Wichita, Kansas Reunion September 15-18, 2022
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The 449th Association
The 449th Bomb Group Association (BGA) was formed in 1983 through the efforts of Dick Downey. The 449th BGA was initially composed of the veterans of the 449th BG. Recently the organization has been expanded to the 2nd Generation to include family members and others interested in the preserving the history and the heritage of the 449th.
Support the effort to urge the United States Government and Italian authorities to secure and recover the remains of the missing Kendall & Hanson crews in Northern Italy.
The 449th In WWII
The 449th Bomb Group, a component of the 15th Air Force, operated from its base near Grottaglie, Italy from January 1944 to May 1945. The 449th flew 254 combat missions over Europe and Eastern Asia.
The 15th Air Force was formed in November 1943 for the purpose of using southern Italy as a base of operations for a strategic air force, equipped with long-range heavy bombers capable of reaching targets in central and eastern Europe that lay beyond the range of the 8th Air Force operating from bases in England. The 15th Air Force began operations on 1 November 1943 with a nucleus of six heavy-bombardment groups and three fighter groups transferred over from the existing 12th Air Force. By 1 May 1944, the 15th Air Force contained 21, heavy-bombardment groups organized into five wings. Four Wings — the 47th, 49th, 55th, and 304th — were equipped with B-24 Liberators. The 5th Wing was equipped with the B-17 Flying Fortress. The 47th, 55th and 304th Bomb Wings consisted of four Bombardment Groups while the 49th Wing had three Bombardment Groups. A single fighter wing — consisting of 7 fighter groups — was an integral part of the 15th, as were a reconnaissance and a weather squadron. The 47th Wing consisted of four, heavy-bombardment groups: the 98th BG, the 376th BG, the 449th BG and the 450th BG. The 449th — equipped with B-24 Liberator bombers — was a typical heavy-bombardment group of the 15th Air Force.
The 449th Bomb Group was composed of four Squadrons — the 716th, 717th, 718th, and 719th. The 449th was activated on 1 May 1943 at Davis-Monthan Field near Tucson, Arizona. The first morning report was issued on 27 May 1943. The strength of the Group on that date was listed as 52 officers and 33 enlisted men. Over the next 7 months the Group steadily increased to full strength as the training program progressed. On 1 July 1943 the Group was moved to Alamogordo, New Mexico. On 6 September 1943 the Group was again relocated, this time to Bruning Field, Nebraska. The move to Bruning was completed on 18 September 1943. At that time the 449th consisted of a total complement of 184 officers and 1,203 enlisted men.
At Bruning the 449th was equipped with some 62 B-24 aircraft. Each aircraft required a crew of 10 men. By December 1943, training was complete and the 449th was ordered overseas to the European theater. Each crew flew its aircraft overseas by a route which took them to southern Florida, then to Puerto Rico and thence to Brazil. The Atlantic crossing was made from Brazil to Dakar, Africa. From Dakar the planes flew north to Tunis by way of Marrakech. From Tunis they flew to their forward operating base at Grottaglie Field near Taranto, Italy.
The 449th operated from Grottaglie from January 1944 until the end of the war in Europe in May 1945. From Grottaglie, the 449th flew a total of 254 combat missions against targets in central and eastern Europe.
449th Friends & Family Members
Are you a family member of a 449th Flying Horseman?
Do you have any stories, archives, images or other WWII memorabilia you would like to share and have on our website to keep the memory of our heroes alive?
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