The 393rd Bomb Squadron of the 509th Bomb Wing was the only combat unit to have dropped atomic bombs on enemy targets. Originally activated December 17, 1944 at Wendover Field, UT, the 509th was formed for the specific task to drop atomic weapons. In spring of 1945, the unit moved to Tinian Island under the 20th Air Force and flew only practice missions until July.
On August 6, 1945, the famed B-29 “Enola Gay” (piloted by Col. Paul Tibbets, Jr) dropped the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan. Three days later, another B-29, “Bock’s Car” (piloted by Maj. Charles W. Sweeny), dropped an atomic bomb on Nagasaki. These events helped end the war with Japan very quickly.
The 393rd was assigned to WAFB to the newly formed Strategic Air Command (SAC) on November 6, 1945 and was the core of SAC. During the summer of 1946, the renamed 509th Bombardment Group participated in “Operation Crossroads” in the Marshall Islands.
The unit returned to Roswell November 17, 1947 as the 509th Bombardment Wing and resumed a norman training regimen for the next two years. The wing’s mission expanded in July 1948 when it received the 509th Air Refueling Squadron and its KB-29M, a modified B-29 that provided air-to-air refueling for bombers thus giving the wing the ability to reach nearly any point on earth.
In June 1950, the Bomb Wing began to convert from B-29 bombers to B-50’s and then to B-47 aircraft in 1955. The 509th Air Refueling Squadron underwent a transition from KB-29’s to KB-50’s then to KC-97’s.
The 509th BW moved its personnel and equipment to Pease AFB, N.H. in August 1958. By 1965, the B-47s and the 509th BW were slated for retirement. SAC, however, decided to keep the bomb wing alive and equip it with B-52s and KC-135s.
July 19, 1948
Strategic Air Command activated the U.S. Air Force’s first two air refueling squadrons, the 43rd and 509th, at Davis-Monthan AFB, Ariz. and Roswell AFB, N.M.
Or, in base a label Gules of three, surmounted by an atomic cloud Proper, between a pair of wings Azure; all with a diminished bordure of the first. Attached below the shield a White scroll edged with a narrow Yellow border and inscribed “DEFENSOR VINDEX“ in Blue letters. Significance: The 509 Bombardment Wing’s emblem is rich in tradition. Each symbol on the shield represents some part of the past. The Air Force wings represent the branch of service but are not in the familiar outstretched position. When the ancient Greeks approached a stranger, they raised their arms with palms outward to show they were carrying no weapons – a sign of peace. The 509 obtained special permission to display the wings in this configuration to show that it, too, comes in peace. The atomic cloud burst represents two things: that the 509 is the only unit to ever drop atomic bombs in wartime and that it still uses atomic power as a deterrent to war and defender of peace. Finally, the eldest son
symbol (the red tripod) shows that the wing is the oldest atomic trained military unit in the world.