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2d Bomb Wing
2d Bomb Wing.png
2d Bomb Wing emblem
Active 15 October 1947 –
Country  United States
Branch  United States Air Force
Role Bomber
Part of Air Force Global Strike Command
Eighth Air Force
Garrison/HQ Barksdale Air Force Base
Latin: Liberty We Defend
Aircraft B-52 Stratofortress
European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign ribbon.svg
  • World War II
European Campaign (1942–1945)
Decorations see "Lineage and Honors" section below
Colonel Andrew J. Gebara
George J. Eade
Eugene E. Habiger
Charles T. Robertson, Jr.
John Dale Ryan

B-52H bomber at Barksdale AFB, Louisiana

The 2d Bomb Wing (2 BW) is a United States Air Force unit assigned to the Air Force Global Strike Command and Eighth Air Force. It is stationed at Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana. The wing is also the host unit at Barksdale. The 2 BW was assigned to the Air Force Global Strike Command in February 2010 as part of the reassignment of Eighth Air Force.

The 2 BW is one of only two B-52H Stratofortress wings in the United States Air Force, the other being the 5th Bomb Wing at Minot Air Force Base.

Its 2d Operations Group is the oldest bomb group of the Air Force, having fought on the Western Front as the 1st Day Bombardment Group during World War I, entering combat on 12 September 1918.[1] It After the war, it participated in Brigadier General Billy Mitchell's 1921 off-shore bombing test. Active for over 60 years, the 2 BW was a component wing of Strategic Air Command (SAC)'s heavy bomber deterrent force throughout the Cold War.

The 2d Bomb Wing is commanded by Col. Andrew J. Gebara. Its Command Chief Master Sergeant is Chief Master Sergeant Larry Malcom.


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."

  • 2d Maintenance Group
2d Maintenance Squadron
2d Maintenance Operations Squadron
2d Aircraft Maintenance Squadron
2d Munitions Squadron
  • 2d Medical Group
  • 2d Operations Group
2d Operations Support Squadron ("Posse")
11th Bomb Squadron
20th Bomb Squadron ("Buccaneers")
96th Bomb Squadron ("The Devil's Own")
  • 2d Mission Support Group
2d Contracting Squadron
2d Communications Squadron
2d Civil Engineer Squadron
2d Logistics Readiness Squadron
2d Mission Support Squadron
2d Security Forces Squadron
2d Services Squadron


See 2d Operations Group for additional history and lineage information prior to 1947

Medium bomber era

2 BW 1950s insignia

The 2d Bombardment Wing was activated by the United States Air Force on 5 November 1947 and was assigned to the Strategic Air Command Eighth Air Force. At the time of its activation, wing headquarters remained non-operational; its assigned 2d Bombardment Group being attached to the 43rd Bombardment Wing at Davis-Monthan AFB, Arizona.

At the time of its activation, there was considerable debate about where to station the new wing. Its planned station, Chatham Air Force Base, Georgia was a World War II training airfield with facilities deemed inadequate by SAC. Located approximately 10 miles northwest of Savannah, Georgia, Chatham had an adequate airfield for B-29 operations, however the base's cantonment area was in extremely poor condition. Constructed to last for five years, the buildings had reached the end of their life expectancy. In addition, the buildings' shortcomings also included outside latrines and potbellied stoves for heating.

Work was begun to modernize the base from its World War II wartime configuration into a permanent Air Force Base with modern facilities. On 1 January 1949 wing headquarters was activated at Chatam, with the 2d Bomb Wing assuming the assets of the 307th Bombardment Group which had been deployed to the base from MacDill AFB, Florida and the assets of the 2d Bombardment Group, which had returned from a deployment to RAF Lakenheath, England. Equipped with B-29 Superfortresses, the wing's primary mission was training for strategic bombardment operations. In early 1949, the first B-50 Superfortresses began to arrive, replacing the B-29s. A derivative of the B-29, the B-50 was designed for atomic warfare, had faster, more powerful engines and could fly at higher altitudes than the B-29.

