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320th Air Expeditionary Wing
320th Air Expeditionary Wing.jpg
320th Air Expeditionary Wing
Active 1942–1989, 1998–Present
Country United States
Branch United States Air Force
Garrison/HQ Bolling AFB, DC.
Motto Strength through Awareness
World War II Victory Medal ribbon.svg
European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign ribbon.svg Vietnam Service Ribbon.svg AFEMRib.svg
Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary ribbon.svg Afghanistan Campaign ribbon.svg Iraq Campaign ribbon.svg
  • World War II
European Campaign (1942–1945)
  • Vietnam Service (1965–1973)
  • Expeditionary Service
Various Operations (1990s)
  • Global War on Terrorism
Afghanistan Campaign (2001–2006, TBD)
Iraq Campaign (2003–2006, TBD)
George Lee Butler
Howell M. Estes II
A C-130 Hercules, assigned to the 320th Air Expeditionary Wing at a forward-deployed location, awaits its next mission on the flightline. The aircraft was used to perform a heavy equipment airdrop into south central Afghanistan supporting Operation Enduring Freedom. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Cherie Thurlby)

The 320th Air Expeditionary Wing (320 AEW) is a provisional United States Air Force unit assigned to the Air Force District of Washington. It is stationed at Bolling AFB, District of Columbia. The 320 AEW may be activated or inactivated at any time.

The 320 AEW was activated at Bolling in December 2006 for former President Gerald Ford’s state funeral during the Christmas and New Year's holidays, attaching 634 personnel to complete a 10-day mission in three joint-operation areas. In less than 12 hours from notification, the 320 AEW deployed 167 joint forces and equipment for JTF Ceremony Forward.

It was activated in December 2008 to support Air Force requirements during the 2009 Presidential Inauguration, working with the Armed Forces Inaugural Committee, or AFIC.

The wing has a long and distinguished history, being the successor organization to the World War II Twelfth Air Force 320th Bombardment Group. The highly-decorated unit was equipped with the Martin B-26 Marauder aircraft. The 320th Bombardment Wing was a component organization of Strategic Air Command's deterrent force during the Cold War, as a strategic bombardment wing.





  • Constituted as 320th Bombardment Group (Medium) on June 19, 1942
Activated on June 23, 1942
Inactivated on December 4, 1945.
  • Redesignated: 320th Bombardment Group (Light) Allotted to the reserve.
Activated on July 6, 1947
Inactivated on June 27, 1949
  • Established as 320th Bombardment Wing, Medium, and activated, on December 1, 1952
Discontinued: on September 15, 1960
Redesignated: 320th Bombardment Wing, Heavy, on November 15, 1962
Organized on February 1, 1963
Inactivated September 30, 1989
  • Redesignated: 320th Air Expeditionary Group
Activated 1997
Redesignated: 320th Air Expeditionary Wing, 2001


47th Bombardment Wing: February 18 – June 7, 1943
First Air Force, June 9, 1947 – June 27, 1949
Fifteenth Air Force
12th Air Division, December 1, 1952 – September 15, 1960
Attached to 7th Air Division, June 3 – September 4, 1954
Attached to 3d Air Division, October 5, 1956 – January 11, 1957
Fifteenth Air Force
14th Strategic Aerospace Division, February 1, 1963
18th Strategic Aerospace Division, July 1, 1965
47th Air Division, July 2, 1966
14th Strategic Aerospace Division, March 31, 1970
Second Air Force
47th Air Division, June 30, 1971
Fifteenth Air Force
14th Air Division, October 1, 1972 – September 30, 1989
9th Air Force/USCENTAF, 1997–2006

Bases assigned



  • 441st Bombardment: 1942–1945; 1947–1949
Assigned December 1, 1952 – September 15, 1960 (Not operational May 16 – September 15, 1960)
Assigned February 1, 1963 – September 30, 1989.
(Not operational February 11 – July 1, 1965; December 1, 1965 – March 21, 1966 and June 3, 1972 – October 25, 1973).
  • 442d Bombardment: 1942–1945; 1947–1949; December 1, 1952 – September 15, 1960 (Not operational September 1–15, 1960)
  • 443d Bombardment: 1942–1945; 1947–1949; December 1, 1952 – September 15, 1960 (Not operational September 1–15, 1960)
  • 444th Bombardment: 1942–1945; 1947–1949; January 1, 1959 – September 15, 1960 (Not operational July 1 – September 15, 1960)
  • 320th Refueling: Assigned December 1, 1952 – June 16, 1960

