Source:  40th Bomb Wing

ORIGINS: The 45th Bombardment Squadron was activated April 1, 1941, at Borinquen Field, Puerto Rico. The five officers and 146 men were commanded by Major Giannatti.

From the day of its inception until the outbreak of War the 45TH performed the usual garrison duties, also making many long distance flights over water. Some of these flights were made from Borinquen Field, Puerto Rico to Bases located within the continental United States, a distance of at least 900 miles. Others were made to U.S. bases located in the lesser antilles and the northeastern coast of South America. Occasional flights were also made to Central America and the Netherlands' West Indies. All of these flights Were performed in a routine manner and without incident. The squadron was equipped with Douglas B-18 aircraft at that time.


At the outbreak of WW II the squadron was placed on a continuous 24-hour alert status. From the day war was declared until the squadron moved to David, Republic of Panama on November 18, 1942, it carried out anti-submarine patrols over the Carribean with B-18 aircraft. After the squadron moved, it was equipped with LB-30 and B-24 aircraft and carried out long over-water patrols in the Pacific.

On May 22, 1943, the squadron prepared for its first contact with the state of Kansas. The move to Pratt Army Air Field, Kansas was completed by July 1, 1943.

While at Pratt, the 45th became the first bomb squadron to receive the brand new B-29 bomber. They claimed the first one off the assembly line on August 1, 1943. All personnel were fully trained in the new bomber by February, 1944.

In March, 1944, the 45th was alerted for movement overseas. By that time, the squadron had it's full compliment of nine B-29B. Manning consisted of 85 officers and 85 enlisted men.

All airplanes and men were in place in Chakulia, India, by April 18, 1944. The 45th was the first squadron in the 40th Bombardment Group to have all its airplanes in place.

On May 3, 1944, the squadron sent its first plane across the "Hump" into China to the advanced base of the 40th Bombardment Group. Flying the "Hump" was a real experience after hearing so many tales of the most hazardous stretch of flying in the world. The course flown took the planes from Chakulia to Jorhat, India; to Shingbaiyang, India; to Likiang, China; to Hsichang, China; and then direct to Haingching, China, the advanced base.

On May 5, 1944, the 45th Bombardment Squadron absorbed the 3d Bombardment Maintenance Squadron to form a unit totaling 174 officers and 370 enlisted men and crews into one unit The merger joined flight line maintenance personnel and flight crews into one unit.

June, 1944, was the debut of the 45th in combat. After a shakedown mission over the railroad yards in Bangkok, Thailand, the squadron flew the first ever daylight B-29 bombing raid over Japan. The only other time Japan proper had been bombed was General Doolittle's B-25 raid in 1942.

Combat operations during the month of August, 1944, produced proof to the enemy that the B-29 was a definite global threat. All available aircraft were divided into two substantial forces. Staging from China Bay Airfield in Ceylon, the 45th struck by night at the Pladjoe Oil Refinery located at Palembang, Sumatra. Another force staged from forward area fields in China to strike at urban areas of Nagasaki, Japan the same night. Raiding targets 4,000 miles apart simultaneously forced the enemy to face a defensive nightmare of spreading their ground and air defenses over wide areas, not knowing from which direction the next blow would fall. The mission to Palembang was commended by General Henry H. (Hap) Arnold as the longest bombing mission in the annals of the United States Army Air Force.

Amidst the yearly monsoon season, in September, 1944, the 40th Bombardment Group began to initiate future plans set down by the new Commanding General of the XX Bomber Command, Major General Curtis E. LeMay. Under his command they laid plans for a 12-plane formation to increase fire power and to improve the bombing pattern. A greatly increased training program was inaugurated at Chakulia, but bombing missions continued despite the training.

Two daylight raids were directed at Japanese steel-making capability in September, 1944. This time, the target was Anshan in Japan occupied Manchuria. September was marked by yet another first when the Japanese struck back at the forward staging base in China. Minor damage was done in the air raid.

Also in September, the 45th bombed the Okayama Aircraft Plant destroying 80 percent of the structures in the complex. The loss of Okayama greatly limited Japan's ability to stage and maintain aircraft involved in the battle of the Philippine Islands.

Perhaps the squadron's most outstanding contribution to the war effort during October, 1944, was their support of General MacArthur's invasion of the Philippines. The 45th pounded the island of Formosa on the 14th and 17th of the month. On October 20, 1944, General MacArthur landed.

