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From bombardment group to space wing, 460th unit in use since 1943

460th Bombardment Group Officer's Club (Photo by Duane Bohnstedt)

460th Bombardment Group Officer's Club (Photo by Duane Bohnstedt)

460th Bombardment Group Camp Area in 1944 (Photo by Duane Bohnstedt)

460th Bombardment Group Camp Area in 1944 (Photo by Duane Bohnstedt)

460th Bombardment Group Headquarters building (Photo by Duane Bohnstedt)

460th Bombardment Group Headquarters building (Photo by Duane Bohnstedt)

460th Bombardment Group Officer's Club (Photo by Duane Bohnstedt)

460th Bombardment Group Officer's Club (Photo by Duane Bohnstedt)

BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- (Editor's Note: This feature is part of the Buckley Air Force Base History series. These stories focus on highlighting the base's rich history.)

In 1943, the 460th Space Wing was born. Starting off as a bombardment group, the unit endured three name changes before finally becoming a space wing.

As a result of the U.S. entry into World War II, the 460th Bombardment Group was activated under the Second Army Air Force July 1, 1943. The group flew B-24 Liberators and was stationed in Spinazzola, Italy. The unit took part in the strategic bombing offensive of Italy and Southern France.

Duane L. Bohnstedt, 460th BG historian, served with the group during World War II.

"During that time, the 460th BG participated in nearly every major realm of combat in the skies over Europe," Bohnstedt stated in an article he published. "The varied missions the group flew illustrated their agility as they bombed enemy industry and military storage facilities and flew interdiction and support missions."

During the group's stint at Camp Kearns in September of 1943, the 460th BG developed and adopted the famous black panther logo.

"The black panther is symbol of swift, iron-clawed revenge," Duane added. "It was chosen for the insignia of the 460th BG because of its courageous combat history. The group fulfilled its every mission in the fearless manner and with the same deadly technique of its namesake."

The black panther insignia was worn on jackets and displayed on aircraft and more than 80 years later, is currently used as the 460th SW mascot.

The 460th BG was deactivated Sept. 26, 1945. From the group's first mission to its last, the 460th BG flew 207 combat missions.

The 460th was then re-designated as a the 460th Tactical Reconnaissance Group while entering into the Korean War and assumed responsibility for the reconnaissance of North Korea. Following the Korean War, the group became larger and finally developed into a wing, becoming the 460th Tactical Reconnaissance Wing during the Vietnam War.

During this war, the wing was responsible for the entire reconnaissance mission throughout Southeast Asia, which included visual and electronic reconnaissance. Its electronic capabilities allowed the wing to provide electronic counter measure support to Boeing B-52 Stratofortress aircraft returning from striking targets in North Vietnam.

During the campaign, the wing earned four Presidential Unit Citations and two outstanding unit awards.

The wing was reactivated as the 460th Air Base Wing on Oct. 1, 2001, and would not be re-designated as the 460th Space Wing until Aug. 19, 2004.

From a bombardment group to a space wing, the 460th has been in use for more than 80 years.
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