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11th Wing
11th Wing.png
11th Wing emblem
Active 1940–present
Country United States
Branch United States Air Force
Type Combat support
Garrison/HQ Joint Base Andrews
Nickname(s) Grey Geese (World War II)
The Chief's Own (1995-Present)
Motto(s) Progresso Sine Timore Aut Praejudicio "Progress without Fear or Prejudice"[1]
Decorations Distinguished Unit Citation
Navy Presidential Unit Citation
Air Force Outstanding Unit Award
Organizational Excellence Award
Colonel William M. Knight[2]

The 11th Wing (11 WG) is a United States Air Force unit assigned to the Air Force District of Washington. It is stationed at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland where it is the host unit.

The 11th Wing is one of the largest wings in the Air Force. It is known as “The Chief’s Own,” an honorific originally intended to reflect that the Chief of Staff of the United States Air Force personally created the organization.

The 11th Wing traces its roots back to the 11th Observation Group which was established on 1 October 1933, but not activated. The group was redesignated as the 11 Bombardment Group (Medium) on 1 January 1938, although not activated until 1 February 1940. Later that year it became a heavy bombardment unit. The group fought in combat in the Pacific Theater of Operations with Boeing B-17 Flying Fortresses and Consolidated B-24 Liberators. The 11th Bombardment Group earned a Navy Presidential Unit Citation for its actions in the South Pacific from 31 July to 30 November 1942. It participated in the Central Pacific; Air Offensive, Japan; Guadalcanal; Northern Solomons; Eastern Mandates; Western Pacific; Ryukyus and the China Offensive before its inactivation in 1948.

In 1978 the group was reactivated as the 11th Strategic Group, managing forward deployed Strategic Air Command (SAC) aircraft at RAF Fairford, England until 1990

The 11th Bombardment Wing served with Strategic Air Command (SAC) during the Cold War, flying Convair B-36 Peacemakers, Boeing B-52 Stratofortresses Boeing KC-97 Stratotankers and Boeing KC-135 Stratotankers. It also had SM-65 Atlas missiles assigned during the early 1960s. In 1968 the wing became the 11th Air Refueling wing, retaining only its tankers until it was inactivated in 1969. In 1982 the wing was consolidated with the 11th Strategic Group.

The consolidated unit has served in its current mission since 1994, first as the 11th Support Wing and then as the 11th Wing

The commander of the 11th Wing is Colonel William M. Knight. Its Command Chief Master Sergeant is Chief Master Sergeant William B. Sanders.


"The Chief's Own" provides base operating and logistic support in the National Capital Region. It also provides United States Air Force ceremonial, music, protocol and funeral support for the region surrounding Andrews AFB.

Subordinate units[3]

The 11th Wing currently comprises the following units:

  • 11th Comptroller Squadron
  • 11th Mission Support Group

11th Civil Engineer Squadron

11th Contracting Squadron
11th Force Support Squadron
11th Logistics Readiness Squadron

  • 11th Operations Group

The United States Air Force Band

The United States Air Force Honor Guard
Arlington Chaplaincy

  • 811th Operations Group

1st Helicopter Squadron

811th Operations Support Squadron

  • 11th Security Forces Group

11th Security Forces Squadron

811th Security Forces Squadron

The 11th Wing operates out of several locations around the National Capital Region, including Arlington National Cemetery, Bolling Air Force Base, and The Pentagon.


World War II

Emblem of the 11th Bombardment Group (later Wing)

B-17Fs of the 26th BS, 11th BG, over the South Pacific, 1942.

The 11th Wing was first established as the 11th Observation Group 1 October 1933. The group was redesignated as the 11 Bombardment Group (Medium) on 1 January 1938, although not activated until 1 February 1940. In November, it became a heavy bombardment group.

The 11th Bombardment Group was assigned to the Seventh Air Force in February 1942 and trained with the B-18 Bolo. Before beginning combat operations it converted to the B-17 Flying Fortress. Its aircraft flew patrols and search missions off Hawaii after the Japanese had attacked Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941.