At the end of 1944 the 45th had seen seven months of combat operations and had participated in twenty-two missions, directed against twelve primary targets. During these hectic and trying seven months the 40th Bomb Group lost several B-29s. This loss of personnel and aircraft was felt deeply by all men of the 45th.

Many things happened during February, 1945. General Ramey visited the Group for an inspection and to award well deserved medals to ground and flying personnel, ranging from the Silver Star to the Purple Heart. Admiral Lord Louis Mountbatten, Supreme Commander of the Southeast Asian Theatre Command, visited Chakulia and was pleased to be the first Theatre Commander to be given operational control of the B-29s. In addition to several photo sorties during February, the 45th claimed credit for sinking the floating Dry Dock at Singapore and a transport which was being repaired in the dock. This dry dock, the largest in the world, was Japan's main source of repair for their larger naval vessels.

April 1945 brought about the long awaited move from Chakulia, India, to Tinian Island in the Marianas. So far as the change of station was concerned, this movement was unprecedented in that it called for a flight of 3,960 statute miles, including several hundred miles over enemy territory and enemy controlled waters. Now at Tinian and under the XXI Bomber Command, operating procedures changed. The good old days were gone forever. In India the squadron had sometimes a week to ten days to prepare for a mission, now changes in dates and targets could be expected up to a few hours before takeoff.

It was on 7 August that the most powerful and destructive weapon in world history was introduced. This new weapon was the world shattering atomic bomb dropped from a B-29 aircraft. Hiroshima was the first target on which this new bomb was used. Immediately after this single bomb was dropped President Harry S. Truman announced to the world the unbelievable power of this weapon that would stagger the imagination. Tokyo reported that no life remained in Hiroshima owing to the destructiveness of the atomic weapon. The exact damage resulting from the terrific explosion was not revealed; however, some reports indicated that over four square miles of Hiroshima was literally evaporated and over 70% of the cities population killed. This one bomb was equivilant to the damage wrought by hundreds of B-29 raids with average bombs. So serious was this new weapon that the Japanese called a special cabinet session as a result of the one bomb dropped on Hiroshima. At the same time the cabinet meeting was in session, Russia announced the long awaited news of her declaration of war on Japan. The world buzzed with speculation as to Japan's probable surrender with these two new and important factors being introduced. On 9 August another atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki with even more devastating results than were caused by the first bomb dropped at Hiroshima. Reports indicated the second bomb to be an improvement over the first So great was the explosion from the atomic bomb that it was reported to be necessary to use a parachute in dropping the weapon, thus enabling the aircraft to outdistance the first terrific explosion area. The first experience at Hiroshima indicated that the B-29 which had dropped the bomb felt the explosion 10 miles away. It was described as being similar to an antiaircraft shell burst within 50 feet.

While aircraft on the 45th were returning from a mission over Japan word came from Radio Tokyo announcing Japan 's acceptance of the Potsdam Ultimatum: V-J Day, September 2, was an outstanding event for men of the 45th. The 40th Bomb Group contributed 36 aircraft to the V-J Day celebration. Assembling over Japan, the aircraft, together With B-29s from all over the Marians, put on a magnificent power display during the signing of the official surrender terms on the Battleship Missouri. It was a long tiresome flight, but all agreed that it was Well Worth the trouble.

The end of the War found the 45th Bomb Squadron two-thirds of the way around the world from the place where it had started and the records of its accomplishments were outstanding. The now weary but jubilant 40th Bomb Group had participated in 70 combat missions and had dropped a total of 9,218 tons of bombs on enemy targets. Its claims numbered 46 1/2 enemy planes destroyed, 92 probably destroyed, and 64 damaged. The cost had been 32 B-29s lost in combat, 53 men killed, 26 wounded and 134 missions.

Thus temporarily ended the combat saga of the 45th Bombardment Squadron. Theirs was a record which formed one of the most colorful and unusual chapters in the history of the Army Air Force. It included the circumnavigation of the globe in bringing the war home to the Japanese people. It included the combat testing of the world's best bomber, testing in an environment which was the ultimate in adverse conditions for both men and machines. It included the solving of gigantic problems of logistics and maintenance. It included some of the best high altitude precision bombing to be performed during World War II. And in addition it included the longest target bombing operations of World War II.