The facilities, however, at Chatham remained unsatisfactory to SAC leadership, and plans were initiated to move the wing to better facilities. The city of Savannah, however, offered the USAF the facilities at the former Hunter Army Airfield, which was located closer to the city (5 miles NW), along with 3,500 acres (14 km²) of additional land around Hunter for future base expansions. Hunter AAF was built in 1929 as Savannah Municipal Airport and in 1940 the Air Corps received approval to build a permanent base at the site. During World War II it was used both as a training base as well as an antisubmarine airfield during the war. In June 1946, the airfield was returned to the City of Savannah. In addition, Headquarters, Eighth Air Force was established in Savannah in January 1942, and there was a strong desire to have an Eighth Air Force Wing be stationed in the area. This arrangement was agreed to and on 29 September 1950, the 2d Bomb Wing moved to the reopened Hunter Air Force Base and Chatam was turned over to the City of Savannah, where it was redeveloped into a regional airport.

B-50 Superfortress operations continued until November 1953, when 2 BW began receiving jet-powered B-47E Stratojet medium bombers. The B-47 was a fast bomber which relied on speed to penetrate the air defenses of the Soviet Union, and was produced in large numbers. It became the mainstay of the medium-bombing strength of SAC all throughout the 1950s. The wing participated in SAC REFLEX deployments to North Africa and England. Beginning in 1958 the B-47 was becoming obsolete, as the air defenses of the Soviet Union improved. The Stratojet was phased out of SAC beginning in 1960.

Plans were made to upgrade the wing to the Boeing B-52 Stratofortress. However, although adequate for B-47 operations, the runway at Hunter was inadequate for B-52 operations when tested in the early 1960s. In addition, during the 1950s the urban area of the City of Savannah was expanding and encroaching on the airfield, making Hunter unsuitable for heavy nuclear-equipped bomber operations over the urbanized area. A 1958 Tybee Island B-47 crash in which a Mark 15 hydrogen bomb was lost in the Atlantic Ocean just off the coast of Savannah was another reason in the decision by SAC to move the Wing to a non-urban area.

In early 1963 the wing began to send its B-47s to storage at Davis-Monthan AFB. The 2d Bombardment Wing would be moved, and Hunter AFB was reassigned to Military Air Transport Service (MATS). MATS closed its facilities at Donaldson AFB, South Carolina and reassigned the 63rd Troop Carrier Wing to Hunter, using the base for Douglas C-124 Globemaster II intercontinental cargo aircraft operations to points around the world.

B-52 Stratofortress

Emblem of the 4238th Strategic Wing

The 2d Bombardment Wing moved to Barksdale AFB, Louisiana on 1 April 1963 where it assumed the existing B-52F Stratofortress heavy bombers and personnel of 4238th Strategic Wing (SW). The wing has been stationed at Barksdale continuously for over 50 years.

4238th Strategic Wing

B-52 operations at Barksdale can be traced to 1 March 1958 when SAC established the 4238th SW.[2] and assigned it to the 4th Air Division as part of SAC's plan to disperse its Boeing B-52 Stratofortress heavy bombers over a larger number of bases, thus making it more difficult for the Soviet Union to knock out the entire fleet with a surprise first strike. The 4338th was initially assigned only three maintenance squadrons, but on 15 April, the 4238th Air Base Group was activated under the wing as the host organization for Barksdale when the 805th Air Base Group[2] and the 301st Bombardment Wing[3] were inactivated. The 301st and 376th Air Refueling Squadrons, flying Boeing KC-97 Stratotankers were transferred to the wing from the 301st while the 20th Aviation Depot Squadron was transferred from the 805th to oversee the wing's special weapons. In June, the 913th Air Refueling Squadron, flying Boeing KC-135 Stratotankers was activated in anticipation of the arrival of the Boeing B-52 Stratofortress. The two KC-97 units were inactivated or transferred from Barksdale by 1962.[2]

The wing gained its fourth operational squadron on 1 August when the 436th Bombardment Squadron (BS), consisting of 15 Boeing B-52 Stratofortresses moved to Barksdale from Carswell AFB, Texas where it had been one of the three squadrons of the 7th Bombardment Wing.[4] Half of the wing's aircraft were maintained on fifteen minute alert, fully fueled, armed, and ready for combat. The 4238th (and later the 2d) continued to maintain an alert commitment until the end of the Cold War. In 1962, the wing's bombers began to be equipped with the GAM-77 Hound Dog and the GAM-72 Quail air-launched cruise missiles, The 4134th Airborne Missile Maintenance Squadron was activated in November to maintain these missiles.