The group moved to the Pekoa Airfield, Espiritu Santo, New Hebrides in July 1942 and became part of Thirteenth Air Force. From July to November 1942 it struck airfields, supply dumps, ships, docks, troop positions, and other objectives in the South Pacific, and received a Distinguished Unit Citation for those operations. It continued to attack Japanese airfields, installations, and shipping in the Solomon Islands, until late in March 1943.

The group returned to Hawaii where it was again assigned to Seventh Air Force and trained with B-24 Liberators. Combat operations resumed in November 1943 with the participation in the Allied offensive through the Gilberts, Marshalls, and Marianas, while operating from Funafuti, Tarawa, and Kwajalein. In October 1944 the Group moved to Guam and attacked shipping and airfields in the Volcano and Bonin Islands. In July 1945 the 11th BG moved to Okinawa to take part in the final phases of the air offensive against Japan, bombing railways, airfields, and harbor facilities on Kyushu and striking airfields in China.

After the war, the unit flew reconnaissance and surveillance missions over China. Its aircraft also ferried liberated prisoners of war from Okinawa to Luzon. The Group remained in the theater as part of Far East Air Forces but had no personnel assigned after mid-December 1945 when the group was transferred to the Philippines.

The group was redesignated 11th Bombardment Group, Very Heavy in April 1946 and transferred to Guam in May 1946, remanned, and equipped with the B-29 Superfortress. Training and operations were terminated in October 1946 and the group inactivated on 20 October 1948.

Strategic Air Command

Emblem of the 11th Strategic Group

11th Bombardment Wing Convair B-36J-5-CF Peacemaker 52-2225 showing "Six turnin', four burnin", 1955

1956 SAC Fairchild Trophy Winner, "Best Bomb Wing in SAC", 11th Bombardment Wing crew in front of Convair B-36J-5-CF Peacemaker 52-2225.

On 1 December 1948 the 11th Bomb Group was reactivated at Carswell AFB and assigned to the 7th Bomb Wing. Carswell shared flight line facilities with the Convair Aircraft Company. The 7th was the first bomb wing to receive the B-36 Peacemaker. Its personnel began training the new 11th group people in the new aircraft and the 11th soon began receiving them.

On 16 February 1951 the 11th Bombardment Wing was activated and the group was assigned to it, although all group resources were transferred to the wing until the group was inactivated in June 1952. The wing deployed to Nouasseur AB, French Morocco from 4 May until 2 July 1955. The Wing won the SAC Bombing Competition and the Fairchild Trophy in 1954, 1956 and 1960. 7–11 must have been considered a lucky combination, because the two wings continued to share Carswell Air Force base until 13 December 1957, when the 11th moved to Altus AFB, Oklahoma and began receiving B-52 Stratofortresses. The wing added air refueling to its mission in December 1957. Its 96th Air Refueling Squadron flew KC-97 Stratotankers during 1957 and 1958.

The Wing gained the 577th Strategic Missile Squadron on 1 June 1961 and on 1 April 1962 its new Atlas missiles became fully operational. To reflect that its mission included both aircraft and missiles, the wing was redesigned the 11th Strategic Aerospace Wing. The wing phased out its Atlas missiles in January 1965.

The wing also flew KC-135 jet tankers. The 918th and 921st Air Refueling Squadrons were assigned to the wing from October to December 1960. The central location of Altus AFB led to the expansion of the wing's refueling capability. On 25 June 1965 the 11th Air Refueling Squadron was assigned to the wing. In 1968, the wing began phasing out its B-52s. This was completed by mid year. On 2 July 1968, the wing was redesignated the 11th Air Refueling Wing. The wing's new designation was short lived, for it was inactivated on 25 March 1969.