Major aircraft types operated


320th Bombardment Group (World War II)

Martin B-26G-5-MA Marauder 42-34250 of the 320th Bomb Group crew celebrating the end of hostilities, May, 1945

Constituted as 320th Bombardment Group (Medium) on June 19, 1942 and activated on June 23 at MacDill Field (now MacDill AFB), Florida. Operational squadrons of the group were the 441st, 442d, 443d and 444th Bomb Squadrons. The 320th was equipped with the Martin B-26 Marauder aircraft.

The group was subsequently relocated to nearby Drane Field (now Lakeland Linder Regional Airport), Florida. Most of the group moved to North Africa via England, August–December 1942; crews flew their planes over the South Atlantic route and arrived in North Africa, December 1942 – January 1943.

Began combat with Twelfth Air Force in April 1943 and operated from bases in Algeria, Tunisia, Sardinia, and Corsica until November 1944. During the period April–July 1943, flew missions against enemy shipping in the approaches to Tunisia, attacked installations in Sardinia, participated in the reduction of Pantelleria, and supported the Allied invasion of Sicily. Then bombed marshalling yards, bridges, airdromes, road junctions, viaducts, harbors, fuel dumps, defense positions, and other targets in Italy. Supported forces at Salerno and knocked out targets to aid the seizure of Naples and the crossing of the Volturno River. Flew missions to Anzio and Cassino and engaged in interdictory operations in central Italy in preparation for the advance toward Rome.

Received the French Croix de Guerre with Palm for action in preparation for and in support of Allied offensive operations in central Italy, April–June 1944. Received a Distinguished Unit Citation (DUC) for a mission on May 12, 1944 when, in the face of an intense antiaircraft barrage, the group bombed enemy troop concentrations near Fondi in support of the U.S. Fifth Army's advance toward Rome. From June to November 1944 operations included interdictory missions in the Po Valley, support for the invasion of Southern France and attacks on enemy communications in northern Italy.

Moved to France in November 1944 and bombed bridges, rail lines, gun positions, barracks, supply points, ammunition dumps, and other targets in France and Germany until V-E Day. Received a 2d DUC for operations on March 15, 1945 when the group bombed pillboxes, trenches, weapon pits, and roads within the Siegfried Line to enable a breakthrough by the U.S. Seventh Army.

With the end of hostilities in Europe, the group moved to Germany in June 1945 and participated in the disarmament program. Returned to the United States, November–December 1945, and was inactivated on December 4, 1945.

320th Bombardment Wing (Cold War)


The 320th Bombardment Wing replaced the 106th Bombardment Wing, (Medium) (ANG) at March Air Force Base, California in December 1952. At March, the wing conducted global bombardment training and air refueling operations to meet SAC commitments, 1952–1960. This wing was also employed for training Air Force Reservists and Air National Guardsmen to backfill rotating B-29 combat crews serving in Korea. While the reservists and guardsmen were undergoing training, they were paid on the lesser reserve pay scale.

The 320th also trained the initial B-47 cadre for 96th Bombardment Wing, Medium, December 1953 – January 1955 and subsequently deployed as a wing to RAF Brize Norton, England, June 5 – September 4, 1954, and Andersen AFB, Guam, October 5, 1956 – January 11, 1957.

The 320th departed March AFB "on paper" and absorbed the assets of the concurrently-inactivated 4134th Strategic Wing at Mather Air Force Base, California in February 1963. The wing's 441st Bomb Squadron (441 BS) flew B-52Fs until 1968, when it converted to the B-52G. The wing also activated the 904th Air Refueling Squadron (904 ARS) with KC-135A Stratotankers.

