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451st Air Expeditionary Group
[[File:451 AEW color|240x240px|frameless}}|451st Air Expeditionary Wing Emblem|alt=]]
451st Air Expeditionary Wing Emblem
Active since 1943
Country United States
Branch United States Air Force
Size Wing
Part of United States Air Forces Central
Garrison/HQ Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan
World War II Victory Medal ribbon
European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign ribbon Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary ribbon Afghanistan Campaign ribbon
  • World War II
European Campaign (1943–1945)
  • Global War on Terrorism
Afghanistan campaign (To Be Determined)
Col Scott Campbell

Desert version


Subdued version


An MQ-1 Predator at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, taxis out for a mission in support of Operation Enduring Freedom on Friday, 2 June 2006.


An HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopter lands as an Army UH-60 Blackhawk prepares to pick up a medivac patient 13 June. The 33d Expeditionary Rescue Squadron is the first squadron to have a combat-search-and-rescue mission and a medevac mission, and is based at Kandahar

The 451st Air Expeditionary Group (451 AEG) is a provisional United States Air Force USAFCENT unit. It is assigned to Kandahar Airfield and is also the host unit at Kandahar. It reports to the 455th Air Expeditionary Wing at Bagram Air Base.

The 451 AEG provides an airpower presence in the Afghanistan area of operations. 451st AEW Airmen provide Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance, Command and Control, RPA operations, and Airborne Datalink capabilities.

During the Cold War, the Strategic Air Command 451st Strategic Missile Wing was the first fully operational HGM-25A Titan I ICBM wing in 1962. During World War II, the wing's predecessor unit, the 451st Bombardment Group was a B-24 Liberator heavy bombardment organization, assigned to Fifteenth Air Force in Italy.


Tenant Units

Assigned aircraftEdit


World War IIEdit


Emblem of the 451st Bomb Group

15th AF B-24 Liberator

451st Bomb Group Consolidated B-24H-30-CF Liberator AAF Ser. No. 42-50443 displaying 304th Wing markings c. 1945. The upper tail surface and circle were red in color.

Constituted as 451st Bombardment Group (Heavy) on 6 April 1943. Activated on 1 May 1943. Activated as a B-24 Liberator heavy bombardment unit; assigned to II Bomber Command for training. Primarily trained in the midwest. Received deployment orders for the Mediterranean Theater of Operations (MTO) in November 1943.

Deployed to Southern Italy in January 1944; entered combat in January 1944, being assigned to Fifteenth Air Force. Air echelon training in Algeria for several weeks before joining the remainder of the group in Italy. Engaged in very long range strategic bombing missions to enemy military, industrial and transportation targets in Italy, France, Germany, Austria, Hungary, Romania, and Yugoslavia. Attacked such targets as oil refineries, marshalling yards, aircraft factories, bridges, and airfields in Italy, France, Germany, Czechoslovakia, Austria, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Albania, and Greece.

Received a Distinguished Unit Citation for each of three missions: to an aircraft factory at Regensburg on 25 February 1944, to oil refineries and marshalling yards at Ploesti on 5 April 1944, and to an airdrome at Vienna on 23 August 1944; although encountering large numbers of enemy fighters and severe antiaircraft fire during each of these missions, the group fought its way through the opposition, destroyed many interceptors, and inflicted serious damage on the assigned targets.

Infamously responsible for the bombing of a primary school in Milan's neighborhood of Gorla on October 20, 1944 which caused the death of 184 children and their teachers.

At times the group also flew support and interdictory missions. Helped to prepare the way for and participated in the invasion of Southern France in August 1944. Transported supplies to troops in Italy during September 1944. Supported the final advances of Allied armies in northern Italy in April 1945.

Returned to the US in June 1945, forming at Dow Field, Maine. Unit personnel were demobilized throughout the summer of 1945. Inactivated on 26 September 1945.

Cold WarEdit


Emblem of the SAC 451st SMW

Established as the 451st Strategic Missile Wing (ICBM-Titan) at Lowry Air Force Base, Colorado and activated on 1 July 1961. The 451st SMW was the first operational HGM-25A Titan I missile wing. Construction on all 18 silos at the six launch complexes was completed by 4 August 1961. On 18 April 1962, Headquarters SAC declared the 724th SMS operational, and 2 days later the first Titan Is went on alert status. A month later, the sister 725th SMS (initially designated the 849th SMS) declared it had placed all nine of its Titan Is on alert status, which marked a SAC first.

