August 1945: 19 BG and the End of World War II
The 19th Bombardment Group served two tours in the Pacific Theater, split by stateside training from 1942-1944. When the unit returned to the Pacific in late-1944 and early-1945, it did so equipped with the B-29 Superfortress. (The unit had operated the B-17 when it was first sent overseas in 1941.) The group and its squadrons fell under Major General Curtis LeMay’s 21st Bomber Command, and participated in a total of 65 bombing raid missions and incendiary attacks over the Japanese home islands. It flew its last mission on August 14th, five days after the dropping of the second atomic bomb, and on the return run the crews learned of Japan’s unconditional surrender. With that, the 19th BG has the unique distinction of flying both the first and last bomber missions of World War II, and it was well-represented at the Tokyo Bay surrender ceremonies the following month. After the fighting was over, 19 BG crews also dropped supplies to Allied POWs located in camps near Tokyo – a nod, I like to believe, to the 19th’s eventual airlift mission. Perhaps more importantly, despite the massive demobilization efforts following the war, the 19 BG was one of a select number of Army Air Force units to remain activated, later assigned as the operational flying unit for the newly-formed 19th Bombardment Wing in 1948.

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Photo by: Jeremy Prichard |  VIRIN: 170814-F-DL035-0005.JPG