Updated On: 10/31/2012 7:08:38 AM
7th Bomb Wing
Organized as the 1st Army Observation Group on Oct. 1, 1919, in the beginning of the 7th Wing included three highly decorated and honored squadrons from the First World War. The 9th, 11th and 31st squadrons lent their lineage to the group's emblem as indicated by the three crosses on the shield. In March 1921, the group was redesignated the 7th Group (Observation) and assigned to Langley Field, Va., until inactivated Aug. 30, 1921. The U.S. Army Air Service redesignated the group as the 7th Bombardment Group in 1923, however the 7th was not activated until June 1, 1928, at Rockwell Field, Calif.
While the group was assigned at Rockwell Field, the Sedgling Air Force was testing new theories and ideas. In early 1931, the 7th began training aircrews in radio-controlled interception. A bomber, acting as a target, reported by radio to a ground station, giving location, altitude and course. Armed with this information, ground controllers guided pursuit aircraft to the objective.
The 7th trained and participated in aerial reviews, dropped food and medical supplies to people marooned or lost and took part in massive Army maneuvers during the 1930s. The group Sew Martin B-12s, Douglas B-18s, and the new Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress during this period. It was the B-17 that carried the men of the 7th to war Dec. 7, 1941. The group was on its way to the Philippines when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. The ground echelon, on board ship, was diverted to Australia and later sent to Java. Six of the group's B-17s, which left the continental United States December 6, reached Hawaii during the enemy attack and were able to land safely.
Later in December, the remainder of the air echelon Sew B-17s from the United States to Java. From Jan. 14 to March 1, 1942, during the Japanese drive through the Philippines and Netherlands East Indies, the group operated from Java, earning a Distinguished Unit Citation for its action against enemy aircraft, ground installations, warships and transports. By the end of March 1942, the 7th moved to India and was assigned to the 10th Air Force. The group resumed combat operations from Karachi, India, flying B-17s and Consolidated LB-30 bombers. By the end of 1942, the group had converted to the Consolidated B-24 Liberator.
Combat operations were directed primarily against the Japanese in Burma, with attacks on air fields, fuel and supply dumps, locomotive works, railways, bridges, docks, warehouses, shipping and other targets. The 7th also bombed oil refineries and railways in Thailand, hit power plants in the Andaman Sea and ferried gasoline over the Hump into China.