The mission of the 28th Operations Group, whose motto is to Find and Kill the Enemy, is to provide combat-ready B-1B aircrews for world-wide taskings, including conventional operations and power projection. Airmen in the 28th OG fly the B-1B, plan and support combat operations, and develop deployment plans. Additionally, they manage the base airfield, radar approach control facilities, and air traffic control tower. The group also includes a weather section, a life support flight, and flight and tower simulators.
The 28th OG Intelligence Flight provides current intelligence information and analysis ranging from strategic intelligence for the base's senior leadership to the tactical level required by the group's combat aircrews.
The 28th Operations Group commands four squadrons: the 28th Operations Support Squadron, the 34th Bomb Squadron, the 37th Bomb Squadron and the 432nd Attack Squadron.
34th Bomb Squadron
Known as the Thunderbirds, the 34th Bomb Squadron's mission is to defeat America's enemies across the globe at a moment's notice.
The history of the 34th Bomb Squadron dates back to World War I, when the U.S. Army organized the 34th Aero Squadron in June 11, 1917. During assignment with the 17th Pursuit Group, the squadron became equipped with the P-12 biplane fighter. In 1935 and 1936, the squadron gradually transitioned from the P-12 and P-26 Peashooter to the A-17 and YA-19, which it kept until 1940 when it began flying the B-18 and the B-23 bombers. On April 18, 1942, 34th crews famously flew the B-25 Mitchell from the deck of the U.S.S. Hornet with crews from the 37th Bomb Squadron during the Doolittle Raid against Japan.
Throughout the war, the 34th flew bombing missions in the B-26 Invader overseas and then returned to the United States in November 1945. The day after its arrival, the squadron was inactivated. The 34th BS went through numerous activations and deactivations over its history. However, it was able to fly interdiction and close air support missions in Korea, transitioning to the B-57, the B-66, and then finally the B-52 Stratofortress aircraft.
When the unit moved to Ellsworth on April 1, 1994, it began flying the B-1B Lancer. On April 1, 1997, the squadron moved again, transferring to Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho. After the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States, the 34th BS was one of the first units to deploy overseas in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. On Sept. 19, 2002, the 34th BS moved back to Ellsworth from Mountain Home. As tensions rose in Iraq, the 34th BS deployed from Jan. 5 to May 15, 2003 in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Southern Watch and Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Since 2003, the Thunderbirds have completed numerous deployments in support of Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom. Starting in 2007, the 34th entered a regular deployment schedule with other B-1 units with one year at home station followed by six months deployed. On average, these deployments result in over 6,000 combat hours and more than 500 combat sorties flown supporting overseas contingency operations. On March 27, 2011 the 34th BS flew the first ever B-1 combat mission launched from the United States to strike overseas targets when it participated in Operation Odyssey Dawn, flying non-stop from Ellsworth to strike targets in Libya.
432nd Attack Squadron
The 432nd Attack Squadron, the newest operational squadron at Ellsworth Air Force Base, was reactivated Oct. 1, 2011. The 432nd ATKS mission is to remotely employ MQ-9 Reaper aircraft from ground control facilities located at Ellsworth AFB in support of worldwide combatant commander requirements.
The lineage of the 432nd dates back to 1917 where it was first organized as the 89th Aero Squadron operating out of Kelly Field, Texas. During World War I, the unit forward deployed to Colombey-les-Belles and Chatillon-su-Seine, France. During this period the unit constructed facilities, maintained aircraft, and trained observers in the "Zone of Advance." The squadron was demobilized on May 19, 1919, reorganized in 1936 as the 89th Observation Squadron, and later re-designated the 89th Reconnaissance Squadron. Additional unit re-designations include: 432nd Bombardment Squadron (1942), 432nd Bomb Squadron (2007), and 432nd Attack Squadron (2011).
