II fighters and Douglas RB-66 Destroyer reconnaissance aircraft deploying to Southeast Asia.
The unit deployed individual aircraft and crews to the Western Pacific region between 1966 and 1975 to support combat operations of deployed SAC units and tactical aircraft over Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War, including participation in Operation Young Tiger. The squadron also deployed crews and aircraft to support the Torrejon, Eielson and Hickam Tanker Task Forces.
In 1985, the 908th was consolidated with the 408th, but for the time, it remained inactive.
The squadron was reactivated as the 908th Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron, a provisional squadron, about 2002 as a part of the War on Terror and equipped with McDonnell Douglas KC-10 Extenders. Boeing KC-135 Stratotankers were added in late 2003 until an undetermined time. The squadron has been active as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom conducting combat air refueling. The squadron's KC-10s can refuel aircraft with either a boom or with a drogue, which makes it capable of refueling Air Force or Navy aircraft, as well as aircraft from other coalition air forces. In 2010 the squadron flew the first combat mission with an all-female KC-10 crew.[note 2] While refueling strike aircraft in Afghanistan and Iraq, during 2011, the squadron supported an average of more than four "Troops in Contact" events daily and provided about a third of the airborne fuel used to protect ground forces. It is currently supporting the Military intervention against ISIL in Iraq and Syria.
18th Aero Squadron
18th Observation Squadron
18th Headquarters Squadron
408th Bombardment Squadron
908th Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron
|Distinguished Unit Citation Papua||23 July 1942-January 1943||408th Bombardment Squadron|
|Distinguished Unit Citation New Guinea||5 November 1943||408th Bombardment Squadron|
|Air Force Outstanding Unit Award||1 July 1974-30 June 1976||908th Air Refueling Squadron|
|Air Force Outstanding Unit Award||1 June 2002-31 May 2003||908th Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron|
|Air Force Outstanding Unit Award||1 June 2003-31 May 2004||908th Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron|
|Air Force Outstanding Unit Award||20 June 2011-19 June 2012||908th Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron|
|Philippine Republic Presidential Unit Citation||November 1944-4 July 1945||408th Bombardment Squadron|
|Antisubmarine||7 December 1941 - 29 January 1942||18th Reconnaissance Squadron|
|East Indies||25 February 1942 - 22 July 1942||18th Reconnaissance Squadron|
(later 408th Bombardment Squadron)
|Air Offensive, Japan||17 April 1942 - 2 September 1945||408th Bombardment Squadron|
|China Defensive||4 July 1942 - 4 May 1945||408th Bombardment Squadron|
|Papua||23 July 1942 - 23 January 1943||408th Bombardment Squadron|
|New Guinea||24 January 1943 - 31 December 1944||408th Bombardment Squadron|
|Bismarck Archipelago||15 December 1943 - 27 November 1944||408th Bombardment Squadron|
|Western Pacific||17 April 1944 - 2 September 1945||408th Bombardment Squadron|
|Leyte||17 October 1944 - 1 July 1945||408th Bombardment Squadron|
|Luzon||15 December 1944 - 4 July 1945||408th Bombardment Squadron|
|Southern Philippines||27 February 1945 - 4 July 1945||408th Bombardment Squadron|
|China Offensive||5 May 1945 - 2 September 1945||408th Bombardment Squadron|
|Air Combat, Asiatic-Pacific Theater||25 February 1942 - 2 March 1946||408th Bombardment Squadron|
|Undetermined||908th Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron[note 3]|