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The 455th Air Expeditionary Wing is a provisional United States Air Force USAFCENT unit located to Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan. It is one of two expeditionary wings in Afghanistan. Most of the wing personnel are located at the Air Force Village known as Camp Cunningham.

455th Air Expeditionary Wing
Ready at a moment's notice (15055118714).jpg
A C-17 Globemaster III takes off from Bagram Airfield near C-130 Hercules deployed with the wing
Active1943–1945; 1947–1949; 1956–1957; 1962-1968; 2002–present
Country United States
Branch United States Air Force
TypeAir Expeditionary
RoleCombat & Combat Support
Part ofUnited States Air Forces Central Command
Garrison/HQBagram Airfield, Afghanistan
Nickname(s)Vulgar Vultures (World War II)[1]
EngagementsMediterranean Theater of Operations
DecorationsDistinguished Unit Citation[2]
Air Force Meritorious Unit Award
Air Force Outstanding Unit Award with Combat "V" Device[3]
Brig. Gen. David Lyons
455th Air Expeditionary Wing emblem455th Air Expeditionary Wing.png
Patch with 455th Strategic Missile Wing emblem (approved c. October 1963)[4]Wing 0455th Strategic Missile.gif
Unofficial 455th Bombardment Group emblem[5][6]455th Bombardment Group - Emblem.png

The wing's primary mission is to support the Global War on Terrorism by providing aerial support for U.S. and Coalition forces on the ground. Activated in 2001, the 455th has members deployed throughout the country supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.

The wing commander reports to the United States Air Forces Central (USAFCENT) Commander in Southwest Asia. The commander is supported by a wing staff and oversees five Air Force groups located at Bagram and one at Kandahar Airfield. The five groups are the 455th Expeditionary Operations Group, the 455th Expeditionary Maintenance Group, the 455th Expeditionary Mission Support Group, 455th Expeditionary Medical Group, and the 455th Expeditionary Base Defense Group. It also oversees the 451st Air Expeditionary Group at Kandahar Airfield.

During the Cold War, the Strategic Air Command 455th Strategic Missile Wing was an LGM-30 Minuteman ICBM wing. During World War II, the wing's predecessor unit, the 455th Bombardment Group was a Consolidated B-24 Liberator heavy bombardment organization, assigned to Fifteenth Air Force in Italy.



The wing consists of five groups:

The group is responsible for all expeditionary flying and aeromedical evacuation operations for the wing. The group oversees operations of one F-16 Fighting Falcon close air support squadron, one C-130 Hercules airlift squadron, one HH-60 Pave Hawk/Guardian Angel rescue squadron, one EC-130 Compass Call electronic combat squadron (the and one aeromedical evacuation flight. The group also oversees support functions such as air traffic control, intelligence, weather, radar monitoring and landing systems, airfield management and command and control equipment at multiple forward-operating bases.
  • 455th Expeditionary Mission Support Group
    • 455th Expeditionary Aerial Port Squadron
    • 455th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron
    • 455th Expeditionary Communications Squadron
    • 455th Expeditionary Force Support Squadron
    • 455th Expeditionary Logistics Readiness Squadron
    • 455th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron
The group provides a wide range of services for the wing in support of coalition forces throughout Afghanistan. The 455th EMSG is composed of five squadrons responsible for communications, civil engineer operations, force support, logistics readiness, and security forces.

455th Expeditionary Mission Support Group:

  • 455th Expeditionary Maintenance Group
    • 455th Expeditionary Maintenance Squadron
    • 455th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron
The group provides combat-ready aircraft and munitions to the air component commander in support of coalition forces throughout Afghanistan. The group comprises two squadrons responsible for on- and off-aircraft maintenance and sortie generation of F-15E, F-16 and C-130 aircraft, as well as launch, recovery, and servicing support for military and commercial transient aircraft.[16]
  • 455th Expeditionary Medical Group
    • 455th Expeditionary Medical Operations Squadron
    • 455th Expeditionary Medical Support Squadron
The group is the Air Force component for Task Force Med, which provides combat medical and combat medical support services to U.S. and coalition forces throughout Afghanistan. Along with the U.S. Army, the 455 EMDG staffs Craig Joint Theater Hospital at Bagram.


