321st Air Expeditionary Wing: Wikis


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321st Air Expeditionary Wing
321st Air Expeditionary Wing.png
321st Air Expeditionary Wing
Active 1942– Unknown
Country United States
Branch United States Army Air Forces (1942–1946)
United States Air Force (1953–1995), (2001-?)
Type Air Expeditionary
Role Combat Support
Part of Air Combat Command/US Central Command
World War II Victory Medal ribbon.svg European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign ribbon.svg Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary ribbon.svg
  • World War II
European Campaign (1942–1945)
  • Global War on Terrorism
Campaigns (To Be Determined)
Lance W. Lord
Tech. Sgt. Rich Loyek, 321st Expeditionary Maintenance Squadron crew chief, emerges from a C-130 Hercules after conducting a pre-flight inspection.
Senior Airman Taneka Jackson and Airman 1st Class Jesse Patrick, 321st Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron, patrol the flight line at a deployed location.

The 321st Air Expeditionary Wing (321 AEW) is a provisional United States Air Force Air Combat Command unit. The unit was restablished on 1 Nov 2008 at The unit is a nexus of all Coalition Air Force Training Teams and the Iraqi Air Force.



In 2001, the wing was converted to provisional status and allocated to Air Combat Command. It was believed to be active between 2001 and 2004, and deployed to Masirah Island Air Base, Oman. Its operational component was believed to be the 355th Air Expeditionary Group.

However, the task of developing a comprehensive listing of AEW units present in Southwest Asia and other combat areas is particularly difficult as the events of September 11, 2001 and the Global War on Terrorism has made such an effort significantly difficult. The USAF seeks to improve operational security (OPSEC) and to deceive potential enemies as to the extent of American operations.


See the 321st Air Expeditionary Group for additional history and lineage and World War II history


  • Established as 321st Bombardment Wing, Medium, on March 23, 1953
Activated on December 15, 1953
Discontinued, and inactivated, on October 25, 1961
Redesignated 321st Strategic Missile Wing, and activated, on August 14, 1964
Organized on November 1, 1964.
Redesignated: 321st Missile Wing, September 1, 1991
Redesignated: 321st Missile Group, July 1, 1994
Inactivated: September 30, 1998
  • Converted to provisional status and allocated to Air Combat Command to activate or inactivate any time after 1 Oct 2001.
  • Redesignated as 321st Air Expeditionary Wing on 1 Oct 2001.

Known Assignments

Second Air Force, December 15, 1953
(attached to Air Division Provisional, 813th, June 11 – July 14, 1954)
813th Air Division, July 15, 1954
Attached to 7th Air Division, December 9, 1954 – March 5, 1955
Attached to 5th Air Division, April 9 – July 3, 1956
Second Air Force, June 1, 1956
6th Air Division, January 1, 1959
Eighth Air Force, February 1, 1959
6th Air Division, July 1, 1959
823d Air Division, February 6 – October 25, 1961
Second Air Force
4th Strategic Aerospace (later, 4th Strategic Missile; 4th Air) Division, November 1, 1964
57th Air Division, January 22, 1975 – September 30, 1998
Probably attached to Air Forces Central

Known Stations

[1][2] [3]

Known Components


  • 355th Air Expeditionary Group (2001–2004) (Dates Unconfirmed)


  • 307th Air Refueling: attached September 28 – November 8, 1954
  • 321st Air Refueling: November 8, 1954 – September 16, 1956
  • 445th Bombardment: 1942–1945; 1947–1949; December 15, 1953 – October 25, 1961
  • 446th Bombardment: 1942–1945; 1947–1949; December 15, 1953 – October 25, 1961
  • 447th Bombardment (later Strategic Missile, Missile)
1942–1945; 1947–1949; December 15, 1953 – October 25, 1961; February 1, 1965 – September 30, 1998
1942–1945; 1947–1949; February 1, 1954 – October 25, 1961; September 15, 1965 – September 30, 1998

Known Aircraft and missiles operated

Operational history

Cold War

321st Bombardment Wing
Postcard from Pinecastle AFB in the mid-1950s, showing Boeing B-47E-90-BW Stratojet AF Serial No. 52-0477 of the 321st Bomb Wing on the ramp. This aircraft was sent to AMARC in November 1964.

On December 15, 1953, the 321st Bombardment Wing (Medium) was activated at Pinecastle Air Force Base, Florida, absorbing the B-47 Stratojets and KC-97 tankers of the deactivated 4042nd Flying Training Wing. Two weeks later, on January 1, 1954, the wing was assigned to Strategic Air Command a B-47 combat crew training mission was transferred to SAC. Colonel Michael N.W. McCoy was appointed commander of the 321st Bombardment Wing on May 24, 1954. He earned the distinction of being the dean of Strategic Air Command’s B-47 "Stratojet" commanders.

Known squadrons of the 321st Bomb Wing were:

  • 445th, 446th, 447th, 448th Bombardment Squadron (December 15, 1953 – October 24, 1961)
  • 307th Air Refueling Squadron (September 28 – November 8, 1954)
Redesignated: 321st Air Refueling Squadron (November 8, 1954 - Sept 16, 1956)

In November 1957 the base was host to the medium bombers participating in the annual Strategic Air Command Bombing Navigation and Reconnaissance Competition. During the competition, a B-47 aircraft mishap north of downtown Orlando took the lives of Colonel McCoy, Group Captain John Woodroffe of the Royal Air Force, Lieutenant Colonel Charles Joyce and Major Vernon Stuff during preparations for the event. Despite this tragedy, the 321st Bomb Wing, under the direction of its new commander, Colonel Robert W. Strong, Jr., won the top honors of the meet, including the coveted Fairchild and McCoy trophies, distinguishing the 321st as the top B-47 Wing in SAC.

