38th Combat Support Wing

38th Combat Support Wing

Infobox Military Unit
unit_name=38th Combat Support Wing

dates= 1940 — 2007
country=United States
branch=Air Force
command_structure=United States Air Forces Europe
current_commander=Colonel Jack Brigs II
garrison=Ramstein Air Base

* World War II: Asiatic-Pacific Campaign (1942-1945)
* Army of Occupation (Japan) (1945 - 1949)
decorations=Distinguished Unit Citation
Air Force Outstanding Unit Award
Philippine Presidential Unit Citation

The 38th Combat Support Wing (38 CSW) is an inactive wing of the United States Air Force. Its last assignment was at Ramstein Air Base, Germany.


The mission of the 38 CSW was to enhance support to USAFE geographically separated units. This wing was inactivated in 2007.



* Constituted as 38th Bombardment Group (Medium) on 20 Nov 1940: Activated on 15 Jan 1941: Redesignated 38th Bombardment Group (Light) in May 1946
* Established as 38th Bombardment Wing, Light on 10 Aug 1948: Activated on 18 Aug 1948: Inactivated on 1 Apr 1949
* Activated on 1 Jan 1953: Redesignated: 38th Bombardment Wing, Tactical on 1 Oct 1955: Redesignated: 38th Tactical Missile Wing on 18 Jun 1958: Discontinued, and inactivated, on 25 Sep 1966
* Redesignated 38th Flying Training Wing on 22 Mar 1972: Activated on 1 Aug 1972: Inactivated on 30 Sep 1973
* Activated on 1 Dec 1973: Inactivated on 1 Dec 1975
* Redesignated 38th Tactical Missile Wing on 4 Dec 1984: Activated on 1 Apr 1985: Inactivated on 22 Aug 1990
* Redesignated 38th Engineering Installation Wing on 1 Nov 1994: Activated on 8 Nov 1994: Inactivated on 3 Feb 2000
* Redesignated 38th Combat Support Wing on 19 Apr 2004: Activated on 25 May 2004: Inactivated on 1 May 2007

Major command

* Third Air Force (1941 - 1942)
* Seventh Air Force (1942)
* Fifth Air Force (1942 - 1945)
* Far East Air Forces (1945 - 1949)
* United States Air Forces in Europe (1953 - 1966)
* Air Training Command (1972 – 1975)
* Electronic Systems Center (1994 – 2000)
* United States Air Forces Europe (2004 – 2007)

Bases stationed

United States Army Air Forces
* Langley Field, Virginia, 15 Jan 1941
* Jackson AAB, Mississippi, c. 5 Jun 1941-18 Jan 1942
* Australia: Doomben Field, 25 Feb 1942: Ballarat, 8 Mar 1942: Amberley Field, 30 Apr 1942: Eagle Farms, c. 10 Jun 1942: Breddan Field, 7 Aug 1942: Townsville, 30 Sep 1942
* New Guinea: Port Moresby, Oct 1942: Nadzab, 4 Mar 1944
* Biak, 1 Oct 1944
* Morotai, 15 Oct 1944
* Lingayen, Luzon, c. 29 Jan 1945
* Okinawa, 25 Jul 1945
* Itazuke, Japan, c. 22 Nov 1945United States Air Force
*Itami Airfield, Japan (1948 – 1949)
*Laon-Couvron Air Base, France (1953 – 1958)
*Hahn Air Base, Germany (1958 – 1959)
*Sembach Air Base, Germany (1959 – 1966)
*Laredo Air Force Base, Texas (1972 – 1973)
*Moody Air Force Base, Georgia (1973 – 1975)
*Wueschheim Air Station, Germany (1985 – 1990)
*Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma (1994 – 2000)
*Ramstein Air Base, Germany (2004 – 2007)

Weapon systems operated

* B-18 Bolo (1941 - 1942)
* B-26 Marauder (1942)
* B-25 Mitchell (1942 - 1945)
*A/B-26 Invader (1945 – 1949, 1953 – 1955): aircraft was redesignated B-26 after June 1948
* B-57 Canberra (1955 - 1958)
* MGM-1 Matador (1958 - 1966)
*T-37 (1972 – 1975)
*T-38 Talon (1972 – 1975)
*MGM-1 Matador (1958 – 1962)
*MGM-13 Mace (1960 – 1966)
*BGM-109G Gryphon (1986 – 1990)

Operational history

World War II

The 38th Bombardment Group was constituted on 20 Nov 1940, and activated on 15 Jan 1941 at Langley AAF, Virginia. Original operatonal squadrons of the group were the 69th, 70th and 71st Bomb Squadrons and the 15th Reconnaissance Squadron. The group trained with B-18 Bolo aircraft at Jackson Army Air Base, Mississippi for several months before receiving orders for shipment overseas.

The 38th Bomb Group was one of the first U.S. Army Air Force units to be deployed into the Pacific Theater after Pearl Harbor. In January 1942, the group was ordered to the South Pacific and the personnel departed in sections on January 17th, 18th, and l9th 1942 respectively for San Francisco, California, and overseas duty. On January 29th the ground echelon of the 38th Group boarded the Army Transport Bliss, formerly the SS President Cleveland. The Bliss left in convoy from San Francisco on the 31st and arrived at Brisbane, Australia on February 25th, 1942.