World War IIEdit

Consolidated B-24H-10-CF Liberator 42-64500, 743d Bomb Squadron. Lost on 11 Jun 1944

Constituted as the 455th Bombardment Group (Heavy) on 14 May 1943. Activated on 1 June 1943. Activated as a Consolidated B-24 Liberator heavy bombardment unit; assigned to II Bomber Command for training. Primarily trained in New Mexico and Utah received deployment orders for the Mediterranean Theater of Operations (MTO) in November 1943. Moved to Langley Field, Virginia where the group flew long-range convoy escort missions over the Mid-Atlantic, October–November 1943 while station in Italy was being constructed.

They departed Langley in December 1943 and flew to Tunisia by way of Florida, Trinidad, British Guiana, Brazil and Morocco,[1] arriving in January 1944. They remained in Tunisia until completion of their airfield at San Giovanni, Italy, about five miles west of Cerignola and 20 miles southeast of Foggia. The group moved to San Giovanni in February 1944 and flew its first combat mission (Anzio) on 16 February 1944 as part of the 304th Bombardment Wing, Fifteenth Air Force.

Engaged in very long range strategic bombing missions to enemy military, industrial and transportation targets in Italy, France, Germany, Austria, Hungary, Romania, and Yugoslavia, bombing railroad marshalling yards, oil refineries, airdrome installations, heavy industry, and other strategic objectives.

Received a Distinguished Unit Citation for a mission on 2 April 1944 when the group contributed to Fifteenth AF’s campaign against enemy industry by attacking a ball-bearing plant at Steyr. They lost 4 of 40 aircraft—40 comrades, including a bomber that crashed near Sveta Trojica (now Slovenia). In addition to successful target damage, they were credited with 27 enemy aircraft destroyed and 17 probables. It was their first heavy loss in two months of combat.

Although meeting severe fighter opposition and losing several of its bombers on 26 June 1944, the group proceeded to attack an oil refinery at Moosbierbaum, receiving another DUC for this performance. Thirty-six planes took off with only 26 returning. Six of the ten losses were from a single squadron. Several of those crews were on their 50th mission.

The figure for combined causes includes causes such as collisions, ditchings, and crashes attributable to As time passed, the fighter opposition decreased but the Germans concentrated their anti-aircraft guns around the fewer remaining targets, so the threat from flak remained intense.

In addition to strategic missions in the Balkans, the group bombed troop concentrations, bridges, marshalling yards, and airdromes during the fall of 1944 to hamper the enemy’s withdrawal from the region. The group also supported ground forces at Anzio and Cassino in March 1944; knocked out gun positions in preparation for the invasion of Southern France in August 1944; and assisted the final Allied drive through Italy in April 1945 by hitting such targets as bridges, gun positions, and troop concentrations. The group flew its last mission (Linz, Austria) 15 months later on 25 April 1945. The mission scheduled for the following day was canceled and the group began preparations to return home.

The group lost 118 aircraft,[1] 31 directly to fighters, 36 directly to flak, and 51 from all other causes combined. They suffered 147 killed in action, 268 Missing in action, 179 prisoners of war,[1] and 169 wounded in action. On the other hand, the group is credited with 119 enemy aircraft destroyed and another 78 probables. Only about 40% of the original crews returned.

Remained in Italy after the German Capitulation in May, although unit personnel were demobilized throughout the summer of 1945. Group was inactivated in Italy on 9 September 1945.

Cold WarEdit

Redesignated 455th Bombardment Group (Very Heavy). Allotted to the reserve. Activated in the US on 25 March 1947 as B-29 Superfortress unit. Inactivated on 27 June 1949. Unclear if group was ever equipped or manned.

Assigned to Tactical Air Command. 455th Fighter-Day Wing established in 1953 but never activated. 455th Fighter-Day Group activated with assigned fighter squadrons and assigned to 342d Fighter Day Wing at Myrtle Beach AFB, South Carolina on 25 July 1956 but never manned or equipped. Inactivated on 18 November 1956 along with 342d FDW with all assets being absorbed into 354th Fighter-Day Wing activated that date.

