COMBAT SERVICE UNITES IN SUPPORT OF FLYING UNITS IN NORTH AFRICAN AND MEDITERRANEAN THEATERS OF OPERATIONS
Air Force Service Detachment 99
The earliest plans for the formation of a 99th Service Detachment appeared in a War Department letter dated August 8, 1942. The Third Air Force at Tampa, Florida was responsible for training and equipping a structured task force to be stationed at Tuskegee Army Flying School, Tuskegee, Alabama, and consisted of five units built around the 99th Fighter Squadron. Two officers and thirty-four enlisted men drawn from the 366th Service Squadron were transferred and assigned to the Detachment on August 20, 1942. Two days later, it was activated and initially designated Detachment, 366th Service Squadron. Subsequently, the detachment was placed under the command of Lieutenant Elmer D. Jones, of Washington, D. C. From its beginning, confusion was rampant in the unit as administrative functions and responsibilities had to be worked out, and personnel gained full understanding of what their attachment to the 99th Fighter Squadron meant. More confusion reigned during the next eight months as the detachment was frequently in receipt of new Warning and Recession Orders, drastically and adversely affecting morale.
On the morning of April 3, 1943, the 99th Service Squadron Detachment received orders to proceed to the staging area at Camp Shanks, New York. From there the detachment embarked aboard the SS Mariposa for Casablanca, French Morocco and arrived on April 24, 1943. The AAF Detachment was the first Negro combat service unit and the only "reduced" unit of its kind in the North African Theater of Operation, and no one was quite sure how it was to function administratively.
In June 1943, the Detachment moved to the Cape Bon peninsula of North Africa and came under control of the 15th Air Support Command where their primary responsibilities were the repair and salvage of aircraft, and to furnish tools and technical supplies for the fighter squadron. During the first seven months, however, the Detachment remained elusive, causing much frustration at not having their organizational equipment, which was so vital to their effectiveness.
in spite of the obstacles, the detachment went to work with the resources at hand and performed several engine changes, and worked side-by-side with the ground crews of the 99th. They also gained good field experience and built an adequate technical supply for the squadron to draw on. On January 1, 1944, the detachment was assigned to the 3l5th Service Group, where their mission was clarified. They began receiving the bulk of their equipment, began providing the 99th with vital technical supplies, and repairing damaged aircraft beyond the capacity of the squadron.
96th Air Service Group
The 96th Service Group was activated on March 21, 1942, and designated Headquarters 96th Maintenance Group at the Advanced Flying School, Tuskegee, Alabama, and assigned to the 100th Pursuit Squadron. The unit was re-designated Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron 96th Service Group on August 1942. The group trained in providing field service to the 332nd Fighter Group at Selfridge Field, Michigan, and Oscoda Field, Michigan, from May 1943 to December 1943. It moved to Italy early February 1944, and was assigned to the 12th Air Force Service Command to provide field service to the 332nd Fighter Group Squadrons located at Montecorvino and Campodicino Air Fields. In mid-April, 1944, the 96th was transferred to the 15th Air Force Service Command.
The 96th Air Service Group participated in campaigns in the European-African-Middle-East, Rome-Arno, North Apennines and Po Valley theaters, as well as in the American Theater. The unit motto was "Service for Victory." Its insigne was a shield with a Gear on the field of black velvet.
Squadrons and companies that made up the 96th Air Service Group were the following:
366th Service Squadron was activated as the 366th Material Squadron at TAAF on March 13, 1942 with the first personnel comprising 497 enlisted men drawn from unassigned recruit detachments on April 4, 1942. On that date, 1st Lt. Nathaniel Freeman was assigned as commanding officer, and 2nd Lts. Benate Wimp and James Johnson, as assistants. For the next 21 months the squadron had numerous changes of commanders, station moves, intense inspections and training activities at Selfridge and Oscoda, Michigan. With great anxiety and concern over their combat role, the 366th, on the morning of December 22, 1943, boarded trains at Oscoda, for Camp Patrick Henry, Virginia, where, on January 3, 1944, they embarked aboard the SS Josiah Barlett, bound for Ban, Italy, and disembarked on January 29, 1944. Eleven days later, the unit moved by motor convoy to Montecovino. Again on February 26, the unit moved to their final destination of Capodichino.
