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17th Bomb Group, B-26 Marauders
1942 | North Africa
17th Bomb Group
Authorized as 17th Observation Group on 18 October 1927. Redesignated 17th Pursuit Group in 1929. Activated on 15 July 1931. Redesignated 17th Attack Group in 1935, and 17th Bombardment Group (Medium) in 1939. Trained and participated in maneuvers, using P-12 and P-26 (1931-1932), A-17 (1933-1939), and B-18 (1940-1941) aircraft. Used B-25's for patrol duty on the west coast after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, and later patrolled the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic coast. Converted to B- 26's in the summer of 1942.
Moved to North Africa late in 1942 and began operations on 30 December. Served in combat in the Mediterranean theater until the end of the war, being assigned first to the Twelfth AF, then to Fifteenth (Nov. 1943), and again to Twelfth (Jan. 1944). Flew interdictory and close-support missions, bombing bridges, rail lines, marshalling yards, harbors, shipping, gun emplacements, troop concentrations, and other targets. Helped to bring about the defeat of Axis forces in North Africa in May 1943; assisted in the reduction of Pantelleria and Lampedusa in June 1943; participated in the invasions of Sicily in July and of Italy in September 1943; and took part in the drive toward Rome, receiving a DUC for a bombing attack on airdromes at Rome on 13 Jan. 1944. Also received the French Croix de Guerre with Palm for operations in Italy, April-June 1944. Took part in the invasion of Southern France in Aug. 1944, and continued bombardment operations in northern Italy, France, and later in Germany. Received second DUC for bombing attacks on enemy defenses near Schweinfurt on 10 April 1945. Assisted in the disarmament of Germany after V-E Day. Returned to the US in Nov. Inactivated on 26 Nov. 1945.
Redesignated 17th Bombardment Group (Light). Activated on 19 May 1947. Apparently did not become operative. Inactivated on 10 Sept. 1948.
Activated in Korea on 10 May 1952. Assigned to Far East Air Forces and equipped with B-26's for service in the Korean War. Engaged in interdiction and provided close support for UN ground forces until the armistice in July 1953. Moved to Japan in Oct. 1954; returned to the US, March-April 1955. Assigned to Tactical Air Command and equipped with B-57 aircraft. Redesignated 17th Bombardment Group (Tactical) in Oct. 1955.
- 34th: 1931-1945; 1947-1948; 1952-
- 37th: 1931-1945; 1947-1948; 1952-
- 73rd: 1947-1948; 1952-
- 95th: 1931-1945; 1947-1948; 1952-
- 432d: 1942-1945
- World War II: Antisubmarine, American Theater; Air Combat, EAME Theater; Tunisia; Sicily; Naples-Foggia; Anzio; Rome-Arno; Southern France; North Apennines; Rhineland; Central Europe
- Korean War: Korean Summer-Fall, 1952; Third Korean Winter; Korean Summer-Fall, 1953
- Distinguished Unit Citations: Italy, 13 Jan. 1944; Schweinfurt, Germany, 10 April 1945; Korea, 1 Dec. 1952-30 April 1953
- French Croix de Guerre with Palm: April, May, and June 1944
- Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation: 24 May 1952-31 March 1953
- Shield: Or, seven crosses pattee in pale sable
- Crest: On a wreath of the colors (or and sable) a griffin rampant of the first, beaked, for-legged and winged of the second, and langued gules
- Motto: Toujours Au Danger-Ever Into Danger. (Approved 19 Jan. 1934)
17thBG,34thBS, The "COUGHIN' COFFIN"
1942 | North Africa
the B-26 #41-17858
"Coughin' Coffin" is serial 41-17858 This was an original 17th BG aircraft, assigned to the 34th BS at Baer Field, Fort Wayne, Indiana in November 1942. The pilot on the overseas flight Capt. William R Pritchard who llegedly named the aircraft "Coughin Coffin", after the engines coughed and spluttered on the ferry flight overseas.
The "Coughin' Coffin" never coughed again!
She flew her first mission on 1st January 1943. The aircraft was flown back to base by pilot Capt. William R Pritchard on one engine on 1st March 1943 after being shot up by German fighters. The aircraft again returned on a single engine after being shot up by flak over Trapani / Milo on 11th July 1943, which also damaged the hydraulic systems. On return the right undercarriage would not lower and a successful crash landing was carried out at Djedeida on the left main gear and nose wheel only. The aircraft flown by 1st Lt. Fred Mehner, with Major Pritchard on board as an observer, skidded to a halt and tore off part of the wing. This was the aircrafts 50th & final mission. It was repaired by the 345th Service Squadron / 310th Service Group and on 29th October 1943 was flown back to the USA for war bond tours. (By B-26 Researcher, Paul Clouting)