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389th Strategic Missile Wing

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Title: 389th Strategic Missile Wing  
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389th Strategic Missile Wing

389th Strategic Missile Wing
Active 1942–1945; 1961–1965
Country  United States
Branch  United States Air Force
Intercontinental Ballistic Missile Operations
Part of Strategic Air Command
Nickname Sky Scorpions (World War II)[1]
Engagements European Theater of Operations
Decorations Distinguished Unit Citation
389th Strategic Missile Wing emblem (approved 15 May 1962)[2]
VIII Bomber Command Tail Marking[1] Circle C

The 389th Strategic Missile Wing is an inactive unit of the United States Air Force. Its last assignment was with the 13th Strategic Missile Division at Francis E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyoming, where it was inactivated on 25 March 1965.

The wing was first active during World War II as the 389th Bombardment Group, a Consolidated B-24 Liberator unit that served with VIII Bomber Command in England. The group was stationed at RAF Hethel in early 1943. It was one of three Eighth Air Force B-24 groups that took part in Operation Tidal Wave, the Ploesti Mission of 1 August 1943. For his actions during the Ploesti operation, Second Lieutenant Lloyd Herbert Hughes was awarded the Medal of Honor. The group continued in combat until the surrender of Germany in 1945, then returned to the United States where it was inactivated.

The 389th Strategic Missile Wing was activated in 1961, when it assumed the assets of the inactivating 706th Strategic Missile Wing. It operated Atlas missiles at Warren until they were phased out in 1965.

In early 1984, the group and wing were consolidated into a single unit, but have not been active since.


World War II

unofficial 389th Bombardment Group emblem
Consolidated B-24 Liberators of the 389th Bomb Group on a mission over enemy-occupied territory.
Consolidated B-24J-145-CO Liberator Serial 44-40052 of the 565th Bomb Squadron.

The wing was first activated as the 389th Bombardment Group (Heavy) on 19 December 1942 at Davis-Monthan Field, Arizona[3] with the 564th,[4] 565th,[5] 566th[6] and 567th Bombardment Squadrons[7] assigned. The group prepared for duty overseas with Consolidated B-24 Liberators.[3]

The group moved to RAF Hethel England in June and July 1943, where it was assigned to Eighth Air Force.[3] The 389th was assigned to the 2nd Combat Bombardment Wing, and the group tail code until high visibility markings were adopted in May 1944 was a "Circle-C".[1]

Upon its arrival at Hethel, almost immediately the group sent a detachment to Libya, where it began operations on 9 July 1943. The detachment flew missions to Crete, Sicily, Italy, Austria, and Romania. The group received a Distinguished Unit Citation for the detachment's participation in Operation Tidal Wave, the 1943 low-level attack against oil refineries at Ploesti, Rumania on 1 August 1943.[3]

For his action during the Ploesti attack, Second Lieutenant Lloyd Herbert Hughes was awarded the Medal of Honor. Refusing to turn back although gasoline was streaming from his flak-damaged plane, Lt Hughes flew at low altitude over the blazing target area and bombed the objective. His plane crashed before Hughes could make the forced landing that he attempted after the bomb run.[3]

The detachment returned to England in August and the group flew several missions against airfields in France and the Netherlands. The unit deployed again to Tunisia during September and October 1943 to support Allied operations at Salerno during Operation Avalanche. While deployed the unit hit targets in Corsica, Italy, and Austria.[3]

The 389th resumed operations from England in October 1943 the group concentrated primarily on strategic objectives in France, the Low Countries, and Germany. Targets struck by the group included shipyards at Vegesack, industrial areas of Berlin, oil facilities at Merseburg, factories at Münster, rail yards at Sangerhausen, and V-weapon sites in the Pas de Calais. The group participated in the intensive air campaign against the German aircraft industry during Big Week from 20–25 February 1944. It also flew support and air interdiction missions on several occasions, bombing gun batteries and airfields in support of Operation Overlord, the invasion of Normandy, in June 1944. It struck enemy positions to aid the breakthrough at St Lo in July 1944, hit storage depots and communications centers during the Battle of the Bulge from December 1944-January 1945 and dropped food, ammunition, gasoline, and other supplies to troops participating in the Operation Varsity. the airborne assault across the Rhine in March 1945.[3]

The 389th Bomb Group flew its last combat mission late in April 1945. It returned to Charleston Army Air Field, South Carolina on 30 May 1945 and was inactivated there on 13 September 1945.[3]

Cold War

During the Cold War, the 389th Strategic Missile Wing was organized in 1961 at Francis E. Warren Air Force Base, as a Strategic Air Command intercontinental ballistic missile unit. The unit assumed the mission, personnel and SM-65 Atlas missiles of the 706th Strategic Missile Wing. Two of the wing's World War II squadrons, the 564th[4] and 565th[5] Strategic Missile Squadrons were already stationed at Warren and were transferred from the 706th.[8] The 566th Strategic Missile Squadron, another of the units World War II units, moved to Warren from Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska, trading places with the 706th wing's 549th Strategic Missile Squadron.[6][9][10]

The wing conducted strategic missile training operations.[2] The Wing was placed on alert during the Cuban Missile Crisis in November 1962. In May 1964, as the Atlas D missiles were being phased out, the 389th Strategic Missile Wing received SAC's last operational readiness inspection for this system. In September 1965, SAC inactivated the wing,[2] completing the phaseout of the Atlas E at Warren.


