921st Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron

921st Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron

Emblem of the 21st Photographic Reconnaissance Squadron
Active 1942–1946; 1947–1949; 1960; unknown −2011
Country  United States
Branch  United States Air Force
Type Air Refueling
Engagements China Burma India Theater

The 921st Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron is a provisional United States Air Force unit. Its last known active period ended on 12 November 2011 at Moron Air Base, Spain. It was briefly active as a regular unit in 1960, and in 1985 was consolidated with the 21st Reconnaissance Squadron.

The squadron was first active as a photographic reconnaissance unit during World War II. It served in combat in the China Burma India Theater as part of the Fourteenth Air Force.

After the war, the squadron served with the Air Force Reserve at Stewart AFB, New York from 1947 until 1949.


The squadron was first activated as the 21st Photographic Reconnaissance Squadron in 1942 at Peterson Field, Colorado. It trained there until April, when it began its overseas movement.[1] The squadron arrived in India in June and began deploying flights to China the following month.[1] It served as an umbrella organization for the Fourteenth Air Force in China. The squadron deployed detached flights of unarmed aircraft (mostly specially equipped F-5 Lightnings and F-4 and F-6 Mustangs), which flew combat aerial reconnaissance missions over Japanese-held territory from numerous forward airstrips. The squadron redeployed from China at the end of 1945 and was inactivated at Fort Lawton, Washington, at the beginning of 1946.[1]

After the war, the squadron became an Air Force Reserve unit, serving under Continental Air Command (ConAC). It was inactivated in 1949[1] when ConAC converted its reserve organizations to the wing base organizational model under the Hobson Plan.

In May 1960, the squadron was activated again, constituted as the 921st Air Refueling Squadron. It was one of two air refueling squadrons activated that year at Altus Air Force Base, Oklahoma, for movement to other bases to provide Boeing KC-135 Stratotanker support to dispersed Boeing B-52 Stratofortress bombers. Both squadrons were inactivated shortly after activation.[2]

The squadrons were consolidated in 1985 and were converted to provisional status sometime after this. In 2011, it was deployed in support of Operation Unified Protector, serving at Moron Air Base, Spain, until December 2011. The squadron was NATO's largest tanker squadron composed of Active Duty, Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve Command KC-135 and KC-10 aircrews. The squadron executed over 1,000 combat missions to enforce the United Nations No Fly Zone over Libya.[3]


21st Reconnaissance Squadron

  • Constituted as the 21st Photographic Reconnaissance Squadron on 14 July 1942
Activated on 2 September 1942
Redesignated 21st Photographic Squadron (Light) on 6 February 1943
Redesignated 21st Photographic Reconnaissance Squadron on 13 November 1943
Inactivated on 6 January 1946
  • Redesignated the 21st Reconnaissance Squadron (Photographic) on 11 March 1947 and allotted to the reserve
Activated on 1 October 1947
Inactivated on 27 June 1949[4]
  • Consolidated with the 921st Air Refueling Squadron as the 921st Air Refueling Squadron on 19 September 1985.[5] (remained inactive)

921st Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron

  • Constituted as the 921st Air Refueling Squadron on 20 May 1960
Activated on 1 October 1960
Inactivated on 15 December 1960
  • Consolidated with the 21st Reconnaissance Squadron on 19 September 1985.[5] (remained inactive)
  • Converted to provisional status and redesignated 921st Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron on an unknown date
Activated by August 2011
Inactivated on 12 November 2011[3]



  • Peterson Field, Colorado, 2 September 1942 – 27 April 1943
  • Bishnupur Airfield, India, 27 June 1943
Flights at Kunming Airport, China, 12 July 1943 – 22 August 1943 and Kweilin Airfield, China, 12 July 1943 – 12 September 1944)
  • Kunming Airport, China, 22 August 1943
Flights at Suichwan Airfield, China, 26 October 1943 – 26 June 1944 and ca. 12 November 1944 – 22 January 1945, Liangshan Airfield, China, April 1944 – 18 October 1944, Kanchow Airfield, China, August 1944 – 20 November 1944, Liuchow Airfield, China,, 10 September 1944 – 6 November 1944, Hanchung Airfield, China, 18 October 1944 – 13 August 1945, Luliang Airfield, China, ca. 26 November 1944 – 13 May 1945, Hsian Airfield, China, 5 February 1945 – ca. 5 October 1945, Laifeng Airfield, China, 7 May 1945 – 16 August 1945, Shwangliu Airfield, China, 14 May 1945, Ankang Airfield, China, 25 June 1945 – ca. 5 October 1945, and Chihkiang Airfield, China, 16 August 2045 – ca. 15 October 1945
  • Hanchow Airfield, China, 18 October 1945 – ca. 15 December 1945
  • Fort Lawton, Washington, 5 – 6 January 1946
  • Stewart AFB, New York, 1 October 1947 – 27 June 1949[4]
  • Altus AFB, Oklahoma, 1 October 1960 – 15 December 1960[2]
  • Moron AB, Spain, by August 2011 – 12 November 2011[3]


  • Lockheed F-5 (P-38 Lighting), 1943–1945
  • North American F-4/F-6 (P-51 Mustang), 1943–1945
  • Curtiss P-40 Warhawk, 1943–1944
  • North American B-25 Mitchell, 1945




External links

  • Tribute page to the 21st PRS
  • Linked In page of former commander (retrieved May 31, 2013)
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