On May 7, 1958 Pinecastle AFB was renamed McCoy Air Force Base in memory of the late Colonel Michael N. W. McCoy. Formal dedication ceremonies were held on May 21, 1958 in conjunction with a mammoth open house, during which an estimated 30,000 Floridians attended.

In the summer of 1961, a complete reogranization of McCoy AFB began. A program got under way to convert the base from the B-47 Stratojet to heavy B-52 "Stratofortress" bombers. The 321st Bomb Wing began phasing out its operations in June 1961 and was deactivated in October 1961.

321st Strategic Missile Wing
321st Missile Wing.png

On November 1, 1963, 321st Strategic Missile Wing was organized as the first Strategic Air Command (SAC) LGM-30 Minuteman II intercontinental ballistic missile wing, at Grand Forks AFB, North Dakota.

During 1965, the wing’s three missile squadrons were activated and crew training and certification began at Vandenberg AFB, California. In August 1965, the base received its first Minuteman II missile, shipped by train from Assembly Plant 77 at Hill AFB, Utah. During the following March, the base received the first Minuteman II to be shipped via aircraft, an Air Force first.

On April 25, 1966, the 447th Strategic Missile Squadron and its 50 Minuteman II missiles were declared operational. Additional flights came on line throughout 1966. On December 7, 1966, the wing, with its component 446th, 447th, and 448th Strategic Missile Squadrons, became fully operational with a compliment of 150 Minuteman missiles.

As the first base to deploy Minuteman II missiles, Grand Forks AFB hosted “Project Long Life II,” a unique reliability test in which modified Minuteman missiles were fueled to travel a few hundred yards. The first launch from a Grand Forks silo occurred on October 19, 1966 and was declared unsuccessful. Nine days later, a second attempt also failed. A third attempt under “Project Giant Boost” occurred in August 1968 and again proved unsuccessful.

Crews from the 321 SMW competed in SAC’s first Missile Combat Competition held at Vandenberg AFB from April 2 through April 7, 1967. Later that month, members from the wing launched its first Minuteman II from Vandenberg. Despite the wing’s relative youth, it quickly established a reputation for excellence by winning numerous honors during its first few years. For example, in 1969, the unit received numerous significant honors, including the Air Force Outstanding Unit Award, and SAC Outstanding Missile Wing Award. Throughout the next two decades, the unit would score additional triumphs at Olympic Arena missile competitions and receive numerous “best” accolades.

From December 1971 to March 1973, the wing converted to Minuteman III missiles. These missiles represented a significant technological advancement, having multiple independently targetable reentry vehicles (MIRVs). Coordinating the missile changeover required complex planning and execution. In 1972 alone, 250 separate nuclear weapon convoys motored over the roads of North Dakota.

Modifications continued that enhanced readiness and improved survivability. For instance, about mid-August 1975, “Wing Six Integrated Program” (WSIP) was implemented. WSIP included a silo upgrade that improved the missile suspension system to withstand greater blast-shock and provided the 321st with a remote targeting capability.

The wing underwent continual readiness inspections and participated in numerous training exercises on base and at Vandenberg. Training improved with the expansion of on-base simulator facilities. For example, in 1970, wing crews conducted tests using “Modified Operational Missiles” which enabled them to exercise all aspects of a missile launch except igniting the engine.

Mother Nature often threatened wing readiness. The organizational history referred to “the Great Blizzard of ‘66,” “ the storm of ‘75 that caused $10,000 in damages,” and “one of the harshest winters 119771 which ‘hampered maintenance efforts’ and had ‘ice storms snapping power lines’.” When the heavy snows melted, floods occasionally resulted. A quick thaw in April 1979 created one of the most devastating floods within the Red River valley basin during this century. In addition to protecting the silos from flood waters, wing personnel volunteered to join the mostly successful 2-week struggle to keep Grand Forks and East Grand Forks dry. This effort was repeated in April 1989.

Modern era

With the restructuring of the Air Force and the disestablishment of Strategic Air Command (SAC) in the early 1990s the wing first came under Air Combat Command (ACC) in 1992 and then under Air Force Space Command (AFSPC) in 1993.

In March 1995, the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) Commission selected the 321st Strategic Missile Wing for deactivation. The wing was downgraded to group status,and the 321st Missile Group was given a dual mission: To operate, maintain and secure combat-ready ICBM forces for the National Command Authority and to safely and securely transfer its alert responsibilities to the 341st Missile Wing at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Montana.

The 321st Missile Group was inactivated in 1995.


  1. ^ Maurer, Maurer (1983). Air Force Combat Units Of World War II. Maxwell AFB, Alabama: Office of Air Force History. ISBN 0892010924.  
  2. ^ Ravenstein, Charles A. (1984). Air Force Combat Wings Lineage and Honors Histories 1947–1977. Maxwell AFB, Alabama: Office of Air Force History. ISBN 0912799129.  
  3. ^ US Forces Order of Battle
  • Rogers, B. (2006). United States Air Force Unit Designations Since 1978. ISBN 1-85780-197-0
  • World Airpower Journal. (1992). US Air Force Air Power Directory. Aerospace Publishing: London, UK. ISBN 1-880588-01-3
  • Grand Forks AFB, North Dakota

External links


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