509th BW Historian

509th Bomb Wing Historian
509 Spirit Blvd, Suite 112B
Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo. 65305

Comm: 660-687-1145
DSN prefix: 975

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Historian

The 509th Bomb Wing Historian office is a wing staff agency with the mission to support the wing commander and the wing by providing historically relevant information to aid in decision making.

For those familiar with Air Force history the 509th Bomb Wing conjures up visions of the Enola Gay and Bockscar. While these missions represent the more famous moments in 509th history, they're not the wing's sole claim to fame.

The wing, along with its operational, maintenance, medical and support squadrons has a rich heritage. Today, the 509th is blazing a new trail as the Air Force's only B-2 Spirit Advanced Technology Bomber unit. With each passing year, the 509th continues to make history.

By combining these and other wing, group and squadron accomplishments, the 509th is perhaps the most famous unit in today's United States Air Force.

509th BW Emblem

Since 1952, the 509th has proudly displayed its one and only official heraldic device--the wing emblem (or patch). 

The 509th Bomb Wing's emblem is rich in history. The shield is like a family coat of arms and uses symbols to tell its story. Each symbol on the shield represents some part of our unique past.

First, the Air Force wings represent the branch of service; but the wings are not in the familiar outstretched position. When the ancient Greeks approached a stranger, they raised their arms with the palms outward to show they were carrying no weapons--a sign of peace. The 509th obtained special permission to display the wings in this configuration to show that it, too, comes in peace. 

Wings with an official motto are required to display it in the scroll of their emblem. The 509th has an official motto. The motto, "Defensor Vindex" (Translated: Defender avenger) means that its mission was, and remains, to protect and retaliate for any infringement on that peace. 

The atomic cloud burst represents two things: the fact that the 509th dropped the only two atomic bombs ever 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. Members of the 509th are indeed the inheritors of a proud legacy. Properly wearing and displaying the wing emblem enhances our esprit de corps and unit identity.

The 509th Bomb Wing, one of the most famous wings in the Air Force, traces its historical roots back to its World War II ancestor, the 509th Composite Group. During World War II, the Army Air Forces (AAF) formed the Group with one mission in mind: to drop the atomic bomb. Led by Col Paul W. Tibbets, Jr., the Group made history when, on August 6, 1945, the B-29 "Enola Gay," piloted by Tibbets, dropped the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan. 

On August 9, 1945, the Group once again visited the Japanese mainland and unleashed the atomic inferno upon Nagasaki. Within days, the Japanese sued for peace, ending the war.

Upon returning to the United States in late 1945, the Group settled into Roswell Army Air Base, New Mexico, where it became the core of the newly formed Strategic Air Command (SAC). In August 1946, the now called 509th Bombardment Group again traveled to the Pacific where it participated in Operation Crossroads. 

During this special maneuver, the Group dropped an atomic bomb on an armada of obsolete and captured naval vessels moored off the Bikini Atoll.