|915th Air Refueling Squadron|
Boeing KC-135A Stratotanker as flown by the 915th Air Refueling Squadron
|Branch||United States Air Force|
American Theater of World War II|
European Theater of World War II
|Decorations||Air Force Outstanding Unit Award|
|15th Bombardment Squadron emblem (approved 27 May 1940)|
|Patch with 915th Air Refueling Squadron emblemn|
The squadron was first activated as the 15th Bombardment Squadron in 1940. It was disbanded on 1 October 1943. On 4 July 1942, crews and aircraft of the 15th Bombardment Squadron were first USAAF unit to bomb targets in Occupied Europe.
In 1958 the 915th Air Refueling Squadron was activated and assigned to the 72d Bombardment Wing.
The two squadrons were consolidated into a single unit in 1985 but remained in inactive status.
World War II
The 15th Bombardment Squadron was initially activated as one of the original squadrons of the 27th Bombardment Group at Barksdale Field, Louisiana in 1940. It was reassigned to 5th Air Support Command in late 1941 and moved to Fort Dix Army Airfield, New Jersey as the 27th prepared for shipment to the Philippines. After the Pearl Harbor attack, the unit was assigned to flying antisubmarine patrols over the Atlantic coast.
The squadron returned to Lawson Field, Georgia, where it was redesignated as the 1st Pursuit Squadron (Night Fighter), but after little more than a month returned to its original designation as a light bomber unit. It moved to England and was reassigned to VIII Bomber Command, arriving at RAF Grafton Underwood on 12 May, then to RAF Molesworth on 9 June. Under Eighth Air Force the airmen were equipped with the British Boston III light bomber, receiving their aircraft from No. 226 Squadron RAF.
After a few weeks of familiarization training with the new aircraft, on 4 July 4, 1942 six American crews from the 15th joined with six RAF crews from RAF Swanton Morley for a low-level attack on Luftwaffe airfields in the Netherlands, becoming the first United States Army Air Forces (AAF) unit to bomb targets in Europe. The Fourth of July raid had been specifically ordered by General "Hap" Arnold, commander of the AAF, and approved by President Roosevelt. Arnold believed that the Fourth of July would be an ideal day for the AAF to open its strategic bombing campaign against the Nazis, but General Carl Spaatz, commander of Eighth Air Force did not have any of his heavy bombardment groups ready for operational missions. Two of the 15th's planes did not return from the mission, along with one RAF aircraft. The squadron commander, Capt. Charles Kegelman's, plane was shot up badly and almost did not return.
Spaatz considered the mission a "stunt" triggered by pressure in the American press that believed the people of both the United States and Great Britain needed a psychological boost. However, Kegleman was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross and its British equivalent for his valor on that Fourth of July mission—the first Eighth Air Force airman to receive the nation's second highest combat decoration.
The 15th flew most of its missions from Molesworth in its British Bostons, and did not receive AAF Douglas A-20 Havoc aircraft until 5 September. The squadron was transferred to RAF Podington on 15 September where it flew a few missions before being transferred to Twelfth Air Force in October to support Allied landings in North Africa.
In North Africa, the squadron was assigned to the Northwest African Training Command where its combat veterans provided advanced training in close air support with A-20s and later A-36 Apaches at several airfields throughout 1943. It was disbanded at Nouvion Airfield, Algeria on 1 October 1943 and its crews and aircraft were absorbed into the 47th Bombardment Group.
The 915th Air Refueling Squadron was activated on 1 September 1958 by Strategic Air Command at Ramey AFB, Puerto Rico and equipped with KC-135A Stratotankers. The squadron mission was to provide air refueling to the B-52G Stratofortress strategic bombers of its parent 72d Bombardment Wing and other USAF units as directed. The 915th deployed aircraft and crews periodically to Western Pacific region to support combat operations of deployed SAC units and tactical aircraft over Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War, 1966-1970. It was inactivated in 1971 along with its parent wing as Ramey AFB was transferred to Military Airlift Command.
In September 1985, the United States Air Force consolidated the two squadrons into a single unit under the designation 915th Air Refueling Squadron, Heavy, but the squadron has remained inactive since then.
