13th Bomb Squadron “Grim Reapers” Plaque
A hand crafted 14 inch plaque of the 13th Bomb Squadron “Grim Reapers”. Each plaque is carved from Mahogany and handpainted to provide a piece you’ll love!
The 13th Aero Squadron was formed at Camp Kelly (later Kelly Field), Texas, on 14 June 1917.
13th Aero Squadron – SPAD XIII, Souilly Aerodrome, France. 1918
The “Devil’s Own Grim Reapers” as they came to be known was a Pursuit (Fighter) squadron on the Western Front in France during 1918, flying the French SPAD S.XIII. The 13th claimed several “aces” from this period of its history: Charles J Biddle, Murray K Guthrie, Frank K Hays, John J Seerly, and William H Stovall. Major Carl Spaatz was attached to the unit at his request, and had two victories. He would rise to four-star rank during WW II. The Unit’s first combat loss was Lt. George Kull on 14 September 1918 during the St. Mihiel Offensive. There would be others to follow: During the Meuse Argonne Offensive, the squadron lost Lts. Gerald D. Stivers, Henry Guion Armstrong, Clarence A. Brodie and Robert H. Stiles killed in action. It returned to the United States in March 1919 when it was demobilized. It remained inactive until it was reconstituted in 1936.
Main article: 104th Aero Squadron
The 104th Aero Squadron was organized on 25 August 1917, also at Kelly Field. As a Corps Observation (Reconnaissance) Squadron flying the French Salmson 2A2 observation aircraft, the 104th flew reconnaissance, directed Allied artillery fire and pinpointed troop movements on the Western Front. The demand for artillery fire adjustments through aerial observation was constant in spite of difficulties encountered in air-to-ground communications. It was largely due to the photos made by aerial reconnaissance that the Allied infantry knew where it was advancing. It returned to the United States in April 1919 and became part of the permanent United States Army Air Service in 1921.
After its arrival at Roosevelt Field, Long Island, most of the 104th Aero Squadron’s men returned to civilian life. In May 1919, the squadron moved to neighboring Mitchel Field; the squadron was down to one officer and one enlisted man and was administratively carried by the Air Service as an active unit.
About 15 May, the 104th moved to Fort Bliss, Texas, and during June to Kelly Field, Texas, still manned in name only. On 25 May 1919 it was redesignated as the 104th Surveillance Squadron, and assigned to the Army Surveillance Group on 1 July along with the 8th, 12th and 90th Aero Squadrons. During August 1919, nearly 200 men from Mitchel Field were moved to Kelly Field to bring the squadron up to strength. The 104th quickly adapted to peacetime soldiering in the nation’s infant air organization It was also equipped with new Dayton-Wright DH-4 aircraft, surplus from the World War.
Mexican Border patrol
see also: United States Army Border Air Patrol
The mission of the Army Surveillance Group was to carry out observation overflights along the Mexican Border. During this period, Mexico was enduring a period of revolution and unrest, which led to border violations and the deaths of American citizens. After being manned and equipped, in November 1919 the squadron split into three flights: Headquarters Flight and Flight A went to Fort Bliss, Texas, while Flight B deployed to Marfa Field, Texas. From 10 September to 4 November, Flight B was located at Post Field, Oklahoma, but it returned to Marfa Field on 17 November 1920, and remained there until June 1921 flying observation flights along the Big Bend area of the Texas/Mexico border.
13th Squadron (Attack)
13th Squadron (Attack) – Dayton-Wright XB-1A, Kelly Field, Texas, 1921.
13th Attack Squadron Curtiss A-3B.
On 14 March 1921 with the establishment of the permanent Army Air Service, the 104th Surveillance Squadron was redesignated as the 13th Squadron (Attack). In May the border patrol flights were ended and all of the flights were ordered to participate in maneuvers at Langley Field, Virginia. On 2 July the squadron reassembled at Kelly Field and on 25 January 1923 the squadron was redesignated the 13th Attack Squadron.
The new mission of the squadron was to conduct a series of suitability tests of new types of aircraft. Initially tested was the Dayton-Wright XB-1A, an observation plane to be used for photography, bombardment and liaison work.
