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History of the Grey Geese

11th Wing shield (color), U.S. Air Force graphic

11th Wing shield (color), U.S. Air Force graphic

ROYAL AIR FORCE FELTWELL, England -- The B-17 Flying Fortress "Sally B" performs a flyover during the Fourth of July celebration, July 4, 2011.  Airmen, their families and local community members came together to enjoy a carnival filled with food, games, rides, aerial displays and fireworks. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Connor Estes)

The 11th Wing Grey Geese flew B-17 Flying Fortresses like this one throughout the Pacific during WWII. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Connor Estes)

A World War II-era B-29 Superfortress bomber passes over Air Expo 2011, April 17, at Naval Air Station Fort Worth Joint Reserve Base, Texas.  More than 200,000 people were expected at the two-day airshow held April 16-17.  The B-29 is maintained and operated by the Commemorative Air Force.  (U.S. Air Force photo/Lt. Col. David Kurle)

A World War II-era B-29 Superfortress bomber passes over Air Expo 2011, April 17, at Naval Air Station Fort Worth Joint Reserve Base, Texas. Airmen with the 11th Bombardment Group flew planes like Fi Fi during the end of WWII. (U.S. Air Force photo/Lt. Col. David Kurle)

Consolidated Vultee (later Convair) designed the B-36 Peacemaker to meet the Air Force’s requirement for a strategic bomber with intercontinental range. (Air Force photo)

The B-36 Peacemaker was an intercontinental strategic bomber that used a combination of propeller and jet drives to fly. (Air Force photo)

MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan - A U.S. Air Force B-52 Stratofortress performs a fly-by during Misawa's 32nd-annual air fest Sept. 4. Air Fest 2011 was an opportunity for approximately 100,000 attendees to see eight aerial demonstrations with 19 static displays of Japan Air Self-Defense Force, U.S. Air Force, U.S. Navy aircraft and private aircraft operators. Air Fest 2011 also marked the last flight of Miss Veedol, a single-engine aircraft that, in 1931, flew non-stop across the Pacific Ocean from Sabishiro Beach, Misawa, Japan to Wenatchee, Washington, U.S. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Marie Brown)

B-52 Stratofortresses like this one were flown by the Airmen of the 11th Wing during the Cold War. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Marie Brown)

A KC-135 Stratotanker flies past the crowd at the 2011 Selfridge Air Show and Open House at Selfridge Air National Guard Base, Mich., Aug 20, 2011. The KC-135 is part of the 127th Air Refueling Group at Selfridge. (USAF photo by TSgt. David Kujawa)

In the late 1970s, the 11th Wing operated A KC-135 Stratotankers like this one from RAF Fairford, England.(US Air Force photo by TSgt. David Kujawa)

A UH-1N Huey helicopter belonging to the 1st Helicopter Squadron departs for a mission at Joint Base Andrew, Md. June 24, 2010.  The 1 HS is responsible for alert contingency response for the National Capital Region.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Melissa V. Brownstein)

A UH-1N Huey helicopter belonging to the 1st Helicopter Squadron departs for a mission at Joint Base Andrew, Md. June 24, 2010. The 1 HS is responsible for alert contingency response for the National Capital Region. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Melissa V. Brownstein)

JOINT BASE ANDREWS, Md. -- Pioneering the world's most iconic bombing platforms such as the B-17 Flying Fortress, B-29 Superfortress and the B-52 Stratofortress, as the 11th Bombardment Group "Grey Geese," the 11th Wing's proud strategic bombing heritage has repeatedly been instrumental in establishing America's air superiority.

The story of the 11th Wing begins in 1940 at Hickam Field, Hawaii, where the 11th BG was established under the 18th Bombardment Wing. The Group was composed of the 14th, 26th and 42nd Bomb Squadrons and the 50th Reconnaissance Squadron.

Originally flying B-18 Bolos, the group transitioned to the brand new and soon-to-be legendary B-17 Flying Fortresses in 1941. Before Dec. 7, 1941, the group was assigned patrol duties, but after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the fury of the 11th was unleashed upon the enemies of the United States as America entered the second world war.

Of the 350 persons assigned to the 11th, 245 were killed or wounded in the Pearl Harbor attack. Hickam field was decimated, yet the Grey Geese, true to their motto, "Progressio Sine Timore Aut Praejudicio," or "Progress without fear or prejudice," pressed forward, training up crews on the B-17E in preparation to reign hell upon the opposition in the Pacific theater of battle.

In June of 1942, the 11th gathered every asset available in order to wage war at the battle of Midway, Wake Island, and then on to aid the 1st Marine Division at the Battle of Guadalcanal.

The Grey Geese continued to conquer the south Pacific as a part of the Allied offensive through the Marianas Islands, helping to secure Tinian, the small island from which the Col. Paul Tibbets and the 509th Composite Group would launch their B-29s to release the only nuclear weapons used in anger on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima on Aug. 6 and Nagasaki on Aug. 9, 1945.

After World War II, the 11th BW was established, assigned under Strategic Air Command, flying nuclear-capable B-36 Peacemakers out of Carswell Air Force Base, Texas. The wing soon transitioned to B-52s and moved to Altus Air Force Base in Oklahoma, where it acquired an air refueling mission.

In 1962, at the height of the cold war, the 11th changed its designation to the 11th Strategic Aerospace Wing with its 577th Strategic Missile Squadron maintaining 12 nuclear-capable Atlas missile silos in the Oklahoma and Texas region.

The 577th SMS and the inactivated in 1968, and the B-52s transferred out soon after, leaving just an air refueling mission until the unit's deactivation in 1969.

The 11th Strategic Group was reborn in the late 1970s, operating KC-135 refuelers from Royal Air Force Fairford, England. The group supported NATO exercises until it was again inactivated in Aug. of 1990.

Four years later, the 11th Support Wing was stood up at Bolling AFB, Washington, as a direct reporting unit and support organization for Headquarters Air Force. Known as the "Chief's Own," the 11th Wing operated the United States Air Force Band and the United States Air Force Honor Guard.

Under the newly formed Air Force District of Washington, the 11th relinquished some of its support duties and gained the unique and honorable mission of the 1st Helicopter Squadron, moving here to Andrews in 2010.

As the host wing for Joint Base Andrews, the 11th providings security, personnel, contracting, finance and infrastructure support for 6 Wings, 2 Headquarters and more than 50 tenant organizations, as well as 60,000 Airmen and families in the National Capital Region and around the world.

Daily exercising the principals of Vigilance, Precision and Global Impact, the men and women of the 11th Wing continue the proud tradition of the Grey Geese, defending national leaders, fostering joint teamwork and providing combat-ready Airmen as they showcase the U.S. Air Force to the world.