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489th Bombardment Group

489th Bombardment Group

489th Bombardment Group Insignia
Active 1943–1945
Country United States
Branch United States Army Air Forces
Role Strategic bombardment
Part of Eighth Air Force
Motto Ex Tenebris Lux Veritatis (Out of Darkness, the Light of Truth)

The 489th Bombardment Group was a unit of the United States Army Air Forces. Its last assignment was to the IV Bomber Command, stationed at Drew Field, Florida. It was inactivated on 7 November 1945.

During World War II, the group was an Eighth Air Force Consolidated B-24 Liberator unit stationed at RAF Halesworth, England, in May 1944. It returned to the United States in November 1944 and converted to a Boeing B-29 Superfortress group, but the war ended before the group could deploy to the Pacific.

Lieutenant Colonel Leon R. Vance was awarded the Medal of Honor for his bravery and actions on the day before D-Day, 5 June 1944 over Wimereux, France. It was the only Medal of Honor awarded to a B-24 crewman for an action flown from England.

Enid Air Force Base, Enid, Oklahoma was renamed Vance Air Force Base in memory of Col. Vance on 9 July 1949.


Constituted as 489th Bombardment Group (Heavy) on 14 September 1943 and activated on 1 October 1943 at Wendover Army Air Field, Utah, the group trained with B-24's. It completed unit formation and combat training and departed Wendover on 3 April 1944. The air echelon flew to the UK via the southern ferry route. The ground echelon sailed from Boston on USS Wakefield on 13 April 1944. Moved to RAF Halesworth, England, April–May 1944, and assigned to Eighth Air Force. The group was assigned to the 20th Combat Bombardment Wing and the group tail code was a "Circle-W".

The group entered combat on 30 May 1944, and during the next few days concentrated on targets in France in preparation for the Normandy invasion.

In an attack against coastal defenses near Wimereaux on 5 June 1944, the group's lead plane was seriously crippled by enemy fire, its pilot was killed, and the deputy group commander, Lt. Col. Leon R. Vance Jr., who was commanding the formation, was severely wounded; although his right foot was practically severed, Vance took control of the plane, led the group to a successful bombing of the target, and managed to fly the damaged aircraft to the coast of England, where he ordered the crew to bail out; believing a wounded man had been unable to jump, he ditched the plane in the English Channel and was rescued. For his action during this mission, Vance was awarded the Medal of Honor.

The group supported the landings in Normandy on 6 June 1944, and afterward bombed coastal defenses, airfields, bridges, railroads, and V-weapon sites in the campaign for France. Began flying missions into Germany in July, and engaged primarily in bombing strategic targets such as factories, oil refineries and storage plants, marshalling yards, and airfields in Ludwigshafen, Magdeburg, Brunswick, Saarbrücken, and other cities until November 1944.

Other operations included participating in the saturation bombing of German lines just before the breakthrough at Saint-Lô in July, dropping food to the liberated French and to Allied forces in France during August and September, and carrying food and ammunition to the Netherlands later in September.

Selected for redeployment to the Pacific theatre and became non operational on 14 November 1944. Relieved of assignment on 29 November 1944, and returned to the US The aircraft were reassigned to depots or other units in the UK.

The 489th Bomb Group and its associated 369th Air Service Group returned to Bradley Army Airfield Connecticut at the end of December 1944, where all returning personnel were given 30 days leave for "rehabilitation, recuperation, and recovery" while the group redeployed on paper to Lincoln Army Airfield, Nebraska. When they reported to the Second Air Force on 22 January 1945, they were informed that previous plans for refresher training had been cancelled and instead both groups were to be re-trained as B-29 Superfortress combat and support units. However Second Air Force did not receive redesignation orders for the group until 17 March, until which time they were compelled to maintain duplicate rosters and tables of organization, one for a heavy bombardment group of four squadrons, and one for a very heavy bombardment group of three squadrons. The readiness date for the group air echelon was set back from 1 March to 1 August 1945. The group moved to Great Bend Army Airfield, Kansas in mid-February to re-equip with the B-29,and was redesignated the 489th Bombardment Group (Very Heavy) in March.

The group was alerted for movement overseas in the summer of 1945, but with termination of hostilities with Japan ended while the group was still at its port of embarkation. Inactivated on 17 October 1945.


  • Constituted as: 489th Bombardment Group (Heavy) on 14 September 1943
Activated on 1 October 1943
Redesignated as: 489th Bombardment Group (Very Heavy) on 17 March 1945
Inactivated on 17 October 1945






  • Freeman, Roger A. (1978) Airfields of the Eighth: Then and Now. After the Battle ISBN 0-900913-09-6
  • Freeman, Roger A. (2001) The Mighty Eighth: The Colour Record. Cassell ISBN 0-304-35708-1
  • Maurer, Maurer (1983). Air Force Combat Units Of World War II. Maxwell AFB, Alabama: Office of Air Force History. ISBN 0-89201-092-4.
  • Craven, Wesley Frank, and Cate, James Lea, editors (1983). The Army Air Forces In World War II, ISBN 0-912799-03-X

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