On 15 November 1978 the 11th Bombardment Group was reactivated as the 11th Strategic Group at RAF Fairford, England. It was not manned until the following February and did not start receiving aircraft until September 1978. It soon began air refueling support for all USAF operations, deployments and redeployments, as well as participating in NATO exercises.

Operations staff and maintenance personnel were permanently assigned, but aircraft, aircrews and crew chiefs were assigned on a temporary duty basis to the 11th Strategic Group for the European Tanker Task Force on a rotational basis. Aircraft and crews operated out of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia; Keflavik, Iceland; Zaragosa, Spain; Lajes Field, Azores; Sigonella NAS, Italy; and Hellenikon, Greece. In 1982, the wing and group were consolidated into a single unit, retaining the 11th Strategic Group designation. The group was inactivated on 7 August 1990.

Modern era

The 11th was pulled out of retirement a second time in when it was redesignated the 11th Support Wing. It was activated on 15 July 1994 at Bolling Air Force Base, Washington, DC. The 11th Wing was the single manager for all Air Force activities supporting Headquarters Air Force and other Air Force units in the National Capital Region as well as 108 countries throughout the world. It was a Direct Reporting Unit (DRU) to the Vice Chief of Staff Bolling AFB. It was redesignated the 11th Wing on 1 March 1995.[3] The worldwide support mission was transferred to the Air Force District of Washington on 1 January 2005. The Air Force District of Washington (AFDW) provided administrative major command support for Headquarters Air Force and Air Force element activities worldwide as well as primary medical care to the Andrews, Bolling and Pentagon communities. The 11th Wing continues to support AFDW in supporting nearly 40,000 Air Force military and civilian members in 250 locations.[4]

Within hours of the 11 September attacks, Headquarters Air Force relocated to Bolling AFB without any break in operations. On 20 April 2006, Air Force District of Washington commander, Maj. Gen Robert L. Smolen, addressed the assembled Airmen of both the 11th Wing and AFDW that the actions of the men and women of the 11th Wing on 22 September 2001, had earned them the right “in perpetuity” to be known as the Chief’s Own. Then-Vice Chief of Staff of the U.S. Air Force, T. Michael Moseley approved the motto as permanent later that day.[4]

In 2010, the 11th Wing relocated to Joint Base Andrews Maryland, where it became the host unit for the installation.[5][6]


11th Wing

  • Constituted as 11th Observation Group on 1 October 1933
Redesignated 11th Bombardment Group (Medium) on 1 January 1938
Activated on 1 February 1940
Redesignated 11th Bombardment Group (Heavy) on 1 December 1940
Redesignated 11th Bombardment Group, Heavy on 3 August 1944
Redesignated 11th Bombardment Group, Very Heavy on 30 April 1946
Inactivated on 20 October 1948
  • Redesignated 11th Bombardment Group, Heavy and activated, on 1 December 1948
Inactivated on 16 June 1952
  • Redesignated 11th Strategic Group on 25 October 1978
Activated on 15 November 1978
  • Consolidated with the 11th Bombardment Wing on 31 March 1982
Inactivated on 7 August 1990
  • Redesignated 11th Support Wing on 2 June 1994
Activated on 15 July 1994
Redesignated 11th Wing on 1 March 1995.

11th Air Refueling Wing

  • Constituted as 11th Bombardment Wing, Heavy on 18 November 1948.
Activated on 16 February 1951
Redesignated 11th Strategic Aerospace Wing on 1 April 1962
Redesignated 11th Air Refueling Wing on 2 July 1968
Inactivated on 25 March 1969
  • Consolidated with the 11th Stategic Group on 31 March 1982 as the 11th Strategic Group


11th Group

18th (later, 18th Bombardment) Wing, 1 February 1940
VII Bomber Command, 29 January 1942
XIII Bomber Command, c. 5 January 1943
VII Bomber Command, 8 April 1943
Attached to 7th Bombardment Wing, 1 December 1948 – 15 February 1951
11 Bombardment Wing, 16 February 1951 – 16 June 1952
7th Air Division, 15 November 1978 to consolidation

11th Wing

19th Air Division, 16 February 1951
Attached to 5th Air Division, 4 May – 2 July 1955
816th Air (later, 816th Strategic Aerospace) Division, 1 July 1958
819th Strategic Aerospace Division, 1 July 1965
19th Air Division, 2 July 1966 – 25 March 1969.