Reassigned to Strategic Air Command as the 455th Strategic Missile Wing and prepared for operational capability with LGM-30B Minuteman I ICBMs from 1 November 1962 to March 1964 at Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota. The component 740th Strategic Missile Squadron was also activated on 1 November. During the following 2 months, the 741st and 742nd Strategic Missile Squadrons administratively came into existence.

The first Minuteman missile arrived on 6 September 1963, and was placed three days later. The 150th, and final missile was placed on 26 February 1964, and by late March the wing became combat ready. The 455th SMW maintained combat readiness.

To preserve the continuity of units with distinguished histories, on 25 June 1968, the 455th SMW was redesignated as the 91st Strategic Missile Wing in-place without movement of personnel and was inactivated. The 91st had senior organizational roots dating from World War II and had gained recent fame as a B-52 wing operating over Vietnam. The operational strategic missile squadrons, however, were not redesignated but simply assigned to the 91st SMW.

On 31 January 1984, the 455th Fighter-Bomber Group and the 455th Strategic Missile Wing were consolidated into a single unit under the wing's designation.[17]

War in AfghanistanEdit

The 455th was converted to provisional status in December 2001 and redesignated the 455th Air Expeditionary Group for the Global War on Terrorism. It was activated on 26 April 2002 at Bagram Air Base. In July 2002, the group was redesignated the 455th Air Expeditionary Wing with five assigned groups.[1] Since then the wing has provided close air support, air mobility, intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, combat search and rescue, electronic attack, aero medical evacuation, and combat support as the lead Air Force organization in Afghanistan. The wing currently consists of about 1,600 airmen, based throughout Afghanistan.

The 455 AEW was awarded the Meritorious Unit Award for all personnel assigned between 1 October 2006 and 30 September 2007,[18] 1 October 2008 through 30 September 2009, and 1 October 2010 through 30 September 2011.


  • Maj Gen Steven Kwast
  • Maj Gen Darryl Roberson
  • Brig Gen Dave Julazadeh


455th Fighter-Day Group
  • Constituted as the 455th Bombardment Group (Heavy) on 14 May 1943
Activated on 1 June 1943
Inactivated on 9 September 1945
  • Redesignated 455th Bombardment Group, Very Heavy
Activated on 25 March 1947
Inactivated on 27 June 1949
Redesignated 455th Fighter-Day Group[2]
Activated on 25 July 1956
Inactivated 1 July 1957
  • Consolidated with the 455th Strategic Missile Wing as the 455th Strategic Missile Wing on 31 January 1984[17]

455th Air Expeditionary Wing

  • Established as the 455th Fighter-Bomber Wing on 23 March 1953
  • Redesignated 455th Strategic Missile Wing (ICBM—Minuteman) and activated on 28 June 1962 (not organized)
Organized on 1 November 1962
Discontinued and inactivated on 25 June 1968[4]
  • Consolidated with the 455th Fighter-Day Group on 31 January 1984[17]
  • Converted to provisional status and redesignated 455th Air Expeditionary Group in December 2001 and assigned to Air Combat Command to activate or inactivate as needed
  • Activated on 26 April 2002
  • Redesignated 455th Air Expeditionary Wing on 26 July 2002