389th Bombardment Group

  • Constituted as the 389th Bombardment Group (Heavy) on 19 December 1942
Activated on 24 December 1942
Redesignated 389th Bombardment Group, Heavy on 20 August 1943
Inactivated on 13 September 1945
  • Consolidated with the 389th Strategic Missile Wing as the 389th Strategic Missile Wing on 31 January 1984[11]

389th Strategic Missile Wing

  • Constituted as the 389th Strategic Missile Wing (ICBM-Atlas) and activated on 26 April 1961 (not organized)
Organized on 1 July 1961
Discontinued and inactivated on 25 March 1965[2]
  • Consolidated with the 389th Bombardment Group on 31 January 1984[11]



  • 389th Missile Maintenance Squadron, 1 July 1961 - 25 March 1965[12]
  • 389th Support Squadron, 1 July 1961 - 25 March 1965[12]
  • 564th Bombardment Squadron (later Strategic Missile Squadron), 24 December 1942 - 13 September 1945;[4] 1 July 1961 - 1 September 1964 (not operational after 3 August 1964)[2]
  • 565th Bombardment Squadron (later Strategic Missile Squadron), 24 December 1942 - 13 September 1945;[5] 1 Jul 1961 - 1 December 1964 (not operational after October 1964[2]
  • 566th Bombardment Squadron (later Strategic Missile Squadron), 24 December 1942 - 13 September 1945;[6] 1 Jul 1961 - 25 March 1965 (not operational after c. 15 February 1965)[2]
  • 567th Bombardment Squadron, 24 December 1942 - 13 September 1945[7]


Aircraft and missiles

Awards and campaigns

Award streamer Award Dates Notes
Distinguished Unit Citation August 1, 1943 389th Bombardment Group, Ploesti[3]
Campaign Streamer Campaign Dates Notes
Air Combat, EAME Theater 11 June 1943-11 May 1945 389th Bombardment Group[3]
Air Offensive, Europe 11 June 1943-5 June 1944 389th Bombardment Group[3]
Sicily 11 June 1943-17 August 1943 389th Bombardment Group[3]
Naples-Foggia 18 August 1943-21 January 1944 389th Bombardment Group[3]
Normandy 6 June 1944-24 July 1944 389th Bombardment Group[3]
Northern France 25 July 1944-14 September 1944 389th Bombardment Group[3]
Rhineland 15 September 1944-21 March 1945 389th Bombardment Group[3]
Ardennes-Alsace 16 December 1944-25 January 1945 389th Bombardment Group[3]
Central Europe 22 March 1944-21 May 1945 389th Bombardment Group[3]

See also



  1. ^ a b c Watkins, Robert (2008). Battle Colors: Insignia and Markings of the Eighth Air Force In World War II. Vol I (VIII) Bomber Command. Atglen, PA: Shiffer Publishing Ltd. pp. 78–79.  
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Ravenstein, Charles A. (1984). Air Force Combat Wings, Lineage & Honors Histories 1947-1977. Washington, DC: Office of Air Force History. p. 211.  
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r Maurer, Maurer, ed. (1983) [1961]. Air Force Combat Units of World War II (reprint ed.). Washington, DC: Office of Air Force History. pp. 276–277.  
  4. ^ a b c Maurer, Maurer, ed. (1982) [1969]. Combat Squadrons of the Air Force, World War II (reprint ed.). Washington, DC: Office of Air Force History. pp. 662–663.  
  5. ^ a b c Maurer, Combat Squadrons, p. 663
  6. ^ a b c Maurer, Combat Squadrons, p. 664
  7. ^ a b Maurer, Combat Squadrons, pp. 664-665
  8. ^ Ravenstein, pp. 294-295
  9. ^ Maurer, Combat Squadrons, pp. 652-653
  10. ^ Although the 389th Wing was a new organization, it continued, through temporary bestowal, the history, and honors of the World War II 389th Bombardment Group. This temporary bestowal ended in January 1984, when the wing and group were consolidated into a single unit.
  11. ^ a b Department of the Air Force/MPM Letter 539q, 31 January 1984, Subject: Consolidation of Units
  12. ^ a b 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. p. 185.  
  13. ^ Station number in Anderson, Capt. Barry (1985). Army Air Forces Stations: A Guide to the Stations Where U.S. Army Air Forces Personnel Served in the United Kingdom During World War II. Maxwell AFB, AL: Research Division, USAF Historical Research Center. Retrieved July 7, 2012. 


 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the Air Force Historical Research Agency.

Further reading

External links

  • 389th Bomb
  • Official Website of the 389th Bombardment Group (H)
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