In the meantime the air echelon of the 38th Group stayed at Fort McDowell, California, until March 8th, when the air officers and crew chiefs departed for Patterson Field near Dayton,Ohio. In May 1942, that the 38th Group was equipped with B-26A Marauders. On May l9th the first flight of three planes left for Hamilton Field, California and then on to Hawaii. From May 22nd to June 10th the 69th and 7Oth Bomb Squadrons ferried 26 Martin B-26s from California to Hickam Field without a single mishap.

These two squadrons in Hawaii took part in the Battle of Midway as part of Seventh Air Force. Four B-26 Marauders were modified to each carry a Navy Mark XIII aerial torpedo took off on June 4, 1942 in an attempt to attack Japanese carriers. The torpedo runs began at 800 feet altitude, the B-26s then dropping down to only ten feet above the water under heavy attack from Japanese fighters. Two of the Marauders were lost in this action, and the other two were heavily damaged. No hits were made on the Japanese carriers.

On June 13 the 69th received orders to proceed to New Caledonia. The 69th Bombardment Squadron at New Caledonia was the first medium bombardment squadron in the South Pacific, and along with the 7Oth Bombardment Squadron, which arrived at Fiji one week later, was the sole air striking force available for use against the Japanese fleet in the South Pacific. Flying combat missions detached from the 38th Bomb Group throughout 1942, on March 22, 1943, the 69th and 70th squadrons were reassigned with their B-26 Marauders to the 42nd Bombardment Group.

Meanwhile in Australia, the 38th was equipped with the B-25C Mitchells and new squadrons (405th, 822d, 823d) were assigned to the group along with the 71st. The group was assigned to V Bomber Command, Fifth Air Force and the group operated from bases in Australia, New Guinea, and Biak, Sep 1942-Oct 1944, attacking Japanese airfields and shipping and supporting ground forces in New Guinea and the Bismarck Archipelago.

Major Ralph Cheli was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for action on 18 Aug 1943: while leading the 405th Squadron to attack a heavily defended airdrome on New Guinea, his plane was severely hit by enemy fire. Cheli remained in position and led the attack on the target before his bomber crashed into the sea. Initially he was believed killed in the crash, but post war evidence indicates that he survived the crash but was executed in March 1944 by the Japanese while a POW on Rabaul. For his actions, he was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor. What are believed to be Major Cheli's and other similarly executed POWs remains are now interred at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery in St. Louis, Missouri.

The group was awarded a Distinguished Unit Citation for bombing and strafing Japanese troops and fortifications on Cape Gloucester, New Britain, December 1943, preparatory to the Allied invasion. Received a second Distinguished Unit Citation for two missions over New Guinea, 16 and 17 June 1944, against Japanese airfields, merchant ships, and naval vessels.

The 38th moved to the Moluccas in Oct 1944 and bombed airfields, ground installations, harbors, and shipping in the southern Philippines in support of the US invasion of Leyte. Struck a large enemy convoy in Ormoc Bay in November 1944 to prevent the landing of reinforcements, the group being awarded a 3d Distinguished Unit Citation for the mission.

After moving to the Philippines in January 1945, the group supported US ground forces on Luzon, bombed industries on Formosa, and attacked shipping along the southeast China coast. Stationed temporarily on Palawan in June 1945 for participation in the preinvasion bombing of Japanese installations on Borneo. Moved to Okinawa in July 1945 and conducted several attacks on industries, railways, and shipping in southern Japan.

Moved to Japan in Nov 1945 as part of Far East Air Forces. Redesignated 38th Bombardment Group (Light) in May 1946 and assigned to the 315th Air Division. Equipped with Douglas A-26 Invader aircraft. The 38th assisted in the air defense of Japan and participated in tactical exercises from August 1948 – March 1949.

The 38th Bombardment Group (later Wing) was inactivated in the Far East on 1 April 1949.

Cold War

The 38th Tactical Bombardment Wing (38th TBW) was reactivated as part of the United States Air Forces in Europe on 1 January 1953, being assigned to Laon-Couvron Air Base, France. Upon activation, the wing absorbed the assets of the Air National Guard 126th Bomb Wing, which was inactivated and returned to the control of the Illinois Air National Guard. The 38th's squadrons were designated the 71st, 405th, and 822nd Bomb Squadrons. The wing flew the Douglas B-26 Invader until 1955.

In April 1955 the 38th Bomb Wing converted to the Martin B-57 "Canberra". The B-57 was a replacement for aging Douglas B-26 "Invader", and with their arrival, the B-26's were returned to CONUS. Because English Electric was unable to meet the USAF delivery schedule, the design was licensed to Martin for US manufacture. A total of 49 B-57B and 8 2-seat B-57C models were deployed to Laon.

The mission of the B-57 was to provide a nuclear deterrent for NATO and to deliever nuclear weapons against pre-selected targets, day or night. The aircraft at Laon were painted a gloss black. An acrobatic team was organized and named the Blak Knights using five B-57's. The Black Knights performed at several air shows around Western Europe, including the 1957 Paris Air Show. The Black Knights were the only tactical bomber show team in the world.

