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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, being stationed at Francis E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyoming. It was inactivated on 25 March 1965.
During World War II, its predecessor unit, the 389th Bombardment Group was a VIII Bomber Command B-24 Liberator unit in England. Assigned to RAF Hethel in early 1943, the group was one of three Eighth Air Force B-24 groups that took part in Operation Tidal Wave, the Ploesti Mission of 1 August 1943 (AAFRH-3).
For his actions during the Ploesti operation, Second Lieutenant Lloyd Herbert Hughes was awarded the Medal of Honor.
World War II
Emblem of the 389th Bombardment Group
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.
Constituted as 389th Bombardment Group (Heavy) on December 19, 1942 and activated on December 24. Prepared for duty overseas with B-24's. Moved to RAF Hethel England, June–July 1943, and assigned to Eighth Air Force. The 389th was assigned to the 2nd Combat Bombardment Wing, and the group tail code was a "Circle-C".
Upon its arrival at Hethel, almost immediately a detachment was sent to Libya, where it began operations on July 9, 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 the famed low-level attack against oil refineries at Ploesti on August 1, 1943.
For his action during the same operation, 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. The plane crashed before Hughes could make the forced landing that he attempted after the bomb run.
The detachment returned to England in August and the group flew several missions against airfields in France and the Netherlands.
The unit deployed again temporarily to Tunisia during September and October 1943 with the group supporting Allied operations at Salerno and hit targets in Corsica, Italy, and Austria.
Resumed operations from England in October 1943 the group concentrated primarily on strategic objectives in France, the Low Countries, and Germany. Targets included shipbuilding yards at Vegesack, industrial areas of Berlin, oil facilities at Merseburg, factories at Münster, railroad 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, February 20–25, 1944. Also flew support and interdictory missions on several occasions, bombing gun batteries and airfields in support of the Normandy invasion in June 1944, striking enemy positions to aid the breakthrough at St Lo in July 1944, hitting storage depots and communications centers during the Battle of the Bulge (December 1944 – January 1945), and dropping food, ammunition, gasoline, and other supplies to troops participating in the airborne assault across the Rhine in March 1945.
The 389th Bomb Group flew its last combat mission late in April 1945. It returned to Charleston AAF South Carolina on May 30, 1945 and was deactivated on September 13, 1945.
During the Cold War, the Strategic Air Command established the unit as the 389th Strategic Missile Wing in 1961. The Wing received the honors, lineage and heritage of its like-numbered World War II predecessor group. It conducted strategic missile training operations as directed by SAC. The Wing was placed in readiness 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 deactivated the 389th SMW, completing the phaseout of the Atlas E at Warren.
- Constituted as 389th Bombardment Group (Heavy) on 19 December 1942.
- Activated on 24 December 1942.
- Inactivated on 13 September 1945.
- Established as 389th Strategic Missile Wing (ICBM-Atlas) and activated on 26 April 1961.
- Discontinued and inactivated on 25 March 1965.
- Attached to: 201st Provisional Combat Bombardment Wing, 11 June-13 September 1943.
- Davis-Monthan Field, Arizona, December 24, 1942.
- Biggs Field, Texas, February 1, 1943.
- Lowry Field, Colorado, April 19 – June 8, 1943.
- RAF Hethel (USAAF Station 114), England, June 11, 1943 – May 30, 1945.
- Charleston AAF, South Carolina, June 12 – September 13, 1945.
- Francis E. Warren AFB, Wyoming, 1 July 1961-25 March 1965.
Aircraft and missiles
This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the Air Force Historical Research Agency.
- Ardery, Philip. Bomber Pilot: A Memoir of World War II. Lexington, Kentucky: University of Kentucky Press, 1978.
- Freeman, Roger A. Airfields of the Eighth: Then and Now. After the Battle, 1978. ISBN 0-900913-09-6.
- Freeman, Roger A. The Mighty Eighth: The Colour Record. Cassell & Co., 1991. ISBN 0-304-35708-1.
- MacKay, Ron and Paul Wilson. The Sky Scorpions: The Story of the 389th Bomb Group in World War II. Atglen, Pennsylvania: Schiffer Publishing, 2006. ISBN 0-7643-2422-5.
- Maurer, Maurer. Air Force Combat Units Of World War II. Maxwell AFB, Alabama: Office of Air Force History, 1983. ISBN 0-89201-092-4.
- Ravenstein, Charles A. Air Force Combat Wings Lineage and Honors Histories, 1947–1977. Maxwell AFB, Alabama: Office of Air Force History, 1984. ISBN 0-912799-12-9.
- Uncredited. 389th Bombardment Group, a Pictorial Review of Operations in the ETO. San Angelo, Texas: Newsfoto Publishing Company, 1946.