The 702d Bombardment Squadron was activated 1 April 1943 at Gowen Field in Idaho, where initial organization took place while key personnel traveled to Orlando AAB, Florida for training with the Army Air Forces School of Applied Tactics. Both elements met at Wendover Army Air Field, Utah on 8 June 1943, where initial training with the Consolidated B-24 Liberator took place. The squadron moved to Sioux City Army Air Base, Iowa in July 1943 to complete training. In September the 702d began to receive B-24H aircraft, the model of the Liberator they would fly in combat.
On 20 October 1943 the ground echelon moved to Camp Shanks, New York and embarked on the RMS Queen Mary on 26 October 1943, sailing next day. The unit arrived in the Firth of Clyde, Scotland on 2 November 1943 and disembarked at Gourock. The air echelon departed Sioux City late in October 1943 and flew to the United Kingdom via the southern route: Florida, Puerto Rico, Brazil, and West Africa. Upon arrival, the squadron was stationed at RAF Tibenham as part of the 2nd Combat Bombardment Wing. The group was initially given a fuselage code of IS.
The 700th entered combat on 13 December 1943 by attacking U-boat installations at Kiel. The unit operated primarily as a strategic bombardment organization until the war ended, striking such targets as industries in Osnabrück, synthetic oil plants in Lutzendorf, chemical works in Ludwigshafen, marshalling yards at Hamm, an airfield at Munich, an ammunition plant at Duneberg, underground oil storage facilities at Ehmen, and factories at Münster.
The squadron participated in the Allied campaign against the German aircraft industry during Big Week, from 20 to 25 February 1944, being awarded a Distinguished Unit Citation for attacking a Me 110 aircraft assembly plant at Gotha on 24 February. This was the longest running continuous air battle of World War II - some two and a half hours of fighter attacks and flak en route and leaving the target area. Bomb damage assessment photographs showed that the plant was knocked out of production indefinitely.
The unit occasionally flew air interdiction and air support missions. It helped to prepare for the invasion of Normandy by bombing airfields, V-1 and V-2 launch sites, and other targets. It attacked shore installations on D-Day, 6 June 1944, and supported ground forces at Saint-Lô by striking enemy defenses in July 1944. During the Battle of the Bulge, between December 1944 and January 1945 it bombed German communications. Early on 24 March 1945 the 702d dropped food, medical supplies, and ammunition to troops that landed near Wesel during the airborne assault across the Rhine and that afternoon flew a bombing mission to the same area, hitting a landing ground at Stormede.
On occasion the unit dropped propaganda leaflets and hauled fuel to France. It was awarded the Croix de guerre with Palm by the French government for operations in the theater from December 1943 to February 1945 supplying the resistance.
Probably, the 702d's most tragic mission was the attack on Kassel of 27 September 1944. In cloud, the navigator of the lead bomber of the 445th Bombardment Group miscalculated and the 35 planes of the 700th and the other squadrons of the group left the bomber stream of the 2d Air Division and proceeded to Göttingen some 35 miles (56 km) from the primary target. After the bomb run, the group was alone in the skies and was attacked from the rear by an estimated 150 Luftwaffe planes, resulting in the most concentrated air battle in history. The Luftwaffe unit was a Sturmgruppe, a special unit intended to attack bombers by flying in tight formations of up to ten fighters in line abreast. This was intended to break the bomber formation at a single pass. The 361st Fighter Group intervened, preventing complete destruction of the group. Twenty-nine German and 25 American planes went down in a 15-mile (24 km) radius. Only four of the 445th group's planes made it back to the base – two crashing in France, one in Belgium, another at RAF Old Buckenham. Two landed at RAF Manston. Only one of the 35 attacking aircraft was fit to fly next day.
After the end of the air war in Europe, the 702d flew low level Trolley missions over Germany carrying ground personnel so they could see the result of their efforts during the war. The group's air echelon departed Tibenham on 17 May 1945, and left the United Kingdom on 20 May 1945. The 702d ground echelon sailed on the USAT Cristobal from Bristol. The ship arrived at New York on 8 June 1945. Personnel were given 30 days R&R. The squadron reestablished at Fort Dix, New Jersey, with the exception of the air echelon, which had flown to Sioux Falls Army Air Field, South Dakota. Most personnel were discharged or transferred to other units, and only a handful were left when the unit was inactivated on 12 September 1945.