On March 21, 1944, the current commanding officer, Major John Jones, was relieved from his assignment in the 366th, and replaced by Captain Elmer D. Jones, commanding officer of the 99th Service Detachment, who along with 31 of his men, were assigned to the 366th Service Group. Thus the mission was complete, as many of the men who were dropped at the port of embarkation and elsewhere along the way, were again serving in the same unit.
367th Air Service Squadron was activated March 13, 1942 and designated 367th Material Squadron at Advance Flying School, Tuskegee, Alabama. On July 6, 1942, the unit was re-designated 367th Service Squadron and began its growth from the original three enlisted men to a total of 250 men drawn from both volunteers and inductees under the Selective Service Act. The Squadron was transferred in grade on August 14, 1942, to the 890th School Squadron, which was newly activated at Tuskegee Army Training School. Their duty assignment was the servicing of advance training planes at the field as a component of the 96th Service Group.
The 367th, with other components of the 96th, moved on June 10, 1943, to Oscoda AAF (a sub-base of Selfridge Field), to take advantage of greatly improved training facilities, to learn their mission and begin intensive preparation for accomplishing it.
On December 22, 1943, the nine officers and 228 enlisted men comprising the 367th, departed Oscoda for Camp Patrick Henry, Virginia, for a permanent change of station. They departed Hampton Rhodes on January 3 aboard liberty ship SS William Few. Disembarking at the staging area in Taranto, Italy, on February 7, the unit traveled by motor convoy to Montecorvino Air Field and immediately began servicing aircraft of the 332nd Fighter Group. The unit was deactivated at Ramitelli, Italy, in April 1945.
1000th Signal Company was activated at TAAF September 15, 1942, initially under command of White officers. The first Negro officers arrived in the country on March 1, 1943, to help build the organization. All White officers were relieved and reassigned as Lt. James Ray assumed command on March 12, 1943. The company of six officers and 130 men, after further training at Selfridge Field beginning April 2, 1943, and Oscoda beginning June 10th, received shipping orders to embark by train on December 22nd for Camp Patrick Henry. The company disembarked Hampton Rhodes January 3, 1944, aboard the SS William Few. They landed in Taranto, Italy on February 4, and subsequently, moved to Montecorvino and Foggia in Italy.
1051st Quartermaster Trucking Company
Air Service Group was activated September 15, 1942 at TAAF and attached to the 96th Service Group to function as a Post Quartermaster in the field. Cadre and personnel for the unit were assigned by the Third ASAC, Atlanta, Georgia, (quartermaster activities unassigned), and the 2031st Quartermaster Truck Company at Harding Field, Louisiana, where, between February 12 and April I, 1943, the unit was built up to strength. On April I, 1943, the 1051st transferred from Harding Field to Selfridge Field, Michigan, to join the parent 96th Service Group organization. They were joined by two officers and 29 enlisted men, who arrived there on April 14. Warning orders were received on November 17, 1943 by the 1051st for their movement overseas. They left Oscoda for the staging area at Camp Patrick Henry, Virginia, on December 23, 1943. The unit, along with elements of the 96th Service Group and the 332nd Fighter Group embarked from Hampton Rhodes, Virginia, aboard the liberty ship, SS Josiah Bartlett, on January 4, 1944. They landed at Bari, Italy on the 29th assigned to the 12th Air Force Command and subsequently trucked to Pontecagnano where it began functioning immediately upon arrival on February, as post quartermaster supplying food, clothing, equipment and gasoline for more than 3000 troops in the 96th air base area. A detachment from the 1051st, was also sent to Ramitelli, Italy on May 26, to be attached to the 38th Service Group for the purpose of supplying services to the 332nd Fighter Group and attached units. On August 21, 1944, the unit moved to Jesi, Italy to operate as a depot railhead to service more than 1200 troops.
