HISTORY AND LINEAGE OF THE 85TH SQUADRON
Activated in 1940, prior to Pearl Harbor’s attack by the Japanese, the 85th Bomb Squadron was to become an active and integral part of America’s victory in World War II. Flying the B-18 “Bolo” aircraft from McChord Field, Washington, the 85ths war record began two days following Pearl Harbor. Its mission was flying anti-submarine patrols off the west coast of the United States. This was a short-lived mission, however, as training for overseas duty was to begin some six weeks later. Following ten months of training, the 85th, as a squadron of the 47th Bomb Group, moved to North Africa to become part of the Twelfth Air Force. The training not only included methods of operation, but also a change to the A-20 “Havoc” aircraft. It was in North Africa that the proud history of the unit came of age. It began operations by flying low-level bombing missions against the enemy. When the Axis Forces broke through at Kasserine Pass in February, 1943, an undermanned and under-supplied 85th flew missions attacking the advancing enemy armored columns, slowing their advance and helping stop the offensive. The unit was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation for its part in this action. While continuing to fly combat missions the squadron also trained for medium level bombardment. The 85th participated in the reduction of Pantellaria and Lampedusa in June, 1943 and the invasion of Sicily in July. Near Messina, Italy in August, 1943 the squadron bombed evacuation beaches used by the Germans. When the British Eight Army began the invasion of Italy in September, the 85th was there to lend support. Again during the Allied advance toward Rome from September, 1943 to June, 1944, the squadron bombarded the defenders and supported the advance. The invasion of Southern France during August and September, 1944 saw more combat missions for the 85th. From September 1944 to April 1945 the unit specialized in the attack of German communications facilities in mountainous Northern Italy. During this period the 85th began flying night intruder missions in the A-25 “Invader”. The unit earned a second Presidential Unit Citation during a campaign April 21-24, 1945 when, despite bad weather and rugged terrain, the unit maintained operations for 60 consecutive hours, destroying the enemy’s transportation facilities in the PO valley to prevent an organized retreat. Throughout the war, the 85th Bomb Squadron flew against such targets as tanks, convoys, bivouac areas, troop concentrations, supply dumps, roads, pontoon bridges, rail lines and airfields. The bravery and devotion to duty displayed by these men has given us a history of which we can be proud. Following the war, the 85th returned to the States in April 1945. They began training in a variety of tactical operations, including night operations. The 85th was one of the first squadrons to receive the B-45 “Tornado”, Americas first jet bomber, which they flew until 1958, when the B-66 Destroyer was introduced. The 85th Bomb Squadron was deactivated in May 1962 at RAF Sculthorpe, United Kingdom. In September 1972, the squadron was reactivated as the 85th Flying Training Squadron (Formerly the 3645th Pilot Training Squadron) at Laughlin AFB TX. The squadron has flown the T-37B “Tweet” aircraft and performed the primary flying training mission for almost 25 years.
Constituted 85th Bombardment Squadron (Light) on 2o Nov 194o. Activated on 15 Jan 3 1941. Redesignated 85th Bombardment Squadron (Tactical) on 1 Oct 1955. Discontinued, and inactivated, on 22 Jun 1962. Redesignated 85th Flying Training Squadron and activated on 22 March 1972
47th Bombardment Group, 15 Jan 1941; Twelfth Air Form, 2 Oct 1949; Ninth Air Force (attached to 363d Tactical Reconnaissance Group), 17 Oct 1949; Tactical Air Command, 1 Aug 1950 (attached to 363d Tactical Reconnaissance Wing, 1 Sep 1950); 47th Bombardment Group, 12 Mar 1951; 47th Bombardment Wing, 8 Feb i955-22 Jun 1962.
MeChord Field, Wash, 15 Jan 1941; Fresno, Calif, 11 Aug 1941; Will Rogers Field, Okla, 17 Feb 1942; Greensboro, NC, 16 Jul-17 Oct 1942; Mediouna, French Morocco, c. 17 Nov 1942; Thelepte, Tunisia, 9 Jan 1943; Youks-les-Bains, Algeria, 16 Feb 1943; Canrobert, Algeria, 27 Mar 1943; Thelepte, Tunisia, 30 Mar 1943; Souk-el-Arba, Tunisia, 16 Apr 1943; Soliman, Tunisia, c. 1 Jun 1943; Malta, 22 Jul 1943; Torrente Comunelli, Sicily, 12 Aug 1943; Gerbini, Sicily, 20 Aug 1943; Grottaglie, Italy, 24 Sep 1943; Vincenzo Airfield, Italy, 15 Oct 1943; Vesuvius Airfield, Italy, 11 Jan 1944; Capodichino, Italy, 22 Mar 1944; Vesuvious Airfield, Italy, 25 Apr 1944; Ponte Galeria, Italy, 13 Jun 1944; Ombrone Airfield, Italy, 26 Jun 1944; Poretta, Corsica, 15 Jul 1944; Salon, France, 4 Sep 1944; Follonica, Italy, 16 Sep 1944; Rosignano Airfield, Italy, 4 Oct 1944; Grosseto, Italy, 10 Dec 1944; Pisa, Italy, 17-22 Jun 1945; Seymour Johnson Field, NC, c. 11 Jul 1945; Lake Charles AAFld, La, 9 Sep 1945; Biggs Field, Tex, 2o Oct 1946; Barksdale AFB, La, 19 Nov 1948; Langley AFB, Va, 17 Oct 1949-21 May 1952; Sculthorp, England, 31 May 1952-22 Jun 1962.
B-18, 1941-1942; A-20, 1942-1945; A-26 (Later B-26), 1945-1949; B-45, 1949;
B-45, 1954-1957; B-66, 1958-1962.
Antisubmarine patrols, Dec 1941-Jan 1942. Combat in MTO, 22 Jan 1943-30 Apr 1945.
Antisubmarine, American Theater; Algeria-French Morocco; Tunisia; Sicily; Naples-Foggia; Anzio; Rome-Arno; Southern France; North Apennines; Po Valley; Air Combat EAME Theater.
Distinguished Unit Citations: North Africa, 22 Feb 1943; Po Valley, 21-24 Apr 1945. Air Force Outstanding Unit Award: 1 Jul 1958-30 Jun 1960.
Over and through a yellow orange disc, border light turquoise blue, a skeleton wearing tuxedo and silk hat, proper, riding in open cockpit of large red aeriak bomb, smoking a cigar, and twirling a revolver about the right fore-finger, all emitting white speed lines to rear. (Approved 9 Sep 1944.)