28th Composite Group/ 28th Bombardment Group

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The 28th began its active existence at the start of 1940 as the 28th Composite Group, containing a mix of pursuit and bombardment aircraft. After the outbreak of the Second World War the group was posted to Alaska, and it would remain in that theatre for the rest of the war.

During 1941 this was a quiet area, but in June 1942 the Japanese attacked the Aleutian Islands as part of the wider Midway campaign. The 28th helped to fight off the attack on Dutch Harbor, but was unable to prevent the Japanese capturing Kiska and Attu islands.

Over the next year the Americans prepared to recapture the two islands. In August 1942 they built an airbase on Adak island. In March 1943 the 28th moved to the new base and took part in the heavy bombardment of Kiska. Attu was recaptured in May 1943 after some fierce fighting, while the Japanese evacuated Kiska in July. In the same month the 28th carried out the first attack on Japanese targets in the Kuril islands.

At the end of 1943 the 28th was re designated as a bombardment group. It took part in the bombardment of the Kuril islands that convinced the Japanese that the Americans were planning to invade Japan from Alaska, using the Aleutian and Kuril islands as stepping stones. The group received a Distinguished Unit Citation for its efforts between April 1944 and August 1945, a period that saw the Japanese post 30,000 men and hundreds of aircraft in what was essentially a dead theatre.

The 28th was an unusually fluid group starting and ending the war with completely different squadrons. It also went through a large number of commanding officers - a total of eleven between December 1941 and the end of the war.




Mix of P-38s, P-39s, P-40s, B-26s and LB-30s: 1941-1943
Consolidated B-24 Liberator and North American B-25 Mitchell: 1944-1945


22 December 1939 Constituted as 28th Composite Group
1 February 1940 Activated
February 1941-March 1943 Operating from Elmendorf Field, Alaska
March 1943-October 1945 Moves to the Aleutian Islands
December 1943 Redesignated 28th Bombardment Group (Composite)

Commanders (with date of appointment)

Colonel William H Crom: 1 February 1940
Lt. Colonel Lotha A Smith: 12 February 1940
Major William O Eareckson: 1 September 1940
Major Donald W Titus: 20 October 1940
Major William O Eareckson: 26 May 1941
Major Norman D Sillin: 7 November 1941
Colonel Earl H DeFord: 23 January 1943
Major Robert C Orth: 19 March 1943
Lt. Colonel Jack N. Donohew: 27 March 1943
Lt. Colonel Ralph W. Rodieck: 18 April 1943
Lt. Colonel John W. Massion: 27 October 1943
Lt Colonel Alexander W. Bryant: 4 January 1944
Colonel Robert H Herman: 1 April 1944
Colonel Walter L. Wheeler: 21 July 1945

Main Bases

March Field, California: 1 February 1940
Moffet Field, California: 10 December 1940-12 February 1941
Elmendorf Field, Alaska: 23 February 1941
Adak: 14 March 1943
Shemya: 25 February 1944-20 October 1945

Component Units

11th Pursuit Squadron: 1942
18th Pursuit Squadron: 1941-1942
34th Pursuit Squadron: 1940
36th Bombardment Squadron: 1940-1943
37th Bombardment Squadron: 1940-1941
73rd Bombardment Squadron: 1941-1943
77th Bombardment Squadron: 1942-1945
404th Bombardment Squadron: 1942-1945

Assigned To

Alaskan Air Force: 28 December 1941-5 February 1942
Eleventh Air Force: 18 September 1942-

How to cite this article: Rickard, J (15 December 2007), 28th Composite Group/ 28th Bombardment Group, http://www.historyofwar.org/air/units/USAAF/28th_Bombardment_Group.html

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