The next aircraft was the GAX (Boeing GA-1), a ground attack triplane. These tests were conducted to determine the capability of aircraft under hard service incurred during long cross-country flights. All squadron officers and enlisted personnel attended classes to learn everything they could about the aircraft.
In 1923, the 13th Attack Squadron returned to the Dayton-Wright DH-4 and performed aerial demonstrations, formation flying, and normal training. Due to funding reductions, the squadron was inactivated on 27 June 1924.
Reserve status and reactivation
Curtiss A-8 Shrike ground-attack aircraft No.60 of the 13th Attack Squadron, 1931
After its inactivation from the active forces, the 13th was designated an Regualar Army Inactive squadron, and partially manned with reserve officers. Remaining as the 13th Attack Squadron, it was allotted to the Eighth Corps Area on 28 February 1927. Organized about May 1928 with Organized Reserve personnel. Conducted summer training at Fort Crockett, with units of the 3d Attack Group.
Returned to active status on 1 November 1929, the 13th Attack Squadron again joined the 3d Attack Group at Langley Field, Virginia. Two weeks later the squadron moved to Fort Crockett, Texas. From 1929 to 1934, the squadron flew the Curtiss A-3 aircraft, and then converted to newer Curtiss A-12 Shrikes. In February 1935, the 13th moved to Barksdale Field, Louisiana. On 16 October 1936, the War Department reconstituted the World War I 13th Aero Squadron and consolidated it with the 13th Attack Squadron, forming a single squadron with two separate origins, thus perpetuating the history and traditions of both. The 13th Attack Squadron designation was retained for the consolidated unit.
Also in 1936, the squadron received the Northrop A-17 ground attack aircraft. It continued flying A-17s through 1939. On 15 September 1939 the squadron became the 13th Bombardment Squadron (Light), while its parent became the 3d Bombardment Group (Light). Douglas B-18 Bolo medium bombers were gained about this same time, but some Martin B-12s were also flown in the 1939–1941 period as the 13th developed into a proficient bombardment squadron. The 3d Bomb Group moved to Savannah Army Airfield, Georgia in October 1940, and in 1941 they received Douglas A-20A Havoc ground attack aircraft to replace their obsolescent B-18s and B-12s.
World War II
“When war came to the nation in December 1941, the Reapers embarked on an accelerated training program while also engaged in anti-submarine patrols against German U-boats along the Atlantic coast. Because every ranking and experienced man from the unit was pulled and assigned overseas to train other units, the Reapers were left without personnel and planes. When the unit arrived in Australia in January 1942, they were still without airplanes. While waiting for aircraft, the Reapers learned there were 24 brand new North American B-25 Mitchells sitting on the ramp in nearby Melbourne, but the planes were earmarked for the Dutch. Soon after, 24 Reaper pilots arrived in Melbourne, presented a confused Officer of the Day with an authorization letter, and nonchalantly flew away with the airplanes before anyone realized the mistake. The Reapers used those planes, and later A-20s, to attack bridges, transports, airfields, troop installations, seaplanes, docks, warehouses and enemy targets. At the end of the war, the squadron had earned four Distinguished Unit Citations for actions over the Philippine Island[s], Papua and New Guinea, and also took home the Philippine Presidential Unit Citation.””From the end of World War II to 1950, the [13th] remained in Japan as part of the Army of Occupation.”
A 13th BS B-26C equipped with an infrared seeker during the Korean War.
“When North Korea invaded the south in 1950, the squadron, [f]lying . . . Douglas B-26 Invaders, conducted interdiction missions during daylight raids on enemy troops and lines. On 25 June 1951, the squadron was redesignated the 13th Bombardment Squadron[,] Light-Night Intruder to reflect the unit’s “Hoot Owl” night missions. Following the end of the Korean War, the 13th remained forward deployed to Kunsan Air Base, Korea until ordered to Johnson Air Base, Japan, in 1954 to begin conversion to the Martin B-57 Canberra. On 1 October 1955, the unit was redesigned the 13th Bombardment Squadron Tactical.”
