2nd Bomb Wing History

The history of the 2nd Bomb Wing is nearly as old as that of American air power itself. Organized as the 1st Day Bombardment Group on Sept. 10, 1918, in France, the unit represented the first Army Air Service unit dedicated to aerial bombardment. Demobilized after World War I, the group was reconstituted and consolidated with another unit and redesignated the 2nd Bomb Group in 1921 at Kelly Field, Texas. From July 13-21, 1921, elements of the group were detached to General "Billy" Mitchell's 1st Provisional Air Brigade and participated in the historic demonstrations of the effectiveness of aerial bombardment on warships by sinking the mighty ex-German battleship Ostfriesland. The group then moved to Langley Field, Virginia where it remained based for the next 20 years. 

A pioneer in aerial bombardment techniques and innovative equipment usage throughout the 1920s and 1930s, the 2nd Bomb Group received the very first B-17 Flying Fortress bomber delivered to the Army Air Corps in 1937. A goodwill tour to Argentina by six B-17s in February 1938 represented the longest distance performance of its kind on record and subsequently earned the group the Mackay Trophy. 

After the United States entered World War II, the 2nd Bomb Group deployed to the Mediterranean area in 1943 to fly long-range bombardment missions against enemy objectives in German occupied Europe. During World War II, the group flew a total of 412 combat missions, dropped 27,797.03 tons of bombs, and earned two Distinguished Unit Citations. The group's gunners received credited for shooting down 279 German, Italian and Bulgarian aircraft. 

After a brief period of inactive status, the newly redesignated 2nd Bomb Wing moved to Chatham AFB, Georgia and then to nearby Hunter AFB, where it converted to B-47 jet bombers and KC-97 tankers in 1954. On Apr. 1, 1963, the 2nd Bomb Wing moved to Barksdale AFB, Louisiana where it was equipped with B-52 and KC-135 aircraft. From 1965-1975, the wing continuously supported combat operations in Southeast Asia. 

On Jan. 16-17, 1991, the 2nd Bomb Wing fired the opening shots of Operation DESERT STORM. Seven B-52Gs and crews executed what was then the longest combat mission in aviation history from Barksdale AFB to the Persian Gulf and launched conventional air-launched cruise missiles against strategic targets in Baghdad. Throughout the late 1990s, the wing participated in Operations DESERT STRIKE, DESERT FOX and ALLIED FORCE. Since Sep. 11, 2001, the men and women of the 2nd Bomb Wing have continually served with distinction in the Global War on Terrorism. Operating from locations around the world, the wing played a pivotal role in defeating the repressive regimes of Afghanistan and Iraq during Operations ENDURING FREEDOM and IRAQI FREEDOM respectively while also deterring aggressors in the Pacific with its stabilizing presence at Andersen AFB, Guam. 

Today, as the largest bomb wing in Air Force Global Strike Command and as a part of the historic "Mighty Eighth" Air Force, the wing continues to reflect the heritage of its motto Libertatem Defendimus: "Liberty We Defend."