Constituted as 71st Observation Group on 21 Aug 1941. Activated on 1 Oct 1941. Trained with B-25, P-38, P-39, and P-40 aircraft. Flew antisubmarine patrols off the west coast, Dec 1941-Jan 1943. Redesignated 71st Reconnaissance Group in Apr 1943, 71st Tactical Reconnaissance Group in May 1944, and 71st Reconnaissance Group in May 1945.
Moved to the Southwest Pacific, Sep-Nov 1943, and assigned to Fifth AF. Equipped with B-25, P-38, P-39, L-4, L-5, and later some L-6 aircraft. Based on New Guinea and Biak, flew reconnaissance missions over New Guinea, New Britain, and the Admiralties to provide target and damage-assessment photographs for air force units. Also bombed and strafed Japanese installations, airfields, and shipping; supported Allied forces on New Guinea and Biak; flew courier missions; participated in rescue operations; and hauled passengers and cargo. Moved to the Philippines in Nov 1944. Flew reconnaissance missions over Luzon to provide information for US forces as to Japanese troop movements, gun positions, and supply routes. Also supported ground forces on Luzon, photographed and bombed airfields in Formosa and China, and attacked enemy shipping off the Asiatic coast. Maj William A Shomo was awarded the Medal of Honor for action on 11 Jan 1945: sighting a formation of thirteen Japanese aircraft while leading a two-plane flight, Maj Shomo attacked the superior enemy force and destroyed seven planes. After moving to Ie Shima in Aug 1945, the group attacked transportation targets on Kyushu and flew over southern Japan to locate prisoner of war camps, to assess bomb damage, and to obtain information on Japanese military movements. Moved to Japan in Oct 1945. Inactivated on 1 Feb 1946.
Activated in Japan on 28 Feb 1947. Assigned to Far East Air Forces. Manned in Nov 1947 and equipped with RB-17, RB-29, RF-51, RF-61, and RF-80 aircraft. Photographed areas of Japan and South Korea. Redesignated 71st Tactical Reconnaissance Group in Aug 1948. Inactivated in Japan on 1 Apr 1949.
Squadrons. 8th: 1947-1949. 17th: 1942-1946. 25th Liaison: 1942-1945. 25th Reconnaissance: 1947-1949. 82d: 1942-1946; 1947-1949. 102d: 1941-1942. 110th: 1941-1946. 128th: 1941-1942.
Stations. Birmingham, Ala, 1 Oct 1941; Salinas AAB, Calif, 21 Dec 1941; Rice, Calif, 18 Aug 1942; Salinas AAB, Calif, 19 Oct 1942; Esler Field, La, 24 Jan 1943; Laurel AAFld, Miss, 31 Mar-24 Sep 1943; Port Moresby, New Guinea, 7 Nov 1943; Nadzab, New Guinea, 20 Jan 1944; Biak, 8 Aug 1944; Leyte, 5 Nov 1944; Binmaley, Luzon, 2 Feb 1945; Ie Shima, Aug 1945; Chofu, Japan, 6 Oct 1945; Tachikawa, Japan, 23 Oct 1945; Irumagawa, Japan, c. 15 Jan-1 Feb 1946. Itami, Japan, 28 Feb 1947; Johnson AAB, Japan, 15 Apr 1947; Yokota, Japan, 31 Oct 1947-1 Apr 1949.
Commanders. Unkn, to Feb 1942; Col William C Sams, Feb 1942; Col Henry C Thompson, Oct 1944; Maj Jowell C Wise, 12 Oct 1945; 1st Lt Wilburn H Ohle, 21 Oct 1945-unkn. Lt Col William L Gray, 3 Nov 1947; Lt Col Ben K Armstrong, 23 Feb 1948; Lt Col Donald Lang, 25 Feb 1948; Col William E Basye, 5 Jun 1948; Lt Col Ben K Armstrong, 25 Mar-1 Apr 1949.
Campaigns. Antisubmarine, American Theater; Air Offensive, Japan; China Defensive; New Guinea; Bismarck Archipelago; Western Pacific; Leyte; Luzon: China Offensive.
Decorations. Philippine Presidential Unit Citation.
Data from Air Force Combat Units of World War II By Maurer, Maurer, Published 1986