The 30th Bombardment Squadron, which would one day be stationed in North Dakota, has its roots in WWI, where it first formed as the 30th Aero Squadron. The men in the unit trained as pilots, but due to circumstances, they became more well acquainted with construction jobs.
While still in the US, they helped build Fort Kelly in Texas, and when they were sent to Europe, many began working in a machine shop to repair aircraft and help train other pilots. By the time the Great War was over and the squadron demobilized, the men had never seen combat.
In the time before WWII, the unit became the 30th Bombardment Squadron, and it first served as a reserve Army Air Service unit, before being upgraded to a regular unit in 1932. Their mission was to provide military transport and do search and rescue missions. In 1939 the squadron received a Boeing B-17B Flying Fortress and their role was upgraded. Consequently, the 30th Bombardment Squadron was ready for combat when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. They joined the fight and went on to participate in nine campaigns during WWII.
They also fought in the Korean War, now with B-29s. After the armistice in 1953, their now-dated planes were sent to reclamation and replaced with B-47 stratojets as part of the Strategic Air Command. In 1960, they were equipped with new B-52 heavy bombers and reassigned to the 4133d Strategic Wing, in Grand Forks. They flew training missions there until the B-47s were phased out in 1962. The Squadron’s last day as an operational unit was on this date in 1963.
However, the squadron is not gone entirely, because on September 19th, 1985 it consolidated with the Air Demonstration Squad, better known as the Thunderbirds, a6nd with this consolidation, the Thunderbirds inherited all the honors bestowed on the 30th Bombardment Squadron. So, if you ever find yourself at a Thunderbirds air show, keep in mind the unit’s impressive thread of history that has roots in North Dakota.
Dakota Datebook written by Lucid Thomas