Components (1943-1968)Edit

Aircraft and missiles assignedEdit


Award streamer Award Dates Notes
  Distinguished Unit Citation 2 April 1944 455th Bombardment Group, Steyr, Austria[2]
  Distinguished Unit Citation 26 June 1944 455th Bombardment Group, Austria[2]
  Air Force Outstanding Unit Award with Combat "V" Device 16 April 2002-15 September 2002 455th Air Expeditionary Wing[22]
  Air Force Outstanding Unit Award with Combat "V" Device 16 September 2002-15 September 2003 455th Air Expeditionary Wing[22]
  Air Force Outstanding Unit Award with Combat "V" Device 16 September 2003-30 September 2004 455th Air Expeditionary Wing[22]
  Air Force Meritorious Unit Award 1 October 2004-30 September 2005 455th Air Expeditionary Wing[22]
  Air Force Meritorious Unit Award 1 October 2004-30 September 2005 455th Air Expeditionary Wing[22]
  Air Force Meritorious Unit Award 1 October 2005-30 September 2006 455th Air Expeditionary Wing[22]
  Air Force Meritorious Unit Award 1 October 2006-30 September 2007 455th Air Expeditionary Wing[22]
  Air Force Meritorious Unit Award 1 October 2007-30 September 2008 455th Air Expeditionary Wing[22]
  Air Force Meritorious Unit Award 1 October 2008-30 September 2009 455th Air Expeditionary Wing[22]
  Air Force Meritorious Unit Award 1 October 2009-30 September 2010 455th Air Expeditionary Wing[22]
  Air Force Meritorious Unit Award 1 October 2010-30 September 2011 455th Air Expeditionary Wing[22]
  Air Force Meritorious Unit Award 1 October 2011-30 September 2012 455th Air Expeditionary Wing[22]
  Air Force Meritorious Unit Award 1 July 2012-30 June 2013 455th Air Expeditionary Wing[22]
  Air Force Meritorious Unit Award 1 July 2013-30 June 2014 455th Air Expeditionary Wing[22]



  1. ^ a b c d e "The Heritage of the 455th Air Expeditionary Wing". 455 Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs. 25 June 2009. Archived from the original on 26 September 2015. Retrieved 23 December 2016.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Maurer, Combat Units, p. 330
  3. ^ "Air Force Personnel Services: Unit Awards". Air Force Personnel Center. Retrieved 23 December 2016. (search)
  4. ^ a b c d e f Ravenstein, p. 250
  5. ^ Maurer indicates the group had no official emblem, Maurer, Combat Units, p. 330.
  6. ^ Watkins, pp. 100-101
  7. ^ Gonsier, SSGT Benjamin. (23 October 2017). "83rd ERQS conducts joint flight, prepares for transition to Chinooks". U.S. Air Forces Central Public Affairs. Retrieved 25 February 2018.
  8. ^ Fratini, Capt Korey (2 October 2016). "One year later: TORQE 62 remembered". U.S. Air Forces Central Command Public Affairs. Retrieved 23 December 2016.
  9. ^ "'Black Widows' arrive at Bagram for final F-16 deployment".
  10. ^ a b AirForces Monthly. Stamford, Lincolnshire, England: Key Publishing Ltd. July 2016. p. 14.
  11. ^ Freeman, SRA Justyn M. (29 June 2016). "Providing airpower to Operation Freedom's Sentinel". U.S. Central Command Air Forces Public Affairs. Archived from the original on 18 November 2016. Retrieved 24 December 2016.
  12. ^ Fratini, Capt Korey (24 August 2016). "93rd EFS takes off into the night". U.S. Air Forces Central CommandPublic Affairs. Retrieved 24 December 2016.
  13. ^ "Taking the 'roar' downrange".
  14. ^ "'Gamblers' F-16Cs Deployed to Afghanistan - Warnesy's World". 2 November 2017.
  15. ^ "'Gamblers' F-16Cs Deployed to Afghanistan - Warnesy's World". 2 November 2017.
  16. ^ "455th Expeditionary Maintenance Group". 455th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs. 7 April 2012. Archived from the original on 24 February 2013. Retrieved 24 December 2016.
  17. ^ a b c Department of the Air Force/MPM Letter 539q, 31 January 1984, Subject: Consolidation of Units
  18. ^ Tones, Capt Toni (18 February 2008). "455 AEW awarded Meritorious Unit Award". 455 Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs. Archived from the original on 18 January 2014. Retrieved 23 December 2016.
  19. ^ Ravenstein, p. 181
  20. ^ Ravenstein, p. 187
  21. ^ Mueller, p. 458
  22. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n "455th Air Expeditionary Wing fact sheet". 455th AEW Public Affairs. 28 May 2015. Archived from the original on 26 September 2015. Retrieved 23 December 2016.


  This article incorporates public domain material from the Air Force Historical Research Agency website

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