On 19 November 1964, Defense Secretary McNamara announced the phase-out of remaining first-generation SM-65 Atlas and Titan I missiles by the end of June 1965. This objective was met. All wing missiles went off alert status on 26 March 1965 and the wing phased down for inactivation. On 25 June 1965, the 724th SMS and 725th SMS were inactivated. SAC removed the last missile from Lowry on 14 April 1965.

Global War on TerrorismEdit

The 451st Air Expeditionary Group was activated in 2002 as part of the Global War on Terrorism, conducting operations from Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan. The group was responsible for air control of the southern region of Afghanistan, launch and recovery operations for the MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper aircraft, the employment of combat search and rescue forces throughout the entire country and ground security and defense of the airfield. Included in the group are safety, logistics, communications, civil engineer.

Due to the growth in size and requirements of the USAF mission at Kandahar, the 451 AEG was enlarged to a wing-level organization, redesignated as the 451st Air Expeditionary Wing (451 AEW) and activated as such on 2 July 2009.[2]

The wing was downsized to a group in January 2014 as part of the Afghanistan drawdown.[3]

Former components:


  • Constituted as 451st Bombardment Group (Heavy) on 6 April 1943.
Activated on 1 May 1943
Inactivated on 26 September 1945
  • Established as the 451st Strategic Missile Wing (ICBM-Titan) July 1, 1961
Activated on July 1, 1961
Bestowed history, honors, and heraldry of 451st Bombardment Group passed to wing by HQ USAF upon activation.
Organized 1 July 1961, assuming missiles, personnel and equipment of the 703d Strategic Missile Wing (Inactivated)[9]
Discontinued and inactivated 25 June 1965
  • Converted to provisional status and allocated to Air Combat Command
  • Redesignated 451st Air Expeditionary Group 2002 (exact date uncertain)
Activated 2002 (exact date uncertain)
  • Redesignated 451st Air Expeditionary Wing 2 July 2009

Note: Reference for unit lineage.[10][11] As with most public information about Air Expeditionary Units activated during the Global War on Terrorism, the status of the bestowed Honors, and Heraldry of the unit is unclear.


47th Bombardment Wing, 11 December 1943 – 6 April 1944
49th Bombardment Wing, 6 April 1944 – 19 June 1945
  • Continental Air Forces
First Air Force, 19 June – 16 September 1945
13th Air Division, 1 July 1961 – 25 June 1965
455th Air Expeditionary Wing,  ?? ??? 2002 – 2 July 2009
Ninth Air Force, since 2 July 2009



Aircraft assignedEdit


PD-icon.svg This article incorporates public domain material from the Air Force Historical Research Agency website


  1. Tech. Sgt. Renni Thornton, 62d ERS reaches 250K flying hours in AOR, 6/16/2010, 451st Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
  2. General takes to the sky in Afghanistan, Air Force News Service
  3. 451st Air Expeditionary Wing transitions to Group at Kandahar Airfield, 1/15/2014, 455th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
  4. 702d Expeditionary Airlift Squadron deactivates at Kandahar Airfield
  5. Rescue squadron deactivates at Camp Bastion, Trevor Martin, January 06, 2014
  6. Last rescue squadrons leaving Kandahar, Air Force Times
  7. Rescue squadrons close chapter in southern Afghanistan
  8. 651st EAES scheduled for deactivation, Capt. Jason Smith, 451st Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
  9. USAFHRA document 00425998
  10. Ravenstein, Charles A. Air Force Combat Wings Lineage and Honors Histories, 1947–1977. Maxwell AFB, Alabama: Office of Air Force History, 1984. ISBN 0-912799-12-9.
  11. Maurer, Maurer. Air Force Combat Units Of World War II. Maxwell AFB, Alabama: Office of Air Force History, 1983. ISBN 0-89201-092-4.


  • Hill, Michael. The 451st Bomb Group in World War II: A Pictorial History. Atglen, Pennsylvania: Schiffer Publishing, 2000. ISBN 0-7643-1287-1.
  • Maurer, Maurer. Air Force Combat Units Of World War II. Maxwell AFB, Alabama: Office of Air Force History, 1983. ISBN 0-89201-092-4.
  • Ravenstein, Charles A. Air Force Combat Wings Lineage and Honors Histories, 1947–1977. Maxwell AFB, Alabama: Office of Air Force History, 1984. ISBN 0-912799-12-9.

External linksEdit

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