Aircraft and airmen of 454th Bombardment Group in Italy during WW II

The 454th Bombardment Group was activated in 1943 as a United States Army Air Forces combat unit. It served primarily in the Mediterranean Theater during World War II. While in combat the group earned two Distinguished Unit Citations. The group served as a bombardment and as a troop carrier unit in the reserves after World War II.  in1947 the group was activated as a reserve unit. It continued in this role until 1951 when it was called to active duty and its personnel used to fill out active duty organizations deploying to the Pacific.  The group was reestablished later during the Korean War as the 454th Troop Carrier Group, a reserve organization at Portland International Airport, Oregon. It was discontinued six months later, when the 403d Troop Carrier Group was released from active duty and assumed its mission, personnel and equipment. In 1985 the wing returned to its designation as a bombardment group while remaining inactive.

World War II

The group was constituted as 454th Bombardment Group (Heavy) on 14 May 1943 and activated on 1 June at Davis–Monthan Field, near Tucson, Arizona. Training began immediately on Consolidated B-24 Liberators[2] and the ground cadre was sent on 3 July to Army Air Force School of Applied Tactics at Orlando AAB, Florida. On 15 July, planes were sent from Davis–Monthan to join them at Pinecastle AAF, Florida for practical field training.

From their bases in Florida, the ground echelon was transferred on 28 July 1943 to McCook AAF, Nebraska and, on 1 August, the air echelon joined them. This was the first operational unit to use the newly constructed McCook airfield.[citation needed] On 28 September the Group was reassigned to Charleston AAB, South Carolina. On 2 December 1943 the aircrews and some key ground personnel were sent to Mitchel Field, New York in preparation for deployment overseas. These personnel were subsequently transferred to Morrison Field, Florida and flew the southern route to North Africa. After additional training in Tunisia, the air echelon joined the ground echelon, which had previously departed from Camp Patrick Henry by Liberty Ship, at San Giovanni Airfield, west of Cerignola, Italy, and was assigned to Fifteenth Air Force.[citation needed] Although the group flew some interdiction and support missions, it engaged primarily in long range strikes against oil refineries. aircraft and munitions factories and industrial areas, harbors, and airfields.

Flying from Italy, the group flew 243 missions on over 150 primary targets in Italy, Yugoslavia, Austria, Bulgaria, Hungary, Rumania, France, Germany, Czechoslovakia, Greece, and Poland. During this time, 13,389.19 tons of bombs were dropped during 7,091 sorties on enemy marshalling yards, oil refineries, bridges, installations, airdromes, rail lines, etc.  

The 454th participated in the drive to Rome, the invasion of Southern France, and the defeat of Axis forces in northern Italy. The 454th was awarded a Distinguished Unit Citation (DUC) for similar action on the high priority Messerschmitt Aircraft Factory at Bad Vöslau, Austria on 12 April 1944. It earned a second DUC for "outstanding performance of duty in armed conflict with the enemy" as a result of their mission against the Hermann Goering Steel Works in Linz, Austria on 25 July 1944. After the German Capitulation in May 1945, the 454th redeployed to the United States on 8 July. Many personnel were demobilized upon arrival at the port of debarkation; a small cadre of key personnel was formed, and the group was then established at Sioux Falls Army Air Field South Dakota in July, and the unit was redesignated the 454th Bombardment Group, Very Heavy in July,[2] and was equipped with B-29 Superfortresses, and programmed for deployment to the Pacific Theater. The Japanese Capitulation in August made the group redundant to Air Force requirements and the unit was inactivated on 17 October 1945.

Contributions from visitors

Photo contributor: Brendan Wood
Photo contributor: Brendan Wood
Photo Contributor: Cathy Trout B-24 Lil'l De Icer
Photo Contributor: Cathy Trout