“The unit’s next move was to Clark Air Base, Philippines, on 10 April 1964. During the Vietnam War the Reapers took part in numerous campaigns flying the Canberra, a light twin engine jet bomber, and with the upgraded B-57G model was one of the first units to fly with a targeting pod, which was used to release some of the first ever laser guided munitions. Deployed to Tan Son Nhut Air Base, South Vietnam, by June 1964, the squadron had flown 119 combat sorties. In February 1965, an enemy attack destroyed six 13 BS B-57s at Bien Hoa Air Base and rendered the airfield unusable. Flying from Da Nang Air Base and Phan Rang Air Base, Vietnam, the unit continued to fly combat sorties until 1968. The 13th BS was then inactivated.”
“The squadron remained on the shelf until 8 February 1969, when it was activated at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., where the mission of the 13th trained members on B-57G tactics, techniques, and state of the art computer systems. On 15 September 1970, the 13th deployed to Ubon Royal Thai Air Force Base, Thailand, and on 17 October 1970, flew its first combat mission in the B-57G. The squadron flew combat missions until 12 April 1972, when personnel and equipment moved to Forbes Air Force Base, Kansas, as the squadron was reduced to paper status. The 13th was again inactivated on 30 September 1973.”
“On 14 June 2000 after more than 26 years in hibernation, the Grim Reapers returned to the active Air Force as part of the 7th Bomb Wing at Dyess Air Force Base, Texas. Shortly after 11 September 2001, the Reapers deployed with the 9th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron and performed notably in Operation Anaconda to Afghanistan in early 2002. Upon returning the Reapers were named the 7th Bomb Wing’s executive agent for support of the Rockwell B-1 Lancer [t]est program. Additionally, the Reapers were responsible for supporting the B-1 Weapons Instructor Course. This relationship put the 13th in the enviable position of being the first in the operational bomber community to train on the latest upgrades . . .”
“The Reapers were deployed in early 2003 as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom to Andersen Air Force Base, Guam. Upon returning from Guam, the 13th BS was charged with devising and running the first Iron Thunder, an audacious plan calling for the scheduling of 120 missions over three days with the stated objective of the execution of 75 sorties flying 90%, or 108 sorties. The crews began flying sorties on 7 October 2003 and continued round the clock until late on 9 October. Starting in the fall of 2003, the B-1 fleet initiated a transformation with major computer and software upgrades and the Reapers were at the forefront. The 13th BS was the first operational unit assigned to fly Block E B-1s, a revolutionary upgrade which allowed a mixed load of GPS guided and unguided weapons, as well as a new air-to-air radar capability to increase the combatant commander’s options and flexibility. As the initial cadre, the Reapers were responsible for training the core of the wing’s bomber crews.”
“The 13th Bomb Squadron was deployed in early 2004, again flying missions over Afghanistan. Upon returning, the squadron was tasked with leading Iron Thunder 04-4 with the goal of delivering massive concentrated firepower in another bomber surge, which carefully integrated limited range space, jet availability, and realistic threat and target scenarios. The plan resulted in 77 effective sorties in less than 68 hours. More astounding was the fact that 47 of the sorties released a record 383 training weapons. In December 2004, for the fourth time in less than four years, the B-1s answered the call to war with all Reaper crew members and most enlisted support staff deployed as members of the 40th Air Expeditionary Group.”
“In June 2005, the Air Force announced the 13th Bomb Squadron would replace the 325th Bomb Squadron at Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri, and fly a new aircraft, the Northrop Grumman B-2 Spirit bomber. On 23 September 2005, the 13th Bomb Squadron passed the flag and time honored traditions of the unit to future Reapers at Whiteman AFB. Among its first assignments as a unit of the only stealth bomber wing in the United States Air Force, the 13th Bomb Squadron was deployed to Andersen AFB, Guam, in June 2006, to take part in the ongoing rotation which provides the U.S. Pacific Command a continuous bomber presence necessary to maintain stability and security for the Asia-Pacific region. Notable squadron achievements during this period was the firstever B-2 deployment on the continent of Australia. The historic event took place 25–27 July 2006 and featured training sorties on Australia’s Delamere Air Weapons Range and a B-2 Engine Running Crew Change at RAAF Base Darwin – the first time the B-2 landed on Australian soil.”