15th Bombardment Squadron
- Constituted as the 15th Bombardment Squadron (Light) on 22 December 1939
- Activated on 1 February 1940
- Redesignated 1st Pursuit Squadron (Night Fighter) on 1 April 1942
- Redesignated 15th Bombardment Squadron (Light) on 7 May 1942
- Disbanded on 1 October 1943
- Reconstituted on 19 September 1985 and consolidated with the 915th Air Refueling Squadron as the 915th Air Refueling Squadron.
915th Air Refueling Squadron
- Constituted as the 915th Air Refueling Squadron, Heavy on 7 April 1958
- Activated on 1 September 1958
- Inactivated on 30 June 1971
- Consolidated on 19 September 1985 with the 15th Bombardment Squadron. (remained inactive)
- 27th Bombardment Group, 1 February 1940
- 5th Air Support Command, 14 October 1941 – ca. 1942
- VIII Bomber Command, 14 May 1942
- Twelfth Air Force, 14 September 1942 – 1 October 1943 (attached to Northwest African Training Command after 18 February 1943)
- 72d Bombardment Wing, 1 September 1958 - 30 June 1971
- Curtiss A-18 Shrike, 1940
- Douglas A-20 Havoc, 1941–1943
- Douglas DB-7 Boston, 1942
- North American A-36 Apache, 1943
- Boeing KC-135 Stratotanker, 1958-1971
Awards and Campaigns
|Air Force Outstanding Unit Award||1 April 1960-30 June 1961||915th Air Refueling Squadron|
|Air Force Outstanding Unit Award||1 July 1968 - 30 June 1969||915th Air Refueling Squadron|
|Antisubmarine||15th Bombardment Squadron|
|Air Offensive, Europe||15th Bombardment Squadron|
|Tunisia||15th Bombardment Squadron|
- Maurer, Maurer, ed (1982) . Combat Squadrons of the Air Force, World War II (reprint ed.). Washington, DC: Office of Air Force History. pp. 82–83. ISBN 0-405-12194-6. LCCN 70605402. OCLC 72556. http://www.airforcehistory.hq.af.mil/Publications/fulltext/combat_sq_of_the_af_wwii.pdf.
- Maurer, Maurer, ed (1983) . Air Force Combat Units of World War II (reprint ed.). Washington, DC: Office of Air Force History. pp. 78–79. ISBN 0-912799-02-1. LCCN 61060979. http://www.airforcehistory.hq.af.mil/Publications/fulltext/af_combat_units_wwii.pdf.
- Department of the Air Force/MPM Letter 662q, 19 Sep 85, Subject: Reconstitution, Redesignation, and Consolidation of Selected Air Force Tactical Squadrons
- Stations, assignments, and aircraft prior to 1943 in Maurer, Combat Squadrons, pp. 82-83
- Station numbers from Anderson, Capt. Barry (1985). Army Air Forces Stations: A Guide to the Stations Where U.S. Army Air Forces Personnel Served in the United Kingdom During World War II. Maxwell AFB, AL: Research Division, USAF Historical Research Center. http://www.afhra.af.mil./shared/media/document/AFD-081010-027.pdf. Retrieved July 7, 2012. . However these numbers were assigned later.
- AF Pamphlet 900-2, Unit Decorations, Awards and Campaign Participation Credits Department of the Air Force, Washington, DC, 15 Jun 1971, p. 478
- Anderson, Capt. Barry (1985). Army Air Forces Stations: A Guide to the Stations Where U.S. Army Air Forces Personnel Served in the United Kingdom During World War II. Maxwell AFB, AL: Research Division, USAF Historical Research Center. http://www.afhra.af.mil./shared/media/document/AFD-081010-027.pdf. Retrieved July 7, 2012.
- Maurer, Maurer, ed (1983) . Air Force Combat Units of World War II (reprint ed.). Washington, DC: Office of Air Force History. ISBN 0-912799-02-1. LCCN 61060979. http://www.airforcehistory.hq.af.mil/Publications/fulltext/af_combat_units_wwii.pdf.
- Maurer, Maurer, ed (1982) . Combat Squadrons of the Air Force, World War II (reprint ed.). Washington, DC: Office of Air Force History. ISBN 0-405-12194-6. LCCN 70605402. OCLC 72556. http://www.airforcehistory.hq.af.mil/Publications/fulltext/combat_sq_of_the_af_wwii.pdf.
- AF Pamphlet 900-2, Unit Decorations, Awards and Campaign Participation Credits Department of the Air Force, Washington, DC, 15 Jun 1971
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