The next several months following the war's end were spent rotating men and machines back to bases in the United States. by July, 1946, the 45th Bomb Squadron was in full operation at Davis-Monthan Field in Tucson, Arizona. Their mission, vital to the post-war Air Force, was training and molding a highly efficient heavy bombardment group for operation anywhere in the world.

September, 1946, saw the end of the 45th Bomb Squadron until after the Korean War. Both the 40th and 444th Bombardment Groups were undermanned and under equipped. The decision was made to combine the two groups under the 444th Bomb Group, forming one well-equipped combat ready unit. Official inactivation occurred on October l, 1946. thus the 45th Bombardment Squadron concluded a proud and might era in its history.

Several significant changes in the U.S. military defense structure occurred while the 45th was inactive. Among the changes, was an Air Force separate from the Army and Navy. The U.S. Air Force was first commanded by General Carl Spaatz.

The organization of the new Air Force included several functionally designated major air commands. The command responsible for planning, training for, and conducting strategic air warfare was the Strategic Air Command (SAC) commanded by General Curtis E. LeMay

Due in large part to the Korean experience, the nation became convinced in the early 1950s of the need for a strong, combat ready military force. The building of a strong air arm included plans for 143 operational wings. A move in the direction of a 143-Wing Air Force was the activation of the 40th Bombardment Wing (Medium).

It was not until 20 January 1953, that reorganization of the 40th Bomb Wing as a B-29 unit was effected. However - just prior to this date Fifteenth Air Force directed the establishment of the 40th Tactical and Maintenance Squadron (Provisional) at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base. The purpose of this unit was to receive and hold personnel, material, and aircraft surplus to the 303d Wing, then undergoing conversion to B-47s. The Provisional Squadron, organized 24 January 1953, was to eventually serve as the operational nucleus of the 40TH Bomb Wing, their temporary function being the retention, operation, and maintenance of aircraft until such time as Smoky Hill AFB was prepared to accept the unit.

In March, 1953, the 40TH Bomb Wing became active at Smoky Hill AFB, Saline, Kansas, under the command of Col Stanley J. Donovan. The wing was part of the 802nd Air Division, 15TH Air Force, Strategic Air Command.

The 45th was physically activated October, 1953, under the command of Major Henry C. Smith. The last of the three squadrons to be manned, the 45th was initially equipped with five B-29 aircraft and flew its first mission on October 16, 1953.

In November, 1953, the 40th received plans for conversion to a new advanced jet bomber, the B-47. In May 1954 air crews began training in the new aircraft at McConnell AFB, Kansas. At the same time maintenance crews were being trained at Amarillo AFB, Texas.

In August, 1954, LtCol Richard D. Stepp assumed command of the squadron, and in the same month, the first B-47 arrived on Smoky Hill AFB. By the end of the month the 45th had one aircraft. Many of the maintenance personnel had arrived but a few days before the first aircraft.

In September, 1954, Col Berton H. Burns assumed command of the 40th Bomb Wing. By that time, the 45th had six B-47s.

In December, 1954, President Dwight D. Eisenhower landed at Smoky Hill AFB, on his way to Abilene to dedicate the Eisenhower memorial. Several airmen from the 45th had the pleasure of serving as honor guards.

In December, 1954, the 45th became the proud owner of the 1,OOOth Wichita built Boeing B-47 off the assembly line. The aircraft, tail number 52-609, was named "The City of Salina." Ceremonies included introduction of the aircraft commander, Capt Paul R. Houser. Receipt of the airplane brought the 45th up to its full compliment of 15 aircraft.

By February, 1955, the 45th was emerging as the top-notch military organization it had always been and would continue to be. That month the 45th claimed Ground Crew of the Month honors. The winning crew of aircraft 52-563 were A/1C Cornelius H. Blackledge, Crew Chief; A/2C Jesse D. Bowley and Leon E. Tomasky assistants. In addition, A/2C John C. Stevens was named Airman of the Month. To make it a clean sweep, the 45th we commended for being the best in the wing in three different bombing operations conducted during month.

The summer of 1955 was an eventful time for the squadron. In June, the 45th departed for 90 days temporary duty (TDY) to Lakenheath, England. The aircraft departed in three waves on June 3, 4, and 5. All launched on time and were in place in England by June 8, 1955. By that time, Lt. Col. Stepp had been promoted to Colonel and was serving as Wing Material Officer. LtCol William G. Ivey took the squadron to England as its commander.

