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44th Operations Group
Emblem of the 44th Operations Group
Active 1941-1946; 1947-1948; 1951-1952; 1991-1994
Country United States
Branch United States Air Force

The 44th Operations Group (44 OG) is an inactive United States Air Force unit. It was last assigned to the 44th Missile Wing, stationed at Ellsworth Air Force Base, South Dakota. It was inactivated on 5 July 1994.

During World War II, its predecessor unit, the 44th Bombardment Group was the first VIII Bomber Command B-24 Liberator heavy bombardment group stationed in England. It was initially stationed at RAF Cheddington on 11 September 1942, and moved to RAF Shipdham in October. The 44th operated from England for a longer period than any other B-24 group; sustained the highest Aircraft MIA loss of all Eighth Air Force B-24 groups; claimed more enemy fighters than any other Eighth Air Force B-24 group, and was the first group in the VIII Bomber Command to be awarded a Distinguished Unit Citation for actions on 14 May 1943 for an extremely hazardous mission against naval installations at Kiel, Germany

Colonel Leon W. Johnson, while commander of the 44th Bombardment Group, was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions during the Polesti Raid on 1 August 1943.

In the postwar era, the 44th Bombardment Group was one of the original ten USAAF bombardment groups assigned to Strategic Air Command on 21 March 1946, however it was inactivated due to budget constraints on 1 August 1946. Reactivated in 1951 for deployment to Far East Air Forces for combat operations over Korea; inactivated in 1952 when the parent wing adopted the Tri-Deputate organization and assigned all of the groups squadrons directly to the wing.

Reactivated as the 44d Operations Group in 1992 when the 44th Missile Wing adopted the USAF Objective organization plan



For additional history and lineage, see 44th Missile Wing


  • Constituted as 44th Bombardment Group (Heavy) on 20 Nov 1940
Activated on 15 Jan 1941
Redesignated: 44th Bombardment Group (Very Heavy) in Aug 1945
Inactivated on 12 Jul 1946
  • Activated on 1 Jul 1947 (Not manned or equipped); Inactivated on 6 Sep 1948
  • Redesignated: 44th Bombardment Group (Medium) and activated on 2 Jan 1951
Inactivated on 16 Jun 1952
  • Redesignated: 44th Operations Group and activated on 1 Sep 1991
Inactivated on 4 Jul 1994


Attached to: 201st Provisional Combat Bombardment Wing, 25 Mar 1943
Attached to: 202d Provisional Combat Bombardment Wing, 2 Sep 1943



Aircraft and missiles assigned


World War II

Emblem of the 44th Bobmardment Group
Consolidated B-24 Liberators of the 44th Bomb Group on a parachute drop.
B-24 of the 44th Bomb Group hit by enemy fire on a mission over enemy territory.
Medal of Honor Ceremony for Col Leon Johnson at Shipdham Airfield, 1943.

Activated 15 January 1941 at Mcdill Field Florida. Received first B-24, and later B-24C. Moved Barksdale Field, La. on 16 Feb 1942 and acted as training unit for 98th, 93rd, and 90th Bomb Groups. During same period took part in anti-submarine patrols over the Gulf of Mexico and was credited with the destruction of one U-boat. On 26 Jul 1942 the moved to Will Rogers Field in Oklahoma, and prepared for overseas movement. Ground echelon left by Queen Mary on 4 September 1942 for Grenier Field in NH, and remained there until the first aircraft left for the United Kingdom late in September 1942. The 404 Bomb Squadron originally part of the Group was reassigned while in the United States.

In England, the group was assigned to the VIII Bomber Command 14th Combat Bombardment Wing, and the group tail code was a "Circle-A". Initially stationed at RAF Cheddington, the group was moved ot RAF Shipdham in October 1942.

The 44th Bomb Group's operations consisted primarily of assaults against strategic targets in France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Italy, Romania, Austria, Poland, and Sicily. Among the targets attacked were submarine installations, industrial establishments, airfields, harbors, shipyards, and other objectives, November 1942 - June 1943.

The unit received a Distinguished Unit Citation for an extremely hazardous mission against naval installations at Kiel on 14 May 1943: Its B-24's flew in the wake of the main formation and carried incendiaries to be dropped after three B-17 groups had released high explosive bombs, thus the group's aircraft were particularly vulnerable lacking the protection of the fire power of the main force. This vulnerability increased when the group opened its own formation for the attack; but the 44th blanketed the target with incendiaries in spite of the concentrated flak and continuous interceptor attacks it encountered.

Late in June 1943 a large detachment moved to North Africa to help facilitate the Allied invasion of Sicily by bombing airfields and marshalling yards in Italy. The detachment also participated in the famous low-level raid on the Ploesti oil fields on 1 August 1943. The group was awarded a Distinguished Unit Citation for its part in this raid and its commander, Colonel Leon W. Johnson, was awarded the Medal of Honor for his daring and initiative in leading his men into smoke, flame, and alerted fighter and antiaircraft opposition over the target, which already had been bombed in error by another group.

