354th Fighter Group

Constituted as 354th Fighter Group on 12 Nov 1942 and activated on 15 Nov. Trained with P-39's and served as part of the air defense force. Moved to England, Oct-Nov 1943. Assigned to Ninth AF and engaged in combat from Dec 1943 to May 1945, using P-51's except for the period from Nov 1944 to Feb 1945 when the group operated with P-47's. Received a DUC for its activities up to mid-May 1944, a period in which the 354th was instrumental in the development and execution of long-range missions to escort heavy bombers on raids deep into enemy territory. During that same period Maj James H Howard won the Medal of Honor for his single-handed efforts to defend a bomber formation that was attacked by a large force of enemy planes while on a mission over Germany on 11 Jan 1944. In addition to its escort work, the group began fighter-bomber operations, strafing and dive-bombing enemy airfields, gun positions, marshalling yards, and vehicles in France, Belgium, and Holland. Supporting the Normandy invasion in Jun 1944 by escorting gliders on D-Day and by dive-bombing and strafing bridges and railways near the front lines for the next few days. Moved to the Continent in Jun and assisted the Allied drive across France by flying close-support, armed-reconnaissance, fighter-sweep, dive-bombing, strafing, and escort missions. Received second DUC for a series of fighter sweeps in which the group destroyed a large number of enemy aircraft in the air and on the ground on 25 Aug 1944. Flew missions to support the airborne attack on Holland in Sep 1944. Attacked and destroyed many enemy barges, locomotives, vehicles, buildings, and troops to assist the Allied assault on the Siegfried Line. Participated in the Battle of the Bulge, Dec 1944-Jan 1945, by supporting ground forces and by conducting armed reconnaissance operations to destroy enemy troops, tank artillery, and rail lines. Assisted ground forces in their advance to and across the Rhine, Feb-May 1945. After V-E Day served with the army of occupation, being assigned to United States Air Forces in Europe. Transferred, without personnel and equipment, to the US in Feb 1946. Inactivated on 31 Mar 1946.

(Note: The 354th Fighter Group was redesignated 117th Fighter Group and allotted to ANG (Ala), on 24 May 1946. The redesignation and the allotment were, however, revoked and nullified on 26 Sep 1956; at the same time the 117th group was constituted and allotted to ANG, effective 24 May 1946. Thus the 117th group is not related in any way to the 354th group.)

Redesignated 354th Fighter-Day Group. Activated on 19 Nov 1956. Assigned to Tactical Air Command.

Squadrons. 353d: 1942-1946; 1956-. 355th: 1942-1946; 1956-. 356th: 1942-1946; 1956-.

Stations. Hamilton Field, Calif, 15 Nov 1942; Tonopah, Nev, c. 18 Jan 1943; Santa Rosa AAFld, Calif, c. 1 Mar 1943; Portland AAB, Ore, c. 2 Jun-Oct 1943; Greenham Common, England, c. 4 Nov 1943; Boxted, England, c. 13 Nov 1943; Lashenden, England, Apr 1944; Criqueville, France, Jun 1944; Gael, France, Aug 1944; Orconte, France, Sep 1944; Meurthe-et-Moselle, France, c. 1 Dec 1944; Ober Olm, Germany, c. 30 Apr 1945; Herzogenaurach, Germany, May 1945-15 Feb 1946; Bolling Field, DC, 15 Feb-31 Mar 1946. Myrtle Beach AFB, SC, 19 Nov 1956-.

Commanders. Col Kenneth R Martin, c. 26 Nov 1942; Col James H Howard, 12 Feb 1944; Col George R Bickell, Apr 1944; Lt Col Jack T Bradley, May 1945; Maj Robert A Ackerly, Nov 1945; Lt Col David L Lewis, Dec 1945-1946. Col James F Hackler Jr, 19 Nov 1956-.

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

Decorations. Distinguished Unit Citations: ETO, [Dec] 1943-15 May 1944; France, 25 Aug 1944. French Croix de Guerre with Palm: 1 Dec 1943-31 Dec 1944.

Insigne. Shield: Argent, four bendlets light blue, azure, gules and vert between a demi-horse rampant of the fourth and two swords saltirewise proper grip and guard of the third fimbriated or. Motto: Valor in Combat. (Approved 18 Oct 1957).

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

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