Constituted as 500th Bombardment Group (Very Heavy) on 19 Nov 1943 and activated on 20 Nov. Equipped first with B-17's; later trained for combat with B-29's. Moved to Saipan, Jul-Nov 1944, for service with Twentieth AF. Entered combat on 11 Nov 1944 with an attack against a submarine base in the Truk Islands. On 24 Nov participated in the first attack on Japan by B-29's based in the Marianas. After that, conducted many daylight raids, operating from high altitude to bomb strategic targets in Japan. Struck the Mitsubishi aircraft engine plant at Nagoya in Jan 1945 and received a DUC for the mission. Bombed enemy airfields and other installations on Kyushu in support of the Allied assault on Okinawa in Apr 1945. Beginning in Mar 1945, flew missions at night and at low altitude to drop incendiaries on area targets in Japan. Received second DUC for incendiary attacks on the urban-industrial section of Osaka, feeder industries at Hamamatsu, and shipping and rail targets on Kyushu, in Jun 1945. Released propaganda leaflets over the Japanese home islands, Jul-Aug 1945. Dropped food and supplies to Allied prisoners in Japan, Korea, China, and Formosa after the war. Returned to the US in Oct 1945. Inactivated on 17 Jan 1946.
Squadrons. 881st: 1943-1946. 882d: 1943-1946. 883d: 1943-1946. 884th: 1943-1944.
Stations. Gowen Field, Idaho, 20 Nov 1943; Clovis AAFld, NM, 12 Jan 1944; Walker AAFld, Kan, 16 Apr-13 Jul 1944; Isley Field, Saipan, 18 Sep 1944-21 Oct 1945; March Field, Calif, 24 Oct 1945-17 Jan 1946.
Commanders. Unkn, Nov 1943-Jan 1944; Maj Ralph A Reeve, 28 Jan 1944; Maj John E Gay, 7 Feb 1944; Lt Col John E Dougherty, 8 Mar 1944; Col Richard T King Jr, 5 May 1944; Col John E Dougherty, 5 Dec 1944; Lt Col William L McDowell Jr, 4 Dec 1945; Maj James H Coats, 19 Dec 1945-17 Jan 1946.
Campaigns. Air Offensive, Japan; Eastern Mandates; Western Pacific.
Decorations. Distinguished Unit Citations: Nagoya, Japan, 23 Jan 1945; Japan, 15-20 Jun 1945.
Data from Air Force Combat Units of World War II By Maurer, Maurer, Published 1986