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History of the 30th Bombardment Group

The 30th Bombardment Group (Heavy) was activated at March Field in California on January 15, 1941. During its first six months of operation, the group was primarily concerned with recruiting and organizing air and ground crews. Gradually, it built up to a strength of 33 officers and 419 enlisted men. On June 7th the group was transferred to New Orleans where future pilots learned to fly B-18s, A-29s, and PT-17s. Returning to California on December 24, the group was stationed at Muroc Army Air Base (later Edwards AFB), for six weeks of operational and maintenance training on new B-24 "Liberators." On February 7, 1942, it proceeded to March Field for combat training.

Following the Japanese attack at Dutch Harbor in the Aleutian Islands on June 7, six aircraft of the 30th Bombardment Group were dispatched to Alaska for combat sorties. The remaining aircraft were dispersed along the West Coast from San Diego, California, to McChord Field in Washington, patrolling against possible surprise attacks by the Japanese.

In September 1943, 134 officers and 1,270 enlisted men of the 30th Bombardment Group's ground echelon left March Field for duty overseas via Camp Stoneman, California. The first of the flight echelon arrived at Hickham Field, Oahu, Hawaii, on October 1, 1943. The remaining personnel and planes arrived in Hawaii by October 20. The group's 27th and 38th Squadrons were based at Kahuku, Oahu, while the 392nd and 819th Squadrons were at Barking Sands on the Island of Kauai. The 819th Squadron was the newest addition to the Group. Previously designated the 3rd Anti-Submarine Squadron, it was redesignated and assigned to the group as a replacement unit for the 21st Squadron that had been sent to Alaska. The 21st was subsequently dropped from the records of the group. While in Hawaii, the group was assigned to the Seventh Army Air Force.

Movement to the Forward Line

Movement to the forward area began in early November 1943 when the 27th and 38th Bombardment Squadrons moved to Nanomea in the Ellice Islands, and the 392nd to Canton in the Phoenix Islands. The 819th Squadron remained at Wheeler Field, Oahu, where it processed new crews and airplanes that were later dispatched to the front line. When the Central Pacific drive began in the Gilbert Islands in November 1943, the 30th Bombardment Group mounted bombing raids against enemy installations on those islands. It also raided airfields in the Marshall Islands to help prevent the launching of Japanese planes against the amphibious assault on Tarawa.

Following the hard-fought victory in the Gilberts, American amphibious forces under a blanket air cover from bombers and fighters advanced into the Marshall Islands in January 1944. Staging through the recently captured Tarawa and Mankin Islands, bombers of the 30th Group attacked several atolls in the Marshalls, including Kwajalein.

Between November 14, 1943 and April 1, 1944, the group carried out 42 bombing missions over the Marshall Islands and participated in the actual invasion of Kwajalein in February 1944.

Aircraft of the 27th BS and 38th BS at Kwajalein in June of 1944. USAF Photo

After capturing Kwajalein Atoll and nearby Majuro Atoll early in February, American forces seized Eniwetok Atoll at the western end of the Marshall chain. As the war moved closer to Japan, the 30th Bombardment Group joined with the 11th Bombardment Group of the Thirteenth Air Force in neutralizing Truk. The 30th also bombed Wake Island, Guam, Saipan, and harassed other islands in the Carolines and Marianas, bypassed by American amphibious forces.

Saipan, August or early September 1944 - In the foreground is 'Stormy Weather', a ship from the 819th BS. In the background is 'The Chambermaid' from the 38th BS. 'Chambermaid' would fly her last mission on September 11th, 1944. Photo courtesy of Jim Ridge

In August 1944, the 30th Bombardment Group moved to Saipan where it was joined by the 819th Squadron, bringing together all four squadrons for the first time since Hawaii. During the next six months, the group conducted intensive bombing strikes against airfields and shipping at Bonin and Volcano Islands, Iwo Jima, ChiChi Jima, and Yap. Its final bombing mission was at Iwo Jima on February 19, 1945, the same day three Marine divisions invaded the island.

Return to Hawaii and Inactivation

In March 1945, the Group was returned to Hawaii on the popular but mistaken rumor that it was to be reequipped with B-32s. Instead, many of the crews and planes were reassigned to the 11th Bombardment Group and subsequently served with it. The remaining elements of the 30th waited out the war conducting training sorties and routine patrols. On June 25, 1946, the 30th Bombardment Group was inactivated by Special Order 47, Headquarters Seventh Air Force (June 21, 1946).

In retrospect, the 30th Group flew 399 missions and dropped countless tons of explosives on Japanese positions.

Text reproduced from the Vandenberg Portal/30th SW website with minor edits/corrections.