7th Bomb Group

Mors Ab Alto - "Death From Above"


THE SEVENTH BOMBARDMENT GROUP (H) AAF, Tenth Air Force, has the distinction of participating in two World Wars and at one time having nineteen present day Generals as members of their organization. The Group was originally activated at Park Field, Tenn., on Oct. 1, 1919, as the 1st Army Observation Group, while two present squadrons of the Group participated in World War I. The 9th Bombardment Squadron (H) came into being provisionally on May 31, 1917, at Kelly Field, Texas, and was known at that time as the 9th Aero Observation Squadron. They arrived overseas in November of 1917 and had the duties of night flying and reconnaissance. They took part in three major battles; Battle of Lorraine, Battle of St. Mihiel, and the Meuse-Argonne Offensive. The present day insignia of the 7th Bombardment Group have those battles represented by three German Crosses. The 438th Bombardment Squadron also took part in World War I, and were known at that time as the 88th Reconnaissance Squadron. Their duties consisted mainly of reconnaissance flying.

The Group itself, activated in 1919, was placed on the Air Corps inactive list in September 1921. Though one squadron of the Group, the llth, distinguished itself in 1919 when they took part in the history-making bombing of three Navy battleships under the supervision of Brig. Gen. Billy Mitchell, who had a major part in the foundation of today's U.S. Air Force. Placed on active duty in June, 1928, they moved to Rockwell Field, California. During the years 1928 to 1939 they were engaged mainly in the training of air cadets, making flights of mercy, dropping food and medical aid to persons marooned or lost, and taking part in many flying reviews for high ranking visitors.

In 1939, the Group as a whole, flying from their new location, Hamilton Field, California, made a mock bombing raid on the Boeing Aircraft's plant in Seattle, Washington, using the new four-engine bomber, B-17C, which later reached fame as the Flying Fortress. The Group at that time was a member of the newly organized GHQ, Army Air Force. During the remainder of 1939 and 1940 they continued their program of training and were the nation's main air defense for the Northwest Pacific Coast. The Group was then composed of the 9th Bomb Squadron, llth Bomb Squadron, 22nd Bomb Squadron, and the 88th Reconnaissance Squadron, which was at that time attached to GHQ, Army Air Force.

One of the latest commanding officers, Col. Harvey T. Alness, joined the Group as a 2nd Lt. and served under Lt. Gen. George E. Stratemeyer (a commander of 1st Commando Gp as a Major General), under whom the Group performed so well during the India-Burma campaign, as a member of the Strategic Air Command.

On Nov. 13, 1941, they departed from their home base, Salt Lake City, Utah, and proceeded by rail for an unknown destination called "Plum." They arrived in San Francisco shortly afterwards and were occupied in the usual manner of preparing for overseas movement during peacetime. On November 21st the ground echelon boarded the U.S.S. Republic enroute to "Plum." They arrived at Honolulu on November 28th and remained there overnight for servicing. Departed from there the next day and remained at sea until December 9, 1941, when they docked at the Fiji Islands. They were called to General Quarters at 1000 hours, December 7, 1941, the day the Japs attacked Pearl Harbor, where the Group had docked only a few days before. They departed from the Fiji Islands shortly after they had docked, and were now getting accustomed to the daily drill of possible air attack, attack by submarine, and night blackout as they were sailing in enemy waters. On December 22, 1941, they docked at Brisbane, Australia.