Before returning to England at the end of August, the detachment bombed an aircraft factory in Austria and supported ground forces in Sicily. In September 1943 the group struck airfields in Holland and France and convoys in the North Sea. Also in September, a detachment was sent to North Africa to support the Salerno operations.

This proved to be the 44th's last detachment and in October when several new B-24 groups were arriving in Norfolk, the 44th was fully committed to the combined bomber offensive from the UK. From November 1943 to April 1945, the group carried out operations against targets in western Europe, concentrating on airfields, oil installations, and marshalling yards.

The group took part in the intensive campaign of heavy bombers against the German aircraft industry during Big Week, 20-25 Feb 1944. The group flew support and interdictory missions. Struck airfields, railroads, and V-weapon sites in preparation for the Normandy invasion; supported the invasion in June 1944 by attacking strong points in the beachhead area and transportation targets behind the front lines. The group aided the Caen offensive and the Saint-Lô breakthrough in July. Dropped food, ammunition, and other supplies to troops engaged in the airborne attack on Holland in September. The group also helped to check the enemy offensive during the Battle of the Bulge, Dec 1944-Jan 1945, by striking bridges, tunnels, choke points, rail and road junctions, and communications in the battle area. The group attacked airfields and transportation in support of the advance into Germany, and flew a resupply mission during the airborne assault across the Rhine in March 1945.

The 44th Bomb Group flew its last combat mission on 25 April 1945. During the course of hostilities, the 44th flew a total of 343 missions and its gunners were credited with 330 enemy fighters shot down and its own losses. highest of any B-24 group in the Eighth, were 153.

Redeployed to the US June 1945. First of the air echelon departed the United Kingdom on 22 May 1945. Ground echelon sailed on Queen Mary on 15 June 1945, arriving in New York on 20 June 1945. Personnel had 30 days R and R with some assembiling in Sioux Falls AAFd, South Dakota.

Cold War

In July 1945, On July 1945 the Group was selected for reforming as a B-29 unit, and in late July 1945 established at Great Bend AAFd, Kansas for training. Aircraft and personnel were transferred to another unit, and then the Group was inactivated on 12 July 1946.

The 44th Bomb Group was one of the SAC bomb groups activated and placed training status when Korean War was 6 months old. Depended on the 22nd Bombardment Group for initial cadre and help in becoming organized. Not manned effective, 10 Feb 1951. Inactivated on 16 Jun 1952 when its parent unit, the 44th Bombardment Wing, converted to the Air Force tri-deputate organization and all assigned units and personnel were assigned directly to the Wing.

Modern era

Activated as the 44th Operations Group on 1 September 1991 under the "Objective Wing" concept adapted by the Air Force. The ICBM squadrons of the renamed 44th Missile Wing were reassigned to the newly established group, along with the lineage, honors and history of the 44th Bombardment Group.

On 28 September 1991, in response to President Bush's directive to stand down the Minuteman II, personnel of the 44 OG worked around the clock to dissipate launch codes and pin safety control switches at 15 launch control facilities. Removal of the first Minuteman II missile assigned to the 44 OG occurred at G-02, near Red Owl, South Dakota, on 3 December 1991. On 6 April 1992, the first launch control center shut down.

On 1 June 1992, the 44 OG was relieved of its emergency war order mission and its primary focus was deactivation of the Minuteman II weapon system. This day also marked the end of SAC and the beginning of Air Combat Command (ACC)

The 67th Missile Squadron (MS) was inactivated on 15 August 1992, and the 66 MS was inactivated on 1 September 1993. On 1 July 1993 its partent unit, the 44 MW changed hands from ACC to Air Force Space Command along with all other ICBM wings. Deactivation of the entire missile complex ended in April 1994. With its mission complete, the 44th Operations Group formally inactivated on 4 July 1994.


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

  • Ravenstein, Charles A. (1984). Air Force Combat Wings Lineage and Honors Histories 1947–1977. Maxwell AFB, Alabama: Office of Air Force History. ISBN 0912799129
  • Maurer, Maurer (1983). Air Force Combat Units Of World War II. Maxwell AFB, Alabama: Office of Air Force History. ISBN 0892010924.
  • Rogers, Brian (2005). United States Air Force Unit Designations Since 1978. Hinkley, England: Midland Publications. ISBN 1-85780-197-0.
  • Mackay, Ron and Steve Adams. The 44th Bomb Group in World War II: The 'Flying Eight-Balls' Over Europe in the B-24. Atglen, Pennsylvania: Schiffer Publishing, 2007. ISBN 0-76431-885-3.

External links


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