Return of the legacy: 867th ATKS turns 100

  • Published
  • By Theodore Turner, 432nd Wing Historian
  • 432nd Wing/432 Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

The 867th Attack Squadron reflected on a remarkable heritage as it celebrated its 100th anniversary of its activation, Aug. 25, 2017, as the 92d Aero Squadron.

On Aug. 21, 1917, the U.S. Signals Corps formed the 92 AS on that day at Kelly Field, Texas. Organizers simply funneled the wave of recruits pouring off the train into a single line, counted them off into a group of 150 and designated them as the 92nd. After five weeks of training to drill, dig ditches, raise tents and build roads, delegations from ten of the new aero squadrons, the 88th through the 97th, departed for New York enroute to Europe.

In Oct. 1917, they boarded a ship bound for rural Ford Junction, England. There, at a new aerodrome built for the task, the 92nd attached to the British Royal Air Force to train for a mission new to the Air Service, nighttime bombardment.

The RAF shared their knowledge and experience and provided airfields to train on. However, their own wartime needs had maximized the aircraft production capacity of Great Britain. Stateside production of an American version of the Handley Page bomber was crucial to the U.S.-U.K. World War I partnership to develop and employ aerial nighttime bombardment in the Zone of Advance, an initial military staging area for tactical employment.

While they waited, squadron members trained with the RAF on an array of aircraft with the roles of both observation and night bombardment. A year passed and on Nov. 11, 1918, the Armistice ended the Great War before any American-built Handley Page aircraft arrived at Fort Junction. The 92 AS returned to the East Coast a month later and demobilized.

The 92nd returned to active service during America’s pre-war build up in early 1941, with a series of roles ranging from bombardment, reconnaissance and antisubmarine. During the earliest days of the war, the unit patrolled America’s shorelines and was redesignated as the 10th Antisubmarine Squadron.

In the fall of 1943, the unit added the B-24 Liberator, B-25 Mitchell and B-34 Ventura bombers to its arsenal and undertook a year of combat training. When it departed home soil in late 1944, for the first time since its days as an aero squadron, it did so as the 867th Bombardment Squadron.

Assigned to the 494th Bombardment Group, the 867 BS conducted combat operations in the Western and Southwestern Pacific regions, starting from Barking Sands, Territory of Hawaii, and ending at Yontan, Okinawa. During World War II, the 867 BS participated in nine air campaigns, fighting until Japan surrendered in August 1945.

The 867th returned to the West Coast for inactivation in early 1946. Half a century passed before America called the 867th to serve in a new role.

On Sep. 10, 2012, it stood up as the 867th Attack Squadron under the 732d Operations Group at Creech Air Force Base, Nevada. Flying the MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper, embracing the “Spartans” lore, the veteran unit of two World Wars once again delivered dominant persistent attack and reconnaissance for the U.S. and coalition partners.

“The men and women of the 867th, like our predecessors, are engaged in a contest that will likely define a generation and are fully resolved to win,” said Lt. Col. Timothy, 867th ATKS, commander.