In 1958, General De Gaulle announced that all nuclear weapons and delivery aircraft had to be removed from French soil by July 1958. Since NATO strategy had evolved into "massive nuclear retaliation" this meant all tactical fighter and bombing wings had to depart France.

The 38th TBW was inactivated at Laon on 18 June 1958 and redesignated as the 38th Tactical Missile Wing at Hahn Air Base West Germany, operating and maintaining the TM-67A "Matador" cruise missile. The wing was deactivated in September 1966.

Air Training Command

The 38th was reactivated as the 38th Flying Training Wing and replaced the 3640th Pilot Training Wing at Laredo Air Force Base, Texas, on 1 August 1972. Its operational squadrons were the 40th and 41st Pilot Training Squadrons. The wing performed pilot training until 28 August 1973 when Laredo AFB was inactivated.

The 38th Flying Training Wing was reassigned to Moody AFB, Georgia on 1 December 1973, replacing the 3550th Pilot Training Wing. The 38th performed pilot training until 21 November 1975. On 1 December 1975 the 347th Tactical Fighter Wing, a unit of Tactical Air Command (TAC), relocated to Moody from Korat Royal Thai Air Force Base, Thailand and the mission of the base changed from pilot training under ATC to an active tactial fighter base under TAC.

The 38th FTW was inactivated on 1 December 1975.

Ground Launched Cruise Missiles

In April 1985, the 38th Tactical Missile Wing, was activated at Wueschheim AB, West Germany. The wing was assigned to tactical missile operations, equipped with Ground-Launched Cruise Missiles (GLCM) to counter Soviet intermediate-range ballistic missiles from 1986 – 1990.

The GLCMs (and their strategic cousins, the Pershing IIs) had a destabilizing effect on the Soviet Union, as NATO's ability to stand firm and carry out the deployments in the face of nerve-wracking Soviet threats convinced the Kremlin that NATO could not be intimidated.

It was this realization that led to the opening of the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) talks and an INF treaty that eventually removed an entire class of nuclear arms from the superpower arsenals--a major step in the weakening and ultimate dissolution of the Soviet Union itself.

The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty with the Soviet Union which went into effect on 1 June 1988 and led to inactivation of the wing on 22 August 1990.

Post Cold War

The 38th went on to serve as the 38th Engineering Installation Wing wing from 8 November 19943 February 2000 at Tinker AFB, Oklahoma, to provide the Air Force with centralized management of worldwide engineering and installation (E&I) resources. The wing reorganized the Command and Control Systems Center and became the Communications Systems Center (CSC). CSC leaders created a new structure, which accommodated a more effective business-management approach to satisfying the communications-computer software requirements of our Air Force and DoD customers

The 38 EIW was inactivated in February 2000 and downgraded to a group level. The transfer of responsibilities were assigned solely to the 38th Engineering Installation Group (38 EIG) located at Tinker.

The 38th Combat Support Wing was activated at Ramstein AB, Germany in 2004 to enhance support to the over 70 USAFE geographically separated units (GSUs) and units across Europe. But a review found the wing actually created an extra layer of bureaucracy and isolated units would be better served without it. Also studies showed that larger, neighboring bases could offer better support for airmen scattered across the continent.

The 38th CSW was inactivated on 30 September 2007.

See also

* 315th Air Division


* Endicott, Judy G. (1999) Active Air Force wings as of 1 October 1995; USAF active flying, space, and missile squadrons as of 1 October 1995. Maxwell AFB, Alabama: Office of Air Force History. CD-ROM.
* Maurer, Maurer (1983). Air Force Combat Units Of World War II. Maxwell AFB, Alabama: Office of Air Force History. ISBN 0892010924.
* McAuliffe, Jerome J. (2005). US Air Force in France 1950-1967. San Diego, California: Milspec Press,Chapter 13, Laon-Couvron Air Base. ISBN 0-9770371-1-8.
* Ravenstein, Charles A. (1984). Air Force Combat Wings Lineage and Honors Histories 1947-1977. Maxwell AFB, Alabama: Office of Air Force History. ISBN 0912799129.
* [http://home.att.net/~jbaugher/usafserials.html USAAS-USAAC-USAAF-USAF Aircraft Serial Numbers 1908 to present]
* [http://www.b26.com/page/pdf/69thbombardmentsquadron.pdf History of the 69th Bomb Squadron]
* [http://www.afa.org/magazine/july2002/0702glcm.asp The Short, Happy Life of the Glick-Em. Air Force Magazine, July 2002 Vol. 85, No. 07]
* [http://www.tinker.af.mil/38thengineeringinstallationgroup/index.asp 38th Engineering Installation Group page at Tinker AFB website] .
* [http://www.stripes.com/article.asp?section=104&article=55316&archive=true USAFE’s 38th Combat Support Wing deactivating. European Stars & Stripes, July 31, 2007]

External links

* [http://www.glcm.us/38tmw/wueschheim_today.htm Wueschheim AB, Germany]
* [http://www.sunsetters38bg.com 38th Bomb Group Association]

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