On September 7, 1955, Aircraft began departing Lakenheath for the return to Smoky Hill. By September 10th, all aircraft and personnel were back home in sunny Salina.

In October, 1955, the 40th Bombardment Wing lost its first B-47. The aircraft apparently caught fire in the left Wing area and crashed near Galva, Kansas. Fortunately, Maj Hughes and the entire crew from the 25th Bomb Squadron parachuted to safety with only one relatively minor injury.

During 1956, the 45th continued to fly missions and Win awards. In the meantime, the most exciting event on Smoky Hill was the assignment of Col James W. (Whip) Wilson as 802nd Air Division Commander.

The year 1957 was an eventful one when, among other things, the squadron departed on its second TDY to England. But even before that things were happening. In a day-long ceremony and open house, Smoky Hill was renamed Schilling AFB in March, 1957. The renaming was in honor of Col David Schilling, a long-time SAC pilot who was killed in and auto accident in 1956.

In June 1957, the 40th Bomb Wing got a new Wing Commander and departed TDY to England. Col Andrew S. Low, Jr., took over the wing just in time to take it TDY to Greenham, England. Everyone was back home again by early October.

In December, 1957, Major Alfred R. Grimm became 45th Bomb Squadron Commander, Maj Grimm was a favorite, because he had moved up in the squadron after serving as an aircraft commander.

In 1958, work began on developing procedures for formation of en organizational maintenance squadron under the directorship of the Wing Director of Materiel. At the same time, plans were being made to get maximum use from the newly completed jumbo hanger.

In May, 1958, the 45th began supporting operation "Reflex." This was a new alert concept in which fully loaded and armed B-47 aircraft were being kept on alert at overseas bases on a rotational basis. The first Reflex base was Greenham Common, England.

Col George Y. Jumper succeeded Col Low as 40th Bomb Wing Commander in July, 1958. At about the same time, the entire wing was placed on alert in response to Lebanese crisis. After about two weeks, operations slowly returned to normal.

December, 1958, saw the end of direct identification of maintenance personnel with the 45th Bomb Squadron. As part of the wing reorganization an organizational maintenance squadron (OMS) was formed by combining maintenance

*NOTE It has come to our attention that Lt. Col. Roger Hempleman was commander of the 45th squadron in 1956-57, preceding Major Grimm.

Personnel from the three bomb squadrons and the periodic maintenance squadron. The first commander of the 40th OMS was Lt. Col. Richard S. Wilson.

The 40th Bomb Wing received two important notifications in March and April, 1959. First, the wing was told to prepare to "Reflex" to Eilson AFB, Alaska. A month later, notice was received of the possible relocation of the 40th to Forbes AFB, Kansas.

Planning for the move continued thorough 1959. The 45th was still commanded by Maj Grimm. LtCol A. A. Brashears had assumed command of 40th OMS and Col Woodward B. Carpenter was Wing Commander.

By July 1960, the 40th had completed the move to Forbes AFB. The 45th was now commanded by Maj Joseph F. Richter, the 40th OMS by Maj Patrick Bowman, and the wing by Col Normal J. McGowan. Many veterans of the 45th Bomb Squadron had been left behind and reassigned to the 310th Bomb Wing at Schilling AFB.

The 45th continued to operate out of Forbes AFB until 1964. Primarily, the squadron's efforts were in support of ground alert, Reflex alert, and a busy flying training schedule.

The 40th Bomb Wing joined the Aerospace age in January, 1964, with the addition of an Atlas Missile Squadron. However, shortly thereafter the wing began phasing down for inactivation.

The 45th Bomb Squadron as well as the entire 40th Bomb Wing became inactive on September 1, 1964.

So for the second and perhaps final time the 45th Bomb Squadron was inactive. When we look back on the rich history of the squadron, its easy to understand why all of us were so proud to be part of it. However, I'm not sure that a proud history alone accounts for the comradeship that existed among us and brought us together here over 20 years later. Perhaps our motivation is related to a time back in 1954, When a group of very young and inexperienced aircraft mechanics and green flight crews hit a small Air Force base in central Kansas and together took fifteen brand new, very advanced jet bombers and formed one of the best fighting organizations in the Air Force-past, present, or future.

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