Consolidated Unit

Eighth Air Force
7th Air Division, from consolidation in 1982 to 7 August 1990


11th Group

14th Bombardment Squadron: 1 February 1940 – 2 December 1941 (detached c. 16 September – 2 December 1941)
26th Bombardment Squadron: 1 February 1940 – 20 October 1948; 1 December 1948 – 16 June 1952 (detached 16 February 1951 – 16 June 1952)
42d Bombardment Squadron: 1 February 1940 – 20 October 1948; 1 December 1948 – 16 June 1952 (detached 16 February 1951 – 16 June 1952)
50th Reconnaissance (later, 431st Bombardment): attached 1 February 1940 – 24 February 1942
Assigned 25 February 1942 – 29 April 1946
98th Bombardment Squadron: 16 December 1941 – 20 October 1948; 1 December 1948 – 16 June 1952 (detached 16 February 1951 – 16 June 1952)
373d Bombardment Squadron: 11 October 1945 – 7 January 1946

11th Wing

11th Bombardment Group: 16 February 1951 – 16 June 1952
11th Air Refueling Squadron: 25 June 1965 – 25 March 1969
26th Bombardment Squadron: attached 16 February 1951 – 15 June 1952, assigned 16 June 1952 – 2 July 1968
42d Bombardment Squadron: attached 16 February 1951 – 15 June 1952, assigned 16 June 1952 – 1 June 1960
96th Air Refueling Squadron: 3 December 1957 – 1 October 1960; 15 December 1960 – 25 June 1965
98th Bombardment Squadron: attached 16 February 1951 – 15 June 1952, assigned 16 June 1952 – 10 December 1957
577th Strategic Missile Squadron: 1 June 1961 – 25 March 1965
918th Air Refueling Squadron: 1 October – 15 December 1960
921st Air Refueling Squadron: 1 October – 15 December 1960.

Consolidated Unit

34th Strategic Squadron: 1 October 1986 – 7 August 1990
42d Strategic Squadron: 1 January 1989 – 7 August 1990.

Aircraft and Missiles


Hawkins Field, 14–28 January 1944
Bairiki (Mullinix) Airfield, 28 January – 5 April 1944
  • Kwajalein Airfield, Kwajalein, Marshall Islands, 5 April 1944
  • Agana Airfield, Guam, Marianas Islands, 25 October 1944

References for commands and major units assigned, components and stations:[7][8][9]

See also


 This article incorporates public domain material from the Air Force Historical Research Agency website

  1. This motto was replaced by the nickname in July 1995. Robertson, Patsy AFHRA Factsheet, 11th Wing 4/25/2011 (retrieved 3 June 2013)
  2. Biography: COLONEL WILLIAM M. KNIGHT United States Air Force
  4. 4.0 4.1 Factsheet: Andrews Air Force Base History United States Air Force
  5. Mission, movement, manning – installation members stand at ready for 11 WG merger United States Air Force
  6. Slideshow: 11th Wing becomes the host wing at JBA United States Air Force
  7. Ravenstein, Charles A. (1984). Air Force Combat Wings Lineage and Honors Histories 1947–1977. Maxwell AFB, Alabama: Office of Air Force History. ISBN 0-912799-12-9
  8. Maurer, Maurer (1983). Air Force Combat Units Of World War II. Maxwell AFB, Alabama: Office of Air Force History. ISBN 0-89201-092-4.
  9. Rogers, Brian (2005). United States Air Force Unit Designations Since 1978. Hinkley, England: Midland Publications. ISBN 1-85780-197-0.

External links

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