303rd Bombardment Group

Constituted as 303rd Bombardment Group (Heavy) on 28 Jan 1942. Activated on 3 Feb 1942. Prepared for combat with B-17's. Moved to England, Aug-Sep 1942, and assigned to Eighth AF. Entered combat in Nov 1942 and raided targets such as airdromes, railroads, and submarine pens in France until 1943. Began bombardment of industries, marshalling yards, cities, and other strategic objectives in Germany in Jan 1943, and engaged primarily in such operations until V-E Day. Took part in the first penetration into Germany by heavy bombers of Eighth AF by striking the U-boat yard at Wilhelmshaven on 27 Jan 1943. Other targets included ball-bearing plants at Schweinfurt, shipbuilding yards at Bremen, a synthetic rubber plant at Huls, an aircraft engine factory at Hamburg, industrial areas of Frankfurt, an airdrome at Villacoublay, and a marshalling yard at Le Mans. Flying through intense antiaircraft fire during an attack on Vegesack on 18 Mar 1943, 1st Lt Jack W Mathis, the leading bombardier of his squadron, was knocked from his bombsight; although mortally wounded, he returned to his position and released the bombs; for this action, which ensured an accurate attack against the enemy, Lt Mathis was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor. T/Sgt Forrest L Vosler, radio operator and gunner, received the Medal of Honor for a mission to Bremen on 20 Dec 1943: after bombing the target, Sgt Vosler's plane was hit by antiaircraft fire that knocked out two engines, damaged the radio equipment, seriously injured the tail gunner, and wounded Sgt Vosler in the legs and thighs; the burst of another 20-mm shell nearly blinded the sergeant; nevertheless, he maintained a steady stream of fire to protect the tail of the aircraft; when the pilot announced that the plane would ditch, Sgt Vosler, working entirely by touch, repaired the radio and sent out distress signals; after the plane went down in the Channel, the sergeant secured the tail gunner and himself on the wing; Sgt Vosler's radio signals brought help, and the entire crew was rescued. The organization received a DUC for an operation on 11 Jan 1944 when, in spite of continuous attacks by enemy fighters in weather that prevented effective fighter cover from reaching the group, it successfully struck an aircraft assembly plant at Oschersleben. Sometimes the group engaged in support and interdictory missions. Attacked gun emplacements and bridges in the Pas de Calais area during the invasion of Normandy in Jun 1944. Bombed enemy troops to support the breakthrough at St Lo in Jul 1944. Struck airfields, oil depots, and other targets during the Battle of the Bulge, Dec 1944-Jan 1945. Bombed military installations in the Wesel area to aid the Allied assault across the Rhine in Mar 1945. Flew last combat mission, an attach on armament works in Pilsen, on 25 Apr 1945. Moved to French Morocco, May-Jun 1945. Inactivated on 25 Jul 1945.

Redesignated 303rd Bombardment Group (Very Heavy). Activated in the US on 1 Jul 1947. Assigned to Strategic Air Command. There is no evidence that the group was manned during 1947 and 1948. Inactivated on 6 Sep 1948.

Redesignated 303rd Bombardment Group (Medium). Activated on 4 Sep 1951. Assigned to Strategic Air Command and equipped with B-29's. Inactivated on 16 Jun 1952.

Squadrons. 358th: 1942-1945; 1947-1948; 1951-1952. 359th: 1942-1945; 1947-1948; 1951-1952. 360th: 1942-1945; 1947-1948; 1951-1952. 427th: 1942-1945.

Stations. Pendleton Field, Ore, 3 Feb 1942; Gowen Field, Idaho, 11 Feb 1942; Alamogordo, NM, 17 Jun 1942; Biggs Field, Tex, 7-23 Aug 1942; Molesworth, England, 12 Sep 1942; Casablanca, French Morocco, c. 31 May-25 Jul 1945. Andrews Field, Md, 1 Jul 1947-6 Sep 1948. Davis-Monthan AFB, Ariz, Sep 1951-16 Jun 1952.

Commanders. Col Ford J Lauer, Feb 1942; Col Warren H Higgins, c. 29 May 1942; Col James H Wallace, c. 14 Jul 1942; Col Charles E Marion, c. 12 Feb 1943; Col Kermit D Stevens, Jul 1943; Col William S Raper, Oct 1944; Lt Col William C Sipes, 19 Apr 1945; Capt Bernard Thompson, Jun-25 Jul 1945. Unkn, 1947-1948. Maj Joe Maddalena Jr, Sep 1951; Col David Wade, 9 Oct 1951; Col John K Hester, Jan-16 Jun 1952.

Campaigns. Air Offensive, Europe; Normandy; Northern France; Rhineland; Ardennes-Alsace; Central Europe.

Decorations. Distinguished Unit Citation: Germany, 11 Jan 1944.

Insigne. Shield: Azure, a diminutive pile between four flashes of lightning, two issuant palewise from chief and one from dexter and sinister chief sides chevronwise inverted, issuant from base a burst of five rays, all or. Motto: Might In Flight. (Approved 9 Jan 1943.)

304th Bombardment Group

Constituted as 304th Bombardment Group (Heavy) on 28 Jan 1942. Activated on 15 Jul 1942. Assigned to Second AF. Received personnel in Sep and began training on the west coast. Later, operated with AAF Antisubmarine Command, using such planes as B-17's, B-18's, B-24's, B-34's, and A-20's to fly patrols along the east coast. Also trained crews for duty overseas. Inactivated on 30 Dec 1942.

Squadrons. 1st Antisubmarine (formerly 361st Bombardment): 1942. 18th Antisubmarine (formerly 362nd Bombardment): 1942. 19th Antisubmarine (formerly 363rd Bombardment): 1942. 421st Bombardment: 1942.

Stations. Salt Lake City AAB, Utah, 15 Jul 1942; Geiger Field, Wash, 15 Sep 1942; Ephrata, Wash, 1 Oct 1942; Langley Field, Va, 29 Oct-30 Dec 1942.

Commanders. Col Ford J Lauer, 24 Sep 1942; Lt Col Dale O Smith, c. 29 Oct 1942; Maj Francis H Matthews, Nov-Dec 1942.

Campaigns. Antisubmarine, American Theater.

Decorations. None.

Insigne. Shield: Azure, seme of drop bombs or. Motto: Aquila Non Captat Muscas - The Eagle Does Not Catch Flies. (Approved 7 Nov 1942.)

Data from Air Force Combat Units of World War II By Maurer, Maurer, Published 1986

Army Air Forces Airplane Insignia

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