92nd Air Refueling Wing celebrates its 70th anniversary

  • Published
  • By Daniel Simmons
  • 92nd Air Refueling Wing Historian
On March 1, 1942, the 92nd Bombardment Group--the legacy unit of the 92nd Air Refueling Wing activated at Barksdale Field, La. Flying the B-17 Flying Fortress, the 92nd BG moved to MacDill Field, Fla, and then to Sarasota, Fla, before heading to England to conduct bombing missions over Europe.

The 92d was one of the premier bomb groups in 8th Air Force, establishing a reputation for excellence from the start. The 92nd BG was the first 8th Air Force unit to fly non-stop by squadrons across the North Atlantic, arriving at Prestwick, Scotland. The group was stationed at three locations in England from 1942 to 1945--Bovingdon, Alconbury and Podington. During those years, the 92nd was involved in many famous missions over Nazi-occupied Europe, including both Schweinfurt raids and the D-Day invasion. The group also had an elite assignment as 8th AF's Combat Crew Replacement Center from November 1942 to May 1943, responsible for training new crews arriving in the European theater. In addition, the 92nd was involved in the YB-40 aircraft experiment--testing a B-17 modified with extra firepower and armor plating for better defense of the formations.

One of the most famous members of the 92nd BG was 2nd Lt. John "Red" Morgan, who earned the Medal of Honor as a B-17 copilot during a bombing mission over Germany. Lieutenant Morgan's pilot received a mortal head wound during a German fighter attack, but he did not die immediately. In a crazed condition, he fell over the steering column and clamped his arms around the controls. The aircraft was now in danger of crashing, and Lt Morgan wrested control from the pilot and pulled it back into the formation for protection. The young officer then flew the bombing mission for two hours with one hand on the controls and one hand fighting off the mortally wounded pilot. Although the pilot died when the aircraft landed back in England, all other crewmembers survived.

On April 25, 1945, the 92nd BG led the 8th AF on its last bombing mission over Europe. Following the end of the war, the group's work didn't end. The 92d transported POWs from Stalag Luft I to U.S. military control and also transported troops to Air Transport Command Centers. The group inactivated at Istres, France in February 1946 and activated again in August 1946 at Fort Worth Army Airfield, Texas. The 92nd moved to Smoky Hill Army Airfield in Kansas in October 1946 before heading to its permanent Spokane home in the summer of 1947.

The members of "Fame's Favored Few" set a standard of excellence during WW II, and we are honored to have them as our legacy unit. As we approach our 70th anniversary we salute them not only for their outstanding accomplishments in the defense of our nation and the free world, but also for their exceptional courage and professionalism.