2d Bombardment Wing, Heavy

In 1962, in order to perpetuate the lineage of bombardment units with illustrious World War II records, Headquarters SAC received authority from Headquarters USAF to discontinue its Major Command controlled (MAJCON) strategic wings that were equipped with combat aircraft and replace them with Air Force controlled (AFCON) units, which could carry a lineage and history.[5] Rather than inactivate the 2d Bombardment Wing when Hunter closed, SAC moved it to replace the 4238th SW.[6] and assume its mission, personnel, and equipment.[7]

In the same way the 20th Bombardment Squadron, one of the unit's historical bomb squadrons, replaced the 436th BS.[8] The 855th Medical Group, 20th Munitions Maintenance Squadron and the 913th Air Refueling Squadron were reassigned to the 2d. The 4238th's support group and maintenance squadrons were replaced by ones with the 2d numerical designation. Each of the new units assumed the personnel, equipment, and mission of its predecessor.

At Barksdale, 2 BW supported Second Air Force's post-attack command and control system from April 1963 until March 1970. It conducted bombardment training and air refueling operations from April 1963 except for periods when all aircraft and crews were on loan to SAC organizations involved in combat operations in Southeast Asia. It began supporting SAC operations in Southeast Asia with aircraft and personnel in 1965, and increasingly supported these operations in 1966 and 1967. On 15 April 1968, gained a second B-52 and a second KC-135 squadron, again becoming a SAC "super" wing. From late May 1972 until 26 October 1973, it loaned all wing B-52 resources to SAC organizations in the Far East and Southeast Asia. From May 1972 to early November 1972 the wing loaned all but four of the wing's KC-135s and a few aircrews to other SAC units. After the return of combat resources, the wing continued supporting SAC operations in Southeast Asia into 1975, on a reduced scale.[6]

Gained KC-10 tankers in November 1981 to augment refueling operations for the USAF, AFRES, and ANG. Provided air refueling for rescue efforts in Grenada, October–November 1983, the attack on Libya, April 1986, and the invasion of Panama, December 1989 – January 1990. Presented the Omaha Trophy for "the Outstanding Wing in the Strategic Air Command" f2. Deployed B-52, KC-135, and KC-10 aircraft, aircrews, and support personnel to several locations in support of operations in Southwest Asia, 7 August 1990 – 17 April 1991.

1991 Gulf War

Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm brought Barksdale warriors into the spotlight again with their efforts to liberate Kuwait. The 2d Bomb Wing flew what was then the longest combat mission in the history of military aviation at the start of Desert Storm in 1991 when seven B-52s flew a 35-hour mission and, for the time in U.S. Air Force history, fired a devastating barrage of conventional air-launched cruise missiles. The 2d Bomb Wing delivered one-fourth of all U.S. Air Force bombs during Desert Storm. The 2d Bomb Wing KC-135s and KC-10s provided more than 1,000 the 13,700 coalition refueling missions.

Senior Surprise – Strategic Air Commands' Longest Combat Mission

Secret Squirrel

On 16–17 January 1991 seven B-52Gs from the Eighth Air Force, 2d Bomb Wing, 596th Bomb Squadron, Barksdale AFB, LA. Flew the longest combat mission (35.4 hours) in aviation history,[citation needed] and the first Combat launch of conventional Air Launched Cruise Missile (CALCM) in Operation Desert Storm against Iraq. The official name of this mission was SENIOR Surprise, unofficially it was referred to as Secret Squirrel.

Modern era

Two 2d Bomb Wing B-52s conducted a missile strike against surface-to-air missile sites and air defense radars in Iraq in September 1996. Desert Strike was ordered in response to Iraqi attacks on Kurds in northern Iraq. The mission earned the wing the prestigious 1996 Mackay Trophy as the most meritorious flight of the year.

Recognizing the mighty B-52 as a weapon of choice, the National Command Authorities called upon the 2d Bomb Wing throughout the late 1990s to flex its muscles against rogue states in Southwest Asia and the Balkans: operations Southern Watch, Desert Fox and Allied Force.

