509th Bombardment Wing
The 509th Composite Group returned from its wartime base on Tinian and relocated to Roswell on 6 November 1945, initially being assigned to Second Air Force under Continental Air Forces. With demobilization in full swing in late 1945, much juggling of units was being performed by the Army Air Forces. It was reassigned to the 58th Bombardment Wing at Fort Worth Army Airfield on 17 January 1946. The 509th was assigned to Strategic Air Command on 21 March 1946, being one of the first eleven organizations assigned to SAC. At the time SAC was formed, the 509th Composite Group was the only unit to have experience with nuclear weapons and thus is regarded by many historians as the foundation on which SAC was built.
In April 1946 many of the group's Boeing B-29 Superfortress aircraft deployed to Kwajalein as part of Operation Crossroads, a series of atomic bomb tests. The remainder became the core of two new squadrons activated as part of the group, the 715th Bomb Squadron and the 830th Bomb Squadron. In May 1946, the Army Air Forces gave the newly formed SAC the responsibility of delivering the atomic bomb. Only the 509th was trained and ready for the atomic bomb mission. Squadrons assigned to the 509th were:
- 393d Bombardment Squadron
- 715th Bombardment Squadron
- 830th Bombardment Squadron
On 10 July 1946, the group was renamed the 509th Bombardment Group (Very Heavy). With the creation of the United States Air Force as a separate service, the group became the combat component of the 509th Bombardment Wing on 17 November 1947, although it was not operational until 14 September 1948, when Colonel John D. Ryan was named commander.
The wing pioneered a new concept on 30 June 1948, when the 509th Air Refueling Squadron was activated as part of the 509th BW, along with the 43rd ARS at Davis-Monthan AFB, Arizona, the first such unit ever created. With the addition of KB-29M tankers, the 509th's bombers could reach virtually any point on earth. The dawning of a new decade brought more changes to the wing.
In June 1950, it began receiving the upgraded version of the B-29, the Boeing B-50A Superfortress. When the huge Convair B-36 Peacemaker joined the Air Force inventory, the "Very Heavy" designation was dropped. The 509th - like all other B-29 and B-50 wings - was redesignated "Medium."
In January 1954, the Boeing KC-97 aerial tanker replaced the aging KB-29Ms, and the wing entered the jet age in June 1955 when it received the first all-jet bomber: the Boeing B-47 Stratojet.
On 16 June 1958 the 509th Bombardment Wing was transferred to Pease AFB, New Hampshire. The 509th is currently located at Whiteman AFB, Missouri where it operates the B-2 Spirit stealth bomber.
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—Ben Hecht (18931964)