From Mather, the wing performed global bombardment training and air refueling operations to meet SAC commitments, February 1963–1965 and later. The entire wing was drastically reduced February–July 1965, December 1965 – March 1966, and June 1972 – October 1973, when all aircraft, crews, and most support personnel were loaned to other SAC units based at Andersen AFB Guam, RTNAS U-Tapao, Thailand and Kadena AB, Okinawa for operations in Southeast Asia.

Starting in 1972, the 3542d Operations Squadron conducted Convair T-29 pilot training for the Fifteenth Air Force in conjunction with the 323d Flying Training Wing of the Air Training Command (ATC) to support the Undergraduate Navigator Training (UNT) program at Mather. The 3542nd Operations Squadron was inactivated in 1973 and the T-29s were retired in 1973 and 1974 concurrent with the introduction of the Boeing 737-200-based T-43A.

In the early 1980s, the 320 BW and the 441 BS were equipped to carry, and trained in the employment of, the US Navy's AGM-84 Harpoon missile and various types of anti-ship mines as part of a joint USN-USAF initiative to employ USAF bomber aircraft in maritime operations.

The 904 ARS was inactivated October 1, 1986 and its older KC-135As modified to KC-135E standard and redistributed to other SAC units or sent to AMARC at Davis-Monthan AFB, Arizona for storage. The 441 BS with its B-52Gs was inactivated on September 30, 1989. It was the first squadron to inactivate with the gradual drawdown of the B-52G fleet pursuant to START reductions of the USAF strategic bomber force.

The 320th Bombardment Wing was inactivated on September 30, 1989. It was the first B-52 wing to be inactivated in conjunction with the phased retirement of the B-52G fleet and was also made in conjunction with the pending closure of Mather AFB in 1993 due to Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) action.

320th Air Expeditionary Group (USCENTAF)

In 1997, the 320th was reactivated as the 320th Air Expeditionary Group (320 AEG) at Eskan Village, Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. As an element of U.S. Central Command Air Forces (USCENTAF) / 9th Air Force (9 AF), the 320 AEG was a ground-based non-flying organization, with the 320 AEG replacing the earlier 4409th Air Base Group (Provisional) at Eskan that had been in existence since Operations DESERT SHIELD and DESERT STORM in 1990-91. However, shows the changeover happening on December 1, 1998, not 1997.[1]

The primary mission of the 320 AEG at Eskan was to provide liaison with Saudi Arabian Ministry of Defense and Aviation (MODA) for Eskan Village and to provide host base support for the staff of Joint Task Force Southwest Asia (JTF-SWA) / 9th Air and Space Expeditionary Task Force (9 ASETF), and its associated Coalition Air Operations Center (CAOC) conducting Operation SOUTHERN WATCH, which provided principal senior command and control of all U.S. and Coalition combat flying units enforcing the "No Fly Zone" over Southern Iraq prior to execution of Operation IRAQI FREEDOM in 2003. The 320 AEG also supported United States Military Training Mission (USMTM) Saudi Arabia, the U.S. Office of Program Management - Saudi Arabian National Guard (OPM-SANG), as well as Royal Air Force and French Air Force headquarters elements also located at Eskan Village.

In 2005 the 320th Air Expeditionary Group was replaced by the 64th Air Expeditionary Group, a component of the 379th Air Expeditionary Wing, and the 320th AEW was reassigned to National Capital Region duties.


PD-icon.svg This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the Air Force Historical Research Agency.

  1. ^, Joint Task Force-Southwest Asia, accessed January 2009
  • Maurer, Maurer (1983). Air Force Combat Units of World War II. Maxwell AFB, Alabama: Office of Air Force History. ISBN 0892010924.
  • Mueller, Robert (1989). Volume 1: Active Air Force Bases Within the United States of America on 17 September 1982. USAF Reference Series, Office of Air Force History, United States Air Force, Washington, D.C. ISBN 0912799536; 0160022614
  • Ravenstein, Charles A. (1984). Air Force Combat Wings Lineage and Honors Histories 1947–1977. Maxwell
  • Rogers, Brian (2005). United States Air Force Unit Designations Since 1978. Hinkley, England: Midland Publications. ISBN 1-85780-197-0.

External links


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