On 19 September 2001, wing elements deployed to Diego Garcia and on 7 October flew early attacks on targets in Afghanistan in Operation Enduring Freedom to rid that country of terrorist bases and its extremist Taliban rulers and Al-Qaeda militants; later flew airborne alert missions and, in Operation Anaconda, flew bombing missions against targets in eastern Afghanistan, 1–18 March 2002. In the 2003 Invasion of Iraq, flew missions on 21 March in "shock and awe" strikes against command and control targets.


The group's emblem was approved in 1924 for the 2d Bombardment Group, and in 1951 for the 2d Bomb Wing. The bombs signify original squadrons, the stripes represent major World War I offensives, and the white fleur de lis symbolizes the French location of the battles.


  • Established as 2d Bombardment Wing, Very Heavy on 15 October 1947
Organized on 5 November 1947
Redesignated: 2d Bombardment Wing, Medium on 12 July 1948
Redesignated: 2d Bombardment Wing, Heavy on 1 April 1963
Redesignated: 2d Wing on 1 September 1991
Redesignated: 2d Bomb Wing on 1 October 1993.


Attached to 43rd Bombardment Wing, 17 November 1947 – 31 December 1948
Attached to 7th Air Division, 4 May-31 August 1951
Attached to 7th Air Division, 10 September-4 December 1952
Attached to 5th Air Division, 4 August- 20 September 1954; 6 July-26 August 1956





Deployed at: RAF Mildenhall, England, May–August 1951
Deployed at: RAF Upper Heyford, England, September–December 1952
Deployed at: Sidi Slimane Air Base, French Morocco, August–September 1954 and July–August 1956.

References for commands and major units assigned, components and stations:[6][9][10]


Campaign Streamers

  • Grenada, 1983
  • Southwest Asia: Defense of Saudi Arabia; Liberation and Defense of Kuwait



  • Mackay Trophy (for the "Most Meritorious Flight of the Year") 1996
  • Omaha Trophy (for the "Outstanding Wing in the Strategic Air Command") (2): 1988, 1992


Blazon: Or, in fess four aerial bombs descending bendwise sinister Azure garnished Argent on a chief engrailed Vert a fleur-de-lis White between two pallets Sable, all within a diminished bordure of the first.


See also



  1. Maurer, Maurer, ed (1983) [1961]. Air Force Combat Units of World War II (reprint ed.). Washington, DC: Office of Air Force History. pp. 25–28. ISBN 0-912799-02-1. LCCN 61060979. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Mueller, Robert (1989). Air Force Bases, Vol. I, Active Air Force Bases Within the United States of America on 17 September 1982. Washington, DC: Office of Air Force History. pp. 15–23. ISBN 0-912799-53-6. 
  3. Ravenstein, Charles A. (1984). Air Force Combat Wings, Lineage & Honors Histories 1947-1977. Washington, DC: Office of Air Force History. pp. 144–146. ISBN 0-912799-12-9. 
  4. Maurer, Maurer, ed (1982) [1969]. Combat Squadrons of the Air Force, World War II (reprint ed.). Washington, DC: Office of Air Force History. pp. 538–540. ISBN 0-405-12194-6. LCCN 70605402. OCLC 72556. 
  5. MAJCON units could not carry a permanent history or lineage. Ravenstein, Charles A. (1984). A Guide to Air Force Lineage and Honors (2d, Revised ed.). Maxwell AFB, AL: USAF Historical Research Center. p. 12. 
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Ravenstein, Combat Wings, pp. 7-9
  7. The 2d Wing continued, through temporary bestowal, the history, and honors of the 2d Bombardment Group. It is also entitled to retain the honors (but not the history or lineage) of the 4238th.
  8. Maurer, Combat Squadrons, pp. 105-106, 538-540
  9. Maurer, Maurer (1983). Air Force Combat Units Of World War II. Maxwell AFB, Alabama: Office of Air Force History. ISBN 0-89201-092-4.
  10. Rogers, Brian (2005). United States Air Force Unit Designations Since 1978. Hinkley, England: Midland Publications. ISBN 1-85780-197-0.
  11. "2 Bomb Wing". 29 September 2006. Retrieved 31 May 2007. [dead link]


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

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