The 702d Bombardment Squadron was activated again in the Reserve during the summer of 1947 at Hill Field, Utan, nominally as a Boeing B-29 Superfortress very heavy bombardment squadron and assigned to its World War II headquarters. The squadron was inactivated in June 1949 when Continental Air Command reorganized to the wing base organizational model. It does not appear that the squadron was ever equipped with aircraft, however, and reserve training at Hill was continued by the 9013th Volunteer Air Reserve Training Wing.
The squadron was activated again in the reserves in 1952 at Buffalo Municipal Airport, New York as the 702d Fighter-Bomber Squadron. Although designated as a fighter unit, until 1955 the squadron primarily flew North American T-6 aircraft, although it was equipped with a few North American F-51 Mustangs and Lockheed F-80 Shooting Stars. In 1955 the 702d moved a few miles to Niagara Falls Municipal Airport as a Republic F-84 Thunderjet unit. In 1957 the United States Air Force reduced its operations at Niagara Falls and the 702d was inactivated in July.
The United States Air Force realigned its reserve forces at this time, transferring all fighter aircraft to the Air National Guard, while Air Force Reserve organizations flew tactical airlift aircraft. In mid-November 1957 the 702d was redesignated as the 702d Troop Carrier Squadron and began training in Fairchild C-119 Flying Boxcar aircraft at Memphis Municipal Airport, where the 445th group was now located. When Continental Air Command reorganized under the dual deputy system in November the squadron transferred directly to the 445th wing although it was detached from wing headquarters.
The squadron was called to active duty in 1962 during the Cuban missile crisis. It performed routine airlift missions until inactivated in 1965. Reactivated in 1973 as an associate unit. The squadron had no aircraft of its own, but flew long-range Lockheed C-141 Starlifters assigned to the 438th Military Airlift Wing. It provided worldwide airlift until the retirement of C-141 aircraft in 2000.
The 702d was converted to provisional status as the 702d Expeditionary Airlift Squadron and joined the 451st Expeditionary Operations Group at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan in the summer of 2011. The Kandahar squadron was made up of deployed Air National Guard and Army National Guard members, flying the Alenia C-27J Spartan to support personnel deployed at forward operating bases and flew its first combat mission four days after standing up. The majority of the squadron members were drawn from the Maryland Air National Guard. The squadron inactivated the following year. During the deployment the squadron flew 3200 missions despite being equipped with only two aircraft.Constituted as the 702d Bombardment Squadron (Heavy) on 20 March 1943
Activated on 1 April 1943
Redesignated 702d Bombardment Squadron, Heavy on 20 August 1943
Inactivated on 12 September 1945
Redesignated 702d Bombardment Squadron, Very Heavy on 13 May 1947
Activated in the reserve on 1 August 1947
Inactivated on 27 June 1949.
Redesignated 702d Fighter-Bomber Squadron on 24 June 1952
Activated in the reserve on 8 July 1952
Inactivated on 1 July 1957
Redesignated 702d Troop Carrier Squadron, Medium on 24 October 1957
Activated in the reserve on 16 November 1957
Redesignated 702d Troop Carrier Squadron
(Assault) on 25 September 1958 (on active duty 28 October 1962 – 28 November 1962)
Inactivated on 15 December 1965
Redesignated 702d Military Airlift Squadron (Associate) on 3 December 1970
Activated on 1 April 1971
Redesignated 702d Airlift Squadron
(Associate) on 1 February 1992
Redesignated 702d Airlift Squadron
on 1 October 1994
Inactivated on 1 March 2000
Converted to provisional status and redesignated 702d Expeditionary Airlift Squadron
Activated on 31 July 2011
. 31 July 2012
445th Bombardment Group: 1 April 1943 – 12 September 1945
445th Bombardment Group: 1 August 1947 – 27 June 1949.
445th Fighter-Bomber Group: 8 July 1952 – 1 July 1957
445th Troop Carrier Group: 16 November 1957
445th Troop Carrier Wing: 25 September 1958
920th Troop Carrier Group: 11 February 1963 – 15 December 1965
514th Military Airlift Wing: 1 July 1973
514th Operations Group: 1 August 1992 – 1 March 2000
Air Combat Command to activate or inactivate as needed
Consolidated B-24 Liberator, 1943–1945
Douglas C-47 Skytrain, 1955–1957
Fairchild C-123 Provider, 1957–1975
Lockheed C-141 Starlifter, 1973–2000
Alenia C-27J Spartan, 2011-2012