1901st Quartermaster Trucking Company was activated and designated on September 3, 1942 and assigned to the 96th Service Group at TAAF on September 15, 1942. The source for personnel for the company was from the 842nd Quartermaster Company attached to the State Fair Grounds, Columbus, Ohio. The unit transferred on January 10, from TAAF to Harding Field, Louisiana, arriving there to undergo basic training February II, 1943. After two subsequent moves by the unit to Selfridge Field and Oscoda AAF were completed during April, the 1901st was alerted for overseas movement; they received their warning orders in October 1943. Completing all technical training in November, the unit left Oscoda and arrived at the staging area at Camp Patrick Henry, Virginia, December 25, 1943. On January 3, 1944, they boarded a liberty ship bound for Taranto, Italy, where they landed 26 days later, and moved to their final destination at Montecorvino Air Base where they began operations on February 8, 1944.
I902nd Quartermaster Truck Company was activated at TAAF September 15, 1942 with selective personnel transferred from 2023rd, 2024th 2030th and 2034th Quartermaster Companies. Officers were transferred from the 96th Service Group at TAAF. The unit moved from Oscoda, Michigan, December 21, and arrived at Camp Patrick Henry three days later. The company left for overseas duty, January 3, and landed at Taranto, Italy on January 29, 1944. Subsequent moves were made in Italy to Pontecagnano, and finally, Naples where it transported supplies and personnel to various depots in the Naples area and surrounding towns.
1165th Ordinance Supply Company activated at TAAF September 15, 1942, as a Maintenance Company and later, on May 1, 1943, was re-designated as an Ordinance and Supply Company. Initial cadre for this unit came from Camp Lee, Virginia Training Center. Other personnel transferred in from other centers and schools.
The 1765th was made up of the following sectional units: Headquarters Company, automotive section, ammunition section, armament section and a technical supply section. The company transferred to Selfridge Field, Michigan, as part of the 96th Service Group. While at Selfridge, they were highly commended for their help in fighting one of the worst floods in the history of the Oscoda Air Field and saving much valuable government property from destruction. The unit entrained December 23, 1943 for Camp Patrick Henry, arriving there December 25, 1943. On January 3, 1944, they embarked aboard a liberty ship and arrived at the port of debarkation at Naples on February 1944. The company subsequently moved on February to Montecorvino Air Base and to Capodichino on March 3, 1944, where they began servicing all units of the 332nd Fighter Group and other squadrons even as they were subject to frequent enemy air raids.
1766th Ordinance Supply Company was activated at TAAF on September 3, 1942, designated as Ordinance Company Maintenance with personnel from service schools at Hampton Institute, Virginia, Holabird Ordinance Motor Base, Maryland, and Fort McClellan, Alabama. On May 10, 1943, the unit was re-designated and reorganized as Ordinance Supply and Maintenance Company. It transferred to Selfridge Field, Michigan on April 2, 1943, and on to Oscoda on April 13. The 1766th was alerted on December I, and ordered to move by train on December 22, to Camp Patrick Henry, Virginia. There they boarded a liberty ship and disembarked a month later at Naples, Italy. Subsequently, the unit moved to Bagnoli and finally to their permanent base at Montecorvino airfield where sections of the company went into operation and the unit set up and performed third-echelon maintenance in a motor shop at Battipaglia, Italy.
43rd Medical Supply Platoon activated September 15, 1942, with two officers, Lts. Marion Mann, Commanding Officer, and Theodore Haith, and enlisted men transferred in from a medical detachment at Warner Roberts Field, Georgia. On March 23, 1943, enlisted men from army technical training school at Fort Logan, Colorado, also joined the unit. The 43rd trained at Selfridge Field, Michigan, and-departed for the Mediterranean Theater on February 3, 1943 from Newport News, Virginia. The unit arrived in Taranto, Italy, January 29, 1944. Actual operations, however, did not get under way until late March, servicing all American installations located in the 96th Service area. This delay in starting operations was due to confusion .over which unit was to be serviced by the 96th. In the history of all medical units, there were no other instances where one had been assigned or attached to a service group. The 43rd was the first. They were told that this was an experiment, but the prevailing opinion was that they were to service colored troops. On March 21, 1944, the platoon was assigned directly to the Army Air Force Service Command Mediterranean Theater, and began operating in a smooth and regular way.
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