In 1942, the 89th RS was one of four units assigned to the 17th Bombardment Group, from which several members were selected to fly the infamous April 18, 1942 "Doolittle Raid" on Tokyo, Japan. Additionally, the unit was awarded two Distinguished Unit Citations for action in Europe: on Jan. 13, 1944 for action over Ciampino, Italy and on April 10, 1945 for action over Schweinfurt, Germany. Over the past century the unit has employed several aircraft including the Brequet 14 (1918), B-18 Bolo (1940), B-23 Dragon (1940-1941), B-25 Mitchell (1941-1942), B-26 Marauder (1942-1945), and currently the MQ-9 Reaper.
The 432nd ATKS continues this proud heritage of supporting the national security of the United States. The 432nd ATKS will provide combatant commanders with actionable precision reconnaissance capabilities for time critical targets, air interdiction, close air support, and strike coordination.
28th Operations Support Squadron
The 28th Operations Support Squadron supports the 28th Bomb Wing in all aspects of flying operations to effectively and efficiently train and conduct combat operations.
A diverse squadron, the 28th OSS oversees airfield management, weather support, intelligence analysis, combat crew communications, B-1 simulator training, aircrew flight equipment, aircrew flight records, the Belle Fourche Electronic Scoring Site (ESS), combat survival training, and weapons and tactics training.
37th Bomb Squadron
The 37th Bomb Squadron Tigers are responsible for employing the B-1B Lancer in support of Department of Defense missions.
The 37th BS consists of approximately 70 Airmen, including aviators, intelligence, and aviation resource management Airmen. These Airmen enable the Tigers to remain on the leading edge of B-1 employment supporting precision engagement and global attack missions.
The 37th BS is among the Air Force's most senior units. It began as the 37th Aero Squadron in June 1913, and served with the American Expeditionary Force in France during World War I. During World War II, the 37th served for a short time with the 28th Composite Group in 1940, and then was assigned to the 17th Bomb Group. As part of the 17th BG, the 37th participated in one of the most famous air raids of World War II. Three crews trained in B-25 Mitchell bombers and flew with Lieutenant Colonel Jimmy Doolittle on the famous raid over Tokyo in April 1942. After the war ended the squadron was deactivated. In 1950, the 37th reactivated as a night intruder squadron and transferred to Pusan, Korea. The squadron flew the B-26 Invader on night interdiction missions during the Korean Was. The squadron "hunted at night, like tigers" and adopted its current patch: a Bengal Tiger.
The 37th Bomb Squadron joined the 28th Bomb Wing at Ellsworth in 1977, flying the B-25H Stratofortress. On Jan. 1, 1987, the squadron transitioned to its current aircraft, the B-1B Lancer.
In December 1998, the Tigers became the first unit to employ the B-1 in combat in support of Operation Desert Fox in Iraq. One year later, Tiger crews teamed with the 77th Bomb Squadron for Operation Allied Force and flew combat operations in Kosovo and Serbia.
After Sept. 11, 2001, the 37th again roared into action alongside the 34th and formed the 34th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron. Flying missions to Afghanistan, the squadron contributed to the 34th EBS effort to drive the Taliban from Afghanistan. During this time, the combined squadron flew 5 percent of the strike missions but released nearly 40 percent of the total bomb tonnage -- more than 1,730 tons.
In March 2003, crews from the 37th BS joined crews from the 34th BS to employ the B-1 in action during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Tiger crews flew numerous combat missions over Iraq, including a strike against high priority leadership targets in Baghdad.
Since 2003, the Tigers accomplished numerous deployments supporting Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom. In 2007, the 37th began regular deployments to the Middle East, rotating with other B-1 units, with one year at home station followed by six months deployed. On average the squadron flies over 6,000 combat hours and more than 500 combat sorties per deployment. Additionally, 37th BS personnel supported the 34th's Libya strike missions from Ellsworth from a forward operating location during Operation Odyssey Dawn, the first ever B-1 combat mission launched from the United States to strike overseas targets. A steady contributor to America's airpower might, the 37th Bomb Squadron Tigers surely will continue to contribute to securing America's safety for many more years.